This month the PRT begins a series of profiles of the PUHS senior class of 2020.

Damian Castro

by Jordi Peterson

Damian Castro, a senior at Patagonia Union High School, has attended Patagonia Public Schools since Pre-K. What surprised him most about high school is how much fun he actually had all four years, but the most challenging aspect was probably keeping up with his grades along with sports. 

Some of his best times in high school basketball were the late bus rides back from games and winning the games people thought they’d lose, as well as learning all that Coach Hayes had to teach him.

Outside of school Damian spent his time cruising all over the beautiful town of Patagonia, going to the Patagonia Youth Enrichment Center with friends, playing basketball and going to all the basketball games.

When asked about his favorite subject, Damian said it is English because Mrs. Hayes is a really great teacher. His favorite teachers are Mr. Hayes and Mrs. Hayes equally because they both help him a lot in school and make learning easier and better to understand.

Looking back, his hardest lesson was probably getting his school work done on time. But the hard times were always overshadowed by the good times such as going to state three years in a row, and, hopefully, making it four.

His friends have described him as passionate, big hearted, funny, athletic and open-minded. Damian’s advice to underclassmen is to not procrastinate and to keep your school work your number one priority! 

Damian would like to study sports medicine, hopefully attending University of Arizona.

Lauren Fletcher

by Amaris Ochoa

Lauren Fletcher is a senior at Patagonia Union High School. She came to Patagonia in 10th grade from Pennsylvania. During her years at Patagonia, she has participated in FFA for three years and volleyball for her junior and senior year. She has also participated in 4-H for a year. 

Her favorite subject is the agricultural education program. Through competing and being involved in FFA, she has gotten to participate in many activities. This past year, Lauren’s team won the State Agriculture Issues Competition, earning the chance to represent Arizona FFA at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was also the President of the FFA this year, which taught her a lot about managing a leadership position. 

For her, it was hard finding out who she belonged with at the school. One thing that surprised her most about Patagonia was how close the students at school were. She adapted to the tight-knit community here, even though it was a small struggle. She has made many friends and has a new place to call home, although, Lauren still has Pennsylvania in her heart. 

Her favorite teacher has been SJ [ Tonya St. James] because she’s taken over the FFA chapter like she’s been their advisor for years. Lauren said that the kids have all grown close with SJ, especially the group she took to National Conventions in Indianapolis. Lauren says that SJ will do anything for her students. 

Lauren’s advice for the underclassmen is to never back down from having your own opinions and to always be yourself. Also, she would like to encourage all younger students to find a senior to get to know and become close to so that you can cry when they graduate. All joking aside though, she stresses the importance of getting along with you classmates because you’re stuck with them until you graduate. 

After high school, she is planning on going to the U of A. She would like to study veterinary medicine.

Isaiah Ruiz

by Amaris Ochoa

Angel Ruiz, known by his friends and teachers as Isaiah, is a senior at Patagonia Union High School. He has been a student at Patagonia Schools since Pre-K. During his years at Patagonia, he participated in football and chess his freshman year. He has also participated in basketball and soccer all four years of high school. His favorite subject has been weights, because it helps him feel confident. It also motivates him to keep improving his body. 

What surprised Isaiah the most about high school was how fun it actually was. He found it challenging not to give up on school. Isaiah isn’t a huge fan of school, but his perseverance helped him push through tough times. The best thing that happened to him during high school was making memories with his friends and family. Isaiah definitely hated waking up early in the morning, but he pushed through, nonetheless. Some of the worst times of high school for him were the insanely long bus rides home after away games for basketball. 

Isaiah’s basketball coach, Nate Porter, would describe him as a “stud and a determined hard-working young man.” His friends describe Isaiah as “kind, strong-hearted, and a natural leader.” He’s most proud of going to state for basketball all four years of high school. Isaiah’s favorite teacher would most definitely be Kenny Hayes, because he motivates him and wants to see him do better. Isaiah said that Mr. Hayes has been there for him when he felt no one else was. 

As he looks back on high school, he says that one of the hardest lessons he had to learn is applying himself and striving to be better on your own. He says he will miss “the boiz” and the friendship they shared in high school at PUHS. Isaiah’s advice to underclassmen is to be sure to make time for yourself. 

After Isaiah graduates from high school he plans to move to New Mexico to study plant science in college.

Brianna Arbizo

by Russell Sherman

Brianna Arbizo is a senior at Patagonia Union High School. She has been in and out of Patagonia since she was little, but she is happy to be able to graduate in her hometown. Brianna managed soccer her junior and senior year. Her favorite part about managing soccer was seeing all her “angels” (the players) improve throughout the season. Brianna’s favorite subject is English because of her love for poetry and books. Her favorite teacher is Mr. Hayes because he is one of the realest and coolest people she knows. 

After high school she plans to attend college for a few years and major in English. She also plans to write some poetry books. One thing that surprised her about high school was how everyone kept telling her that this was going to be the best four years of her life. Brianna explains, “I plan on living a life so memorable I won’t even remember high school.” Outside of school Brianna loves to read and write as much as she can. Her friends would most likely describe her as outgoing, bubbly, funny, and very blunt but she says the one quality that describes her best is outspoken. “I’ve always been a very outspoken girl, I never not said what was on my mind,” Brianna said. 

The best thing that has ever happened to Brianna was meeting new people throughout her travels and being able to try new things. Her favorite place she has traveled to was Globe, Az. Brianna thinks that the energy in Globe is so peaceful and clear, and the people are so nice and so unique. If Brianna could change one thing about the world, she would want there to be world peace. Brianna’s biggest influence in her life is singer Lana Del Rey because she lives a life Brianna hopes to live one day, a life filled with adventure and happiness. 

Andy Manriquez

by Lauren Fletcher

Andy Manriquez, a senior at Patagonia Union High School, has been involved in sports for three years, including cross country for two years, as well as soccer and tennis for three years. Even though he has been highly involved in sports, Andy has still made sure to remain dedicated to his studies in his high school career. 

Andy’s favorite subject has been science because, he explains, it is related to his future career field. He intends to study veterinary medicine. Although his favorite subject may be science, his favorite teacher is Mrs. Hayes, his high school English teacher. Andy has enjoyed Mrs. Hayes as a teacher and a class sponsor because he says she is the most understanding and will do anything to work with students’ schedules to help them with assignments. 

Andy believes that life in high school can be easy if you do all your work and he encourages underclassmen to do just that. Andy feels the best thing to happen to him in high school is becoming closer to his friends throughout his years here in Patagonia. Andy’s friends describe him as outgoing, although he may be quiet at first, but when he gets to know other people, he gets more comfortable around them.

After graduation, Andy hopes to join the U.S. Army and then go to school for veterinary science. All of Andy’s friends and teachers wish him the best of luck and will miss his charm and positive attitude. 

Luis Ocampo

by Liam Young

Luis Ocampo, a senior at Patagonia Union High School, transferred here at the start of the 2019-2020 school year from Glendale High School. Coming from a very large school, he was mostly surprised at the small size of Patagonia.

At his old school he participated in football, chess, drama, and ceramics. His favorite subject here at PUHS is English because the people in the class are fun to be around and he really enjoys the class. During Luis’ time in high school, the hardest lesson he had to learn was not to help others on tests and to concentrate on his own work. 

Luis considers himself a kind and happy young man. His favorite teachers are Mrs. Gonzales and Mrs. Meckler because they are always helpful, make sure he’s doing okay and ask him how his day is going. The most challenging thing about high school for Luis has been his science class and basketball practice because they were different for him then what he had experienced at his old school. 

His favorite part about high school has been being able to spend time with this year’s seniors because, as he describes them, they are very funny and kind and have welcomed him and accepted him as one of their own. If he could change one thing about the world it would be for everyone to have peace and to get along and to just be happy so the world can have no problems. 

After high school, Luis is going to school to be an EMT and a firefighter in Oregon. Luis says if he could give one piece of advice to underclassmen it would be to stay focused on your goals. 

Gabriel Wilson

by Russell Sherman

Gabriel Wilson, known around the small halls of Patagonia High School as Gabe or Gibby, is currently a senior this year and will be graduating soon. 

Gabe has been a member of the basketball team for the last two years, proving himself to be a threat on and off the court. His friends here at PUHS would describe him as incredibly funny and someone who always brings humor into any situation. 

While Gabe was surprised at how much work was required in high school, his favorite subject was English and the times he could go into the resource room. 

Gabe experienced a great deal of hardship when he lost his grandfather and explains it as being “a stab to my heart.” Nevertheless, he continued to grow and blossom in the garden of Patagonia seniors. He has been helped by his favorite teachers, Mrs. Hayes and Mrs. Gortarez who have guided him on his path to graduation when he has gone astray. Gabe says these two are his favorites because they have always been there for him and never given up on him and they always make sure he is doing his best to succeed. 

Gabe says that one word that describes himself is “unbroken” because he continues to strive for the very best even when life doesn’t quite go as planned. 

We all know he will do great things; the best of Gabriel Wilson has yet to come.