Student stars: Alexis Penn of Oliver High School


The world of education is filled with hard workers — hard-working teachers, hard-working administrators and, of course, hard-working students. In recognition of the great students and schools in our neighborhoods, The Northside Chronicle is profiling just a few of them in this weekly blog feature.

Chronicle intern Tracy Patinksi sat down with students from many Northside schools to talk about their dreams and goals. These students work hard day in and day out to make their families and teachers proud, and each one was nominated for these profiles by their teachers and principals for their accomplishments in academics, sports, arts and more.

Meet Alexis Penn, a ninth grader at Oliver High School recognized by her English teacher for her diligent study habits, participation and excellent Scholastic Reading Inventory scores.

According to Alexis’s teacher, her SRI scores, which measure a student’s reading comprehension, were some of the highest he has ever seen.

Not surprisingly, Alexis said that one of her favorite activities is reading. Her favorite books are dramas, and at the time of our interview she was in the middle of “Monster” by Walter Dean Myers.

Although Alexis loves reading and English class, she is enjoying her entire schedule this year; geometry and biology ranked as two of her other favorite classes. Her other coursework includes French, Advanced English and ceramics, and despite the challenges, Alexis is having a great high school experience.

She had reason to be nervous at first. She came to Oliver at the beginning of this year and hardly knew any of the other students. As time went on, she met new friends and excelled in all of her classes.

“It’s going better than expected,” she said about her freshmen year. “It’s not bad at all.”

In fact, she has a goal for the end of ninth grade: getting straight A’s in her classes. So far, she is well on her way.

Despite only being in ninth grade, Alexis has already begun thinking about the future. She showed no hesitation in declaring her ambitions.

“I’ve wanted to be a judge, ever since I was in first grade,” she said. “I like the drama.”

Right now, she’s considering enrolling for her first four years at the University of Pittsburgh, and later transferring to Harvard for law school. A daunting task, but Alexis feels that she’s up to the challenge.

Alexis said she has a great support system at home and she cites her mother as a key inspiration for getting through high school.

“My mom is always in my ear about school,” she said. “She’s really supportive. If I don’t do my homework, we have problems.”

Tracy Patinski is a full-time graduate student in Carnegie Mellon’s professional writing program and currently interned with The Northside Chronicle during the fall semester.

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