Gig Harbor Now is posting profiles of each of the 25 Students of Distinction being honored by the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation. The students will be honored during a banquet from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Ocean5, 5268 Point Fosdick Dr.
Student: Connor Boman
School: Peninsula High School
Category: Athletic Achievement
Connor Boman is a special person in many ways. He loves sports — especially cross country, track and swimming – and has won letters in all three as an ambulatory athlete.
He volunteers at a local thrift store, is part of Peninsula Youth Football, and, when he’s not on the track or the field, he loves to cheer for his friends.
Connor Boman Contributed
According to his mother, Anne Bunker, Connor often plays a leadership role in teaching others how to be a good friend and helping them learn how to interact with him.
“He really prefers being with his typical peers,” she said. “He genuinely feels like he’s one of the group. That’s his absolute favorite thing in school: he loves hanging out with the teenage guys.”
This year he got to go to the state championship games with his cross country team and got to stay in a hotel. That was a very special experience for him — being part of the team and being with his typical peers, she said.
In addition to excelling on the track team, Connor has also maintained a 3.61 GPA and was named Student of the Month in 2018. He’s been learning some vocational skills at Goodwill several times a week, and is part of the CIP Unified Club practicing the leadership aspects of inclusivity, his mom said.
As it was for most students, learning to cope with COVID restrictions was his biggest challenge.
“It’s extremely important and necessary to Connor to be part the community,” his mom said. “The isolation that the pandemic created really impacted him and his friends.”
Connor’s teachers are quick to acknowledge his contributions.
“Connor makes everyone around him feel special. He’s purposeful in his connections with people, showing a great amount of love and care for those around him through a simple ‘hello,’” said special education teacher Joelle Rickard. “He’s the type of person you can count on to be tremendously involved in community, whether it’s dressing up for school spirit days, helping complete jobs around the school or working at local businesses, Conner is there to help with his particular brand of Connor flair.”
Tyler Nugent, PHS cross country and track coach, agreed.
“Conner is hard-working, consistent and flexible. His love for running is evident every day and he pushes himself in ways that most teens will not. I know that desire he has extends to school and work tasks as well. He has shown the willingness to try a variety of new running drills and strength exercises, despite the physical challenge they present. Last fall he finished third in the state in the Ambulatory division. It was a fantastic culmination of years of consistent preparation on his part.”
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One of his best memories came on his birthday when one of his teachers gave him a sign that read ‘Sing Happy Birthday to me” — and the entire lunchroom joined together in singing to him.
After graduation, Conner will continue in the district’s Community Transition Program to polish up his life skills and job training and he’ll continue to compete at the JV level. He’d like to attend a post-secondary transition/inclusive college and be an ambassador for alter-abled people.
Connor’s advice to younger students is to get to know people that you don’t know. Everyone is capable of doing different things, and every person has something to give to the team, something to contribute. Find something you like and just go for it.
Category: Athletic Achievement
Parents: Anne and Matthew Bunker
Activities/achievements: Student of the Month – 2018; Cross Country – three letters: three bids to league championship, one bid to state showcase, one bid to state championship as an ambulatory athlete. Placed third in state cross country ambulatory race; Track and Field — two letters, one bid to state championship as an ambulatory athlete and one bid to state showcase in track and field; Swim and Dive — three letters: two bids to state championship as an ambulatory athlete.
Favorite teacher: Joelle Rickard. She is always there to support him when he doesn’t always have someone. He feels safe with her.
Favorite thing about PHS: The depth of inclusion that is felt by diverse students, especially in sports, is second to none. The athletic department has a model of inclusion that celebrates the value of every single participant no matter their ability or skill level. Connor has been the recipient of genuine support from every coach and athlete in all of the sports and seasons he has participated. Because of this, if you ask him, he would say his favorite part of PHS is the athletic experience.
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