SULTAN — DeeAnna Wesson has a nurturing spirit and is known for her care for her classmates at Sultan High School. She started a support group at school and hopes one day to become a counselor.
Question: You were inspired by “Freedom Writers” author Erin Gruwell’s visit to campus last year and formed a support group to maintain the connections it created.
Answer: Last year was kind of a tough year for our school.
Q: A classmate died in a crash, which followed other tough issues that had you and others struggling emotionally. You say you also felt the fallout from the shootings at Marysville Pilchuck High School, where you previously attended.
A: It’s just really made me want to reach out to kids who are dealing with similar situations. We had a group that I put together. We made posters and whatnot, gave each other nicknames based off our favorite foods. (Hers was Noodles.)
Q: This year you’re building off that, creating an after-school club with similar goals.
A: Right now I’m just calling it the Positivity Club, though I hope to come up with a different name. It’s a place for kids to go and get their minds off things. We’ll play positive games and do other things… It will be open to every kid in the school, whereas (last year’s) group was more just individual people who we thought needed the help. If they want to share, they can. Otherwise they can just come and hang out.
Q: You’ve had some struggles in life. You’ve moved around a lot and have known people who struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol. How does your own experience motivate you to help others?
A: They want someone to be there for them but don’t always know how to ask. In the past, it was hard for me to speak up when I was depressed. I came to realize that if I don’t speak up, I’m making it harder for myself. Some others may not have found that out yet and feel alone. … I’ve come a long ways. When I was first diagnosed with depression, I didn’t want anyone to know. Now, I realize that’s what makes me, me.
Q: What other activities are you involved in?
A: I’ve been involved in the musical the last two years. I really like choir. … “Cinderella” is this year’s musical, and I’ll be trying out. Last year we did “The Wizard of Oz.” It can be chaotic at times. I was a crow and a poppy, a snowflake, an Ozian and a flying monkey.
Q: These musicals really draw the community out.
A: Usually the evening one is packed. We have people standing.
Q: What are your plans for after high school?
A: After high school I want to go to a community college first, and then maybe go on to a four-year but I’m not sure yet. I want to become a drug and alcohol counselor … or maybe a massage therapist. … A counseling career hits home for me. (I know people) addicted to drugs and alcohol. I want to know how to help them.
Q: How does it feel to be a senior?
A: Sometimes it can be really overwhelming and stressful. But I know there are people I can go to if I need help.
Q: One of the questions we like to ask is whether you have any mentors or someone who stands out in your mind as one who inspires you.
A: That’s a tough one. … I’ve had a lot of people who have helped me get to where I am. But I also feel that I’ve got here myself. I’ve had help, but I’ve been on my own a lot too. I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to come out of it. I guess I’m my own hero.
Q: What would you tell someone entering high school who may be struggling?
A: I would tell them to keep pushing through it. It will get better. (Ask teachers and high school counselors for help.) A lot of them wouldn’t have their job if they didn’t care.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: I like to draw, and read. Cooking, baking. I’m very “lazy,” too. I like to watch Netflix. Hang out with my friends. I guess what you’d call a normal teenager.
Q: There’s a poster here that you created in your support group last year. One area was for writing positive things about yourself. What does the first one say?
A: “I care about others and I want to help make the world a better place.”
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3432.