Breathless, Donna Musgrove Kelsen came rushing into the Rusty Pelican to a standing ovation from the faculty after "The Night of the Golden Seabees" wrapped up. She hopped up on the barstool, her son Mike bought her a drink, and she began planning the next "Ensign's Golden Seabee Award's Night" right that very minute. She didn't want to talk about how great the evening was or what a great job she had done. She only wanted to talk about how we could do it better next year. That was totally Donna; always planning the next creative event, with that deadly beautiful smile, and that great laugh.
Donna was born in Iowa and at the age of 20 went off to NY to sing with Benny Goodman. Check out the posted video and you will see her sing with the HI Lo's. That song was part of TV/movie production called "Swing Into Spring!" Donna appeared in that production with Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Urbie Green, Lionel Hampton, The Hi Los, Peggy Lee, Jack Lesberg, Shelly Manne, Matt Mattox, DONNA MUSGROVE, and Andre Previn.
Donna and Dean (her husband) did many gigs together all over Southern California and in Las Vegas. while Donna taught in Newport Mesa. Very often Donna would rush home from Vegas to teach at Newport Heights. She never missed a beat.
At Newport Heights she put on a Christmas production every year complete with singing, drama and dancing. One of her friends had been a June Taylor Dancer and did the choreography. Donna also put on a yearly production in which every grade level had to put on a show and to say they were always amazing would be an understatement.
If you love "Glee", you would have loved Donna's classes at Ensign. The Ensign Madrigals, a choir of seventh- and eighth-grade students, was invited to perform with the National Youth twice at Carnegie Hall in New York City. "It's great. And you know what else? It's neat because we've been there, and so it's great not to be as nervous," said Donna. She should never have been nervous; she was always great.
Donna should have been "Teacher of the Year every year". She made every kid in every production that she was involved in, feel terrific. She went out of her way to include disabled kids, special needs kids and kids who had absolutely no talent at all, and when she was done with them, they had changed. Donna included them, had treated them equally, and had given them hope. Her ability to take a student and adorn his/her with self -confidence was truly amazing, and was a talent in and by itself.
Probably Donna could have had a long singing career, but the effect that she had as a teacher, was way more important than any singing career could have been, and probably more fun. In her career as a teacher, she had over 5,000 students, and I would bet that every single one of them remembers her.
Alan Mucerino Principal El Toro High School and former Principal of Ensign Intermediate School says this " DK cared about a lot of things deeply. But nothing more than bringing the best out in people. Whether it be her students or her colleagues she aimed to leave you better off than when she met you. I, for one, am a better man for having spent 5 five years working and socializing with DK.
I know that whenever my day was heading south, I would find my way to DK's classroom to be reminded of my mission. My spirit would soon again soar as a result of even a brief interaction with the terminally hopeful and optimistic Mrs Kelsen. God bless her."
Sean Boulton Principal of Laguna Hills High School remembers Donna, "The Golden Seabees" was the highlight of every school year at Ensign. The community, chatter, and collegiality that the night brought out in all of us thanks to Donna was incredible-truly memorable. While choreographing "Good Night Sweetheart" which closed out the evening, dressed in tuxes, Donna treated Bob Lear, Guy Olguin, Paul Evans and I like "sweethearts" ignoring our complete lack of talent She was also kind during the reviews at the Rusty Pelican.Donna used to give you that look when she was serious, that laugh that you needed when you were down, and was the energy behind many a performance at Ensign. I truly loved working with her, miss her dearly, and God Bless her Soul.
Paula Gibbons remembers the year they went to New York City. "Donna took the choir to Carnegie Hall that year. She also had one of my special education students who had cerebral palsy and was in a wheelchair. It was like Glee. He was right in the middle of the production. and loved it! "
Donna was the best...we're going to miss you Kid.
*** Service for Donna Kelson, June 17th, 4:30pm,
21441 Pinetree Lane, Huntington Beach, CA 926468
*** Watch the videos....so Donna