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Woodland and TEAM high schools celebrate 2023 graduates together

The Columbian
Published: August 12, 2023, 5:10am

WOODLAND — Woodland Public Schools’ two high schools, Woodland High School and TEAM High School, the district’s alternative high school, celebrated their 2023 graduates during commencement ceremonies on June 9 and June 7, respectively.

Graduates took part in a new tradition during lunch, reuniting with their first grade and kindergarten teachers for a special event that celebrated the impact these educators had on their lives. Organized by teachers Andrea Edwards and Sharon Conditt, the event brought together current and retired teachers of this year’s graduating class to share stories and relive fond memories with their students.

The idea for the event stemmed from a conference Conditt had attended, where the concept of reconnecting graduating seniors with their early years’ teachers was shared. “The school community quickly realized that it perfectly embodied their values and the tight-knit bond they shared,” said Conditt.

“As the announcement of the event spread, the anticipation among the graduating class grew; the students were overjoyed to learn that their beloved teachers would be present at the event, eagerly awaiting the chance to express their gratitude for the teachers’ guidance and support during their formative years.”

The courtyard was transformed into a cozy storytelling haven, where teachers sat encircled by their soon-to-be graduates. “The atmosphere was filled with a sense of nostalgia and appreciation as the teachers took turns reading stories aloud, just like they used to when their students were young,” said Conditt. To add an extra touch of nostalgia, the high school teachers arranged snacks reminiscent of elementary school days including Capri-Sun juice pouches and cookies, eliciting smiles and laughter as the seniors reminisced about their favorite snacks from those bygone years.

“The event would not have been possible without the dedication and coordination of Andrea Edwards, who tirelessly organized all the teachers,” said Conditt. “Edwards’ efforts exemplify the spirit of the school community, where fostering lifelong connections between students and teachers is cherished.”

For the graduating seniors, this event was a poignant reminder of the profound impact their first grade and kindergarten teachers had on their lives. “Many of these students had spent a significant amount of time with these educators, with some teachers even returning from retirement to be a part of this special occasion,” said Conditt. “The event not only honored the teachers’ contributions but also served as a testament to the enduring power of education and the lifelong connections formed within a close-knit community.”