With the end of the school year approaching and graduation dates for high school seniors set for Friday (June 10) and Sunday (June 12), many Peninsula School District graduates will be entering their programs this fall with a parting gift from their school: a scholarship.
The three Peninsula School District high schools combined awarded more than $410,000 to the 2016 high school graduates heading to universities, technical programs and community colleges this fall.
The funds from these scholarships came largely from Gig Harbor-area sponsors to individual high schools and, with the help of scholarship foundations and committees at the schools, were allotted to more than 350 students.
At each high school, students complete a scholarship notebook that contains statements of purpose, high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, lists of activities and volunteer work, and photos of the students.
A committee at each school reads the notebooks and enters the information into a database that allows donors to look for students who match the criteria for their scholarship.
The scholarship recipients are chosen either by the donor themselves or by the committee members.
Henderson Bay High School
Office manager Linda McQuade helps organize the scholarships given out to graduating students from Henderson Bay High School.
This year, the high school received $43,450 in scholarship donations that were divided among 14 seniors, with every student who applied receiving at least one scholarship.
$43,450 amount of scholarships awarded to graduates from Henderson Bay High School
The scholarships are presented to students during their graduation ceremony, which will be held at 7 p.m. Friday (June 10) at the Boys & Girls Club in Gig Harbor.
“Some of our donors come to graduation and do the scholarship presentation for their organization,” McQuade said. “From what I understand, it can be quite an emotional evening for some of our students.”
Gig Harbor High School
The Gig Harbor Tides Scholarship Foundation is in its 30th year organizing and awarding scholarships to Gig Harbor High School graduating seniors.
Mary Elkins, the foundation’s co-treasurer, has been with the foundation for 11 years after getting involved when her oldest child entered high school.
“Some scholarships are bigger than others,” Elkins said. “But everybody will get something.”
This year the foundation received $160,000 in scholarship donations for 162 GHHS seniors who applied, it and was able to give each student a scholarship.
$160,000 amount of scholarships awarded to graduates from Gig Harbor High School
Students received their scholarship at an awards banquet held May 24, with the scholarship amounts kept secret prior to the event.
“We like it to be a surprise for them, too,” Elkins said. “It’s a fun evening for everybody. It’s just a surprise.”
The foundation is volunteer-run and faces an annual challenge of attracting new parent volunteers and new donors, problems Elkins is looking to tackle in the coming year.
“No matter how much we give, we never think it’s enough,” she said. “It’s a worthwhile foundation. Who doesn’t like raising money to give to kids to further their education?”
Peninsula High School
Celebrating it’s 31st year awarding scholarships to Peninsula High graduates, the Peninsula Hawks Scholarship Fund also owns and operates the SAVE Thrift Store, located below the school.
Mary O’Boyle has been president of the fund for the past three years, first getting involved when her children were attending the school.
“It was wonderful this year,” she said. “It’s just a great program.”
$207,000 amount of scholarships awarded to graduates from Peninsula High School
This year, the fund awarded $207,000 in scholarships to 177 graduating students, collecting $98,000 from the SAVE thrift store and receiving $109,000 in scholarship donations.
Students received their scholarships at an awards ceremony May 18.
“It’s really neat,” O’Boyle said of the ceremony. “It’s neat to listen to the donors. It’s really moving to see the students’ faces and excitement when they get it.”