Sequim High scholarships top $2M

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The Elks gave. So did the Lady Elks and Lions, the gardeners from Gardiner and driftwood artists and even the aptly named Agnew Helpful Neighbors.

Local service groups, foundations and businesses turned out in fiscal force last week for Sequim High School's soon-to-be graduates, awarding more than $400,000 of the $2.1 million in scholarships SHS students garnered this spring.

Students gladly accepted their scholarships at a special awards assembly June 2 at the school's auditorium.

"They're amazing; they just go after (the scholarships) and just work so hard," said Mitzi Sanders, the school's career counselor and scholarship night coordinator.

"It's an amazing group of kids. Every year, it blows me away."

This year's group features 29 students receiving at least $10,000 in scholarships. Of those 13 are receiving at least $50,000 in scholarships, six of those receiving $100,000-plus in scholarships.

A total of 91 students accepted scholarships last week. The group includes students heading to Washington, D.C., (Thomas Gallagher, Georgetown); Minnesota (Turi Anderson, Concordia College); New Jersey (Elizabeth Grubb, Thomas Edison College); New York (Emily Madsen, Stony Brook University); Virginia (Nikki Liu, University of Richmond and Meredith Roberts, Washington and Lee University); Kansas (Ean Henninger, Benedictine College); Missouri (Ashleigh Clark and Victoria Rodger, Cottey College); Florida (Elisha Elliott, Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale); Alabama (Hannah Stephens, University of Alabama) and Hawaii (Jeremie Oliver, Brigham Young University-Hawaii).

"We've got a bunch of globetrotters," Sanders said.

Besides Peninsula College, Washington State University is the top in-state school for

Sequim High School graduates in 2010 with 11 commitments, followed by the University of Washington (nine, Eastern Washington University (six) and Western Washington University (five).

The scholarship process can be a time-consuming one, with groups locally and across the nation asking for personal essays of varying lengths, usually specific to their group's interests.

Sarah Donahue, a Sequim graduate-to-be who is headed to the University of Oregon, received more than $120,000 in scholarships last week.

"(There were) late nights for sure," she said. It was definitely worth it."

Donahue said she plans to get into the school's pre-dental program and study plenty of biology and mathematics. Hopefully, she said, that will lead to a career as an orthodontist.

"People in the community know who is in need," Donahue said.

Sequim High School graduating seniors are encouraged to fill out scholarship notebooks that get passed around to community groups looking to give out scholarships.

Sanders said this year's class had 105 notebooks.

"They (group members) always say, 'We wish we could give more.' It's an excruciating process for some of them," Sanders said.

"I think it's really good thing for the community to look at these books," she said. "Some of them are unaware of the talent (we have here). It's a win-win situation."

Scholarship notebooks often include certificates and awards, pictures, personal statements and other items but are required to have letters of recommendation from staff and community members.

"Sometimes (students) grumble about the process but they're really proud of their books," Sanders said. "It helps to have that boost from teachers and community in the letters of recommendation."

Reach Michael Dashiell at

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