Gabrielle Hollenbeck

Seventh grader Gabrielle Hollenbeck presents to the Yelm City Council the class project effort to reduce underage drug use at the Yelm Skatepark.

Andrew Kollar/ Nisqually Valley News

Yelm Councilor Cody Colt, known as Mr. Colt to his seventh grade history class at Yelm Middle School, had his students present their resolution to prevent underage drug use at the skatepark to the Yelm City Council last Tuesday.

The class has been working on “Project Citizen,” a program that adds to student knowledge, enhances skills, and deepens their understanding of how they can work together to make their community a better place, according to seventh grader Ben Carney. They were tasked to find a problem within the community and develop a plan to address the issue. 

“This is a project the students have been working on since October,” Colt said. “They’ve been working on it for a long time and have put a lot of hard work into it and dedication.”

After speaking to Yelm Police Chief Todd Stancil, Mayor JW Foster and nurses from local hospitals, and a class vote, the students decided underage drug use at the skatepark was a problem they wanted to address. Student Angela Renteria-Contreras said the class believed the skatepark project would have the most positive impact on the community.

“All of the kids in our class raised their hand if they had ever seen or heard about underage drug use at the skatepark,” student Gabrielle Hollenbeck said. “Personally I feel like we’ve seen a lot of it and some of the kids know what goes on there so they have the advantage to help us find things that they think will work.”

To prevent drug use and promote awareness, Colt’s students suggested to the council they create a “Drug Awareness Day” held at the Yelm City Park. The day would be held on the last Saturday in June and would include food, fun, and provide a place for underage kids to get help.

“This day was created to create a positive impact for the city while also giving help to children,” student Nathan Fitch said. “Some advantages of our policy is that when put into action, it should lower youth drug use in our city.”

The next step to their project will be to draft a resolution, officially designating the last Saturday in June as “Drug Awareness Day” before they compete in the state competition May 19 at the capital. 

“These are the kids that will be running our city in 10 years,” Colt said.

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