Sophia Berry is among the inaugural freshman and sophomore classes who started at the newly built public high school this fall
By James Dupree | Photography by John Michael Simpson
Students bustle through the hallways of Seaforth High, the first public high school built in Chatham County since the early 1970s, and sophomore Sophia Berry, 15, is among its inaugural class.
“There is a lot of new equipment and a lot of new spaces that people are getting used to, even the teachers,” she says. “So many kids [came] from different schools. … A lot of people didn’t know [one another] on the first day.”
Sophia says adjusting to the school, located off of Highway 64 near Jordan Lake, is becoming easier with time. “People compliment [one another] on something they’re wearing or their personality or something they’ve made in a class. Everyone is very positive here,” she says.
One of her favorite aspects of the new building is each classroom’s technology – think large interactive screens that students can write on using a stylus – allowing teachers to more easily explain certain concepts. “When we’re going over grammar in English, my teacher has these cutouts of sentences that she uses to help us understand the order of [words] and punctuation that we’re going to be using.”
Sophia’s fascination with tech extends into her plans for college, where she hopes to study computer technology. “Anything with coding is really what I’m looking to learn about,” says Sophia, who attended Girls Who Code, a virtual, two-week summer immersion program, in July. Her father, John Berry, a former software engineer and consultant, played a big part in Sophia’s attraction to technology as well. “[My dad] used to travel all around the world [helping] people with technical problems with their computers,” she says. “He did a lot of computer science work, and so it kind of inspired me to do the same.”
Outside of school, she enjoys staying active with the Bouncing Bulldogs, a jump rope-focused organization she joined when she was 4 years old. “[The] experience [has been] positive and rewarding,” Sophia says. “I get to work with a lot of children [and] people from other teams [and] compete with my friends.” Since 2016, Sophia has won multiple awards at both national and world jump rope championships, including three first-place awards.
“Sophia Berry is an outstanding jumper,” says Bouncing Bulldogs coach and founder Ray Fredrick. “But more important[ly], she’s a better person. When the youngest boys and girls walk into the gym, the first teacher they look for is Sophia. She has a special way of relating to younger children, which is [the] quality I admire most about her.”
As Sophia looks to the future, she hopes to see more clubs and school events at Seaforth. She wants to continue teaching the younger Bulldogs and compete in more championships with her team. And, she adds, “And if the college I go to has a jump rope club, I might join that, [too].”