July 28 Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

It’s time. It’s time for us as a community to get involved, come together, and support one of our most precious resources –– education. The education facilities of our current and future children at Marfa Independent School District need to be improved. For decades, the current facilities have been added on to, and in some cases neglected so resources could be redirected to fix another problem; other facilities have been transformed into another use different from what it was originally intended for, and on and on and on.  

All children now and in the future deserve a new school. And not just any new school. This school will be safe, practical, sustainable and designed with a master plan for the first time ever –– all of this with the community’s input once the bond is passed. There will be a local committee to work with the design firm and the school board to decide what the new facility will include.

I happen to have experience in the renovation and new construction of various types of facilities. I have seen and studied the current MISD buildings on my own for the past three years and the obvious conclusion I have come to is that spending more resources on these buildings is simply impractical. It is time to pass a bond. It is long overdue.

I ask and encourage the community to attend a Bond Proposal Meeting on August 1 at 5 p.m. at the MISD Administration Conference Room. Please present your questions, get educated on what the bond encompasses, and I ask that you support our current and future children by voting for the bond later this year. Some may ask, “Why now?” – to that I say, it’s been long enough of passing the buck. It’s time to grab the bull by its horns and come together as a community in support of education.

Vince Fuentez & Family



Dear Editor,

I am a member of the Blackwell School Alliance. I have been and will continue to be a member. I appreciate all of the work that the Blackwell School Alliance is putting into making Blackwell a national historic site.

I am letting Congressman Gonzalez know how I feel about Blackwell’s road to national recognition.

I am proud I attended school in Marfa, Texas. I believe I received a fine education from Marfa schools, and it was all due to the fine teachers we had.

I am really disappointed on how some folks still want to bring up their “awful experiences” they encountered while attending school, whether at Blackwell or Marfa High.

We all had our share of bad experiences. I had my share, but the good overshadows the bad.

I am grateful to the teachers that made us learn cursive writing, and taught us English grammar and diagramming. I am grateful to teachers who instilled discipline in our lives. I am grateful to the teachers who instilled pride in our work, whether at school or out in public.

I am grateful to have attended Blackwell as well as Marfa High.

I am asking that you print what I wrote a while back and sent to the Marfa Sentinel. It was published, but I guess forgotten.

Do not get me wrong, I am not stating that the hardships that Marfa students encountered be forgotten or not heard again, but I do not want the good that Blackwell and/or Marfa High presented to Marfa students not be forgotten as well.

I am not the only one who feels this way. They just have not made it known for whatever reason.

Blackwell School

(My first grade to seventh grade)

In Marfa, where the majority of the population was Hispanic, that school was the Blackwell School. Blackwell closed in 1965 when a new elementary school opened and Marfa schools achieved integration.

Everyone is going to have a different account of Blackwell Elementary/Junior High. I know that I attended school at Blackwell from my first-grade year until the middle of my seventh grade year. Sometime during my seventh-grade school year, we moved to a brand new building, south of tennis courts, which is the present-day elementary school (K-6) at Marfa Independent School District.

I know many have written their accounts of how things were socially and politically during that time period. As I said earlier, everyone has a different recollection of how things were for them. We grew up during a period of segregation and social injustice. I guess I was consumed with school, friends, family and just being a 12-year-old. I did not know where my summer baseball teammates went to school or even cared. I just know that they were my teammates during summer Little League baseball. I found them to be just like me — wanting to play and not only have a good time but to cherish those friendships we had made that summer. Just ask Bobby Fellows, who played on the Marfa’s Border Patrol Little League team. He and I were picked as all-stars and played on our league’s championship team from Presidio. Yes, Presidio. Nearly the entire team was made of Hispanics with a few Anglos, and the Presidio head coach was Anglo, a Border Patrol officer at that. It was a great experience for me. I stayed in Presidio for an entire week or so, since practices were early in the morning due to the heat. The rest of the day, Bobby and I were around our Presidio teammates. A summer I never forgot and a new friend in Bobby, with whom I played sports at MHS in future years.

With that being said, I thought I would write about a few of many Blackwell teachers that I had during this period who had an influence on me.

Alma Mater

I’d rather be in Marfa than any other land,

Out where there’s cactus, wind and sand, 

Where the cowboy clasps your hand.

Marfa High belongs to me,

True to her I’ll always be;

Memories I’ll keep in store

Through the years forever more.

Evelyn Davis

If I am not mistaken, Mrs. Evelyn Davis wrote the Marfa High School alma mater. She was a junior high teacher at Blackwell and then continued to teach at the new school which opened in 1965. I had her for English my eighth-grade year. She was a very good teacher. She was demanding and did not put up with silliness from any of her students. I thank her and all the other English teachers I had during my early years at Marfa for making us learn the English language, proper grammar, diagramming, spelling, and especially how to write in cursive, something that is not being taught any more.

Mr. Mel Prieto 

Coach Prieto was an early influence on how boys were supposed to treat adults, especially female teachers/instructors. Coach taught at Blackwell and coached junior high sports during the time period that I attended school at Marfa, Texas. Mr. Prieto was well-liked by many, but he also was a strict disciplinarian who would straighten out boys if they did not abide by school rules. I just wish we would have had him for a few more years longer. If you do not recall, Coach Prieto was killed in an automobile accident coming back from a high school football game.

Mr. Reymundo Roman 

Coach Roman was an excellent coach with so much fundamental knowledge of sports, especially track and field. I realize that now after being a teacher/coach myself for 33 years. Coach taught math, as well as UIL math, and I also was a member of the math UIL team as an eighth-grader. Coach Roman stayed on with the Marfa Independence District and later became the athletic director/head football coach during my senior year at MHS.

Mrs. Rideout

I am particularly fond of this lady because she had faith in me and she pushed me to new heights. I had Mrs. Rideout as a teacher during my fourth-grade school year. Mrs. Rideout, like a lot of our Blackwell teachers, was a stern but loving teacher who tried to get the maximum performance from all of her students. I have two memories from being in her classroom. The first is UIL competition; Mrs. Rideout either convinced me or made me join other students in UIL competition. I was a member of the “picture memory” and “prose and poetry” UIL competitions. That fourth-grade year, our district UIL contest was in the El Paso area –– I believe Fabens, Texas. I had memorized a poem entitled, “I’m Hiding”:

I’m hiding, I’m hiding

And no one knows where;

For all they can see is my

Toes and my hair

And I heard my father

Say to my mother –

“But, darling, he must be

Somewhere or other;

Have you looked in the inkwell?

At the district meet Mrs. Rideout took us to the auditorium where we were to recite our poems. She gave us instructions on where to stand and reminded us that the curtain is not going to be entirely open, and that we would have to step out to a taped “X” placed on the wooden floor which would allow you to be in front of the curtain and in plain view of the judges. Well, when my time came, I stood where the open curtain was, and I forgot to step out to X. Mrs. Rideout had schooled us on not only how to recite our poems, but also to look right to left and left to right as we recited our poems. Well, not stepping out to the X prevented me from seeing everyone to my left or right. Thus, I would lean forward and move my head and eyes from left to right as I recited my poem. When I was done, I realized that I had not moved forward, and then I went to my next event, “picture memory.” I thought, “Well, I guess I messed that up by not moving forward to the X.” When I was done with my picture memory event, I was met by Mrs. Rideout who was so happy and hugged me for winning; yes, winning. I had placed first for reciting my poem. I told her what I had done wrong and she said the judges thought what I had done added to the poem. As I leaned forward and looked both ways, they thought I was hiding and looking for others. I had won a first-place ribbon and then added a third-place ribbon for my efforts in picture memory. I felt great and very happy to have done so well.

The other memory is not a happy one. One day in the month of November, Mrs. Rideout went outside to see who was crying in the hallway and what all the commotion that was taking place in the hallway was all about. There were teachers speaking softly and some were crying. We realized that something was not right. Then Mr. Ward, our principal, came over the loudspeaker and instructed us to go home. He told the teachers to instruct all students to go directly home. We were being dismissed from school for the rest of the day, and he told us to ask our parents to tell us what was going on. As I left the school grounds, I happened to notice that our janitor, Mr. Payo Nunez, was moving the flag to half mast. When we got home, the television roared the news of the assassination of the president of the United States. The president of the United States in 1963 was John F. Kennedy. It was a sad day for Blackwell teachers and students, as well as all Americans.

Mrs. Newsome, Mrs. Pruitt, Mrs. Everett, Mrs. Cox

These teachers were my first-grade, second-grade, third-grade and fifth-grade teachers at Blackwell. I can recall something about each class that sticks to mind. Learning the alphabet and printing letters using the Big Chief tablet. I can see my classmates using a light in a dark room, drawing a silhouette of themselves which we took home as a gift for our parents. I wish I had that silhouette now. I can recall exchanging Christmas gifts between classmates after we had randomly picked someone’s name, and how everyone wished they would receive a chocolate candy box with cherries. I can recall a homecoming parade float where I and my classmates were the children and the teacher was the “Old Woman Who Lived in the Shoe.”

I can recall walking from Blackwell to the high school football field where our football dressing room was located and participating in sports. Of course, I did not play football my junior high years for whatever reason. I always blame my parents. I always say that because they (especially my mom) did not want us to play football. I participated in the rest of the sports offered at Blackwell and Marfa Elementary/Junior High during seventh and eighth grades.

I can recall watching high school football players practicing and wishing that one day I would be a Shorthorn football player. One particular day, I recall seeing Ray Zubiate and Elijio Gonzalez on the practice field, and wishing that I could hit as hard as they were when I became a Shorthorn. There were many Shorthorn football players I admired greatly and still do to this day. On top of my list is Jimmy Calderon, a fiery competitor whom I had the pleasure of playing baseball with later on with the Marfa Indians. Others, whom I admired and tried to emulate as MHS student-athletes, were Charles Rogers, Ronnie Webb, Santos Gonzalez, Israel Galindo, Johnny Melendez, and many others. The point is that these Shorthorns or MHS students had a great impact on student athletes at the lower grades whether they knew it or not.

To those who attended Blackwell schools: never forget where we came from and what we accomplished. And to those who attended Marfa Independent Schools: there is no place like Marfa. “Memories we’ll keep in store, through the years forever more.”

Arcadio Nunez Rivera