Peninsula Hawks Scholarship Awards Record Amount — Again

Founded by a group of parents in 1984, the fund is now one of the largest in the state. “(These stories) can be very moving.”


A record-breaking 189 seniors received 422 separate scholarships totaling $434,500 awarded by the Hawks Scholarship Fund at its annual ceremony May 22 at Peninsula High School.

That’s up from 151 seniors and $411,490 last year.

The winners include 72 students from the Key Peninsula, an increase from 52 in 2023.

Any PHS senior planning to attend any accredited educational institution, vocational or academic, is eligible for a scholarship. Students apply by submitting portfolios that include their academic records, community service resumes, personal statements, and letters of recommendation. Every student who successfully applied this year received at least one scholarship.

The Hawks Scholarship Fund is one of the largest in the state, according to the Peninsula School District. It was founded in 1984 by a group of PHS parents who wanted to provide more recognition to seniors when the school was losing students to the then-recently opened Gig Harbor High. The first year they gave out $5,000.

“I would say there are about 140 total donors, including 100 scholarship donors, 30 generous KP area donors, and donors who contributed to memorials or group scholarships,” said scholarship committee President Deb Krishnadasan. Donors contributed about $254,000 for 2024.

“We saw an increase in students going into the trades applying for the scholarship program this year, and we had more donors this year that wanted to award students going into construction, masonry, and automotive repair,” she said.

“Donors enjoy reading the student scholarship notebooks and learning about their accomplishments and the challenges they face today. It is not uncommon for a donor to award an additional scholarship after they have read some of these stories. They can be very moving.”

The Hawks fund is also supported by income from the Seahawks Academic and Vocational Education (S.A.V.E.) Thrift Store, which sells donated items, located at 1401 Purdy Drive in an old fire station below the high school. The store has a small staff supplemented by community volunteers and PHS students whose volunteer work earns credit toward supporting their school sport or club, or a scholarship.

Last year the store contributed $105,000; this year it was $125,000.

The balance for awards is made up of funds rolled over from previous years, Krishnadasan said. Sometimes scholarships go unclaimed because plans change; students have 18 months to collect their award or communicate with the committee. Some donors, like The Longbranch Foundation, also offer scholarship renewals and encourage students to reapply each year they pursue their education.

“The board oversees the store and the scholarship fund,” she said. “I am this year’s president of the fund committee, which coordinates the scholarship program.” The committee has 22 members, which includes the seven board members, and is always looking for new volunteers.

Krishnadasan served on the PSD board of directors from 2015-2022, including as president from 2018-20. Her family lives in Gig Harbor and the youngest of her three children is graduating from PHS this year.

“The board and the committee do not award scholarships; donors select their scholarship recipients based on their own established criteria,” she said. “We have a committee of five community readers that read every single student notebook and collectively make scholarship selections for the S.A.V.E. proceeds. The community readers do not have any relationship with the students, nor have they been teachers in PSD for the past several years.”

One winner was Lakebay resident Fabian Torres, 18, who attended Evergreen Elementary, KP Middle School, and Peninsula High, including his junior and senior years as a Running Start student fulfilling high school requirements while earning college credits tuition-free at Tacoma Community College. He is also a long-term volunteer for Food Backpacks 4 Kids.

“Covid made high school different,” he said. “I was home for online classes for the end of eighth grade and the first semester of freshman year, and then went back hybrid, some there and some online. It was very different from what I was used to and very difficult. People had to learn to be around each other again. But my grades improved a lot during my sophomore year.”

In June, Torres will receive his high school diploma and an associate degree from TCC in biology.

“I’m going to Washington State University next year,” he said. “My program at WSU is in wildlife ecology and evolutionary biology, and maybe I’ll minor in entomology. My ultimate goal is to get my doctorate.”

KP Scholarship Donors

Active Construction, Inc. • Angel Guild of Key Peninsula • Chaney Family • Evergreen Elementary PTA • Gig Harbor Cruisers Car Club • Gig Harbor Eagles #2809 Auxiliary • Gig Harbor Fishermen's Civic Club • Ed Johnson • Nick Johnson Scholarship • Friends of Susie Jones • Key Center Chiropractic • Key Center Family Dentistry • Key Peninsula Business Association • Key Peninsula Health Professional Center • Key Peninsula Historical Society & Museum • Key Peninsula Lions Club • Key Peninsula Middle School PTSA • The Longbranch Foundation • The Tax Shack, Inc. • McMillan Family • Minter Creek Elementary PTA • Purdy Cost Less Pharmacy • Gig Harbor & Key Peninsula Suicide Prevention Coalition • Two Waters Arts Alliance • Vaughn Elementary PTA • Bill & Irma Wright

Correction: The Gig Harbor Cruisers Car Club did not appear as a scholarship donor in the KP News June 2024 print edition. We regret the omission.