Funky Fresh Fanatics Part 2: A look into PHS student’s lives


Madeleine Johnson and Lily Brooks

Part two of two, the following provides a sense into the wide range of activities and hobbies students at Peninsula High School are involved in. These profiles illustrate the interesting lives of kids outside of school.

Noelle Misterek

noelleGrace Lewis

Noelle Misterek, junior at Peninsula, is passionate about a lot of things: making music videos, acting, and almond butter. She’s also passionate about being out on the water paddling for the four-time nationally-recognized Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team.

Noelle fell in love with this unique sport because of the team character and the opportunity to be a part of the local community. Every day she is out on the water paddling her worries away.

“You are always out there, always giving it your all, leaving it all on the water. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done both mentally and physically, but that’s what I love most about it,” Noelle said. It takes a lot of time and dedication; it’s all or nothing. Through all of the hard work and strain of the sport, Noelle has become stronger both on the inside and the outside. Noelle’s wicked strong arm muscles and her tenacity have thrived (and continue to do so) with her commitment to the sport. As well as strength, she has accumulated endurance that motivates her to keep striving for success.

“What does it give me? It gives me lots of endorphins and muscles,” Noelle said. She gets to be a part of a united team of individuals all working to better themselves. The team gives the community something to be proud of and to enjoy. She loves the encouraging atmosphere, the relationships that she gets to build, and collaboration with others; but most of all she loves the people.

So, next time you are downtown Gig Harbor, look out across the sparkling blue water and watch Noelle glide.

Josh Nicholas

joshGrace Lewis

For about a year now the patriotic Josh Nicholas has been a part of the Police Explorers program.

“We train with police officers learning about certain techniques and  things they would do in situations and we practice those with them; they teach us things that can be useful in the career of law enforcement,” Josh said.

Every week for at least an hour, Josh and his fellow policemen in training go to the police station to practice basic first-aid, talking down a suicidal person, neutralizing an active shooter, and other police activities.

Right now, Josh is ranked as a sergeant in the Explorers.

“There’s a ranking system: Explorer, Corporal, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain,” Josh said. His goal is to become Captain and he also wishes to stay in the program until the age of 21. After that, he plans to go to the Police Academy.

Josh and the police explorers also go to competitions and trainings. Their biggest competition is in Federal Way. During these competitions, the explorers gain law enforcement experience and insight into what it’s really like to be a police officer.

When asked about the thing Police Explorers has most given to him, Josh said, “I have a greater respect for what law enforcement does, kinda going out there and seeing how everything is done. I’m really just thankful for their experience and the officers, those who invested time in us. It gives me a new perspective on everything, gives me a chance to see what I want to do when I grow up and what there’s to offer.”

Grace Fortson

graceGrace Lewis

Grace Forton is an exceptional student who has multiple layers. She is quite serious in her studies somehow taking seven classes in a school day that only has six. As she juggles school, she also is involved in the Peninsula High School Tennis team. On top of that she has a hidden extracurricular activity of riding horses at Northwind Farm in Olalla.

“It’s a really great sport that challenges you physically and mentally. Everyday that you get on the saddle there’s a new challenge. You have to have a great level of understanding with your horse about what you are doing, how it affects it, and understand what your horse is trying to tell you.” She rides a Swedish warmblood horse named Junefire. Fortson enjoys the sport immensely participating in jumping and dressage events. Dressage is a combination of dancing and gymnastics for horses. She has been riding for five years at least once a week.

“Horseback riding makes me more fit. It challenges me and is a great activity to do. Everyone at the barn is like a little family. It’s a great opportunity.”

Her favorite part about it is the challenge. The fact that everytime she gets saddled up she learns something new and can constantly improve.

“Horseback riding is definitely a sport. It takes a of of work. For those who say that it isn’t a sport, get on a horse and then tell me about it”

Sarah Schunzel

FullSizeRenderSarah Schunzel

Sarah Schunzel is the ultimate dog lover- she has two canine friends: Chili, a Shih Tzu mix and Dill, a Welsh Springer Spaniel. In Sarah’s spare time she participates in 4-H and shows Dill and Chili in AKC shows.

Starting in 5th grade, Sarah found her niche in the dog showing world. Her natural love for dogs and her hatred for “sports” pushed Sarah to be a part of a local 4-H team.

“Team sports just weren’t my thing, but I still wanted to be a part of something,” Sarah said.

So, after nine years of having dogs in her life, Sarah began to show dogs 5 years ago. She’s learned that the hardest aspect about showing dogs is how stubborn they can be. Sarah explained how there is no such thing as the “perfect dog” so the trainer must have a competitive nature to win as well a lot of patience and determination.

Sarah is the only junior trainer in the country to show a Welsh Springer Spaniel, so already, as just a freshman, she’s gotten a lot of scholarship opportunities. Ever since Sarah became involved with dogs she’s noticed how important her four-legged friends are to her.

Sarah said, “They’re my motivation to do well in school, they give me responsibility, they have taught me patience and kindness and especially perseverance. I’d be lying if I said my world doesn’t revolve around my dogs.”

Carlie Rogers

carlyGrace Lewis

Dance gives Carlie Rogers a place to belong and is way she can express her love for the arts.

She dances at Harbor Dance in Gig Harbor. She takes a variety of classes including ballet, contemporary, jazz, musical theatre, and tap.

“Dancing in general gives you traits that help you in school like focus and memorization.” Not only is a fun activity, but is a stimulating activity that takes flexibility, strength, balance, and musicality.

You always need other people in dances and choreography. Her favorite aspect is the people and “making lasting friendships.”

She has been on ballet company for the past three years but decided to stop in order to make time for other activities and responsibilities such as basketball and homework.

She still takes 7 dance classes though she used to take 11. She has been dancing her entire life, but has only done real dancing since she moved to Gig Harbor since she wasn’t at a good studio. She hopes to stay involved through college, perhaps minor in dance. It is something that she loves and if she had more hours in the day, she would dance the night away!

“I really like performing and make friendships with people. I like being athletic, working out and dancing. I just enjoy it all.”

Audrey Lauer

audreyGrace Lewis

Audrey Lauer is a positive light in the classroom with her encouraging presence both in class and on the field. It does not go unnoticed. She plays soccer on the school team as well as the 00 Black team for WA Premier and the PSPL Surf Academy.

“I mostly try to stay positive and keep a good attitude because there are so many different factors that can put you down and challenge your attitude.”

Soccer is always something she’s loved. She has been playing soccer since she was in kindergarten and hasn’t stopped. She plays year round as the midfielder.

“I love the challenge. There are so many different components you have to master. You can’t just be fast or just be good on the ball. It makes you think. I love the team aspect. You are just a little family because you go through so much together.”

She loves the fun atmosphere and the great coaches. There are so many aspects that her face just lights up about as she speaks of them.

“My favorite part is making things happen. I look at the field and analyze it to figure out what I have to do to make things work.“

It gives her something to look forward to and get excited about because she enjoys it immensely. She works hard to make her team proud and maintain her physical shape so that she is ready to play.

“It’s fun watching your work pay off on the field. I just love all of it! It’s so fun!”