Senior inspires peers with personality
His 6’2″ lanky body stood tall, and his brown hair peaked above his group of friends. Surrounded by his joking friends, Penn’s whole body shook with laughter as he struggled to eat his goldfish. His contagious laughter is echoed by the fun, colorful way he dresses, especially in his wacky socks and cobalt blue UCLA sweatshirt.
Sitting out on more than half of the games during his senior basketball season wasn’t a part of senior Tyler Penn’s plan. Penn has been playing on the court since he was eight years old, but even so, an unexpected concussion didn’t put a damper on Penn’s ambitious goals, as he will be attending UCLA’s prestigious Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science in the fall while still toting his 4.54 GPA and high academic title. But, to Penn’s tight knit group of friends, his skills on the court, straight A’s, and graduation status aren’t what make Penn great: it’s his personality.
“He’s pretty goofy, especially because this year’s his senior year, and he knows where he’s going and stuff. He’s just having fun and enjoying himself,” said senior Evan Espinoza, Penn’s close friend and teammate for six years.
The Penn family of six moved to Paso Robles from Corvallis, Oregon six years ago and Tyler began the seventh grade at Lewis Middle School. It was there that Penn realized his love for academics and basketball.
After playing two years of middle school basketball at LMS, Penn played Bearcat Basketball all four years of high school, two of which were on varsity. Penn was unable to play much his senior year due to a concussion after taking a charge in a league game against Pioneer Valley. After slamming his skull against the paint, a smacking sound echoed in the Gil Asa Gym and Penn blacked out for a few painstakingly long seconds.The concussion kept him off the court, but Penn continued to go to every practice and game to support his teammates.
“Tyler is a really great guy, and he’s just super smart and such a team player. Even when he was injured for part of the season, he still came to every practice, every game, and cheered us on. He did every part he could to improve the team and motivate us. As a new player on the team, he really helped me out and told me what to do,” said junior Mason Wiesner, a walk-on player who moved to Paso Robles at the start of the school year.
Academics play a major role in Penn’s life, and the 10 AP classes he took during his time at PRHS earned him a Top Cat’s award for being in the top 10 percent of the senior class for grades. The avid video game fanatic says he only needs to study less than 30 minutes a night. The lack of a sixth period also gives Penn the opportunity to set aside specific time to play Legend of Zelda, for his so-called “nerding out.”
“I have a good memory. Like when I read stuff, it sticks pretty well…so I’ve just always made sure I knew the content of my classes. I always have a concept of what’s going on,” said Penn, whose favorite class was AP Physics with Mark Fairbank.
“Tyler is a very cordial student who worked especially well with other students. He was always prepared for class. He has an outstanding work ethic as well as a pleasant demeanor. My advice for Tyler is to be who you are. Be the kind, generous, hard working student you are,” said Fairbank, who taught Penn during his junior year.
Another influential part of Penn’s life is his family’s commitment to faith. His father became a pastor before he was born, making it routine to attend Paso Robles Community Church every Sunday, not only for service, but also to have volunteered in the children’s ministry, and he is currently a visual technician.
“I’d say my faith really affects my everyday decisions. Like it has really helped define me as a person. I try my best to be kind to everyone, but even more than that try to [not swear] and also like respect women, which is really different from most guys in high school. This has led to some challenges in high school because many people around act that way and it takes a lot of self control to resist falling into it,” Penn said.
Penn is attending UCLA’s school of Engineering in the fall to become a Civil Engineer. He is looking forward to the college life, and the traditions they uphold on campus.