Red Barn to include after-school programming events

March 19, 2014 

For the past three years, just off the Key Peninsula Highway, a hand-painted thermometer has been slowly inching upward to measure financial contributions to cover the costs of a youth center a quarter-mile south of Key Center.

The Red Barn Youth Center held an open house on Feb. 22 to satiate curiosities.

What was once a building devoted to remaking “throwaway” film cameras became home to the headquarters of Communities in Schools of Peninsula. Now, next door, still under development, is the Red Barn Youth Center.

Youth Center Board member Jo Ann Maxwell said the Red Barn will offer programming during the school year and summer for middle and high school students. It will include a variety of activities, including homework assistance, sports, arts, music and leadership opportunities.

During the open house, guests could see the finished program area as well as the Phase II construction space which may eventually hold a multipurpose area for sports, music and theater.

Peninsula High School sophomore Corey Kreis, delighted with what he saw in the newly renovated facility, said: “With the Red Barn opening, I hope it turns out to be the hangout that all of the teens choose and can be comfortable with and do a variety of activities and feel safe all at the same time. It has a lot of time put into it, and I know it will turn out to be more than what the community will expect.”

The Red Barn Youth Center is a place for teens to connect. It will open this spring thanks to recent grants received from the Franciscan Foundation, Peninsula Light Co. and the Bamford Foundation. It is partnering with other youth-serving organizations and the Peninsula School District to ensure educational success.

Janine Mott, executive director of the Gig Harbor campus of Tacoma Community College, was pleased to announce that the Red Barn has agreed to TCC’s use of its facility for morning adult basic education classes during the spring quarter. The program, from March 31 through June 13, will be is divided into two sections: read/write and math. Students may register for one or both.

It will provide adult basic education or high school completion credits for adults in the Gig Harbor/Key Peninsula areas, and it will prepare students who are interested in improving job skills, obtaining high school equivalency — which may include the GED test — or pursing further higher education. It also will offer professional or technical programs, or other college certificates and degrees.

Registration and orientation will be March 31 and April 1. For more information, call Melody Griggs at 253-460-2354 or email mgriggs@tacomacc.edu.

“Just going to the open house for the short time I was there, I was more than comfortable with the environment and felt as if I could just hangout and play Xbox and air hockey and so much more,” Kreis said.

Kreis’ brother, Tyler, a senior at Peninsula High School also has high hopes for the facility.

“I hope to see the Red Barn become a popular hangout that teens can enjoy with an assortment of activities while also providing a safe environment that will keep kids out of trouble,” Tyler Kreis said.

The Red Barn is a stop on the Key Peninsula School Bus Connects route. For more information, visit the Key Peninsula Community Council website at www.kpcouncil.org.

For more information about the Red Barn, email vice president Glen Ehrhardt at windswept.rep@gmail.com.

Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for The Peninsula Gateway. He can be reached at 253-884-3319 or by email at hmcmnp1000@ centurytel.net.

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