Woodland Public Schools spotlights two TEAM High School alternative grads

Grace Riesterer, second from right, graduated in two years at age 16, and Kylie Fredricks, far right, graduated with an Associate Degree from Clark College, too. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
Grace Riesterer, second from right, graduated in two years at age 16, and Kylie Fredricks, far right, graduated with an Associate Degree from Clark College, too. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

One is graduating at 16 years of age and another is graduating with an Associate Degree

TEAM High School, Woodland Public Schools’ alternative high school, recognizes two outstanding graduates – Grace Riesterer, who earned her high school diploma in just two years and will graduate as a sophomore, and Kylie Fredricks, who will graduate with an Associate Degree (AA) earned through Running Start before she moves on to attend the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

TEAM lets students work at their own pace

Both Grace and Kylie attribute their amazing success to the alternative approach TEAM High offers its students along with the amazing teaching staff dedicated to supporting them. “I don’t know if I’d be where I am if I didn’t transfer to TEAM from Woodland High School,” said Kylie who attended Clark College through the Running Start program while finishing her high school studies at TEAM. “The teachers are really helpful and so great – it’s been wonderful to work at my own pace.”

Kylie decided to enroll in Running Start, the district’s partnership program with Clark College which allows high school students to take college classes and earn college credit while still in high school. “I felt like going to Clark would be great for a feeling of what college is like,” she said. “Thanks to Running Start, I’ll be graduating with my AA degree which allows me to take an exploratory track in Business Administration when I attend the University of Tennessee at Knoxville this fall.”

“I love all of the teachers at TEAM; every single one of them is so supportive and I don’t know what I would have done without them,” said Grace. “TEAM is all about putting yourself into the right mindset and getting in the zone; put your phone away, remove distractions, and you can accomplish so much.” 

Grace certainly did accomplish a lot – she finished her high school diploma in just two years, graduating at 16 years of age. “She had accomplished so much in her freshman year that she likely could have finished in a single year had she wanted to,” said Elizabeth “Liz” Vallaire, a Math and Science teacher at TEAM. “She was in her junior classes by the end of her freshman year and is the school’s quickest graduate ever; she just has such an incredible and dedicated work ethic.”

From left to right: Teachers Jillian Domingo and Elizabeth Vallaire. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
From left to right: Teachers Jillian Domingo and Elizabeth Vallaire. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

TEAM – a true alternative to the traditional high school experience

Kylie transferred to TEAM after spending a few difficult months at Woodland High School. “I didn’t get along with anybody and felt like I couldn’t see myself succeeding there,” she remembered. “When I first started at TEAM, I was hesitant because alternative high schools have the reputation of being where all the ‘bad kids’ go; that couldn’t be further from the truth for TEAM – I would tell any student to give TEAM a chance if they’re interested; if they don’t like it, they can go back to the traditional high school but I think a few weeks or months of experience will transform any student’s view.”

Grace agrees with Kylie. “I’m one of those people who gets in my own zone, I didn’t want to deal with any high school drama, so I wanted to go with an alternative route,” she said. “I’d tell anyone considering switching to TEAM to do it; being able to work at your own pace and take breaks when you need them was great.” 

What’s next after graduation from TEAM

Grace finished two years early at age 16 thanks to a dedicated work ethic and a motivation to experience what the world has to offer after school. “There are so many opportunities in the world, and I want to get out there to see what I can do,” she said. Grace plans to earn a degree in massage therapy while also working on cake decorating on the side. “I greatly enjoy massage and learning how the different muscle groups in the body can affect mood, feeling, and general health,” she said. “I used to massage my mom’s feet when I was younger and really enjoy the interaction with people as well as making them feel better.”

For Kylie, she wants to leave Washington state where she’s lived her whole life to experience life in a completely different place. “I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never quite fit in,” she said. “I visited a few colleges and fell in love with the University of Tennessee and totally saw myself going there.” 

Kylie’s love of business, finance, and accounting motivated her to pursue an exploratory track in Business Administration which will allow her to pivot to any of those majors should she discover a greater interest in one subject over another. “I don’t know what I want to do for a living, but I do want to run my own business one day,” she said. “I could also see myself going into finance or accounting, so I wanted to keep my options open.”

About TEAM High School

TEAM High School offers Woodland’s students a path to earning a high school diploma which accommodates individual students’ life circumstances including full-time work, family responsibilities, or simply wanting the chance to finish high school early and get a jumpstart on their future.

The staff of TEAM try to help people think of alternative high schools differently. “Many people hear ‘alternative school’ and think it’s a place for ‘troubled’ kids” said Liz. “We want to change that perception: we don’t have ‘typical’ students – we have high-achieving students; students with life responsibilities; and students whose life circumstances make TEAM’s approach to learning a better fit.”

“TEAM can be great for students because we meet them where they are academically and offer a myriad of supports and flexibility with classes to help them succeed,” said Jillian Domingo, who teaches English Language Arts, Social Studies, Art, and Computer Science at TEAM. “Since we have time to work with our students one-on-one, they share information about their work, hobbies, and home lives; I feel having that knowledge helps me be a better teacher by allowing me to adjust my instruction to fit their specific needs and learning styles.”

To learn more about TEAM High School, how to enroll, or how your organization can partner with Woodland Public Schools, visit the TEAM website at www.woodlandschools.org/team

Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates students and serves the community, by visiting the dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd

Information provided by Woodland School District.

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