Small town education makes big impact on
Davenport High School’s class of 2017
DHS alumni reflect on the lessons they learned in high school
By: RILEY UTLEY
The motto at Davenport High School is “Once a Gorilla. Always a Gorilla.”
Located in the small farm town of Davenport, Washington this high school has about 30 graduates a year who all go off to college, trade school or the workforce. Every single student who leaves the high school has a plan for the future and a community to come back to.
Now, about three years removed from their graduation the class of 2017 looked back on their experiences in high school and how what they learned then is helping them find success now.
Everyone has gone on many different journeys and have both found success in their original goals and new endeavors that seemed unimaginable at graduation. Nonetheless, the lessons learned in 2017 still reign true today in 2020.
“The biggest lesson I learned in high school, that wasn’t based off one specific thing but rather the whole experience, is don’t be afraid to try,” said Angela Clark Sola, a junior studying liberal arts through Oregon State University online courses. "That sounds so cheesy. But as a first-generation college student, I was really afraid to try college.”
Clark Sola left high school to attend Seattle Pacific University, then transferred to Western Washington University and is now at OSU. While her plan may not have gone the way she anticipated she has still been able to use the lessons she learned in high school to find success today.
“Being able to talk to them really helped me with the transition to the college experience,” Clark Sola said. “I’m a first-generation college student and without being able to talk to Juana I would have known squat about college and the process of getting to college and all that.”
She cited her extracurriculars as part of her high school experience that helped her not only grow as a student but being involved outside of the classroom was where she found more friendships and a deeper and more meaningful community.
“I break up high school into the first two years, weren’t that great and then junior and senior years were two of the best years of my life,” said Daniel Moldrem, who is currently working toward his associate degree as a diesel technician at Spokane Community College. “That was when I finally let loose and didn’t care what people thought of me and really enjoyed who I was instead of trying to be a certain part of the school. I got more involved in clubs and student leadership.”
Moldrem went onto say that it was through clubs and classes that he didn’t see as the popular choice in high school that he joined in his later years were the ones that illuminated a path forward after high school.
He began his post high school journey at Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho studying international relations and humanitarian aid. He then quickly switched to secondary education. After some time at NNU Moldrem found himself back in Washington at Washington State University where he began studying agricultural education.
Then after finding out he didn’t meet some of the science requirements at WSU, he transferred to SCC where he is now studying to be a diesel technician. He plans to remain local and find a career in Davenport after finishing his degree.
“I took all the agricultural classes that were offered, part of that was you had to be in those classes to be in FFA,” Moldrem said. “I really enjoyed FFA and that got me to open my eyes to the whole technical side of things and I think it greatly influenced my decision to become a diesel [technician] because I always looked at that as a good career if what I’m doing doesn’t work out. Low and behold it didn’t work out and that’s what I’m going into now. I appreciated that. I really enjoyed FFA.”
After going through the past three years Moldrem’s advice to high school students is to keep your options open, try everything, and embrace the community that surrounds them.
“I found in a small school like Davenport, the community is really supportive of the school district,” Moldrem said. “Whether that be through boosters or helping as chaperones and even scholarships. Knowing where you’re from really helps. Even when I was in Idaho I was using contacts for home because I was still in such a small school where people are willing to help out no matter what.”
Like Moldrem, Grace Lilje, a junior studying mechanical engineering at Gonzaga University was involved in three sports and pretty much ever club the school had to offer.
“I think there is a really big benefit of going to a small school,” Lilje said. “You can be involved in a variety of things and play all the sports and be in all the clubs and you don’t necessarily get that at a bigger school. Meeting people in college who went to bigger schools in high school I think it was evident that at Davenport there is a lot more opportunity for experiences.”
She said this involvement taught her how to work with people and in teams, how to deal with conflict and incredibly valuable interpersonal skills.
While all three of these individuals went down wildly different paths after college their small town roots remain and their love for the community in Davenport remains the same as it was in 2017. They all said those still in high school should embrace the community they are in and not be afraid to try anything.
“It probably seems cliché, but I would say to just enjoy it,” Lilje said. “I know I remember thinking about how I was really ready to get out of here, but it is true that you’re not ever going to have that experience ever again in your life. You’re probably going to have worse life experiences and you’ll probably have better ones but it’s a guarantee that you’re not going to have the same experience as you did in high school. Enjoy it and relish what you can.”