New Face of Drug Prevention at WSHS   


Taylor Hartstone

          West Seattle High School needs help – and Donna Kelly is our saving grace.  It can be argued that drug prevention is a necessity within teen culture but, as Ms. Kelly states, problems are met with solutions while challenges are met with rewards.  

          “My role is to build a community coalition to support the youth inside of this community in leading drug-free lives,” Kelly says, “Not just drug-free lives but we want them to have good mental health as well.”  

          Ms. Kelly steps into the world of drug prevention by first seeking to tackle the underlying problems that cause drug abuse within children, including poor mental health. As Community Coalition Coordinator, it is Donna Kelly’s job to provide a space where teenagers who need help can access a group where they do not feel alone.  

          “We realize there’s a lot impacting our youth, and there’s a lot of concerned adults inside the community that want to come alongside our young people. It’s my job to bring those people together to support the young people,” said Kelly.  

          One of the most important things to notice in Ms. Kelly is how her support carries youth throughout their education. By working with students at both Madison Middle School and WSHS, she can develop strong relationships with the groups that need help overcoming challenges.  

          “My primary focus is on prevention and intervention,” says Kelly, “I’ve been [focusing on this] for 8 years.”  

          Ms. Kelly comes to us with prior knowledge of how to aid youth who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. Her accomplishments guide her through this new position at WSHS, which she’s had for about a month now.  

          “I’ve been doing it in a very small county called Pondaray County. We were successful in starting 3 coalitions inside of our county and 2 youth coalitions,” she says.  

          From her time working here, Kelly has been able to observe and reflect on the behavior of our WSHS community and further understand how to bring rewards to the challenges many people are facing

          “There are some challenges. But because I come from a background of seeing a community pull together and fight those challenges, I know that it’s possible to do that here inside West Seattle as well,” said Kelly. 

          The service of Ms. Kelly is evident within Madison Middle School as of late. “We are making great strides. I already have a program setup in Madison Middle School ready to start on March 15th. I really know how to do this type of work. I’m a real go-getter,” she says, “We also have a parent education night set for April 28th.” 

          However, Donna Kelly notes how high school environments are different compared to middle and elementary school, they prove to be more challenging. “Things are slower inside the high school because it takes longer to know the culture of the high school. I have to walk the halls, go to lunch, and just kind of get a feel of the high school in order to know what programs are going to work best,” she says.  

          Relationship building is huge when it comes to the job of Ms. Kelly. While forming better connections with students, she can understand what may and may not work for them, and the community they are a part of.  

          “I go out and I try to do lunches first. It’s a little bit tougher here because it’s a big school and I’m not used to that. I’m used to being in a school about 300-400 students. If there’s 1500+ students in this school, it’s a little intimidating at first.” Donna says, “I try to walk the halls at lunch and have individual conversations.”  

          The challenges that WSHS faces can be overcome with the support of Donna Kelly. Wildcats, if you are currently struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, please stop by room 236 and use the resources Ms. Kelly provides.