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Woodland Public Schools celebrated the Class of 2016 with a Senior Breakfast, Graduate Parade, and Commencement

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Woodland High School celebrated the graduating Class of 2016 with a series of events culminating in the Commencement Ceremony on Friday, June 17.

 Woodland High School's Class of 2016 Commencement was held on the evening of Friday, June 17, 2016.
Woodland High School's Class of 2016 Commencement was held on the evening of Friday, June 17, 2016.

Graduates took part in a Senior Breakfast, paraded through district schools in Woodland's first-ever Parade of Graduates, and concluded by walking in the 108th Annual Commencement to receive their diplomas.

Senior Breakfast

The graduates kicked off Graduation Day with a special breakfast provided by the Woodland Presbyterian Church.
The graduates kicked off Graduation Day with a special breakfast provided by the Woodland Presbyterian Church.

On Friday morning, Woodland High graduates gathered at the Woodland Presbyterian Church for a special breakfast. The church has graciously provided a free breakfast to graduating seniors to celebrate their success as a Woodland tradition for nearly 70 years.

Community volunteers along with Superintendent Michael Green helped to prepare and serve the meal.
Community volunteers along with Superintendent Michael Green helped to prepare and serve the meal. 

Graduates enjoyed a breakfast of pancakes, ham, juice, and coffee cooked up by volunteers including Woodland Public Schools Superintendent Michael Green. Breakfast was served by community volunteers.

Following breakfast, Shoup spoke with the graduates, congratulating them on their accomplishment of graduating high school.

Parade of Graduates

WHS graduates donned their gowns for the first-ever Woodland Parade of Graduates where they walked through the district's schools.
WHS graduates donned their gowns for the first-ever Woodland Parade of Graduates where they walked through the district's schools. 

Following breakfast, the graduates donned their graduation gowns for the first-ever Woodland Parade of Graduates. The graduates walked in parades at the Woodland Primary School, the Woodland Intermediate School, and the Woodland Middle School. Students in the younger schools prepared banners and posters celebrating their older counterparts' graduation, and lined the parades route to cheer and give high-fives to the graduates as they passed. Graduates also visited with teachers who had them as students when they were younger.

Graduates also visited with past teachers and staff members.
Graduates also visited with past teachers and staff members. 

The Parade of Graduates was developed and organized as a joint project by the district's entire administrative team. "The parade serves to inspire students in younger grades to see the end goal of their years of learning," said Uhlenkott. "Both the graduates and the younger students were so excited to take part in the celebration."

Bryce Johnson, a graduate who has attended Woodland schools since preschool, greatly enjoyed participating in the parade. "It's so cool to see all the kids yelling and cheering," he said. Following graduation, Johnson intends to follow his father's footsteps in the field of construction by attending Clark College to major in business while also working at the same time.

Katie Kern, a graduate who has been a Woodland student since third grade, felt the parades provide great motivation. "Many students might not have familial support to attend school and succeed," she said. "The Parade of Graduates is a great way to motivate them to keep at it." Kern will start attending Concordia University's nursing program this fall.

Commencement Ceremony

A total of 125 graduates walked in Woodland High School's 108th Commencement.
A total of 125 graduates walked in Woodland High School's 108th Commencement. 

A total of 130 students graduated from Woodland High School in the Class of 2016 with 125 who walked in Woodland High School's 108th Commencement Ceremony on the evening of Friday, June 17.

The Woodland High School band played "Pomp and Circumstance" as the graduates entered followed by the WHS Jazz Choir singing the National Anthem. Kenya Byrnes, Class President, served as Master of Ceremonies, introducing speakers and reading the names of her fellow graduates as they received their diplomas.

Senior speakers included Grace Adams and Dillon Franke with Shari Conditt, WHS History Teacher, selected as Faculty Speaker by the graduating class. The WHS Band played "Music for a Darkened Theatre" by Danny Elfman followed by the Jazz Choir singing "In My Life" by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Woodland High School Principal John Shoup gave a short speech comparing the graduates' experience at high school to taking a commercial airline flight where teachers and staff serve as flight attendants ensuring the students had a good flight and got to their destination with only a few bumps along the way. Following Shoup's comments, Superintendent Michael Green presented the Class of 2016 for graduation, certifying their accomplishment to the audience with Board President Janice Watts presenting each graduate with a diploma.

Student Spotlight: Dillon Franke – Woodland High School

Dillon Franke graduated with honors and an Associate's Degree from Clark College, and plans to attend Stanford University this fall.
Dillon Franke graduated with honors and an Associate's Degree from Clark College, and plans to attend Stanford University this fall. 

Well-rounded students are the most likely to succeed at Woodland High School, and Dillon Franke serves as a shining example. Dillon, an accomplished student athlete on the WHS Golf Team, also spends his free time succeeding in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) while excelling at his studies, graduating with honors and receiving an Associate's Degree from Clark College by participating in Woodland's Running Start Program. Following graduation, Dillon will attend Stanford University where he plans to major in engineering.

Dillon credits his experiences with FBLA in helping him get into Stanford. "I think FBLA was instrumental in my acceptance," he said. "I think colleges really look at the entire student and want to see a student who not only excels academically, but also excels in activities outside of class, too."

Dillon started participating in FBLA during his Freshman Year, after his student adviser and FBLA coordinator at the time, Joan Huston, encouraged him to sign up. "I developed a passion for the competitive aspect of FBLA during my sophomore year," Dillon explained. In his junior year, Dillon ran for Washington State FBLA Public Relations Officer. "I had to give a two-minute speech in front of 2,500 people – all of the students competing at state, their advisers, and any audience member who wanted to attend," he remembered. "I also had to run a campaign booth complete with brochures and personalized pens I had made up along with free candy, of course."

Following his speech and campaigning, the conference attendees voted for the new officer team, which included Dillon. After winning, Dillon managed all of the media communications for Washington State's FBLA program including social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. "I interviewed professionals and put together stories for the website along with contacting business and creating videos," said Dillon. "Even though I want to be an engineer, I feel like I'm torn between being left- and right-brained as I still want to talk to others and not just be trapped in a cubicle."

Dillon will compete in the FBLA National Competition for the third year in a row with the competition taking place this month. Dillon was the first student at Woodland High School to make it to the National Competition. "The people make FBLA great," he said. "I've made great friends and an excellent network of connections by taking part in FBLA."

Dillon also credits the Running Start Program with his academic success. "I love the program, and it's been a great experience to graduate high school with an Associate's Degree," he said. "Woodland High School has excellent teachers, but the Running Start Program allowed me to get ahead and focus on STEM and math classes not offered at the high school level."

Dillon thanks his family for their support throughout his entire school career. "My parents are so supportive with my dad actually serving as a judge during the state FBLA competitions this year," he said. "Both my mom and dad were so ecstatic when I got accepted into Stanford; when I first learned I got in, I thought it was a dream."

Finding time to do everything created the biggest challenge throughout Dillon's high school career. "Time management is definitely crazy as I've tried to involve myself in as many things as possible," he said. "I recommend that students try to take some time to relax, even though I didn't really follow that advice."

Dillon recommends his younger classmates work hard and stay dedicated to their goals. "If you have a dream that you really want to achieve, don't let statistics stop you as hard work will help you achieve anything you put your mind to," he explained. "My SAT scores weren't as high as many of Stanford's students, but I decided to apply, anyway, and here I am – if you have a dream, don't let a statistics get in your way; put in the hard work and there's a good chance you can do it."

Student Spotlight: Cassie Allen – TEAM High School

Mary Burnett hugs Cassie Allen in celebration of Cassie's success in earning her diploma at TEAM High School.
Mary Burnett hugs Cassie Allen in celebration of Cassie's success in earning her diploma at TEAM High School.

Not all students succeed in a traditional school environment with some needing self-direction and independence in order to earn their diplomas. Cassie Allen, a Class of 2016 TEAM High School graduate, serves as an example of what hard work can achieve in overcoming adversity. TEAM High School provides students with a different approach to graduating and receiving a diploma than traditional school by allowing students to work at their own pace with online learning and the help of dedicated teaching staff.

"I was bullied a lot when I was in school," Cassie remembered. "I was diagnosed with diabetes in sixth grade which caused me to miss school to go to the hospital, which, in turn, resulted in my receiving failing grades and developing anxiety mixed with depression which seemed to take over my entire life." Cassie started attending TEAM High School following her freshman year at La Center High School. "My school counselor at La Center told me about TEAM which sounded like a great option to regular school," she said.

At first, Cassie didn't succeed at TEAM High School. "I did the minimum of what I had to do my first year because I simply didn't see myself graduating in part due to a friendship that was having a negative impact on my life," she remembered. "Last year, we stopped being friends, and it made me realize I needed to buckle down and work toward earning my diploma."

Mary Burnett, TEAM High's Program Specialist who oversees and helps TEAM's students while they work, noticed the change in Cassie. "About a year, I saw a light turn on in Cassie; she suddenly started taking care of herself and eating better," remembered Mary. "At the beginning of the school year, Cassie announced that she planned to graduate this June and came in every day, working 7-8 hours each day."

Mary sees Cassie as an example of what a student can do when she puts her mind to it. "Cassie's amazing; I really loved watching her grow and change into this confident, strong woman with a plan for her future," she said. "You can see the pride in her eyes; she knew she could accomplish her dreams herself."

Cassie credits the independent learning aspect with a smaller student body of TEAM High School to helping her achieve her success. "Being social was one of my biggest challenges in high school as overcoming my anxiety has been such a struggle," she said. "TEAM is less 'school-like' with fewer people and so much less drama; my classmates are great and the people here are really sweet, understanding, and open."

Following graduation, Cassie intends to get a job, move out of her parents' home, and either attend Clark College or the Aveda Institute for Cosmetology. "I've always felt that if you look good on the outside, it can help make you feel good on the inside," she explained. "I'd love to help other people feel good about themselves."

Cassie sees the entire TEAM experience as contributing to her success, "The TEAM staff creates a friendly environment with great support," she said. "TEAM provides a great way to learn schoolwork on your own while also learning how to depend on yourself to succeed."

TEAM High School held its Commencement on Wednesday, June 15.
TEAM High School held its Commencement on Wednesday, June 15.

TEAM held its Commencement Ceremony on the evening of Wednesday, June 15, with nine graduates taking part in the festivities to celebrate with staff, friends, and family members in the Woodland High School Commons. Students interested in attending TEAM High School can schedule an appointment with TEAM Principal Dan Uhlenkott. In order to attend, interested students fill out applications explaining why they feel TEAM would be a better option for them than traditional school.

More Photographs

Even more pictures from the above events can be found on Woodland Public School's Facebook page located at www.Facebook.com/WoodlandPS