PUHS valedictorian Thomas Botz hopes to become an animator. Photo by Marion Ventiuoli

Thomas Botz is a soft-spoken man of few words, but he is very clear about his passion for learning and his gratitude to the teachers he has had during his four years at Patagonia Union High School. 

The valedictorian of the class of 2022, Thomas graduates with a 4.3905 GPA. He hopes to pursue a career as an animator, and intends to enroll in Huntington University to study digital media arts. But before moving on to college, he is planning to take two years to go on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He doesn’t know where he will be sent, but would like to be in Turkey, he said. Turkey appeals to him because of the language, the culture, and the history of that area of the world. The idea of being away from home makes Thomas feel both “excited and nervous,” he said. 

Thomas is the son of Erin and Jason Botz, of Patagonia. He attended the Patagonia Montessori School before enrolling at PUHS. He was a Boy Scout from the age of 8 – 15 and is actively involved in his church’s youth group. In high school, he was on the chess team for two years. He is a member of the National Honor Society. This summer will be the third summer that he has worked as a lifeguard at the Patagonia Pool. “I feel like I’m kind of needed there,” he said. 

In his spare time, he enjoys playing board games, watching TV, and reading. His favorite class is English, but he admits that essays and research papers have been the hardest part of school. “I like things to be clearly defined,” he said. “I like specific directions.” He enjoyed his dual credit poetry class, because he “was able to combine aesthetic and scientific thoughts into words.”

Thomas feels that the small class size at PUHS is a plus. “If there is a conflict, it doesn’t last long,” he said. He does wish there had been more electives and would have like to have been able to take more language courses. 

“I want to recognize my teachers over the years,” he said. “I won’t say names, as that would be a long list.”

“I’m pretty sure that when Thomas Botz first came to PUHS he did not know what to think of the rest of his class,” wrote his Englsh teacher Journee Hayes. “While they were boisterous and often silly, he was quiet both in manner and in voice. Whenever he was asked to share out loud in class, you could visibly see everyone begin to lean toward him to be able to hear what he was saying. Now that Thomas is a senior, we still have to lean in sometimes, but now it is not so much to hear, but more to be sure we do not miss a word of his invaluable and unique insight on life. 

“Thomas is clever, intelligent, and dedicated. He cares about his fellow seniors and his education and I am very proud of him.”