Top of the Class

Tobie Berry and Avery Meyer have been good friends since fourth grade and have had many classes together at Eureka Springs High School.

They’ve studied together, done assignments together and are planning to be roommates this fall at Hendrix College in Conway.

“We’re going to try it out,” Meyer said with a slight chuckle of the plans to live together.

So, it’s only fitting that the duo finished 1-2 in their class and will present a “shared speech” at Saturday’s 10 a.m. graduation ceremony at the ESHS Gymnasium.

“We’ve stuck together,” Meyer said.

Berry, the school’s valedictorian, finished her senior year with a 4.3 grade-point average while Meyer, salutatorian, had a 4.1 GPA.

“There was honestly never any competition at all,” Berry said of the duo. “Most of the classes we had, we had together. Most of the assignments we had, we did together. We both had the same goal of doing really well in school and we both kind of just stumbled upon the titles.”


Berry’s goal has always been simple, she said.

“Being valedictorian was never my main goal,” she said. “I always just wanted to do really well in school so I could get scholarships to pay for college.”

That included a lot of studying. A whole lot.

“I dedicated a lot of time outside of school to homework,” Berry said. “Honestly, probably like three hours a night, especially during my senior year because it’s so busy. Throughout high school a lot of my time outside of school was dedicated to doing schoolwork and maintaining that.

“There were a lot of weekends where I could have done something funner, crazier. But, I stayed home and got some work in.” Berry’s summer was pretty busy, too, as she got to participate in the annual four-week Governor’s School at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

“It was great,” she said. “It was kind of like a sneak peek into what college would be like. It made me feel a lot more confident moving forward that I can do well in this next chapter of my life.”

That next chapter will be at Hendrix, where Berry said she plans to focus on classes in biology or physics.

“I’m still undecided,” she said. “If I choose biology I’ll probably go into like clinical research or genetics counseling, something along those lines. If I went into physics, I’d probably do something probably with the environment, maybe like geophysics. Or, if I really want to shoot high I might try some actual physics, but we’ll see.”

Regardless of the path she takes, Berry said she is thankful for the support she’s received through the years from her mom, Timarie, and hopes her study habits set a good example for her two younger siblings.

“My mom is really proud,” Berry said of her being valedictorian. “She never put a lot of pressure on me to do well in school. She always just expected me to do my best.

“I just want to thank my mom for always being there for me and kind of guiding me through high school.”

At school, Berry said science teachers Shawna Miller and Eric Hearth also were positive impacts.

“They both have done a lot for me inside of school and outside of school,” she said.

That was aided by being in a smaller school environment, which Berry said helped her along the way with teachers and classmates.

“I don’t think I would have thrived in a much bigger school because I’m kind of a shy, introverted person,” she said. “Being in a small community has definitely benefited me a lot.”

Regardless of the size, there will still be some nerves during the address to the class, Berry said.

“I’m definitely nervous,” she said. “I know it’ll be fine, but public speaking is not my strong suit, so we’ll see how it all goes down.”


Meyer’s journey to a top-two finish in her class came after what she called a “rough patch” during her junior year.

“There was a time my junior year where I had a rough patch,” Meyer said. “That kind of set me back just a little bit, but I was still right next to [Berry].”

The long list of similarities don’t stop there.

Like Berry, Meyer loves science and credits her parents, Donovan and Heidi, for the support needed to thrive academically.

“I haven’t really had any stress from anybody,” Meyer said. “My dad has always known that I work hard and knows he doesn’t have to pester me about things that I haven’t done because he knows I’ll get it in. I’ve been pretty independent on that part. It’s just kind of my own motivation, I guess.

“But I’ve had a lot of help and motivation from a lot of people. I don’t have any siblings. It’s just me. My mom did really good in school and that’s probably played a part in it, but it’s also something that I wanted.”

Setting priorities and spending time wisely were also a key, Meyer said.

“For me it was more the fact that I knew what I would have to get done even if it wasn’t in the best case,” she said. “I really enjoyed spending time with my friends so I took that as a priority sometimes. But, I also made sure that whatever I needed to get done, I got done and done right.”

That helped her juggle things like being a part of the school’s mountain biking team.

“That’s been a really impactful thing for me through high school,” Meyer said of mountain biking. “It’s a great outlet for stress. It’s awesome and really fun.”

Meyer also credited Miller for being a positive influence.

“She has really played a huge role in my life in school and outside of school,” Meyer said. “At a small school you know everybody and you can make connections with teachers. She is like a mentor, a role model for me. She knew when to push me and when I should do things. That helped develop me into being able to make decisions for myself. And outside of school she was an outlet for me if I needed something.”

Meyer is also undecided what her focus will be at Hendrix, mentioning interests in physics and environmental science.

“I really want to be like a park ranger,” she said, later adding that she also has interest in being a geologist.

“Hendrix is definitely a good place to start.”

Meyer said she’s happy Berry will be by her side when she begins her college journey, just as she will be Saturday during the speech they plan to deliver together.

“I’m happy that we can do it together,” Meyer said. “That’s going to make it better. I’m nervous about it, but I think most people are when it comes to speeches. As long as we work on it, I think it’s going to be fun.”

“I don’t think we’re going to completely bomb it,” she added, with a laugh.