Superintendent Art Jarvis celebrates the seniors during the drive-through graduation cap and gown distribution at PHS May 11. Photo: Peninsula School District, Larry Steagall

A bunch of lucky — and hardworking — seniors received $500 to $9,500.

Much was celebrated May 20 when 166 Peninsula High School graduating seniors, 62 from the Key Peninsula, were awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships from the Peninsula Hawks Scholarship Fund. The awards ceremony, historically an event that fills the PHS auditorium, was live-streamed. 

Hayley Nichols, a 1991 graduate and herself a scholarship recipient, is a PHSF board member and chair of the donations committee. She said that the program owes some of its success to its ability to engage donors. If they wish, for a minimum donation, they can set up their own scholarship with specifications that are most meaningful to them. Criteria may include such things as attending a particular elementary or middle school, academic achievement, sports played, plans for a major or interest in a specific vocation. Donors can also choose to give to the community fund at any level.

“Our goal is to give every student who applies a scholarship.”

“We have so much support from the KP,” Nichols said. Businesses, individuals and organizations all donate. “It is phenomenal. When I came into this and was learning who to contact for donations, I found out it was not the rich. It is the people who may have struggled and understand. It is amazing how much they give. And for students, getting a scholarship is more than just the money. It is about people believing you can make it.” 

The fund was established in 1984 by PHS parent Avon Gay when $7,000 was awarded. In addition to donations from individuals, businesses and organizations, PHSF owns and operates the Seahawk Academic and Vocational Education (SAVE) Thrift Store near the high school and is staffed in part by a rotating cast of PHS students. All profits go to support scholarships. 

Students who want to apply for scholarships must complete a notebook that includes a statement of purpose, a transcript, activities, volunteer hours, and a portfolio with examples of their work such as art, writing or pictures from their sports team. 

A group of five community volunteers who are not members of the PHSF board or parents of PHS students reads all of the notebooks. Donors may decide to read the notebooks themselves and select the award recipients, or they may ask the community volunteers to make the selection. 

“We have so much support from the KP.”

“It is such a fabulous program,” said Deanna Russell, board treasurer. “Our goal is to give every student who applies a scholarship.” This year every student received at least $500. The number of scholarships per student ranged from one to eight, and the total amount awarded ranged from $500 to $9,500. 

The pandemic upended the usual flow for the scholarship fund. 

Under normal circumstances PHSF holds an open house, inviting donors to review notebooks that have been screened to meet their criteria. A student may receive more than one scholarship, though each student is guaranteed to get at least $300. The stay at home and social distancing orders came just as the open house was scheduled. Nichols scanned the notebooks and donors accessed them online.

The thrift store, too, was closed until recently. Kendra Zartmann, who manages the store, started working there as a volunteer about five years ago and took over as manager a year and a half ago. She has adjusted operations to comply with state restrictions. She is now able to take donations — the store accepts everything except furniture — by appointment, posts what is available on the SAVE Facebook page, and schedules pick-ups on Fridays. 

Within the store itself only a few volunteers are present at any given time. They wear masks and gloves, and any donations are quarantined for two days before they are sorted. Students had been active in the store, learning skills by cashiering, pricing and marketing. Zartmann plans to bring them back when it’s safe. 

Nichols, who works fulltime, described her work with PHSF as her second job. “I gave up my other volunteer jobs because this one has so many rewards. The looks on the faces of the students when they receive the scholarships — it really gives the best bang for your buck for the time involved.”

PHSF welcomes volunteers. “There are so many opportunities,” Russell said. “We can find a place for people no matter what level of time commitment or skill set they have.” 

Key Peninsula 2020 Seahawk Scholarship Winners

Triston Bigelow  Hannah Blake    Peter Bosselmann    Julia Bruno    Victoria Bryan    Shelby Burns    Kayla Cameron    Nolan Casey    Holly Cheney    Skye Collins    Tien Davis    Ian Downen    Chloe Duttry    Kaytlin Edwards    Celia Emens    Jude Endsley    Isaiah Fahey    Audrey Farley    Jessica Farris    Emily Fisher    Jesse Gerth    Lily Gibbons    Reagan Glasco    Ben Goins    Summer Gower    Ashleigh Green    Brittney Guilliot    Claralynn Hammel    Jaelee Henneman    Lexy Holden    Brandon Hoover    Mason Hyde    Emily Jenkins    Matthew Johnson    Juliet Lent    Sophia Lent    Hannah Lerman    Anastin Lindsay    Ashleigh Martin    Gehrig Matison    Kara McKinney    Gwendolyn Mitchell    Evan Muterspaugh    Matt Nesbit    Kyle O’Brien    Jack Olinger    Taylor Pasquale    Grace Reed    Lillian Roberts    Tiffany Rose    Yazmin Saber    Erica Schaefer    Amaya Sheets    Daniel Shurr    Katelyn Spotten    Vanessa Stedman    Forrest Stoican    Reid Sturn    Julia Taylor    Isabella Tefft    Jessika Urdahl    Allison Valdez    Ashlyn Valdez    Jonna Waage    Maximus Walsh    Ellen Wrigley    Quenton Young

Seahawk Scholarship Donors

Active Construction, Inc.    Allovus Design Inc.    American Association of University Women    Angel Guild of Key Peninsula    AVID Tutors    Baker Foundation    Ben B. Cheney Foundation    Canterwood Ladies 18 Holers    Canterwood Niner’s Ladies Golf    Carlson Family    Chaney Family Scholarship    Connor Fitzgerald Memorial Fund    Devoted Kiss Cafe    Evergreen Elementary PTA    Fox Island Sand & Soil Garden Club    George & Mavis Engelland Memorial Foundation    Gig Harbor Cruisers Automotive Club    Gig Harbor Eagles No. 2809 Auxiliary    Gig Harbor Firefighters Association    Gig Harbor Fishermen’s Civic Club    Gig Harbor Lions Club    Gig Harbor Little League    Gig Harbor Midday Rotary    Gig Harbor Peninsula Area Dentists    Gig Harbor Turkey Trot (Holmes Chiropractic)    Allen and Julie Gillett    Cheryl Ann and Carl Graf    Greater Gig Harbor Foundation    Greater Tacoma Community Foundation    Hansen’s Hedgehogs    Harbor Animal Hospital    Harbor Ridge VPO    Harbor Soccer Club    Robb Haydon    The Holmaas Fund, GTCF    Ed Johnson Ken Kieffer    Key Peninsula Business Association  Key Peninsula Historical Society    Key Peninsula PTSA    Key Singers    Kim Marie Bacchus Memorial    Kitsap Bank    Kiwanis Club of Gig Harbor    Baiya and Deb Krishnadasan    Elizabeth Litsch Scholarship Fund    The Longbranch Foundation    Hugh and Janice McMillan    Mike Paul Construction Inc & Mike and Cindy Paul    Minter Creek Elementary PTA    Nancy Nelson    Peninsula Custodial Union No. 1948    Peninsula Education Association (PEA)    Peninsula Hands on Art    Peninsula High School Scholarship    Peninsula School District Bus Drivers    Peninsula Schools Education Foundation    Kelly and Michael Perrow    Wade and Beth Perrow    PHS Alumni    PHS Class of 1961    PHS Class of 1984    PHS VPO    Purdy Elementary PTA    Ashley Reid    Roy and Kathy Spadoni Scholarship    Scholarship Interest Group at Heron’s Key    The Tax Shack, Inc.    Two Waters Arts Alliance    Vaughn Elementary PTA    VFW Post No. 1854    Jon Wagher    Washington Patriot Construction, LLC    Windermere Real Estate    Bill and Irma Wright

 

PHS staff welcome seniors as they collect their caps and gowns. Photo: Peninsula School District, Larry Steagall