2023 Students of Distinction

Ali Camel, academic star and advocate for her classmates

Posted on May 12th, 2023 By:

Gig Harbor Now is posting profiles of each of the 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 17, 2023, at Ocean5, 5268 Point Fosdick Dr.

Student: Ali Camel

School: Henderson Bay

Category: Academic Achievement

Ali Camel wants the community to know that students at Henderson Bay High School are talented, academically outstanding and committed to making a difference.

She transferred to Henderson Bay from Gig Harbor High School after struggling with the isolation and challenges of online learning during the COVID shutdown.

Ali Camel

“It was really hard for me. Having to deal with online learning gives kids the short end of the stick,” she said. “There was very little support or resources on how to be successful, how to make it through all those challenges, how to stay motivated. I got lost in the mix at Gig Harbor and lost several years of learning.”

In addition, she faced some health concerns that played a small role, too.

Ali found what she needed at Henderson Bay and she has thrived through it.

Henderson Bay leadership

She’s part of the school’s ASB Leadership Team. As one of Henderson Bay’s student representative to the Peninsula School Board, she joined other leadership students in a symposium with PSD officials and school board members.

That has given Ali an opportunity to be a strong advocate for her school.

Earlier this year, she alerted the powers-that-be about funding discrepancies at Henderson Bay — like the fact that the walking clubs at Gig Harbor and Peninsula High Schools had reflective safety vests, but Henderson Bay students did not.

District officials responded promptly. Now Henderson Bay students have similar safety gear.

“I was really proud of getting that gear for my classmates,” Ali said. “I think it’s one of the most important things I’ve done.

“But we do lots of cool stuff at Henderson. Students really put in the work and it’s important that everyone knows that we’re so much more than an ‘alternative’ school, and that we should be regarded with the same respect as other schools.”


Ali is fluent in Italian and Spanish, having lived all over the world with her Air Force family. In fact, she learned to read and write in Italian before English. Another of her high school accomplishments was a six-week project teaching a younger student to speak Italian.

She’s also an accomplished musician and has played violin and cello with the Phoenix Youth Symphony and Tacoma Youth Symphony.

And she’s a certified lifeguard, certified in CPR/AED, first aid and water safety, teaches swimming and is a former member of the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team.

She finished second in the state on the debate team in 2020 and got the Best Speaker Award in 2019 and 2020.

This fall, she will attend Tacoma Community College on a scholarship. Later she plans study international relations at a four-year university.

Ali Camel

Category: Academic Achievement

GPA: 3.35; class ranking 3/43

Parents: Alexi and Ricardo Camel

Achievements/Activities: National Junior Honor society in middle school; Leadership – Freshman and Senior year; ASB representative in middle school and high school; Best Speaker Award (Debate team); Second Place in state Public Forum (debate team); helped with Henderson Student Pop-Up Shop; swim instructor; fluent in two languages; plays violin and cello; lifeguard certified; CPR/AED certified; First Aid and Water Safety certified

Favorite teacher: Emily (many HSB teachers go by their first names): “She is always so supportive and understanding. She always knows what to do to make the situation better and is so devoted to her job. She is always ready to make today a good day and I admire her as a strong individual.”

Best thing about Henderson Bay: “The staff. They’re all so devoted to what they do and you can tell that they care about each individual student and their success. They make you feel welcomed and cared about, and most importantly they make you feel like you matter as part of a community.”