On Friday, Port Neches-Groves High School senior Emily Wyble was in Judge Brad Burnett’s court room for all of the right reasons.
Wyble received the 2012 Star Student Award, an award Burnett gives each year to a student in Mid Jefferson County who has had to overcome personal hardship in order to further their academic careers.
Wyble and her sister were forced to endure the devastation of their mother’s tragic death during Wyble’s sophomore year.
To make matters worse, Wyble’s father left the girls in fall of 2011, according to the PN-GHS student newspaper the PowWow.
As the second semester of her senior year rolled around Wyble began to be habitually truant.
She had even told PN-GISD administrators she wanted to drop out, according Pat Briggs, assistant principal at PN-GHS.
“Everyday there are students in my office who struggle with attendance,” said Jon Deckert, assistant principal at PN-GHS.
Deckert, who nominated Wyble for the Star Student Award, works daily with Judge Burnett to try to keep PN-GHS students in school.
“She made some bad choices, and she will be the first to admit she was going down the wrong road,” said Deckert. “I challenged her that if she would just come to school and do her work I would nominate her for this award.”
Deckert said he challenges many kids to stay in school but Wyble proved she was special.
“Through my high school years I have had some difficulties that I thought I wouldn’t overcome but I did,” Wyble told the News Friday.
Since the challenge she has had perfect attendance, according to Deckert.
After she graduates she plans to attend the Lamar Institute of Technology and study to become a radiology technologist, a two year program that Wyble could complete in three years, after finishing her prerequisite classes.
As part of the award ceremony Friday, Burnett arranged for representatives from LIT and The Medical Center of Southeast Texas to meet with the student and give her some guidance on pursuing a career in radiology.
Burnett, who is a PN-GHS graduate, has given the award since 2003 and said many of the Star Award recipients have gone on to lead successful professional or military careers.
“There is just a small window of opportunity, from about 17 to 21, where these kids make some really big choices that affect the rest of their lives,” said Burnett. “Because they have proven to us that they have the energy and the values, we give them the boost they need to be successful.”
A demanding presence in the courtroom, the judge gave Wyble a firm directive: To be successful.
“It’s a court order, you have to do it,” said Burnett.
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