Powhatan School 2013
James Wood High School 2017
Wake Forest University 2021
For the past three years Sophia Dorsey ’13 has been an intern for the Clarke County Easement Authority. This summer she visited with us to check on the status of the Crocker Conservancy, the 47-acre property that sits in easement on the Powhatan School campus. Sophia is a 2013 graduate of Powhatan and currently a sophomore at Wake Forest University. We spoke to Sophia about her years at Powhatan School.
What first comes to mind when you think of Powhatan?
My first thought definitely has to be the importance placed on the natural environment and how much time we got to spend being outdoors. As I went on to high school, I realized how lucky we had been to have the freedom to interact outdoors and learn about the plants and animals in our own backyard. The emphasis placed on appreciating the environment has been something I continue to feel passionate about.
What was the time you felt most confident at Powhatan?
The small classroom sizes were great for building confidence, as I knew my teachers very well and would often have ideas for independent projects or activities that they would help encourage, allowing me to gain independence and confidence in my ability. A specific time that comes to mind is when Foxcroft School organized their first STEM competition for girls, and I formed a small group of my peers to go and represent Powhatan. Although math and sciences hadn’t been my strongest areas at the time, we all relied on each team member’s unique abilities to complete the challenges, and our nerdy little group earned first place! We had fun competing, but I remember feeling like we had all really contributed our skills and equally earned our victory, improving my confidence in my ability to adapt to new challenges.
Can you give me an example of the project or activity you enjoyed the most at Powhatan?
My all-time favorite activity was when we took the field trip to the Chesapeake Bay. It was so neat fishing and identifying our catches, along with some fun jumping in giant mud pits. We got hands-on experiences of marine biology, encountered unique cultures while on Tangier Island, and even got to eat the crabs we caught one night all while learning about the importance of the Bay.
Can you give me an example of the most challenging activity you had at Powhatan?
The annual chapel talk was something I had been anxious about for years as a student, knowing we would have to write 7 whole pages of a speech, which at the time sounded like a novel! I was introduced to research methods, citations, and public speaking in front of a large audience. It was a long process, but at the end I felt confident in my speech and speaking abilities, and it was a great feeling to have conquered the challenge.
Who was your favorite teacher?
Mrs. Hobbs was my favorite because she always knew how to get us to stay on track all while having fun. She managed to put up with us even when we confessed our crush on her son (who was engaged) and would write the number of days left to “escape” in our lockers towards graduations. She encouraged my passion for writing and sciences, and kept great spirit helping us through the “eighth grade- itis” as we got antsy for our next step. I look up to her as an educator and I’m grateful for her influence.
What skills did you come away with from Powhatan that helped you in the years since (high school, college, etc) graduating?
As soon as I entered high school I realized how much of an advantage I had coming from Powhatan. Some of the writing-intensive classes from Powhatan were never even challenged in my high school career, and because of Powhatan I was able to finish Spanish language classes a year early while still reaching the highest AP level. Along with academics, I learned the importance of the environment, creativity in all fields, and the overall impact a strong foundation of education can have.
What do you think of when you hear our school motto?
We learn not for school but for LIFE.
The motto is something I have more recently come to truly understand, but overall it is the way Powhatan teaches students to want to learn, explore, and excel. The lessons I learned, helped me to become a stronger individual in all aspects of life. I learned to explore and my horizons were opened to the community, environment, and career paths. Most importantly, I learned not to just pass, but to excel in whatever it is I may be doing.
What advice would you give to the rising eighth grade class?
Don’t sweat the little things and the drama, appreciate the now and take every opportunity to have fun and use (not abuse) your eighth grade freedom and privileges. You never know what the next step has in store for you, so make every moment last and appreciate your friendships, Powhatan bonds can last a lot longer than you might think.