PTS Rising Report

News and happenings from across Phoenix-Talent SD

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Superintendent Brent Barry message

What's Happening

Family Focus

Those new to the Phoenix-Talent School District who see Rosa Ochoa around the Talent Middle School campus might assume that she’s on staff, or perhaps is just a very busy substitute teacher. In fact, Rosa is the school’s top volunteer, and her five-person family – six if you count her golden retriever service dog, Vanilla – has been a PTS fixture for years.

Rosa, her husband Luis Cruz, and children Frida (20 years old), Santi (19) and TMS sixth-grader Julian (12) are well known here and were a very active part of the Almeda fire recovery effort. Previously a member of Phoenix Elementary’s site council, Rosa is now a regular at monthly TMS Latino parent meetings, serves as one of five parents on the newly formed PTS Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, and volunteers for Bridging Communities, which offers peer-to-peer support for parents who have children with disabilities. Those are the big commitments, but she doesn't stop there. Did you know TMS has a bell schedule committee? Well, it does, and guess who's on it?

Rosa's older children chose to stay in the Rogue Valley after graduating from high school. Frida is closing in on earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southern Oregon University, and Santi is a political science major at SOU.

Rosa says she almost never turns down an opportunity to volunteer because it’s a good way to form lasting connections and allows her to support her youngest son Julian, who is autistic.

“I always go if they ask me to go because it’s a way we can advocate for people who have different abilities,” she said. “For me, it’s very important that the community sees these beautiful kids with these disabilities and includes them in everything so that they have the same opportunities that other kids have.”

Rosa added that she is proud to volunteer for PTS because she has witnessed how hard the district works to make sure all kids feel welcome. She singled out superintendent Brent Barry and assistant superintendent of education and learning Tiffanie Lambert.

“They see the need,” she said, “and they just do it.”

Stellar Student: Adan Mendez

After his family's home burned down in the Almeda fire, Phoenix High senior Adan Mendez could have sleep-walked through the rest of that school year and nobody would have blamed him. After all, he spent the holidays that year sleeping in cars and couch surfing.

But Adan didn't let that terrible loss get him, or his family, down. Instead, he helped his dad rebuild their house, dedicating about a year's worth of evenings and 12-hour weekend shifts to the project, according to a story published last January in the Mail Tribune.

A two-sport athlete (basketball and golf) who is also a member of the PHS Link Crew, Mendez took a year off of sports and other "high school kid stuff" to help with the project, but told the Mail Tribune that he has no regrets.

“There are so many little things in life that maybe at the time you take for granted," he said. "Sometimes when we were trying to rebuild, I would think, ‘Man, I wish I had my nice, warm bed or blanket like before.' But now, falling asleep on the couch watching a movie and just being in my house with my family, I really cherish those moments and that time even more than I did before.”

Here's Adan's Q&A. Enjoy.

What is your favorite family tradition for a holiday or other special occasion and why?

I love Christmas time going to church service and spending quality time eating and having fun with the people I love.

If you could choose the uniforms that students wear at Phoenix High School, what would they look like?

It would look like having blue slacks and a white or blue polo shirt with some sneakers.

What is the best thing about being a teenager in 2022?

The best thing as a teenager would be technology. Having the resource is one of the best and worst things to have in this day and age.

How do you like to spend your free time?

Whenever I get any with my busy life I love to ride on ATV trails or the Oregon dunes. I also love spending time with family and friends.

If you had a time machine, would you go to the past or the future? Why?

I would definitely go into the future to always know and can prevent things from happening to the people I love.

Pride of PTS: Breeze Chapman

One staff member called Breeze Chapman "the heart of PHS."

Another said Breeze "would give the shoes off her feet to anyone in need."

And yet another went a step further: "She has an amazing amount of energy and school spirit. She lights up the room when she walks in. You can't help but feel good when you are in her presence."

Breeze, a special education instructional assistant at Phoenix High School, is a Class of 1993 PHS graduate (voted Spirit Queen, of course), who is responsible for organizing the Pirate Country Parade, the Fall Carnival, the upcoming PHS Flea Market & Craft Fair and probably a few other lesser knowns. But mostly, she is responsible for being Breeze Chapman, a woman who could double over Scrooge himself with a mischievous wisecrack or, if the feeling strikes her, lock him into a wrist hold inside three seconds (read on for details).

We had no idea what to expect when we asked Breeze to fill out a little Q&A. We should have known better.

What would your students be surprised to find out about you?

  1. When I was 4 years old I spotted the love of my life on Hee Haw, Mr. Merle Haggard! From that day on I swore I would marry him! Fast forward to when I was 19 – I met and started dating one of Merle Haggard's sons, Noel. We met backstage at his dad's concert and I thought he was part of the road crew until he was announced on stage. He then took me on his dad's bus to meet Merle and when he said hello to me my knees buckled and I nearly passed out!
  2. In my late 20's I did NHB (No Holds Barred) fighting and was pretty dang good at it. My two trainers went on to train the military in hand-to-hand combat and they were featured on a television show. In one sparring match, I not only made my trainer cry by putting her in wrist hold but I also pinned her! This was a huge deal to me and probably one of my proudest moments in life. I would love to go back to fighting again someday but I am maybe aging out at this point.
  3. My dad bought me a 1963 Dodge D100 pickup truck when I was 15 which at the time I hated because I wanted a 1955 Chevy (huge difference). He paid $35 for it and we re-did it together. I had to not only pass a written test on the workings of an engine but I also had to take the engine apart and put it back together again before I was allowed to take it back to Oregon with me (dad lived in Sacramento). My dad passed away a few years later when I was 18. I still have my truck and will have it for the rest of my life! It is my most valuable possession (mostly only valuable to me).

What is the best thing about being an instructional assistant?

I am so thankful that I have been blessed to have a job where I miss being at work when I'm on vacation (I wish we had year-round school so I would not have to be away from them for so long; three weeks is my limit and then I miss them too much).

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to work so closely with each student where I get to know each of them and often their families. My work fills me with joy every day and I don't think a lot of people can say that.

If you could take your students on a field trip anywhere in the world, where would you take them and why?

Disneyland!!! Most of our students have never been on a plane (those who have, it's usually for medical appointments) and most definitely have never experienced Disneyland. I can't think of anything better than seeing their faces take in all the wonder! And to put it over the top I would have Taylor Swift there to join us and she could do a mini concert just for our students minus all the smoke and lights and overstimulation of actual concerts. And we would stay at a fun hotel with a pool!

What kind of driver were you when you first got your license?

I got my license on Halloween day 10 days before my 17th birthday! I was dressed like a baby with my hair in a pony on top of my head, freckles on my face, and a pacifier around my neck! I thought I was only taking the written part, which I knew I would pass. However, EVERYONE told me I would never pass the driving portion. I passed the driving portion with a 98% and had my photo taken in my costume.

I have always been a speed racer and I am very lucky my Jeep is a mule and not a thoroughbred! My dream car is a Dodge Challenger Hellcat! I think my guardian angels have never blessed me with one because they know I would surely die in a ball of flames racing around a backroad somewhere.

What would your perfect party look like?

I have always dreamed of having a huge party! I wanted to do that for my 44th birthday and had been planning it for years but stupid COVID messed that up, along with so many other things. I would have all my friends and family, of course, lots of country music (playlist of my choosing), tons of greek food (which I would make because I am the best cook I know), and my brother-in-law Josh and I would perform the final dance scene from Dirty Dancing! There would be karaoke and live music from my friend Jason Johnson, and I would somehow finagle Merle Haggard's sons there to perform. There would also be a video of all my favorite photo moments throughout the years.

Teacher surprise!

Phoenix Elementary teacher Karen Tally was surprised Thursday with the Kool Teacher award from local radio station Kool 103.5. Only click if you want to smile today.

Important Dates

  • Dec. 10: Flea Market Craft Fair at Phoenix High School (9 AM-4PM).
  • Dec. 13: Winter Music Showcase at Talent Middle School, 6:30 PM.
  • Dec. 19: Winter Recess begins (Dec. 19-Jan. 3).
  • Jan. 5: PTS School Board meeting at Phoenix Elementary (6 PM).

Flyers and other dowloadables

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Phoenix-Talent School District

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