Prescott, Arizona, has the reputation of being “Everybody’s Home Town”. It is my good fortune to be able to claim this beautiful, mountain town as the place I was born and raised.
Prescott has a charm that makes people fall in love with it. Local residents enjoy the fresh air, mountain views, beautiful lakes, forestland and small town feeling. Because Prescott is considered the “Most Midwestern appearing city in the Southwest”, many people who visit here from other places find that it feels like home. Much of the downtown area was rebuilt with brick after the big fire of 1900, and this gives the County Courthouse and surrounding square a solid, colorful appeal. You can almost see what the horses and carriages would have looked liked as they traveled down the streets in the old days. In fact, on summer nights, a local vendor gives rides in his surrey, pulled by two well-groomed horses. My town is well known for the historic “Whiskey Row” in the downtown area. Montezuma is full of colorful characters and visitors on any sunny day. This is in contrast to the many pretty churches near the square. All denominations are represented. We also have the quaint Bashford Court Shopping Mall, and many unique shops and coffee houses, like The Cat’s Meow and Cupper’s Coffee House. I have had the opportunity to work a part-time job in downtown Prescott, at one of our antique shops, Harvey Eugene’s. I loved being in the midst of all the weekend activity and was proud to share details of my town. But the part of Prescott that holds the most charm for me is the surrounding forested outdoors. The clean air, tall trees and forest trails allow me to explore when not in school or working. Many summer camps are situated in the woods. I have been fortunate to work summers in a church camp near my house.
Prescott has many beautiful small lakes and high desert forestland. I have enjoyed hiking on trails like the Peavine, Thumb Butte, and Pioneer Park Trail Systems. Hiking past Watson Lake and seeing the bald eagles that nest there, or climbing the rocks at Granite Basin Lake are thrills that are unique to Prescott, with its beautiful views. My memories include camping at Wolf Creek campground, close to home, just to enjoy sleeping out in the woods in a tent.
One of my favorite memories in the Prescott area is spotting a herd of Pronghorn Antelope along the road on the way out to our airport, Ernest A. Love Field. These beautiful animals are becoming harder to find, but they are still there if you watch for them. It is quite an honor to have North America’s fastest land animal right here in our own backyard! When I was in elementary school, we often saw herds as large as sixty to seventy-five animals, but now the groups are smaller. It is still exciting to see them grazing along the fence lines.
Although Prescott has a population of approximately 34,000 people, we have an airport, a university, two colleges, and even a zoo! Our airport is available to local sports pilots as well as Great Lakes Airlines in case you need to get to Phoenix in a hurry. It also is home to many training airplanes from Embry-Riddle University. This university specializes in aviation and engineering degrees and has a very large spread out campus near the airport. Yavapai College is a great place for all members of town, regardless of age, since it has classes for general education, elder hostels, vocational education and specialty classes. I have been able to take piano classes at Yavapai College, as well as a group exercise class with my mom!
My town offers many activities for those who wish to be involved. There are lots of clubs and volunteer agencies that I have been involved with during my high school years. Americorps has an office in here, and they are always looking for dedicated individuals who want to make a difference. By joining this group, I have been able to give something back to a community that has given me so much. I have also been a member of the Youth Volunteer Group, and a Teen Leader in the TAPP (TeenAge Pregnancy Prevention ) drama troupe, as well as a founding member. Every Wednesday I have had the opportunity to volunteer at Mile High Middle School (my Alma Mater) while working with the Prescott Parks and Recreation Department. Prescott High School offers music students the chance to audition and become a “Prescott Highlyte” which is a singing group that attends events all over town. We sing for various clubs and groups. We were especially busy at Christmas time, singing at more than thirty events during the holidays. We help make Prescott the Arizona “Christmas City”. Visitors make the trip here during the cold, just to experience the events and to join in as the town lights up a huge Christmas tree at the courthouse square. Our local YMCA is a great place to get involved. Every year it hosts one of the most famous marathon races in the state- the Whiskey Row Marathon. Volunteers make up the majority of the work force for the race. There are many ways a Prescottonian can develop a sense of belonging and community. My community has given as much back to me as any teen could ask.
When I look at parts of Prescott, I can see history come alive. I can imagine what it might have been like to settle this part of the country in the 1800’s and make a life here. Modern times are so much easier than what the pioneers lived through. The challenges they faced are clear, if you study history. Sharlot Hall Museum paints a clear picture of what it was like for the men and women who made Prescott a town, a capital and my home.
Going to school is Prescott has been a very good experience for me. I have attended preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, junior high and high school in Prescott’s public education system. My teachers have been personable, and caring, and I have been able to feel acknowledged even when I was in a class of thirty-two students. When I was in third grade, my parents took a teaching exchange position in South Australia. I had to go to school there for a year. Although I missed my classmates back in Prescott, I think it made me appreciate what I had back home. My education at Prescott High School has given me a good start for my future at Northern Arizona University.