Local grads benefit from bevy of local scholarships
It’s hard to say for sure how many scholarships are awarded to Peninsula School District seniors every year. The total number is certainly in the hundreds, maybe thousands.
Peninsula High School alone awarded $350,000 in scholarships this year, according to PHS teacher Jonathan Bill, who emcees an awards ceremony for the school. Awards went to more than 150 students.
Scholarships come from service clubs such as Kiwanis and Rotary, foundations, local businesses, nonprofits, PTAs, activity and sports groups, school department heads, even from individuals.
Each award is an affirmation that knowledge is powerful, education is a pathway to success and supporting young people is an investment in the future.
Peninsula Art League
Peninsula Art League has awarded scholarships to area seniors who show promise as artists since 1988. Students at all three Gig Harbor high schools and South Kitsap High School are eligible.
Applicants must present a portfolio of their artwork, maintain a 2.0 GPA and be active in their school and community. Scholarships are available to students who have been accepted at an accredited college, university or art school where they’ll continue their art studies.
This year’ s PAL winners were Audrey Yiu Allen and Samantha Brooke Shaw of Gig Harbor High School; Ellie (Skye) Sears of Peninsula High School; and Farris Hovater of South Kitsap.
Allen is headed to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco to study painting and other visual arts.
Shaw plans to attend Tacoma Community College and major in fine art.
Sears has been accepted to DigiPen School of Design in Redmond, where she’ll develop her digital art and animation skills.
Hovater is headed to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City to pursue a career in fashion design and illustration. She plans to study in Italy the first year.
Residents of Herons Key retirement community started their scholarship program in 2018, when they collected $3,000 in donations. They awarded eight scholarships that first year, each worth about $375.
This year, the pot increased to $19,000. A dozen local seniors each received $1,300 toward their college studies this spring, according Marilyn Collier, who leads the Herons Key effort.
“We really care about the kids in our community,” Collier said at a luncheon that honored the students. “Our mission is to provide resources to Gig Harbor’s youth in support of educational programs in the Peninsula School District. That includes scholarship assistance to individual students and project support for staff enrichment.”
Six students from Gig Harbor High School and six from Peninsula earned Herons Key scholarships this year.
GHHS seniors Olivia Fong, Annalis Parker, Madeline Shea, Kadence Stoddard, Megan Stobbe and Madelyn Graves received awards. Awardees from Peninsula were Elena Weymiller, Conner Tanksley, Alexis Davis, Hailey Austin, Caitlyn Anderson and Gracie Abernathy.
S.A.V.E Thrift Store
More than 150 seniors at Peninsula High School received scholarships this year. By far the largest donor is the Seahawks Academic & Vocational Education (or S.A.V.E.) thrift store. All the store’s profits go to the scholarship fund.
The Peninsula Hawks Scholarship Fund Committee owns and operates the store. The committee, founded in 1984, provides “a means for our community to support continuing education by providing graduating seniors with scholarships.”
Today, the fund receives approximately $90,000 annually, all from store profits and community donors. Each donor sets the criteria for their individual scholarship and reviews the applicants’ portfolios.
Bill, who has been the master of ceremonies for the PHS scholarship awards night for more than two decades, called the school’s program “unique and powerful. It’s proof positive of the generosity of our community, and shows the success of our little thrift store.”
Individual and memorial scholarships
Dozens of local people have established scholarship funds for graduating seniors. Many of the awards are memorials to loved ones who’ve passed away.
Hugh McMillan, a longtime former columnist for the Peninsula Gateway, and his late wife have awarded scholarships for many years. McMillan specialized in writing about the goings-on of the school district, shining a spotlight on the accomplishments of individual teachers and students.
This year, PHS seniors Danielle Leman and Jordin Canada were McMillan’s choices.
Gig Harbor resident Ed Johnson is another longtime scholarship donor. Every year Johnson gives a scholarship in the name of his late wife, Pam Johnson. His criteria is that the recipient must have attended Minter Creek Elementary School, where Pam volunteered.
“I’ve been doing it for about 26 years,” Johnson said. “Thinking back, it started out with a couple hundred dollars and now it’s up to $1,000.”
PHS senior Raina Hyde received Johnson’s scholarship this year.
“She more than met all the criteria,” Johnson said. “She wants to be a teacher and to incorporate playing her guitar into her classes.
“Something I didn’t realize when I started this was how much I’d enjoy getting to review 30+ scholarship notebooks every year,” Johnson said. “It really renews my faith in the younger generation. Every year, these kids amaze me.”
Jonathan Bill agreed. “Seeing these bright young students being recognized and rewarded for their accomplishments is so inspiring and energizing. Besides, giving out money to them is so much fun.”