Nick Botz is grateful for the supportive atmosphere at PUHS. Photo by Arriana Ochoa-Tovar

Nicholas Botz, Valedictorian of the Class of 2020 at Patagonia Union High School, has excelled through his high school career, taking multiple dual credit (high school and college) classes in English and history.

Botz is the son of Erin and Jason Botz. Erin is a teaching assistant at Patagonia Elementary. He has three brothers: Andrew studies at Phoenix College and Thomas is a sophomore at PUHS. William is an 8th grader at the Patagonia Montessori School, where Botz also received his primary education.

Kenny Hayes, teacher and Superintendent/Principal at PUHS, admires Botz greatly. “Botz is not only smart in academics – he’s very engaged and talented in many facets of school life and is seen by classmates as being very approachable. Anytime you need something, Botz is willing.”

Botz was Class Secretary all four years of high school. He was yearbook editor-in-chief last year and became IT specialist this year. He has held many honors, including membership in the National Honor Society, the PUHS Louis Armstrong Jazz Award, and several chess awards. “I was named Mr. Melanson’s ‘Best New Pawn’ last year, and ‘Most Consistent Pawn’ this year. Chess is my favorite sport, and I say ‘sport’ deliberately. Whether you are a paraplegic or built like The Rock, you have the same chance of success. And I’ve met some great friends traveling to chess tournaments.”

Several years ago, Botz got involved in helping the Hummingbird Monitoring Network. He says, “I can’t believe I got this job two and a half years ago. I worked with the software, ‘teaching’ it to identify various hummingbird species through their vocalizations. I learned so much about hummingbirds and about sound editing.”

One of his best memories was this year, when he and a small group of students took responsibility for their musical education, forming a steel drum band and designing the curriculum. He wrote music and took on a teaching role. He is a multi-instrumentalist, having studied violin, mandolin, guitar and piano, and played in PUHS bands during his entire high school career. “I’m a dabbler,” he says.

Botz feels lucky to have been a PUHS Lobo. “Patagonia has it all when it comes to mentors – both in school and in the community. Teachers like Mr. and Mrs. Hayes, Mr. Young, and Mr. Melanson, and the people I worked with at Borderlands Earth Care Youth Initiative gave me advice and support all the way through.”

While he and the other seniors are disappointed not to complete their senior year together, Botz is grateful for the closeness they have. “It’s great to be in a small school with a supportive faculty. There are seven of us in my writing class and we have regular “hangout” classes where we share our work. And our senior class is very close – we’ve never had drama. We’re like a family.” 

Botz plans to attend Brigham Young University at Hawaii in the fall to study music and music education.