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News Releases
All three developed a passion for math while attending Woodland Public Schools.
All three developed a passion for math while attending Woodland Public Schools.
Three Woodland High School students make a one-in-a-million chance with all three earning perfect 800 math scores on the SAT (Photo) - 01/14/19

Monday, January 14, 2019-Woodland, WA-Three seniors at Woodland High School – Evan Ailinger, Michael Gabalis and Orion Hollar – recently received their results from their Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SATs) and were excited to discover they each earned a perfect score – 800 – on the math section of the test.

What is the SAT?

Many students planning to attend college take an assessment test called the Scholastic Assessment Test (or SAT), an admission requirement for many colleges and universities. The College Board, the organization which oversees the SAT as well as Advanced Placement (AP) class requirements, designed the SAT to measure students’ knowledge in a variety of content areas including language arts, analytical skill and mathematics.

What does the SAT do?

Since school system requirements and grading procedures vary state-to-state (for example, some states give students one or two extra GPA points for each AP class they take), many U.S. colleges use the SAT as an admission requirement. With all students taking the same test, the standardized results provide admission boards with a measurement of applicants’ levels of knowledge regardless of the school attended or GPA received.

How rare is a perfect 800 score?

The College Board doesn’t release the exact number of students who receive 800 in each section of the SATs each year, however the organization does say that the number who receive a perfect score in any section is less than 1%. Using 1% as a baseline, the possibility of three students taking the SAT at the same high school receiving perfect math scores is less than 0.0001%.

In other words, the chance of three Woodland High School students receiving perfect math scores the same year is quite literally less than one-in-a million.

“Having a single student receive a perfect score on a section of the SAT is rare – less than 1 in 100,” said Woodland High School Principal John Shoup. “Having three students do it in a single school year is almost unheard of and the staff is incredibly proud of the students’ accomplishment and the hard work they put in to make it happen.”

What do the students feel led to their success on the SATs?

Evan Ailinger attributes his success on the SATs to his passion for math, “I love the feeling I get when I get the right answer for a math problem.”

In a similar way, Orion Hollar likes the definitive nature of solutions to math problems, “When you get the right answer, you know you’ve gotten the right answer.”

Michael Gabalis sticks by the rule that your first answer is likely your best answer. “Definitely trust your first instinct with an answer,” he said. “The College Board has statistics that show students who change their answer more likely change a right answer to a wrong one rather than the other way around.”

How did the students prepare for the SAT?

Michael, also a Running Start student enrolled at Clark College, currently takes Calculus 4 and prepared for the SATs by taking practice tests. “When it comes to math, students shouldn’t study the questions they think might be on the test, they should study the concepts,” he said. “The SAT’s problems involve quick math so it’s more important to work on timing and how to use your resources wisely.”

Orion agrees with Michael’s strategy of knowing the concepts. “If you know all of the basics and all the little things related to them, you’ll have a much better chance of doing well.”

Evan shares advice for students having trouble learning math concepts. “Students who struggle need to know that it’s okay to ask for help,” he said. “It can often feel challenging to ask for help, but all of our teachers give great guidance and have the answers we need, even when it comes to specific knowledge on what may be covered on the SATs.”

Plans for the Future

Evan moved to Woodland his freshman year and was surprised by the size of the community at first, “Woodland is the first place I’ve lived that was so small, but you get to know people really well because of that.” Evan’s considering joining the military and working in their Nuclear Study division. “One position that really appeals to me is operating the control board for nuclear reactors,” he said. “The responsibility and accountability of that position really appeals to me.”

Michael hopes to attend the University of Washington and plans to major in Aerospace Engineering, “I also really enjoy English and History so I might minor in something in those areas, too.”

Orion hopes to attend Oregon State University and major in Electrical Engineering. “OSU’s location near the ocean results in a really excellent electrical engineering where they’re currently studying whether the ocean’s currents can be harnessed to generate electricity.”

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Students are responsible for every job in JA BizTown, including managing the television news station.
Students are responsible for every job in JA BizTown, including managing the television news station.
Woodland's sixth graders become sales managers and CEOs for a day at Junior Achievement's JA BizTown (Photo) - 01/07/19

Monday, January 7, 2019-Woodland, WA-Woodland Middle School’s sixth graders worked as customer service representatives, store managers, and even CEOs when they attended JA BizTown, a culminating day-long visit to a simulated town developed by the Junior Achievement program.

Robin Uhlenkott teaches financial literacy to Woodland’s middle school students as part of the school’s new Personal Finance and Citizenship class started this school year. “I’ve always enjoyed teaching personal finance as part of the social studies curriculum, so I was excited when Principal James Johnston wanted to introduce a new class this year entirely dedicated to the subject,” she said. Some of the many topics covered during the class include learning the differences between debit cards and credit cards; how to balance a checkbook; and studying how interest rates and compounding interest affects loans and investments.

During one lesson, students used a transaction register to track the income and expenses of a fictional young woman after she earned money on her job and went out with some friends. At each store, restaurant and activity students identified transactions as deposits or withdrawals; payments or debits; and tracked fees as well as loans owed to her friends.

Students discussed the differences between credit and debit cards including identifying which ones affect a holder’s credit score, which charge interest, and how tracking transactions differs depending on the type of payment used. Students also learned the risks involved with overdrafting a checking account as well as the different fees and fines charged by both banks and credit companies.

After four weeks of in-class lessons, the sixth graders visited Junior Achievement’s JA BizTown to practice their knowledge in a simulated real-world environment. The JA BizTown uses an 8,500 square-foot replica an American city to create a one-day economic simulation. Students learn how to be a citizen, how an economy works, how to apply for a job and how to run a successful business.

Students applied for jobs from a variety of different employers including United Parcel Service (UPS), Allstate Insurance and Fred Meyer Grocers. Students reviewed job descriptions and filled out applications describing the skills and qualifications they felt made them the right candidate for their preferred jobs. While attending BizTown, students worked for their chosen company and earned a virtual paycheck. Students set up bank accounts and budgets, depositing their paychecks and then spending their income on a variety of goods and services.

Prior to attending BizTown, Brooke Beassie, a sixth grader in Uhlenkott’s class, was very excited about the field trip. “I want to be a stock manager because I like detail-oriented tasks and enjoy working with customers,” she said. “Learning about real financial issues has been great because different real-world tasks – such as how to fill out a check register – can be really confusing at first.”

Mattison Moss, one of Brooke’s classmates who applied to become the CEO of Allstate Insurance at BizTown, also agreed about the lessons they learned. “I didn’t know the difference between credit cards and debit cards before taking this course,” she said. “Mrs. Uhlenkott knows so much about what she teaches us – she’s always there to answer questions and point us in the right direction.”

With new technologies enabling paying by mobile phone, over the Internet, and a variety of other new financial instruments entering the economy all the time, Uhlenkott believes students need to start learning about finances as soon as possible. “Some parents aren’t comfortable talking with their children about how to take care of their finances so learning the different elements of a constantly-changing economy in school can be extremely powerful for students,” she explained. “By learning about finance at a younger age, students will be better prepared to manage their own finances when they graduate and begin their careers.”

To learn more about the Junior Achievement of Oregon & SW Washington’s JA BizTown program, visit their website: https://jaorswwa.org/ja-biztown.

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Luke Cook finished his diploma a semester early in order join the military and pursue his dream of a career in law enforcement
Luke Cook finished his diploma a semester early in order join the military and pursue his dream of a career in law enforcement
Woodland's TEAM High School helped a student graduate a semester early, join the military, and pursue his dream of working in law enforcement (Photo) - 12/17/18

Monday, December 17, 2018-Woodland, WA-Luke Cook will graduate from TEAM High School, Woodland Public Schools’ alternative high school, later in December in order to pursue his dream of working in law enforcement.

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

TEAM Graduate Spotlight: Luke Cook

Luke enrolled at TEAM in order to earn his high school diploma a semester early and pursue his career plans of becoming a Portland police officer. He particularly appreciates the self-directed lesson plans TEAM’s students use to finish their diplomas. “You can move at your own pace at TEAM which helped learn at a faster rate,” Luke explained. “I loved all my teachers at Woodland High School, but I felt like the classes would often move slower than I wanted to.”

Luke initially enrolled in TEAM his freshman year after moving to Woodland from Oregon with his family. “I was home-schooled until high school, so TEAM’s less structured approach was more appealing than enrolling at a traditional school,” he said. “TEAM’s environment is much less stressful and allows you to create your own schedule with hours that work around your other responsibilities.”

Luke left TEAM to attend Woodland High School for a semester to earn foreign language credit before finishing his high school education at TEAM. His experience at both schools made him appreciate all that Woodland Public Schools offers the community. “I’ve really appreciated all the teachers I’ve had during my time in Woodland,” he said. “They’re amazing and they’re all dedicated and available to helping students succeed regardless of which school you attend.”

While enrolled at TEAM, Luke also took classes in criminal justice at Cascadia Technical Academy. “I’ve always had an interest in working in law enforcement, so when my mom discovered Cascadia’s program, I knew it was a great opportunity,” he said. “I started taking classes at Cascadia during my junior year, loved it, and went back to take additional courses this year, too.”

In addition to attending Cascadia, TEAM’s flexible hours and schedules gave Luke the opportunity to take part in the Clark County Sheriff Explorers program, a cooperative venture between the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Learning for Life. The Explorer Program offers youth between the ages of 15-1/2 and 21 the opportunity to observe the criminal justice system and make an informed career decision by assisting sheriffs in serving the community.

The Explorer Program noticed Luke had a knack for leadership and started giving him additional responsibilities beginning with teaching coursework to classes of 40-60 enrollees followed by a promotion to Captain. “I started with the Explorers last year and it wasn’t long before they started assigning me lessons to learn and teach to my colleagues,” said Luke. “This year, I was promoted to Captain where I direct teams of 40-50 explorers at any given time.”

Luke’s self-directed nature combined with a high level of self-discipline served him well as captain. “Managing a team is a lot of scheduling to ensure everyone is working hard and swapping tasks when necessary – time management is definitely key,” he said. “For me, it’s fun figuring out what happens next while also keeping an eye on everyone to make sure we’re all learning and enjoying the program.”

In order to achieve his career goals of becoming a police officer, Luke enlisted in the security division of the U.S. Air Force. The position offers him the ability to earn an Associates Degree while he serves his tour of duty starting in February 2019. “In the Air Force, I will get a lot more leadership experience, earn my Associates Degree, and have my remaining undergraduate work paid for which will all help me get to work in law enforcement,” he said. “I really enjoy structure and I think the military will play to that strength; I’m only little nervous because I’m actually really excited.”

TEAM enabled Luke to start pursuing his career earlier than traditional school options and he recommends the school for those who want to get started early on their career plans. “You can truly get ahead if you push yourself at TEAM,” he said. “Although it requires a lot of discipline not to get distracted, if you stay focused, you will definitely make a lot of progress.”

An alternative to “alternative high schools”

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

“TEAM is great for students because we meet students where they are academically and offer a myriad of supports and flexibility with classes to help students succeed,” said Jill Domingo, TEAM’s Social Studies and English Teacher. “By having the time to work with students one-on-one, they share information about their work, hobbies, and home life, and I feel like that knowledge helps me be a better teacher by adjusting my instruction to fit their needs and learning styles.”

Luke’s teachers still remember the first time they met him. “I knew he was special – he is an incredibly driven, motivated, respectful, thoughtful and brilliant young person,” said Liz. “Luke works hard but has fun doing it – he is easy to talk to and absolutely hilarious which made him a favorite for all his peers.”

Jill agrees with Liz. “From his first day at TEAM, Luke made an impression with how polite, well-spoken and driven he is,” she said. “His hard work and dedication made him stand out especially when he was constantly exceeding TEAM’s performance standards by going above and beyond in his schoolwork.”

Liz points to TEAM’s flexibility as the reason for the program’s success. “For some students, the rigid schedule of traditional school feels oppressive which can lead to issues with truancy, discipline or behavior,” she said. “At TEAM, students can be and feel independent by making their own schedules while still having support from teachers and staff when they need it.”

With a relatively small enrollment, TEAM’s maximum enrollment is 100 students, the program takes on a different feeling than larger schools. “We feel like a family since we all get to know each other really well, and through that we are able to build trusting relationships through all the one-on-one time we have with each student,” said Liz. “I believe those relationships are often part of what keeps a lot of students motivated to succeed; they know that their families, their teachers, and their peers are also invested in their success.”

Preparation through partnership

Leslie Mohlman, Community, Family, Student Resource Coordinator for Woodland Public Schools, connects local organizations with TEAM High School to help support students. “We strive to introduce students to all the resources their different lifestyles might need,” she explained. “In addition to resources that specialize in teen support such as housing, medical, and mental health, we also reach out to local resources based in Woodland, too.”

Leslie specifically targets resources offering teen support to make it easier for kids who need help to find it. “Teens don’t always trust adults so the main objective is to build trust and relationships so students know they can find help at school,” she said. “Local resources are more than willing to become reach kids by bringing awareness of social problems that can affect people of all ages such as finding affordable housing; dealing with depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide or addiction; and concerns just finding food.”

TEAM also partners with local community organizations to offer more learning opportunities for students. A recent partnership with the Woodland Public Library allowed students to take home free books. “Some of our love reading and were so excited to have free books they could take home and keep,” said Liz. “I placed donation boxes in all of our other schools, asking employees to donate books, and, now, TEAM High School has a small library of nearly 100 books students can borrow or keep.”

Want to learn more including how to team up with TEAM?

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 about Woodland Public Schools’ Family and Community Resource Center by visiting www.woodlandschools.org and selecting “Family & Community Resource Center” from the drop-down Menu.

To learn more about the other programs discussed in this article, you can visit their websites:

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