Our school: Woodland Beavers

Woodland can be the perfect fit

Student leaders Carleigh Risley and Isaac Hall describe what makes Woodland High School so special.

Isaac Hall wanted to come up with one word to describe Woodland High School.

Belonging.

He also wanted to explain that a bit more in detail, though.

So, too, did Carleigh Risley, also a senior at Woodland.

Hall moved from a bigger school in central Washington to Woodland during middle school.

“Once I moved here, everything clicked for me,” he said. “Everything has fallen into place since we moved here. This small school, it’s perfect for me.”

“Pretty much here in Woodland, everyone knows everyone,” Risley said. “Everyone’s willing to help everyone. No one’s left alone.”

Isaac Hall said Woodland High School is a place where pretty much everyone respects each other. Photo courtesy Isaac Hall
Isaac Hall said Woodland High School is a place where pretty much everyone respects each other. Photo courtesy Isaac Hall

Hall is the ASB president, a three-sport athlete, is a drummer with the jazz band, and he sings, too. He also is a leader with Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

He said there is a connectedness with the student body.

“We all, for the most part, respect each other, love each other, and are definitely ‘one,’ if that makes sense,” he said.

Hall recalled the day the governor initially announced that schools would be closed for six weeks. That day, though, many students feared that school would not return this academic year.

“We all kind of had a moment of sorrow,” Hall said. “All the seniors were pretty upset. It was a moment of grief. It was pretty heart-breaking but kind of beautiful at the same time.”

So many of his friends, after all, love Woodland High School. Their loss that day brought them even closer together.

“I miss being able to walk around the hallways and just saying hi to everyone as they pass,” said Risley, the senior class secretary. “I miss being around my friends and my teachers, just everyone.”

A traditional school day also brings a traditional schedule.

“I miss the structure it had, and the routine I had,” Hall said. “Part of the routine was seeing all these different people at certain times of the day, doing different activities at certain times of the day. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was very fulfilling for me.”

Both Hall and Risley are accomplished athletes.

Risley used to be a three-sport athlete, but this year she was focused only on softball — making this whole situation even a bit more painful for her.

Carleigh Risley said Woodland is an amazing school and community. Photo courtesy Carleigh Risley
Carleigh Risley said Woodland is an amazing school and community. Photo courtesy Carleigh Risley

But she does get to leave high school as a two-time defending state softball champion. The Beavers were unstoppable in 2018, perfect in 2019, and they were hoping for another run this spring.

“It was so surreal,” Risley said. “It kind of didn’t feel like the real world. It felt like a dream. It’s just amazing to think about. Not a lot of teams can say they were back-to-back state champions. It’s a huge accomplishment, and no one will ever forget it.”

The backing from around town has been unforgettable, as well, she said. She loves seeing Woodland gear.

“I think it’s just a sense of pride. This is my town,” she said. “This is who I represent. This is who supports me. It’s a great feeling that everyone here supports Woodland. It’s a pride thing.”

Hall and the boys basketball team had an incredible postseason run this winter, just a few weeks before everything was shut down. His team went from barely making the playoffs to making it to the district championship game and a trip to the state playoffs.

“It makes me feel important, being able to represent,” Hall said. “We were able to represent Woodland really strong.”

The experiences of the Class of 2020 will be unlike any in recent memory. These seniors did not get a prom. They did not get a traditional final day of school.

But they still experienced high school life. Hall and Risley said it was an incredible time at Woodland.

“This high school has been amazing,” Risley said.

Advice to other students during the school closure:

Pay attention to the online assignments, Risley said.

“Do what you can. Don’t fall behind. Be your best self even though you’re not in school,” she said. “Stay up to date. Don’t be that person: ‘I’m not going to do anything for two weeks.’ Then you fall so far behind you don’t have time to catch up.”

Hall wants people to show respect.

“Really appreciate and love each other,” Hall said. “There’s really no reason not to. You never know what might happen.”

About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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