PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

June 12, 2013

Only friendly rivalry among SP's top students

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

SABINE PASS — Ryan Nunez and Calandra Snowden do not agree about anything involving a needle and thread.

“I don't understand crochet,” Snowden said. “I decided knitting was the better option.”

“Crocheting’s easier,” Nunez countered. “I tried knitting before, but I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do, so I just stopped.”

Despite what the casual onlooker may surmise, no actual animosity exists between the two girls. Nunez was named valedictorian of the Sabine Pass School Class of 2013; Snowden salutatorian.

The top students have had plenty of opportunities for good-natured ribbing. While in high school, both Nunez and Snowden played on the Sharks’ volleyball team, and Nunez was the manager of the basketball team that Snowden played on. Snowden was also a cheerleader and a member of the softball and track teams, while Nunez played tennis.

“I haven't gone home at 3:30 all year,” Nunez said. “I usually stay until 5:30, sometimes 6.”

How do the girls manage their intimidating schedules? With a smile, Snowden said — and a little help from her friends never goes amiss.

“I moved from volleyball season straight into basketball season with Ryan,” Snowden said. “She was encouraging me in volleyball, and then she was encouraging me in basketball. It's constant.”

Both also participated in the school’s richest tradition, UIL. Nunez was a part of the state champion Accounting team — she placed third individually — as well as Computer Applications.

“I really enjoy UIL — it's interesting,” Nunez said. “You get to learn about stuff that you don't get to learn about in school.”

Snowden participated in Lincoln-Douglas debate and Literary Criticism.

“Lit Crit encompasses more than just basic literature,” she said. “I like delving deeper into the different meanings and structures of everything.”

This August, the girls’ paths, after running parallel for so long, will diverge. Snowden will attend the University of Texas at San Antonio as a kinesiology major. She hopes to pursue a career in physical therapy.

“Because I'm so involved in the sports field, I began to love the concept of the mind working with the body,” Snowden said. “I'm a big supporter of athletes and people just working to improve themselves.”

Nunez is planning to attend Lamar University in Beaumont. Her career plans are currently still murky.

“I'm considering some kind of accounting-related field, because it really does interest me,” she said.

Although they will no longer be side by side in Sabine Pass, it isn’t difficult to envision the girls’ friendship withstanding the test of time.

“I'm proud of Ryan, even if I say I'm not,” Snowden said. “But I give her a hard time.”

“I give her a harder time,” Nunez is quick to interject.

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA