2023 Students of Distinction

Elliott Strachan balances academics, athletics and music

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: Elliott Strachan

School: Gig Harbor High School

Category: Science & Technology Achievement

Elliott Strachan is something of a Renaissance Man. He’s captain of the GHHS tennis team, pitches for the baseball team, plays saxophone and excels in science and technology. He was accepted into the UW Washington Aerospace Scholars program and the Young Scholars Program for Neurotechnology, and has taken 11 AP/Honors courses.

He loved playing saxophone in the GHHS jazz ensemble, but the requirement that he also play in the regular band forced him to choose between music and engineering. Engineering won, but he still plays music as often as he can. “Music uses such a different part of your brain,” he said. “It lets you communicate without words.”

Elliott Strachan

Being a leader

Sports taught him bravery and toughness and an awareness of “the ups and downs of your own performance.” He’s been a starting pitcher (killer knuckleball- and fastball-curves) and also played outfield. Being captain of the tennis team gave him the opportunity to be a leader and to give back to the program – and he “almost made state.”

His biggest challenge at GHHS was staying focused on schoolwork during the COVID shutdown, he said. “You had to force yourself to remember what your goal is and why you’re doing it. And not having band or sports was hard, too,” he said.

His proudest achievement was being selected for the UW aerospace course in his junior year. He was already taking a tough course load and he wasn’t sure he would be able to do it all. But he aced the course and it opened his mind to the possibilities of a career in aerospace. This fall he heads back to UW to major in aerospace engineering.

All for a purpose

Jessica Hupper, GHHS AP Capstone teacher was impressed by Elliott’s “consistent, high quality work and academic curiosity and his willingness to ponder things he didn’t know. He didn’t see setbacks or the unknown as failure or something to be avoided, but rather as something to lean into in order to grow and improve. He is going to make a fine contribution wherever he goes,” she said.

If he had a chance to give advice to a student just going into high school, Elliott would tell them to “Remember that it’s all for a purpose. You’re not wasting time, you’re working toward a goal. Don’t lose that perspective.”

Elliott Strachan

GPA: 3.95; 11 AP/Honors courses

Parents: Jennifer & Eric Strachan

Activities/Accomplishments: Varsity tennis captain, #1 in singles, Most Inspirational Player Award; Sports Boosters Athlete of the Week; GHHS and Narrows Club baseball; 3rd Place in Oratory – Speech and Debate; jazz ensemble – 1st chair saxophone; Washington Aerospace Scholars Program; Young Scholars Program for Neurotechnology

Favorite teacher: Mr. Vaughn– Kopachuck Middle School. “He was the first teacher who really treated us as mature people and overall equals. It was, and still is, clear to me that he truly valued learning and the well-being of every student and wanted us to feel like our opinions and ideas mattered, even at age 11. Hearing that he retired a few years ago truly made me sad for the future middle schoolers that won’t get to have the same awesome and transformative experience I had.”

Best thing about GHHS: “How much care they put into creating opportunities and activities for everyone. We have an extremely strong sports programs and coaches, an excellent music and drama program, awesome clubs like speech and debate and robotics. Our school doesn’t play favorites and gives chances for students to explore new paths. For me, this meant trying new things that sparked new interests and helped me narrow in on what I really liked and wanted to devote more time to.”