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GHHS grad receives prestigious WMU scholarship

Krystle Wagner • Aug 3, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Grand Haven High School graduate Jake Lutz is one of 20 to receive the “highest award for incoming freshmen” at Western Michigan University.

Lutz received the Presidential Medallion Scholarship, which is valued at $60,000 over four years. Students were invited to compete for the award, and the invite “was based on a combination of ACT scores and high GPAs,” according to a press release from WMU.

“It’s a nice surprise,” Lutz said. “It’s going to definitely help me a lot, obviously.”

Lutz recently received his diploma from GHHS and earned an associate’s degree from Muskegon Community College as part of the Early College program. He will enter WMU with 60 of his 63 credits transferring.

Lutz has also received an academic scholarship from WMU and a scholarship from the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation. With those and money he’s saved, Lutz hopes to be nearly debt-free for his first year at Western.

Without all of the scholarships, Lutz said he likely would have gone to school for a year and then taken time off to save money before going back to school to avoid student debt. He also plans on getting a job while at WMU. 

GHHS theater director Rita McLary remembers the moment Lutz left rehearsal and received the exciting news this past spring. She said he “came back with the biggest smile on his face.” Once the announcement was made, everyone celebrated.

Lutz dedicated countless hours to GHHS’s theater department. He was a longtime member of the drama club, and he was the president for one year. He learned and trained in stage rigging, stage combat and advanced sound design throughout high school.

McLary said he is “one of those kids who can do it all.”

From starting off as a quiet freshman in McLary’s drama class to becoming a student director and getting into sound design, McLary said Lutz has grown over the years. She said he defers the spotlight to other people and he’s remained humble.

“He’s just supreme at finding a way to take every opportunity that’s given to him and maximize it — not just for him, but for everyone else, as well,” McLary said.

Lutz also competed three times in the Michigan Thespian Festival and he was the captain of the Tech Olympics team. His Superior rating in sound design allowed him to qualify for the International Thespian Festival, where his team earned a second-place rating in the world and he received an individual Superior rating.

Although Lutz graduated and has a job this summer, he’s training students to impart his knowledge on them. He was the technical director for nine shows at GHHS, and he helped with middle school productions. He was also involved in Model United Nations, where he participated in 10 conferences. He was a member of the National Honor Society and a senator at Boys State Michigan.

Lutz and some friends also restarted the GHHS Chess Club. He also helped with the school district’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day “Give ‘Em a Hand.”

In addition, he has become a Eucharistic minister at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Spring Lake.

Lutz plans to study mechanical engineering at WMU. In the spring, he hopes to get into the multimedia arts technology-music program through the School of Music.

Lutz thanks his family; fellow theater students; McLary; and his girlfriend, Kensley Schenkel, who have been there along the way.

“Every single one has shaped me into the person I am today,” he said.

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