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Thursday, May 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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STEM student relishes time at Riverpoint

Cierra Dalzell is the notable graduate from Riverpoint Academy. (COURTESY OF CIERRA DALZELL)
Cierra Dalzell is the notable graduate from Riverpoint Academy. (COURTESY OF CIERRA DALZELL)

Riverpoint Academy is an innovative, award-winning, project-based STEM and entrepreneurial high school in the Mead School District. And it’s been a perfect fit for Cierra Dalzell.

“I chose Riverpoint because I’m really interested in STEM,” she said. “I want to be a doctor.”

But in addition to opportunities to further her interests in science and technology, the school gave her a platform to pursue her enthusiasm for creativity in the business world.

“I think you’re born an entrepreneur,” said Dalzell. “Once an entrepreneur, always one.”

She’s had no shortage of opportunities to explore that innate knack at RA. The school’s focus is on 21st century skills, leadership and nurturing the creative passion within each student.

“Cierra created a social media app called ‘Connect Me,’ ” said teacher John Marshall. “It’s a platform that removes barriers for people with disabilities.”

Part of the school’s mandate involves students taking on real-world challenges and using a design process, working to develop and implement solutions.

“She’s very empathetic, which is important to our work here,” Marshall said. “And she’s got the drive and the intellect to go along with it.”

In fact, empathy was the driving force behind Dalzell’s work on “Connect Me.”

“The goal is to keep out predators and those who harass and bully. It’s a high-level security chat room. I just think everyone should be treated equally,” said Dalzell. “ ‘Connect Me’ is still being developed. I’m working with people in the community. It was a huge undertaking to tackle on my own.”

But Dalzell relishes a challenge. In October, she was invited to take part in the youth track at the National Forum on Character Education and traveled to Washington, D.C. She was one of 10 student leaders from throughout the country to present onstage.

“She takes on work that extends beyond herself and her immediate community,” said teacher Regan Drew.

For example, when tasked with pursuing an invention to solve a real-world problem, Dalzell researched how vulnerable Ugandan women were when they gathered firewood. She and her group came up with a cook stove that uses less fuel.

“She’s fearless in the way she goes about her work,” said Drew.

Dalzell doesn’t necessarily see these accomplishments as work.

“In my life everything I do is fun,” she said. “If it’s not fun, I don’t do it. Life is so short and precious, I’m going to enjoy every moment as I go.”

She works as a courtesy clerk at a grocery store and said her biggest hobby is making money.

“I’m kind of a workaholic,” she admitted.

Dalzell plans to attend community college after graduation, with her eye on a medical degree.

“I like helping people,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of great opportunities at Riverpoint.”

There’s no doubt she will be missed at the school.

“Cierra has an incredible joy for living – she loves life,” said Marshall. “She makes us better teachers.”

“She’s made us a better school,” added Drew.

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