Teen Style: High school teachers weigh in on teen center

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Where Steamboat Springs High School history teacher Deirdre Boyd grew up on Long Island, N.Y., there was no such thing as a teen center.

It was the start of the 1980s, and Boyd was the sort of busy teen who would not have had the time to spend at such a place if it had existed. Her days were filled with school, homework and varsity sports. Other teens who were not so directed found themselves with a lot of empty time on their hands.

"They would hang out in parking lots, which was an enormous waste of time, and generally teens would get into trouble," Boyd said. She thinks a teen center would have been used had it existed.

"Eventually it gets old to hang out in a parking lot in New York in the middle of winter. It would have been nice if there was somewhere warm and safe to go with something to do," she said.

Boyd thinks Steamboat Springs, like the place where she grew up, would benefit from a teen center. No matter the time or place, teens always need a place to go.

A little more than a decade beforehand, language arts teacher Maggie Glueck was spending her high school years in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. There was no teen center available for her to use, but she was about to change that.

"When I was a teen, we were in the process of purchasing land for a teen center," Glueck said.

Working with other motivated teens and an adult leader, Glueck was able to get started on the teen center she felt her community needed. Although she was in college before the center opened, Glueck considers the experience worthwhile.

"This need brought kids together from surrounding high schools. The friendships fostered through the planning stages remain to this day," she said. In Glueck's opinion, Steamboat would benefit from the addition of a teen center.

"A teen center would not only provide a place for people to gather but would also provide opportunities for decision making, problem solving and communication between teens with different ideas," she said.

In the early '80s - about the time Boyd was finishing high school - science and math teacher Eric Nilsson was living through teenage years of his own in Harrisburg, Ill. His town already provided a place for teens to spend their time.

"We had a teen center, and that was just where we went on weekends," Nilsson said. "Everybody went there."

The center provided things such as a pool table, foosball and DJs, but the biggest draw was the people.

"You didn't really make plans," Nilsson said. "You just went there, and you would see someone you knew."

In Nilsson's opinion, Steamboat teens also would use and enjoy a teen center. It would be good to have such a place for teens to meet, he said.

These three former teens interact with that age group on a daily basis. They are teachers at Steamboat Springs High School and know the local teens well. Through their own observations and experiences, they have come to the conclusion that a teen center would be a positive addition to the community.

They think that it would give teens a safe place to go, a way to connect, and an area to meet. In their opinions, Steamboat's teens would see the benefits of such a place.

Kayla Stack is a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School. This is her first year writing her Teen Style.

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