The PRT had an amazing response to our school essay contest, receiving 15 essays in the high school division and 39 essays from middle school students. These essays came from Elgin School, PUHS, Patagonia Middle School and local home schooled students. Students in grades 6 – 8 were asked to write about what they would include in a time capsule that would embody the culture of their community. The high school students were asked to write a persuasive essay convincing readers to support a cause. The PRT would like to thank Borderlands Restoration Network and the Patagonia Creative Arts Association who co-sponsored this event and we would like to thank all the teachers who partnered with us on this essay contest. We couldn’t have done this without their help. 

We hope you enjoy reading these prize-winning essays as much as we did. Next month we will share more of our prize winning essays. 

First Place Essay – High School Division 


by Chesed Chap, PUHS, Grade 12

I wake up in the schoolhouse, dawn tapping on the window pane above my sleeping bag on the floor. I wake up, and creep out without anyone noticing, and my socks drag me through the dirt at four in the morning. The only breath of heat comes from the hot plate, the smell of chorizo and eggs rising. I look out on the grasslands, stretching for forever, and the array of the border stretching less than a mile away; an array of ‘x marks the spot,’ an array stamping where forever should end. 

Here at four in the morning, three days short of summer solstice, standing at not a bridge but a border of two countries, it is my birthday. Cooking chorizo and eggs, I have turned sixteen in America—and if I could run down the dirt road, my socks studded with goatheads, if I could hold my breath to suck my stomach in and bend a little backwards, I could cross the border—and I’d have turned sixteen in Mexico all the same. 

At work when we break out our shovels and hardhats and pickaxes, we’re not restoring America. We’re restoring a sky island, with wasps and tarantulas and deer and El Jefe the jaguar and medialunas and streams and trincheras—a sky island that is whole, that is one even with a border stitched across. 

The border is a hiccup, and as much as it may deter my water from flowing, I pray it sinks beneath. I pray the water sinks beneath so the flowers can grow the same on the other side. I pray the water sinks beneath so the ground is sticky and strong enough to hold a July flash flood ripping through. I pray the water sinks beneath so whichever way the herd stays they have a stream to lap a pink tongue on. And above all, I pray whatever walls and watch towers that could erect stay away, so I don’t have to pray for the other side, so that the sides left are none and these split grasslands that look so similar north or south just become one. 

I want my streams to be bridges, I want the water to not flow under but through. I want puddles to jump in, and herds to roam, and the land that belonged to so many before this country began to stop being stolen and drawn off and being labeled ‘x marks the spot.’ I want forever. Grasslands uninterrupted. 

First Place Essay – Middle Class Division

Time Capsule in Sonoita

by Dixie Maier, Elgin School, grade 8 

Sonoita is a very small ranching town with dirt roads, hilly grasslands, wineries, ranches, and mountains for miles, but it would not be easy to put any farm animals into a time capsule, nor would it be easy to stick a whole mountain into one. 

When I think of Sonoita I think of all the dirt roads full of cattle who escaped through the barbed wire fence, and in a hundred years from now the town of Sonoita will probably be completely different. If I were to pick something to represent the town of Sonoita, I would choose to put dirt from different parts of Sonoita into a time capsule. 

The first container of dirt I would put in the time capsule would be from dirt roads. Citizens of Sonoita know what it is like to never have a clean car, and how annoying it is to always have to fix an uneven driveway. They also know what it is like to drive a trailer full of animals down bumpy, hilly dirt roads, but that is a part of the country life in Sonoita. 

The next container of dirt I would put in the time capsule would be the dirt used to grow grapes for wine. A huge part of Sonoita is its wineries, and people come from all over to taste wine. There are seventeen vineyards, fourteen wineries, and a brewery, so the wine industry is a big part of the town of Sonoita. 

The next container of dirt I would put in the capsule would be dirt from an arena. Sonoita is a huge rodeo town with a Labor Day rodeo that has been held annually for over 100 years. Between ranchers, bull riders, bronc riders, ropers, barrel racers, and plenty more, rodeo and ranching is the basis of how Sonoita citizens live. 

In conclusion, it may just sound like dirt, but it really is a lot more than that to the people of Sonoita. One hundred years from now, I would want whoever opened that time capsule to envision how amazing this little town really is, and I hope it would influence them to try to preserve it or return it back to how it is now.