When teachers at Dishman Hills High School start talking about senior Dakotah Porter, it’s hard to get them to stop.
First, Kathy George, Dakotah’s English and art instructor, and his adviser: “Dakotah overcomes any difficulties with a positive attitude. He is so personable, and he never complains or whines. If something goes wrong, he just says he’ll work on it.
“To Dakotah, there’s no such thing as a stranger. He’s one of the most personable kids I’ve ever worked with. He always tries his best, and he always asks what he can do to help.”
Said Cheri Osmuss, career and technical education instructor at Dishman Hills: “Dakotah was rather overwhelmed in a larger comprehensive high school, but when he came to Dishman, he quickly became a leader with our students. In only a few months here, he helped start a student-run coffeehouse and has worked with our cafeteria staff to box up leftovers to deliver to students who may have missed breakfast and lunch. He has also helped set up our school clothing bank and food pantry.”
Porter came to Dishman Hills after three years at University High School, where he found himself a couple of credits behind going into his senior year. He’s almost certain that he wouldn’t have graduated on time if he’d stayed there.
“At first, when I found out I wasn’t going to be with my friends at University, I was bummed out,” he said. “I was shy for a while when I came to Dishman Hills, but then I opened up and made new friends and started reaching out to my teachers. At University, I didn’t want to be the kid who was always asking for help, but I should have been.”
He said his classes at Dishman Hills typically included 10 to 15 students, compared with twice that many at University, and the difference in the size of the school has been a factor in his success. He completed all his graduation requirements at the end of January and is now working part time as a sales associate at AutoZone in north Spokane.
“Once I got going, I worked through everything as quickly as I could so that I could graduate sooner. I was kind of shocked, actually. It was a great reward for my hard work,” Porter said.
As his teachers noted, service was a big part of Porter’s experience at Dishman Hills. Much of it has taken place since he graduated, because it is important to him to give back to the school and the people who helped him.
“I love being around the school,” he said. “It feels good to be helping out and serving others, and I want to show my gratitude by returning the favor. It’s just a good thing for me to do.”
Porter has advice for students who may find themselves in the position he was in a year ago.
“I would tell them that there’s always another way to achieve your goals, and if you need extra help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.”