Henry Jones relishes his weirdness. His upbringing in a large, loving, diverse family is a major reason he enjoys solving problems for others, especially when it involves computers.

And it explains why he was considered one of the friendliest and most helpful students at Casco Bay High School in Portland.

“I’m a weird dude,” Jones said. “I’m a big black guy who loves computers and sails and has two white moms. I have no shame about myself or my family. I have a pretty weird perspective, and I’m glad about that.”

Jones is the adopted son of Gwyneth Jones and Gretchen Berg, both performance artists and educators. He discovered that he had a gift for computer coding through the robotics team at Portland High School.

“When I do that, I can break down anything I see into a few small problems and then fix the entire problem,” he said.

One of his happiest days was on the floor of the 2014 VEX Robotics World Championship in Anaheim, California. Surrounded by 75,000 other competitors, he wrote and rewrote code to control the team’s robot. They didn’t win, but it was awesome.

“It felt really amazing to get to that level the first year of the team,” Jones said. “It validated what I could accomplish with hard work unbounded by the limits of others.”

Jones transferred to Casco Bay High as a sophomore. In 2014, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he traveled with the junior class to Red Hook, New York, to document effects of climate change. He wrote about the experience for Education Week magazine.

“Although disaster can level cities, you don’t have to let it defeat you,” Jones wrote. “I realized that, supported by my community, I have the power to lift myself from adversity.”

Jones was among the first Portland graduates to earn a diploma endorsement for excellence in science, technology, engineering and math. He helped faculty with computer challenges and designed a website (cascobayhub.com) to showcase Junior Journey research projects.

“Everything I’ve accomplished is because I’ve given back,” Jones said.

In his spare time, Jones was captain of the high school’s sailing team and a host of the Blunt Youth Radio program at WMPG-FM, and he’s a line cook at Local 188 Restaurant & Lounge.

Jones plans to study computer science at Union College in Schenectady, New York, but he’s taking a year off for a few adventures abroad. He’ll spend a month in Switzerland working at a vineyard, a couple of weeks visiting Paris and a Carpe Diem semester in Cuba next spring.

Wherever he winds up, his long-term goal is pretty simple:

“I want to find a place where I’m happy to wake up every morning and do what I like to do.”

– By Kelley Bouchard