Since coming to Dishman Hills High School a bit behind in credits, Reneece Bailey has soared all the way to the state capital.
“She’s one of the most amazing kids I’ve ever had the privilege of working with,” said teacher Molly Coulter.
Dishman Hills is the oldest alternative high school in the Spokane area, and it proved the perfect place for Bailey to stretch her wings.
“My family had moved back and forth from California, and I got behind in credits,” Bailey said.
She was not only able to get up to speed for graduation, but also to attend Spokane Community College as a Running Start student and take part in an internship program at Avista over the summer.
“There are so many opportunities I wouldn’t have had without Dishman Hills,” Bailey said.
One of those opportunities was being part of the Black Student Union leadership at SCC.
“I did it to help get the word out for black people to feel like they have a family – a place where people understand your experience,” she said.
She plans to continue her education at SCC after graduation.
Another opportunity was the Avista Energy Pathways program.
The program helps incoming high school juniors and seniors develop the skills, knowledge and abilities for a career in energy.
The free program, takes place at the Jack Stewart Training Center in Spokane. Students can earn one CTE credit and a monetary completion award of up to $2,000 based upon participation and attendance once they successfully complete the program.
For Bailey, it was an eye-opening experience.
“It was amazing,” she said. “It was basically an introduction to Avista.”
Her experience led her to Olympia to testify before the Washington Legislature.
Though Bailey insists she was very nervous, Coulter said her student’s testimony had the members of the Legislature laughing.
“She spoke from her heart,” Coulter said.
Bailey said she enjoyed the tour of the capital and when it came time to speak before the Legislature, she just “winged it.”
“I think I told them about taking a selfie with the governor,” she said. “They really laughed.”
She’s looking forward to returning to SCC in the fall and is hoping to earn a degree in accounting or finance and perhaps transfer to the University of Washington.
Her advice to high school students who may be falling behind in credits and hesitant to attend and alternative school?
“Be open-minded and confident in your own skin.”
She knows some folks look down on alternative high schools like Dishman Hills. And she’s quick to set the record straight.
“A lot of people think alternative schools are for bad kids,” she said. “But many times it’s for kids like me – missing some credits. I knew my potential and what I was capable of and thankfully so did the teachers at Dishman Hills.”
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