The Highland Park Borough Council, at its September 1, 2015 council meeting, came one step closer to securing the location for a community teen center by creating an amendment to an existing bond ordinance that would pave the way for administration to purchase the currently foreclosed property at 203 South Sixth Avenue. The proposed teen center would create the first official after-school program for Highland Park children — specifically for those from the ages of 13 to 18 years old. According to Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler, the center would house “all kinds of activities, including the arts.” Discussions would be coming in the future as to how to fund the day-to-day operation of the center’s programming, as well as building maintenance and security.
In order to get a teen perspective on the idea, The Planet’s reporter Amiri Tulloch caught up with students from Highland Park High School and asked them what they would like to see in a teen center. Their responses generally are positive towards the concept with the one qualifier about the challenge of making it popular with high school students. Another responder referred to the center being popular for teens “in and around Highland Park,” and this, of course, raises the question of whether such a center would be open to non Highland Park residents and if so, should a fee be charged.
Below are the responses:
“I think it is a great idea. We actually had something like that in the past. But I think it may be something very difficult to actually achieve popularity with high schoolers though,” said Cameron from the Class of 2016.
“I think it’s a good idea. I know the one for the middle school was successful. I think it should have multiple rooms, some for work and others for like games and stuff, and I also think we should get some school clubs to meet there, since that could be a good way to ensure that we get some use out of it,” said Zachary from the Class of 2017.
“I feel like a teen center should be a place to socialize and have fun with other people (maybe a bit more on the socialize part). And I think activities such as ping-pong would be nice for a teen center. Also, I think if the place serves drinks such as soda or juice people might be more tempted to go there. I know I will,” said Tianqi from the Class of 2018.
“I strongly believe that this is something that will make a positive impact on a lot of teenagers in and around the HP community. This would be an area where students can learn, hangout, and do their own work. People can improve their social skills and knowledge. The Teen Center will make Highland Park look very welcoming and appealing to any teenager,” said Jonathan from the Class of 2018.
“I think an after-school center should have a bunch of activities to encourage people to spend time there. These should be things like basketball courts, game room with a pool table, some video games, and maybe an arts and crafts room,” said Caleb, a Highland Park High School 2015 graduate.