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Let's have some sort of club for Horton students

By Carol Thurber
Posted Friday, March 27, 2009

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Pittsboro, NC - I am a parent of a wonderful 13 year old who has aged out of any local after-school program and is too young to work. We live in such a rural area and I am finding myself unable to find a place for my son to go after school or spend the summer. I am aware of the fact that many of the Horton Middle School students frequently walk downtown after school to hang out at the local restaurants until their parents are able to pick them up after school. Along with many other concerns that I have about this, I am very concerned about the effect that this has on the local downtown restaurants and merchants.

Although I have allowed my son to join his friends on two occasions this year, I am always hesitant to let him go. Let's all think back to when we were 13 years old. This is an age where I noticed some of my friends thought it was cool to shoplift, try cigarettes, and vandalize property when left alone- even if it was just to loosen the tops on all of the saltshakers for the next customer's surprise when they try to use it. I know that I have a considerate and responsible son that would never do such things.but lets get real, no parent thinks their child does those things.

My plea

I would like to see some sort of "club" for Horton students. When I was in middle school in Texas, there was a "club" for middle-schoolers called "Shenanigans". It was somewhat of an after-school program-a place for kids to hang out after school with their friends until their parents got off work to pick them up. It was different from an after-school program in that there was not as much responsibility for the folks who ran the place. The kids were free to come and go as they please and the owners were not responsible for keeping up with the kids. You had to be a member to get in the club and the membership fees were $100/month.

There were also special events such as dances sometimes, too. The kids loved it there and always stayed put until parents arrived to pick them up. I would like to see this happen here in Pittsboro. Our kids all walk downtown anyway. Wouldn't it be better if they had a legitimate place to go? It could be open weekdays from 3:00-6:00. It would bring parents downtown to the businesses there every day- maybe they will decide to go out to eat at one of the local venues.

Location

What exactly I have in mind is the vacant property next to Beggars and Choosers. I believe it used to be some sort of auto dealership or repair shop. It wouldn't take the entire building, just the bottom floor. It could be minimally equipped with a few sofas and game tables, and pay-slot pool table or air hockey table and a few shelves equipped with board games and playing cards. We could have a few vending machines and TV/video game consoles as well. A lot of these items could come from the PTA thrift store or Habitat Home store.

Who would run it?

I think that a committee of elected community board members could effectively run this "club". Anyone in the community could be on the board and be reelected.

Cost and profit considerations

This would be a non-profit venture. If we could get start up funds from the community or even the school board we could make this work. I spoke with one local restaurant tonight and they told me that last Friday there were about 40 local middle-schoolers in their establishment at one time and were forced to limit the amount of students allowed at one time. 40 students! Even if it were just 40 members of this "club", and each paid $100/month for a 10 month school year, that would equal $40,000/year.

I am confident that if this becomes a reality there would be more than 40 members. It may also be beneficial to provide some sort of summer program. The entire community could be involved in the events. There would be money coming in from membership fees, vending machines, pool or air hockey tables, etc. Periodic events such as weekend dances or talent shows could bring in even more money. This could be a great opportunity for someone or everyone. It may be a way for the Horton Middle School PTA to bring in a little money as well.

Please think about this plan. Try to think of a way for this to happen. Our kids need somewhere safe to walk to after school without getting into trouble. It would not only benefit the kids but also the downtown shops and businesses and the community as a whole. Let's get together on this.

 
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