Peninsula Hawks Scholarship Fund Awards Another Record Amount to PHS Seniors

Thirty-nine years after a group of local parents decided to reward a handful of seniors with $5,000, the scholarship fund is among the largest in the state.


One hundred and fifty-one graduating Peninsula High School seniors received a record-breaking $411,490 in scholarships at the Peninsula Hawks Scholarship Fund award ceremony May 24 held at PHS, up from 131 students and $366,800 in 2022. Fifty-two scholarship winners were from the Key Peninsula, up from 50 last year.

The Hawks Scholarship Fund is one of the largest in the state, according to the Peninsula School District.

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

Board member Deanna Russell, one of two fund treasurers, attributed the larger awards this year to new donors and more generosity, and to board President Vicky Donahoe for shepherding the program through the COVID-19 pandemic and growing the fund. 

There are 90 total donors to the fund; 28 come from the KP.

“I am grateful every day for scholarships that I received as a senior in 2020,” said Lakebay resident Matt Nesbit. “Not only did they completely cover two years at Olympic College, they are still helping me at Oregon State University now. I also really appreciate The Longbranch Foundation because they have allowed me to renew my initial scholarship. It really helps my family.”

The Longbranch Foundation is just one of the Hawks Scholarship donors from the KP, but also invites scholarship winners to continue to apply each year they are pursuing their education.

“As we build our assets at the foundation, we have been able to increase the number of years we can assist our recipients, and the number of scholarships we give per year,” said foundation board President Sheryl Low. “We have the first cohort of students who will be eligible to receive funding for all four years next year. We are proud to have increased the number of recurring scholarships this year to five (those who reapplied) and to five new graduates, who are attending with a four year degree in mind, and two trade-vocational scholarships this year.”

The Hawks fund is also supported by income from the Seahawks Academic and Vocational Education (SAVE) Thrift Store, located at 1401 Purdy Drive in an old fire station below the high school. Last year the store contributed $65,000 to the fund, more than ever before. This year it was just over $105,000.

“The thrift store had a phenomenal year,” Russell said. “The core management team and volunteers have done a really good job streamlining how to get things through the backroom and out onto the floor. They are also working very hard to create an online presence, and more customers are showing up and coming back.” 

The store has a small part-time staff supplemented by volunteers, but “Debbi Brockman is the main manager at the store who has implemented many strategies to increase sales. The whole team of volunteers and staff have the store billowing with items,” Russell said.  

The staff is supplemented by PHS students whose volunteer work earns credit toward supporting their school sport or club, or a scholarship. “It’s good experience for those kids to learn some business skills, some customer skills. It’s a thrift store, so it’s a little unique in that respect,” Russell said.

Russell was born and raised in Minter, attended Evergreen and Purdy Elementary schools, and graduated from PHS. “I’ve been part of the scholarship program since 2009,” she said. “My kids are out of college, one is married, has a baby. There are several of us with kids well beyond Peninsula High School age and we’re still doing it. We need new volunteers to help carry it on; it’s just such a phenomenal program and we don’t have the people to replace us, so we just keep going because somebody needs to do it. How do you not do it for these kids?”

For more on the history of the Peninsula Hawks Scholarship Fund, go to