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High school senior turns self around to makes up for lost time

by Merrie Leininger, Staff writer

There was a point last year when Mario Quiroga realized he had a lot of work ahead of him if he was going to graduate on time.

Until that point, the former Record-Courier newspaper carrier wasn’t interested in school and didn’t pay very much attention to it. Then came time for him to register for the first semester classes of his senior year.

“That really opened my eyes that I had to turn things around. Basically, my attitude had to change from being lazy to realizing I have to do something after high school,” Mario said.

Knowing how hard he would have to work to make up for lost time, many students would have given up, but Mario said he wanted to prove he wasn’t a quitter.

In order to finish in time, Mario was in regular school during the day in addition to night school twice a week and working at Ironwood Cinema. He also worked as a teacher’s assistant to Shaun Novach at night school for elective credit. He took nine classes his last semester.

His counselor, Sandy Nunes, confirmed he worked hard.

“This is a student, who, when he was a sophomore, I questioned whether he was going to make it. I believe it’s because of his personal desire and commitment that he has succeeded,” Nunes said. “Mario decided he wanted a diploma and he wasn’t going to settle for anything less.”

But that’s not all. Mario, 18, knew he had to work hard to bring up his grades, but he also wanted to play hard.

He was involved in three different roller hockey teams at the time, so after school there was always practice.

Roller hockey is Mario’s first love and truly a family affair. The family got involved in a small local team that played at Aspen Park. His father, Hector, an electronic technician instructor, coaches the Desert Sidewinders, a team that placed fifth at nationals last year and will be going to the competition again in August. The family has lived in the Ranchos for about 12 years. His mom, Lupe, a playground aide at Scarselli Elementary school is currently heavily involved in raising funds for the trip to Fort Myers, Fla. and his sister Monica, 13, is a goalie. Mario also has an older brother, Marcus, 22.

The Sidewinders are sponsored by Total Sports of Reno and include members from Reno and Carson City. Mario, who plays defense, says the team needs to raise about $5,000 for the trip. The whole family is consumed with that project right now, but Mario, who was recently voted prom king, is also looking forward to graduation.

Over the course of the year, he brought his GPA from 1.5 to 3.0 and found a career he thinks he’s well suited for in Susan Bullard’s television production class. In the class, the students learn about camera work and editing and practice taping events for the local cable access channel and area organizations.

“That’s a field I really enjoy. I plan on taking a lot of classes and trying my best at it,” he said.

Bullard gave him a lot of encouragement, Mario said.

“She got me involved in taping the (anti-drinking and driving) Coleville project. That really boosted my confidence. Before that, I didn’t know if I was good at it and she said I do good camera work.”

Bullard also helped Mario get a part-time job taping local sports events for Channel 26 and is helping him find a summer job with a Reno news station.

Mario’s plans are to learn about television production and design at Truckee Meadows Community College and move up from there.

Lupe says she is proud of her son and glad he has found a profession he enjoys.

“I love it. I love that he’s really into video, and when it comes to job skills, he definitely does a good job. I’ve seen the videos he brings home. He seems to be really happy,” she said.