Scholars flourish ‘The Manteo Way’

Published 6:21 am Saturday, June 15, 2019

Manteo High School’s teaching staff has prepared the entire Class of 2019 for the next steps in life and two of their finest have claimed first and second in their class. Sophia Anne Farrow has been named the valedictorian and Charles Wesley Mitchum the salutatorian based on their outstanding academic achievements and stellar grade point averages (GPA). Graduation is scheduled for Saturday, June 15 at Waterside Theater on Roanoke Island at 9 a.m.

Each senior student also kept busy in extracurricular activities throughout their Manteo careers. Farrow has selected East Carolina University in Greenville (ECU) and Mitchum says he’s headed for University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, which is simply known around this region as “Carolina.”

Both of the student-athletes were busy Tuesday, but took time out of their lives to sit down at the Front Porch in Manteo to discuss their respective futures. Over a cup of fresh-made green iced tea, Farrow gracefully explained how it all came to be.

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“I was like ‘whoa,’ all that hard work paid off in the end,” Farrow said with a smile and reported she has a 4.629 GPA.

She took her last exam back in early May and said that she’s kept busy taking “a bunch of COA and Pitt County Community College classes.” She currently has enough credits to enter college as a sophomore, she said.

Manteo High School’s valedictorian Sophia Farrow stands with her horse Judah. Courtesy Blue Poppy Weddings

And the excellence in academics landed her a full scholarship to ECU’s Honors College.

“It’s very competitive, over six thousand apply and there are only two hundred positions,” Farrow said.

She plans to follow in her father Johnny’s path in life and become a medical doctor; he practices at Outer Banks Family Medicine in Manteo.

Farrow has started working through the first stage of this masterplan. She’s already completed her first round of emergency medical technician (EMT) training and currently is enrolled in an advanced class, she said.

At ECU, she’ll start with biology as her major and continue on the pre-med track. All total, it will take her 12 years.

“I want to be an emergency room doctor,” Farrow said. “That’s the goal, in the emergency department.”

She knows its high stress because she’s gotten a taste of it all right here in Dare County.

“I’ve done some ride a longs and clinical situations,” Farrow said, and it’s been very interesting. She takes a break to sip her tea and mentions that she and Mitchum have been friends since kindergarten. In fact, the past two years were the first ever they didn’t have classes together.

They were together last fall, however, as she led the cheerleading squad while Mitchum played football. Farrow was co-captain along with her best friend Lesley Estrada. In addition to cheer, Farrow took journalism all four years, served as newspaper editor last year and was on yearbook staff this year, all under the tutelage of Sarah Neal Pritchard, who’s a Manteo alumnus.


Sophia Farrow was a co-captain of the varsity cheerleading squad this past fall. Daryl Law file photo

Farrow giggled when she recalled her days on the “Journalism Squad” or simply “J-squad” roaming the halls and meeting new people.

“Journalism and being an EMT has really helped me,” Farrow said. “I’m outgoing and I like to meet people.”

“At Manteo High School, you know everybody by name,” she said. “Everyone is very supportive.”

“If you have an argument, it’s forgotten in a week,” Farrow said. “It’s a supportive, family-like school.”

During her time at there, she mainly did newspaper stories for Pritchard, she noted. Farrow also took part in the Student Government Association all four years and served as junior class president and senior class president. A member of the National Honor Society, Farrow also rides horses and plays the piano.


Charles Wesley Mitchum, right, with favorite teacher Sarah Neal Pritchard, center, and good friend Sydney Childress at the Manteo prom at Jennette’s Pier this spring. Courtesy photo

Speaking of newspaper, Mitchum also mentioned journalism instructor Pritchard and shared a photo from this year’s prom with his good friend Sydney Childress, Pritchard and him.

“She’s probably my favorite teacher at the high school,” he said. “I took A.P. language with her.”

Mitchum says he also plans to follow in his dad Marc’s footsteps and work to become a business owner. On Tuesday, the father and son were out on their Chesapeake Bay dead rise charter boat taking some visitors out fishing for crabs and such.

Because he’d been up since 5 a.m. and on the water most of the day, Mitchum first grabbed some grub and a Naked Strawberry Banana drink before we talked.

“Summer has arrived and it’s time to get busy,” he said, “time to make it while it’s here.”

“Crabbing is what we’re known for – we started it about seven years ago,” Mitchum said. “They [tourists] love it.”

The 42-foot long vessel, “Jodie Kae” is encased in fiberglass, or “glassed-over,” as Mitchum calls it. Their business name is OBX Crabbing and Shrimping Charters and they can take six paying customers at a time.


Manteo High School’s salutatorian Charles Wesley Mitchum. Daryl Law photo

As for him achieving salutatorian status with a 4.508 GPA, Mitchum admitted it was tough.

“I worked pretty hard,” he said. “It wasn’t really what I had in mind,” but it did mirror his goal to do his best. “We all worked hard.”

Along the way, he participated in varsity football, track, wrestling, Mathletes and was in the National Honor Society.

Mitchum said football was high on his list, but injuries plagued his junior and senior seasons.

“I loved every moment of it while I was playing,” he said. “I sent films to Ivy League schools Dartmouth, Cornell, Georgetown and Liberty.

“I knew it was a long shot, but I sent them my videos,” Mitchum said.

Coach Sport Sawyer said whether in the classroom or on the field, “Wesley or Wes,” was polite, worked hard and was a team player.

Coach was proud to hear Mitchum was the salutatorian; “That’s very good, very good for him.

“He played sports and maintained his grades, so that’s awesome!” coach said.

“He had a couple injuries that kept him back, but overall, when he did play he did pretty good,” Sawyer said.

After everything was said and done, Mitchum said Carolina was the right choice for him.

“It just felt right, I’ve always been a Carolina fan,” he said. “It just made sense.”

He would like to get into the sustainable energy business and mentioned wind farms. Mitchum would like to give back to the community, so perhaps he’ll find a way to do so that is indeed sustainable.

“I’d like to give back to the county, have a wind farm big enough to power entire Outer Banks,” he said.

“Turbines off the coast? I’m not sure people would like them,” Mitchum said.

This summer, he’s planning to go to the Bahamas on a mission trip with Nags Head Church.

Looking back on his years at Manteo, Mitchum had great things to say about it all.

“I have a lot of good friends there,” he said. “I wouldn’t be second in my class if it wasn’t for my friends and teachers”

Hats off to Farrow and Mitchum, two fine young adults who managed to flourish in high school “the Manteo way.”



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