SOD program welcomes new class of students

March 12, 2014 

We kicked off the 2014 class of Students of Distinction last Friday with visits to Henderson Bay, Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools. We were greeted by the same smiles we’ve seen throughout the years, but they’re on different faces, and we’re looking forward to learning more about them in the coming weeks.

This spring marks the 12th year of the Students of Distinction program, which we started with a core group of corporate sponsors in 2003. Our primary goal has remained the same: To honor and congratulate graduating seniors in the Peninsula School District who distinguish themselves through their dedication both inside and outside the classroom.

We realized that was kind of a broad concept, so we broke it down even further to separate students who excel in one of seven different disciplines. Many could be selected in more than one.

Often, those who stand out in athletics are honored. Take a look at our sports section on any given week, and you’ll see what we mean.

And while we do believe following high school sports can be a source of civic pride — and potential material with which parents can decorate their refrigerator — there are other areas that don’t often get the spotlight.

To paraphrase a recent ad campaign from the NCAA, there are hundreds of students in the school district who will go pro in something other than sports.

As always, these kids are special.

We’re proud to announce this year’s class of Students of Distinction in the following areas:

 • Academics: Wolfgang Beck, Gig Harbor; Jesse MacKinnon, Gig Harbor; Rachel Geringer, Gig Harbor; Kellan Grant, Peninsula; Brendan Greetham, Peninsula; Zachary Ringer, Peninsula, Emily Tomczak, Peninsula; Haley Williams, Peninsula.

 • Athletics: Carolyn McCann, Gig Harbor, Logan Carroll, Gig Harbor; Conor Scanlan, Gig Harbor; Noah Hanks, Peninsula; Madeleine Misterek, Peninsula; Alyson Morse, Peninsula; Caleb Riggs, Peninsula.

 • Business and Entrepreneurs: Joseph Bundick, Gig Harbor; Marcella Channon, Peninsula.

 • Community Service: Brianna Lewis, Henderson Bay; Lindsey Flemming, Gig Harbor; Celia Vaughn, Gig Harbor; McKenzi Bravo, Peninsula; Natalie Iverson, Gig Harbor.

 • Music, Arts and Drama: Coleman Anderton, Gig Harbor; Molly MacKinnon, Gig Harbor; Mariah Austin, Gig Harbor; Lydia Bill, Peninsula; Alexander Adcock, Peninsula.

 • Overcoming Adversity: Jasmyn Kaiwa, Henderson Bay; Carl Cooper, Gig Harbor; Allie Cosmos, Gig Harbor; Ben Smith, Peninsula; Aubrey Klumker, Peninsula.

 • Science and Technology: Noah Johnson, Gig Harbor; Jaclyn Wilson, Gig Harbor; Paul Alvestad, Peninsula; Kevin Pszczola, Peninsula.

Each of the 36 students either submitted an application form last month or was nominated by a peer, a parent or a teacher. The three high schools in the school district received the application packets, which included at least one letter of recommendation. From there, administrators at each school made selections based on merit.

Now our role begins.

Starting next week, we’ll publish short personality profiles on each student to show off what amazing kids we have in our schools. We’ll print four stories per week for nine consecutive weeks, and they’ll also appear online at www.gateline.com/students-of-distinction. The final group of stories will print May 14, one week before the community banquet.

The newspaper and the Students of Distinction sponsors, including school district representatives, will honor the students and their families on Wednesday, May 21, at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church. Tickets — $18 for adults, $10 for students — will go on sale in April. Seating will be limited to about 300.

In the meantime, consider a small donation toward the event. In the past 11 years, our sponsors have helped us award almost $120,000 in post-secondary scholarships — nearly $11,000 per year.

Now, through our partnership with the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation, a nonprofit organization, anyone can help with the cause. To learn more, visit gigharborfoundation.org/students-of-distinction-fund.

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