When people visit Las Cruces, they get a sense of the culture and a bit of the history just by cruising down the streets that showcase many sculptures designed by local artists. A new addition stands proudly on the xeriscaped median at the entrance to the West Mesa Industrial Park in the form of New Mexico’s great state bird, the roadrunner. The Las Cruces Utilities Water Conservation Program placed him there to highlight the city’s water conservation efforts and mindset. With the help of a local fourth- and fifth-grade bilingual class at Hillrise Elementary, the roadrunner now has a name.

Installed and landscaped by the Las Cruces Utilities Water Conservation Program, the new little roadrunner sculpture at the entrance to the West Mesa Industrial Park stands for water conservation and thriving in the desert southwest. (Photo: Las Cruces Utilities)

LCU invited Las Cruces Public Schools elementary classes to study roadrunners, choose a name, talk it over, and submit their selection along with written materials explaining their choice.

The winning name, “Aguacito,” came from David Uribe’s fourth- and fifth-grade bilingual class at Hillrise Elementary.

“I’m proud of the enthusiasm and energy the students displayed while working together as a team,” Uribe said. “Community opportunities like this one help connect students to meaningful learning and real life application of language skills.”

Students took into consideration how roadrunners typically survive in the desert, and how this particular sculpture will aid in the city’s mission of emphasizing water conservation.

David Uribe’s fourth and fifth grade class came up the name Aguacito, which was chosen by the LCU Board in the roadrunner naming contest. You can visit Aguacito at the entrance of the West Mesa Industrial Park, near Love’s Truck Stop along I-10, as you enter our city from Deming. (Photo: Las Cruces Utilities)

During a LCU board meeting on March 14, commissioners took a break from consideration of complicated water issues and reviewed the top five best names submitted by classes. Along with the excitement of producing the winning name — a plaque will be placed near the roadrunner sculpture, a miniature roadrunner trophy has been provided to Hillrise Elementary, and the winning class was treated to a highly-anticipated pizza party.

A special guest joined the students for their celebratory lunch: LCU Gas System Compliance Inspector Ruben Garcia, a very experienced and highly-accomplished welder, who designed and created both Aguacito and his smaller trophy version.

“It’s fun that they’ve thought so hard about something I made,” Garcia said. “It’s pretty neat.”

After the students received LCU gift bags with lanyards, Frisbees and water-absorbing towels, Uribe had one more surprise — it was time to play “pin the heart on Aguacito.” Three spins for the blindfolded student, like Victoria Muñoz, then she slowly inched forward to find the heart located on a wall.

— Samantha Lewis, LCPS Public Relations Coordinator, 575-527-5946, slewis@lcps.net