PHS counselor memorialized through scholarships

Colleen Blauvelt died last May, and her family is awarding scholarships this year to the Class of 2014 in her memory

Staff writerApril 23, 2014 

Colleen Blauvelt was the go-to counselor for the Peninsula High School Class of 2014, giving out love and advice to any student who stopped by her office.

“She was just a safe haven,” PHS senior Mckenzi Bravo said. “It was a really tough loss for everybody.”

Blauvelt died from complications stemming from cancer in May 2013, leaving behind a grieving class of soon-to-be seniors. This year, Blauvelt’s mother, Janet Crist, and Blauvelt’s husband, Mark, are sponsoring a scholarship in her memory. The scholarship will be presented at the Peninsula High School Scholarship night May 14.

“I think she would love this. I can’t think of anything more fitting for her (than a scholarship),” Bravo said.

Crist and Blauvelt’s daughter, Kellie, will hand out four scholarships; available to graduating seniors headed to a four-year university with a 2.5 GPA or higher.

Crist said she read through 98 portfolios and couldn’t pick one boy and one girl, so four winners were picked.

“She worked with these kids for three years and they were her students,” Crist said. “We couldn’t think of a better way to honor her than to give some scholarships in her name to the students that she has helped get through school.”

It’s a testament to a woman who devoted time to student success.

“I know that there are kids in my class who are graduating because she would want us to,” Bravo said.

Bravo said the bond between Blauvelt and the Class of 2014 was strong. When Blauvelt died, PHS lost a hugger who gave students nicknames. A sounding board. A safe space to share struggles.

“She was ours, so it was really hard,” Bravo said.

When she died around Memorial Day, Bravo rallied her class and opened the gym for a meeting. There were about 30 people there, on a holiday weekend, sitting in a circle and sharing memories.

“It was so, so emotional,” Bravo said. “(Blauvelt) was so selfless and compassionate.”

Last summer, a group from the PHS Interact Club formed the team Colleen’s Kids for the 2013 Relay for Life at Goodman Middle School. The club sold white shirts with pink writing because pink was Blauvelt’s favorite color.

Bravo is headed to Seattle University next year thanks, in a roundabout way, to Blauvelt. For early admission, Bravo had to write a personal essay. She wrote about her counselor, who she called “the definition of selflessness.”

She got in. The university told Bravo it enjoyed her essay, and Bravo now has a poster version of her essay on her wall.

Blauvelt’s influence can be felt throughout the PHS campus. Right outside the main doors, overlooking the water, is a bench. It was made by an Eagle Scout in memory of Blauvelt.

Crist said she hopes the scholarship can continue for a few years as students of Blauvelt’s go through PHS. Crist is a substitute teacher at the high school.

“Nine years ago, I had just gotten over cancer myself ...” Crist said. “And nine years ago (Blauvelt) said ‘Mom, we need subs. Come sub ...’ and I’ve been subbing ever since.”

The PHS community has been good to Crist since her daughter died, she said. The scholarship is a way to thank the students for supporting her family and loving her daughter through illness. She’ll retire when the last of Blauvelt’s students graduates. By then, Crist will be 80. She said it’s been hard this past year after losing her only daughter.

“They’ve been so kind to me and they’ve loved her so much,” Crist said of the students.

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155 Twitter: @gateway_karen

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