BRIGHT FUTURES — Port Neches-Groves’ Penelope Robles aims for the top, looking to make a difference

Published 12:38 am Tuesday, November 22, 2022

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PORT NECHES — Penelope Robles is part of a six-way tie for valedictorian of her graduating class at Port Neches-Groves High School.

And while there are gifted students with high IQs, Robles said she isn’t one of them.

“For me, I’m in the middle. I feel like I have to work super hard, so I study. Sometimes I procrastinate. I’m not going to lie, but I do try to work ahead and do come in super early,” Robles said.

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Her physics teacher, Carrie Guarnere, gets to the school at 6:30 a.m., and Robles said they talk about life and what she needs to get done. Robles said the teacher is always ready to help.

“Getting here early, staying late, putting in the extra effort,” she said of the things she does to earn and keep a slot among the top students.

“The reason I do all this stuff is so I’m prepared for the future and I can hopefully make something good out of that.

“I don’t just do this to make my resume look good or to get into a good college. I actually want to utilize everything I’ve got in high school, do something with it and change the world in some way.”

Robles is a member of the Indianettes drill team, student council, American Sign Language Club, History Club, National Honor Society and TRIBE.

Port Neches-Groves High School Library Clerk Alicia Barnett speaks with senior Penelope Robles. (Mary Meaux/The News)

She made a concerted effort to be and stay at the top while in middle school earning straight As.

“I figured out when you get to high school that’s when your GPA starts accumulating, so I stayed in all honors classes, dual credit,” she said. “You have to get straight As throughout all of your classes.”

Being part of ASL is important to the high school senior.

Her interest began with an aunt who took ASL classes and taught her some.

The knowledge came in handy as there is a student at her dance studio who is hard of hearing, so Robles uses ASL to communicate.

Robles herself has been in dance since the age of 2. She hopes to attend Kilgore College and try out for the world-renowned Rangerettes dance team.

She plans to major in dance and minor in deaf studies.

Cortnie Schexnaider, Robles’ drill team director, has had her on the team for three years.

“Penelope is a perfectionist and is a passionate leader. I can always count on her to make sure our practices run smoothly,” Schexnaider said.

Robles considers her mom and stepdad important in her life.

She called mom Sabrina Lunceford her biggest role model and said stepdad Cory Lunceford is always there for her.

“He always supports me, tells me to dream big and to never settle for less,” she said. “I couldn’t do it without them.”