Profile of a CCISD Graduate, Part One

Profile of a CCISD Graduate, Part One
Posted on 05/17/2020
Dakota Shrader

By Sydney Hunt, Senior Communications Specialist

Dakota Shrader is a dreamer, an optimist, a fighter. She is also a survivor.

May 18, 2018, is a day that changed her life forever.

“I was in my first period class and the fire alarm went off,” she said. “It was normal at Santa Fe High School to have fire drills during first period, so none of us thought anything of it.”

Once she got outside the school, however, she said she had a gut feeling something was wrong.

“The next thing we knew, not even two minutes later, everyone hears three shots,” she said. “The teachers looked at us and told us to just run. So that’s what I did, I ran.”

Dakota hid in bushes and ran through the neighboring yards around the school.

“I didn’t know what to do. I was just really scared and on the verge of having an asthma attack. I just remember thinking this wasn’t actually happening, not to my school,” she said.

Ten people – eight students and two teachers – lost their lives inside her high school that day. The months that followed the school shooting were filled with fear and uncertainty for Dakota. She and her family made the tough decision to leave Santa Fe High School that summer.

“It was a hard decision ultimately to leave,” she said. “I grew up in Santa Fe. It’s a town where everyone knows everyone, so I felt like I was leaving everything I knew and loved for the unknown.”

She transferred into Clear Creek ISD that August for the start of her junior year. She began school at Clear Lake High School for the first semester so she could then transfer into Clear View High School for the second semester.  

“I remember going inside the building the first day of school at Clear Lake, and it was so hard to walk down the halls after what I had been through,” she said.

It was always Dakota’s plan to attend Clear View High School due to the smaller size of the campus, which reflected what she had grown accustomed to at Santa Fe High School.

“I knew someone who went to Clear View, and I liked that it was a smaller school environment where you got that more hands-on connection,” she said. “After Santa Fe, I was in a dark spot, especially with school. So, I felt like I owed it to myself to work on what I needed to internally and through my education, and Clear View would give me that chance.”

This decision later proved to be a positive shift in Dakota’s life. Not only did her grades improve, but she was also able to catch up on her schoolwork and graduate on time with her class after being behind a semester due to a previous back injury she sustained at the beginning of her sophomore year.

After everything she had been through, she said she could have easily shut down and secluded herself away from everyone around her. But instead, she went out of her way to be kind to others at school.

“My biggest thing was making sure everyone felt like they had a friend or felt important,” she said. “I know there are students who feel like they don’t have a lot of love, support or even someone to talk to. So, I really just tried to talk to those kids who may have felt alone.”

Dakota didn’t get to this point in life without the help and encouragement from people around her. She found solace in the classrooms and offices of the staff at Clear View High School and through the support of her family.

“The staff there is amazing. They encouraged me, talked to me and supported me at my lowest points. But my mom – she is my number one supporter. That woman is my idol and keeps me going,” she said.

It took Dakota a while to come to terms with what happened to her that day in 2018, but she recognizes how far she has come and how much she has learned about herself. As for her advice for others who may be going through a tragedy in their lives or struggling to overcome obstacles, her message is simple.

“Staying positive. That’s the biggest advice I can give when people ask me how I made it through. You have to conquer those negative thoughts and turn them into something positive. The more you think positive, the more you stay positive, the more positive things come back to you.”

Dakota has big plans after graduation and for her future, including expanding her modeling career and pursuing her passion in fashion design.

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