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: Janae Lewis
School: Peninsula High School
Cateory: Community Service Achievement
Janae Lewis has been doing community service work since the fifth grade, when she raised more than $500 to support the work of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
“We were given an assignment to pick something we were passionate about and figure out how we could help the cause,” she said.
Her success, and the good feelings she got from knowing she was helping others, showed her how much she liked organizing events and finding ways to help the community and those in need of some extra support.
Since then, Janae has helped raise money for Nativity House and her soccer club, worked at the S.A.V.E. Thrift Store, helped with the Food Bowl and Food Drive, the clothing drive, volunteered at Winterfest and other school events and more, all while serving as an officer in the National Honor Society and maintaining a 3.98 GPA in Running Start.
She has enjoyed every minute she’s spent helping others — especially helping with the Food Drive, she said.
“We always compete with Gig Harbor to see who can bring in the most food, and then it’s all donated to Food Backpacks 4Kids. This year we won — we got 30,000 items. It’s always more enjoyable to do things when you know how it’s going to directly affect so many people in a positive way.”
But of all the community service activities she’s done, that fifth grade effort is what she’s most proud of, she said.
She is also a scholar athlete and has played varsity soccer all four years of high school. This year she’s captain of both the PHS team and her club team.
COVID presented new challenges, she said, with far fewer opportunities to “go out and help people. And it made it more difficult to help oversee school-related activities like the food drive because no one was ever at school all together.”
Janae’s advice to younger kids is to work hard and find something to join — like a club or a sport.
“Finding people who understand you, support you, and who you enjoy being around is something I’ve found very important. It makes the experience all that much better,” she said.
Amanda Balera taught Janae in her biology class and again in human body systems.
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“Janae first struck me as a student who had a high level of confidence and a desire to understand,” Balara wrote in a letter of recommendation. “She is hard-working and has a desire for higher understanding. She has maintained an exceptional GPA and was a scholar athlete at PHS. She’s well-loved and well-respected. She has the passion, the desire and the grit to make a difference.”
This fall Janae will be playing soccer and working toward a degree in psychology/pre-med at Linfield University in Oregon. She wants to focus on OB-GYN and be a midwife specializing in high-risk pregnancies.
Category: Community Service Achievement
Parents: Todd and Monica Lewis
Activities/Accomplishments: Volunteers at numerous school events and non-profit organizations; Running Start; National Honor Society president; Scholar athlete; ASB treasurer, Varsity soccer – academic honors, all four years, best offensive player, MVP, captain, All-league, All-district and All-region teams; Arthur Schulte scholarship.
Favorite teacher: Mr. Senko, 4th grade math and science teacher. “He made learning and everything that came with school fun and exciting. He taught me that learning could be and should be enjoyable and that school could be a ‘fun’ place. To wake up in the morning and be excited to go to school and want to learn is something I find impressive, especially if one teacher is able to have that much of an impact.”
Best thing about PHS: “Before attending Peninsula I came from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Tacoma. I had gone there since the age of five and had been there for 10 years with the same group of 60 students. Switching to a public school was one of the scariest decisions I had to make. There would now be over 400 kids in my grade and I knew none of them. But the outgoing, cheerful and witty demeanor of the girl who showed me around sealed the deal for me and I found people who I am lucky to call my best friends. To me, this inclusive environment that has been shown to me and so many others is the best thing about Peninsula. Thank you, Peninsula, for welcoming me with open arms and for giving me the opportunity to create friendships I know will last a lifetime.”
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