Woodland’s TEAM High School celebrates first 2021 graduate

Dakota Spencer started at TEAM High School in Fall 2020 after moving to the area from Oklahoma

TEAM High School, Woodland Public Schools’ alternative high school, graduated its first member of the class of 2021, Dakota Spencer, during a brief commencement ceremony on Fri., Jan. 15.

TEAM’s staff held the ceremony in the school’s new portable with a few special guests. Staff kept the ceremony small to maintain social distancing restrictions and required all attendees to wear masks throughout the commencement.

Dakota Spencer is the first graduate of the Class of 2021 for TEAM High School. Photo courtesy of Woodland School District
Dakota Spencer is the first graduate of the Class of 2021 for TEAM High School. Photo courtesy of Woodland School District

Dakota just started at TEAM High School in Fall 2020 after moving to the area from Oklahoma. “She never faltered here from the day she started,” remembered Elizabeth “Liz” Vallaire, TEAM’s Math and Science teacher. “With her goal of joining the Marines in 2021, she worked her tail off to finish in time – she worked through 11 courses, almost two full semesters, in less than four months!”

Jillian Domingo, TEAM’s English and Social Studies teacher, seconded Liz’s sentiments. “Dakota is an absolute rockstar with an independent, mature, hardworking attitude that shows she’s figured it all out,” said Domingo. “When she wasn’t working on her studies, Dakota was working out so she could be in the best shape heading into boot camp; she really impressed me with how put-together she is and how prepared she is for her future.”

TEAM’s staff, including Math and Science teacher Elizabeth Vallaire, kept the ceremony small to maintain social distancing restrictions and required all attendees to wear masks throughout the commencement. Photo courtesy of Woodland School District
TEAM’s staff, including Math and Science teacher Elizabeth Vallaire, kept the ceremony small to maintain social distancing restrictions and required all attendees to wear masks throughout the commencement. Photo courtesy of Woodland School District

Liz points to Dakota’s willingness to work hard and friendly demeanor as the secrets to her success, “It is rare to find a teenage so dedicated to their goals, but Dakota is a force of nature with an unparalleled work ethic,” Vallaire said in a speech she gave during the ceremony. “Every time she entered TEAM, she impressed the entire staff with her friendliness, openness, and genuine passion for the things that are important to her.”

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 Vallaire. “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 Domingo. “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 our dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd

Stay informed with the latest updates about the eventual transition from remote learning to in-person learning and more about COVID-19 at Woodland Public Schools’ dedicated website: www.woodlandschools.org/covid-hq

Information provided by Woodland School District.

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