NORTH AUGUSTA — Peter Christopher Sherlock mixes seriousness and wisdom beyond his years with a touch of humor.
The 16-year-old Strom Thurmond High School student, who will be a senior this fall and is a member of St. Edward Church in Murphy Village, excels in anything that challenges him, both academically and athletically.
He is the top male student in his class at Thurmond, ranking fifth. With a 3.92 grade point average, Sherlock earned all A’s for the fall semester, following the path he set as a freshman and sophomore when he received medals for placing on the principal’s honor roll.
But academics are just part of his school experience. He was the No. 1 seed on the tennis team, president of the International Club, vice president of the Beta Club, treasurer of the student body, a writer on the yearbook, The Statesman, and has had poems published in the school’s literary magazine, Driftwood. He was also on the SAT team which placed third in its region.
Most of his time is spent on mock trial, a program sponsored by the S.C. Bar Association. Sherlock became interested as a freshman, “He was young, but we took a chance and made him a lawyer,” said Coach Denise Jackson. “When he made his first speech, a star was born.”
He was named best lawyer in district competition. Sherlock now spends three afternoons a week preparing for competitions. Recently, he presented closing statements for both the plaintiff and defense in district competition with his team. Closing statements were limited to eight minutes, and he worked with Edgefield attorney Gary Anderson to cut two minutes from his statement. “It’s difficult to cut two minutes when a case is complicated,” he said.
“Mock trial is different from sports,” Sherlock said. “You really have to use your mind — it’s like taking another class.” The Bar Association sends the case to all teams. This year’s was a civil case involving a person with asthma. “We had to research the medical aspects so, if witnesses were asked questions about the illness, they could be prepared.”
The mock trial has strengthened Sherlock’s resolve to become a lawyer. To that end he has started looking at schools. He has visited Davidson and Furman, is interested in Duke, Emory, the University of North Carolina and the University of South Carolina. Sherlock took the SAT as a sophomore and added 100 points to his score the second time he took the test. With an 1140, he plans to try again and hopes to bring his score even higher.
Asked his thoughts on being an Irish Traveler, he smiled saying, “Oh, I’m proud of it. By and large Travelers are an honest, hard-working group of people trying to get along. The people of Murphy Village are very supportive of me. Some have said, ‘I really wish I’d been like you.'” Sherlock wants to return to the area as an attorney. “By setting a good example, and showing I can make good, will help others,” he stressed.
“My dad helped push me,” Sherlock said. His father graduated from Our Lady of Peace and Aquinas High School. He taught his son there was a time for play, but a large portion of time should be spent on studies. His parents are Pete and Mary Kate Sherlock.
American history is Sherlock’s favorite subject, and he took an advanced placement (AP) U.S. history course, the only AP course offered to juniors. “I’ve earned most of my credits (needed for graduation) at the end of this year, but I can take three AP courses next year and will graduate with 25 or 26 credits and some college credits if I pass the AP course. If I’m going to be here, I should get as much out of it as possible.”
Mostly I know I’m not the smartest at Strom Thurmond, but I try to make up for this with hard work and perseverance,” said Sherlock. He was chosen to attend Governor’s School in Charleston this summer with the brightest and best from all South Carolina high schools. He will take courses that will help sharpen his critical thinking skills.
“Writing is a big thing pushed at school,” Sherlock said. “I want to sharpen my writing, so I’ll be ready for the challenge of college. Strom Thurmond and Spring Valley are the only high schools in the state offering a math analysis lab class. We have to write papers on this, and it has helped both writing and critical thinking skills.”
Many students at Strom Thurmond didn’t know what an Irish Traveler was. They have accepted Sherlock without prejudice. “From the first day I met Pete, he handled himself with such dignity,” said Jackson. “He has such strong character. The neat thing about Pete is how he handles himself so well.”
“Pete is a model student and a good role model for others,” said Patricia Bryan, school guidance counselor. “He is very well adjusted, and I anticipate he will be very successful because he is diligent and determined. He doesn’t shy away from a challenge.”
“Coming out of here (Murphy Village) you have to prove what you can do,” Sherlock said. “Mostly I want an education and the benefits that come with an education. I have to take advantage of all the opportunities. Without an education you are defenseless against the world.”
“Pete wants to make a good impression wherever he goes,” said his proud father. “At many places Pete is the only Traveler other people will ever meet.”
The above article originally appeared as a profile in The North Augusta Star newspaper. The author was Mim Woodring.