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SHS alum awards first GALA Scholarship

by BEAUX WHITE EAGLE
Staff Writer | May 12, 2022 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT – Two Sandpoint High School seniors are the first recipients of the newly created GALA Scholarship.

The $2,000 scholarship was created by SHS alumni Garrett Smith, Class of ‘92, as a way to give back to his hometown and pay homage to four teachers who had a big impact on him —Rick Gehring, Woody Aunan, Marianne Love, and Gareth Abell. Smith said these teachers — the first initial of their last names from the name of the scholarship — upheld a standard that he not only appreciated but was able to take with him into his adult life.

“I wanted to let them know that I really appreciated the education that they delivered and the excellence in teaching that they strive for,” Smith said

With the scholarship, Smith sought to reward students who displayed the value of social responsibility and whose actions and ambitions promise a high societal impact, according to the scholarship literature.

This model came from Smith's alma mater, Boston University where he achieved an engineering degree. At BU, engineering students are expected to live up to the idea of becoming “societal engineers,” leaving the program not only as skilled technical engineers degrees but also as impactful members of society. “Societal engineers” are technically skilled, have a valuable impact on society, and understand what that means.

“[Social engineers] also have an impact in society on the social side, citizenship, volunteerism, on having a wide background,” Smith said, “I think I've got that kind of a good education from the teachers at Sandpoint”

Smith and former SHS English/journalism teacher Marianne Love, kept this in mind when choosing the student to give this award to in its inaugural year.

The application process, also set up by Smith, would require applicants to submit a video, transcripts, resume, and cover letter. Smith said he wanted to ensure the scholarship went to students who personified the same traits he appreciated in his teachers.

“We consulted together just to make sure that we, you know, felt that we had the best students from the applicants’ Smith said, “We wanted to find the students that fulfilled the texts that I put together, you know, so what is their societal impact going to be? And the subtle impact actually tells us a lot”

The two graduating seniors receiving the GALA scholarship are Amanda Steiner and Shane Griffith.

Steiner has already achieved a nursing certificate and plans to pursue a degree in physical therapy.

“I want to help people,” Brown said.

Griffith will be pursuing a degree in environmental law.

“I want to change like environmental policies for the better going through environmental law,”

Giffith said.

Smith said moving forward he would like to get other SHS alumni involved to honor teachers of their own, but keeping the name GALA, and additional funding to the scholarship.