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News Releases
Shari Conditt takes great strides in engaging students in civics and taking part in government (Note: Photo taken pre-Covid)
Shari Conditt takes great strides in engaging students in civics and taking part in government (Note: Photo taken pre-Covid)
Woodland High School students selected for exclusive opportunities to learn first-hand about the U.S. government (Photo) - 02/22/21

Monday, February 22, 2021-Woodland, WA-Woodland High School students excel in learning more about the U.S. government and how it operates by taking part in unique and once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunities like the National Civics and Law Academy and Civics Unplugged where they interact with students from around the country, meet with government representatives, and even speak with lawyers who serve the Supreme Court, thanks to the dedication and keen eye of Shari Conditt, the high school’s civics teacher.

The National Civics and Law Academy (NCLA)

Each year, the American Bar Association invites an exclusive group of just 20 students from around the United States to attend the National Civics and Law Academy (NCLA). Students spend a week in Washington D.C. visiting with different politicians and legal professionals while touring the country’s capital to learn more about government, law, and civics at both a national level and a local level from first-hand experience and conversations.

Due to the small number of students accepted, having a student in the program is rare for any high school. However, Woodland High School will now have two students attend the program in two years – Leah Riley, who attended the academy in 2020, and Camila Avelar, who will attend this year’s program.

Leah credits the experience with giving her more confidence in the government. “There are so many different outlooks and perspectives from everywhere in the United States,” she said. “At the academy, we learned how to change the government – you just have to be willing to put into the effort.”

With so many students from around the country, diversity in geography, personalities, and perspectives means the students learn from each other. “We even discussed how different schools in different states operate,” Leah remembered. “One student’s school had security guards who looked into each student’s backpack every morning.”

Leah’s experiences in Shari’s classes transformed her outlook toward government. “Ms. Conditt really spiked my interest – government may not sound like fun, but Ms. Conditt makes it fun,” she said. “I look forward to class everyday because Ms. Conditt really engages with her students and wants to know what they think.”

Camila serves as the student representative on Woodland Public Schools’ Board of Directors where she developed a newfound sense of how government works. “Government affects everyone whether they are aware of it or not,” she said. “Serving as the student representative really started to open my eyes how government is everywhere and at every level.”

Camila will attend the NCLA this March, and she particularly looks forward to meeting new people and learning more about how government operates. “I’m really extroverted so when I see a situation I don’t think is right, I insert myself into it to try and change it; government is where and how change happens,” she said. “I’m going to be meeting students from all over the nation and while it’s a step out of my comfort zone, it will be a good step to take especially since I’m graduating this year.”

Camila knew she would want to take classes from Shari before she even started high school thanks to her siblings. “All three of my siblings took classes from Ms. Conditt – she lives up to the hype and exceeds it,” said Camila. “When I’m in her class, I don’t like I’m attending school – I’m learning truly valuable things that I absolutely need to know for life – she makes me want to learn and teach others.

Civics Unplugged

Last year, Ruby Heidgerken took part in Civics Unplugged, a new program developed by a nonpartisan nonprofit organization to increase student interest and understanding of civics. Over the course of four months, thousands of high school students throughout the United States take part in projects to learn how to become effective contributors to building democracy.

The intensive projects include learning more about diversity and inclusion and how to implement change in school; using social media to address the lack of conversation about civics in Gen Z; and initiatives to promote youth engagement and mobilization in the policymaking process. “The whole intent is to train civics superheroes,” said Ruby. “Students learn how to become involved and how to interact with their communities.”

For Ruby, taking part in the program during the pandemic opened her eyes to the differences of opinion throughout the U.S. “Most of the people running the government during the pandemic showed how poorly-run and flawed our system current is,” she said, specifically referencing the amount of time Congress took to send out the second stimulus plan. “We have the power to change it.”

Before Shari nominated Ruby for the program, Ruby had little understanding of government. “I didn’t really know what was happening or how the different political systems interact and operate,” she said. “The more I read about Civics Unplugged, the more it seemed really interesting and would be a program I would benefit from taking part in.”

Students form small groups of eight with students coming from all parts of the U.S. The variety in geography provided many different perspectives, particularly with one of Ruby’s colleagues from St. Louis. “She had a completely different perspective and approach, particularly around the coronavirus,” said Ruby. “In her state, there had only been three cases at the time when Washington was still the epicenter; she didn’t understand why all the schools needed to close across the country when her state only had three cases.”

Unfortunately, due the pandemic, Ruby and the other students participating in Civics Unplugged were unable to take part in the finale – a visit to Washington D.C. where students would have stayed in dorms at the Georgetown University. However, Ruby credits the program for teaching her so much about government and how it operates as well as how geography impacts the perspectives of citizens. “My biggest takeaway was developing a better understanding of how different peoples’ perspectives and opinions form,” she said. “It was fascinating to learn how geography dramatically impacts how people see and interact with the world.”

Ruby truly values Shari’s teaching style. “She really engages in the class and truly wants to know what we think,” she said. “After complex concepts, Ms. Conditt asks what questions we have instead of asking if we have questions because she knows we do and wants us to ask them; it’s a more inviting and engaging way of seeking feedback from students.”

Additionally, Ruby appreciates how Shari goes out of her way to keep up with her students. “Ms.  Conditt is always there for her students,” said Ruby. “She regularly checks in with us to make sure we’re excelling and getting whatever help we may need.”

Helping students develop a love of government

Shari Conditt makes a point of looking for students who might excel in her courses. “I listen carefully and if I can sense a strength in an area, then I want to find ways to help students utilize that strength or grow a passion,” she said. “I realize students don’t often see themselves as leaders and need a little nudge to see their greatness and realize their gifts, talents, and potential.”

In Leah’s case, Shari noticed an interest in studying law and politics. “I also saw her regularly and consistently engage with the news – she’d ask me questions about current events and was deeply reflective in her reading,” said Shari. “That deep analytical thinking is a needed skillset for the study of law and public policy.”

Ruby, already a known leader in school, demonstrated an engagement in current events and a willingness to advocate for a variety of clubs and organizations. “Ruby is interested in the world around her and how she can impact it by engaging in civic leadership at the student level,” said Shari. “Ruby would probably tell you her strength lies in math and science, but that doesn’t limit her from being engaged civically as a leader – she’s multifaceted.”

Like Ruby, Camila carries a reputation at school of being an advocate for what she believes in. “Camila is comfortable being a leader and sets herself apart from others while being confident as a spokesperson for student with diverse needs,” said Shari. “Her role as an advocate and voice of students made her perfect for the opportunity to attend the program.”

Shari believes the role of teachers includes truly engaging and looking out for their students while also encouraging them to not limit their futures. “As teachers, we all operate as cheerleaders, supporters, and goal facilitators,” she said. “As a student myself, I moved around quite a bit and always attended small schools in small towns but attending a small school doesn’t mean students can’t have big dreams and big goals.”

Shari’s interest in government stems from her childhood growing up in Germany during the end of the Cold War with her parents who were actively serving in the U.S. military. “I remember the Berlin Wall toppling, what it meant to the German people and to Europe overall, and fell in love with the role of advocacy,” she said. “I joined student government and engage in student political groups like Model United Nations and Students Council to advocate for my fellow students and for policies that supported implicit needs.”

For Shari, students need to understand how advocacy works and how government operates. “Teaching government is crucial in maintaining our democracy,” she said. “We must become actively engaged, not passive, and I want my students to know how to engage in civics; how to use critical literacy skills to navigate the ever-changing media marketplace; and how to find the factual information they need to make informed decisions.”

About Civics Unplugged

Civics Unplugged is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social enterprise whose mission is to empower the leaders of Generation Z to build the future of democracy. To learn more, visit their website at www.civicsunplugged.org

About the National Civics and Law Academy

The American Bar Association’s Division for Public Education hosts the National Civics and Law Academy (NCLA) to provide high school students with an opportunity to spend four days focused on understanding the relationship that law, policies, people, and institutions have in shaping our nation. To learn more, visit the NCLA’s webpage at www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/programs/ncla

Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates our 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

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Woodland Middle School
Woodland Middle School
Woodland Public Schools announces transition to in-person school for all students grades K-12 (Photo) - 02/17/21

Wednesday, February 17, 2021-Woodland, WA-Woodland Public Schools proudly announces that all students will transition to either hybrid schedules or full in-person learning over the coming weeks.

The transition to in-person learning was made possible thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Woodland and Ariel communities in reducing the spread of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus. “We are incredibly grateful to our community members for taking this disease seriously and following recommended safety guidelines to reduce its spread,” said Michael Green, Superintendent of Woodland Public Schools. “Thanks to the efforts of our friends, neighbors and colleagues, all of our students will be able to return to school and receive at least some form of in-person learning by the first week of March.”

Due to the different sizes of each of Woodland Public Schools’ facilities and the different safety guidelines provided by Clark and Cowlitz counties’ health departments and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for different age groups, elementary students will be able to return to full in-person school while older students in middle and high school will transition to a hybrid schedule.

Elementary Schools (Grades K-4)

Woodland Public Schools’ elementary schools will return to full-in person learning on the following schedule:

  • Kindergarten and first grade students will be invited back to full in-person learning five days-a-week beginning on Tuesday, February 23.
  • Second grade students will transition to five days-a-week beginning Tuesday, March 2.
  • Third and fourth grade students will transition to five days a week beginning Tuesday, March 9.

Middle School (Grades 5-8)

Woodland Middle School will transition to a hybrid schedule starting Tuesday, February 23:

  • All middle school students will attend school remotely on Mondays.
  • Students with last names starting with letters A-L will attend in-person on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and remotely on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Students with last names starting with letters M-Z will attend in-person on Thursdays and Fridays and remotely on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

High School (Grades 9-12)

Woodland High School will start the new hybrid learning bell schedule remotely on Monday, March 1 with students returning to in-person school on Tuesday, March 2 on the following schedule:

  • All high school students will attend school remotely on Mondays.
  • Students with last names starting with letters A-L will attend in-person on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and remotely on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Students with last names starting with letters M-Z will attend in-person on Thursdays and Fridays and remotely on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

If you have questions or need additional information, please visit the district website at www.woodlandschools.org or call the main office for your student’s school.

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Dakota Spencer is the first graduate of the Class of 2021 for TEAM High School
Dakota Spencer is the first graduate of the Class of 2021 for TEAM High School
TEAM High School, Woodland Public School's alternative high school, celebrates Dakota Spencer, the school's first graduate of the Class of 2021 (Photo) - 02/01/21

Monday, February 1, 2021-Woodland, WA-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 Friday, January 15, 2021.

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 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 Jillian. “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.”

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,” Liz 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 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. “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 our 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

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