2023 Students of Distinction

Josie Behrens’ passion is giving back to the community

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: Josie Behrens

School: Peninsula High School

Category: Community Service Achievement

Giving back to her community is one of Josie Behrens’ passions. During her time at Peninsula High School she has accumulated 445 volunteer hours helping at F.I.S.H., S.A.V.E. Thrift Store and Harbor WildWatch, at swim meets and on mission trips and other church activities.

She also has earned varsity letters in swim and dive and as boys swim team manager. Added to that is her time serving as ASB president, singing in the PHS chamber choir, Leadership activities and serving as Jostens Class Ambassador and as school board representative.

Josie Behrens

Changing attitudes

Her commitment to helping others was challenged during the COVID shutdown. “It was hard to not be able to physically be there to support other people — not be able to be present and help people or have face-to-face interactions.,” she said. “All the trips were cancelled and so many other things were either cancelled or very limited.”

Since in-person activities have slowly resumed, Josie has doubled down on doing “good works.” She’s especially proud of what she’s been able to accomplish in leadership.

“Leadership has allowed me to make some meaningful changes at school, like creating new events that help us bond together,” she said. For instance, the winter food drive was a remarkable success with more than 20,000 items collected. Another new activity was a program called Breaking Down the Walls. “We brought different group together to focus on tearing down stereotypes and changing attitudes,” she said.

‘Walk in love’

PHS counsellor Molly Copeland calls Josie “genuinely enthusiastic, charismatic and passionate about improving the lives of others. She embraces life with a full and gracious heart .. and she is actively shaping a positive future for our school.”

Josie will attend San Diego State University this fall to major in education. “I’ve always known I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “But I’m not sure what subjects I’ll specialize in. I’ve also always wanted to join the Peace Corps so I might do that for a couple of years. I’d like to teach and just immerse myself in a different culture and use my privilege and education to make a difference in other people’s lives.”

To younger students just starting high school she says, “Work really hard and put yourself into your work. My personal motto is ‘walk in love’ and to love other people no matter where they are or their circumstances.”

Josie Behrens

Parents: Michael Behrens and Michelle Crites

Activities/Achievements: 445 community service hours; ASB vice president; Leadership; school board representative; Jostens Class Ambassador; Student of the Quarter; SSC Scholar Musician and Scholar Athlete; Varsity letters – swim and boys swim manager; Swim & Dive varsity captain, Most Inspirational; Chamber Choir honors

Favorite teacher: Mr. Kendall. “I have had him for two years for US History and AP Government and Politics. He is kind to everyone and very passionate about the work he does. He is human. He shows empathy and intelligence in every situation. He also knows how to keep the class engaged and relevant through humor and current ideas.

Best thing about PHS: “The people. There has always been this unspoken, yet very obvious, sense of community We have our moments, but overall there is the idea of togetherness throughout. PHS embraces our differences and allows everyone the space to be themselves. When someone takes a hit, it is profound the support that our school rallies around them.”