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Washington Voices

Teen home-schooled until Riverside

Thu., June 3, 2010

Chelsea Wood is a senior at Riverside High School in Deer Park and an avid athlete. (Jesse Tinsley)
Chelsea Wood is a senior at Riverside High School in Deer Park and an avid athlete. (Jesse Tinsley)

It’s easy to see why Chelsea Wood is described by high school adviser Gregg Godsey as “a classic all-around girl, an ideal student.”

Wood, 18, is about to graduate from Chattaroy’s Riverside High School with a 3.85 grade-point average. She is involved in academics, sports, her community and is as nice and polite as can be. Still, she was a latecomer to the traditional world of education.

The second-youngest of six children born to Dave and Kate Wood, of Chattaroy, she, like her siblings, was home-schooled. It wasn’t until high school that formal education took place outside the home.

“Transition to high school was a little surprising,” she said. “I had to be on time to everything. There was a set plan, a set schedule. I just didn’t understand those concepts. I even had to get a pass to go to the bathroom.”

But it’s worked out well, and she adjusted quickly. She participates in basketball (her favorite, but not just because her father is the coach), cross country and track. She is involved in student government, this year as a representative, last year as vice president. She is in the National Honor Society and active with Washington Drug Free Youth, a program in which high school students serve as role models and mentor fifth-graders. “I was so impressed with how the fifth-grade students opened up and spoke to us about problems they have,” Wood said. “Here you are thinking you’re doing something for them, when they are really doing something for you. They teach me not to take things for granted and that there are many kids with problems and who are struggling.”

She is also active at Peaceful Valley Church, where she participates in Elderly Youth Group, in which older and younger members get together and share their life experiences. During spring break this year, a number of church members – including Wood, her father and younger brother Jordan, 16 – made a mission trip to Mexico to build a home for a family who had been waiting for one for 10 years. Wood worked drywalling and painting. Her father is a roofer.

“So many of the people we met were so very poor,” she said. “But they had joy in their faces when they realized that people cared about them. That really touched my life.”

The only adversity she’s had personally, she said, was a significant knee injury that required surgery and kept her out of sports for eight months. But even that provided her an opportunity. Because she couldn’t participate in athletics while on the mend, she spent last summer in North Dakota with a sister, working at her sibling’s coffee shop.

She returned for her senior year and was voted most valuable player on the basketball team, where she was also team captain.

She plans to attend Spokane Falls Community College this fall and later transfer to a four-year college where she hopes to study art.

In the meantime, she likes to work hard at what she does and enjoys giving to others.

“I guess I do have a good work ethic,” she said. “I always try to do better, even if I don’t have to. My parents have always pushed me to do my best. I’m trying to do that.”

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