Boys & Girls Club opens new facility

Acorn Staff Writer

LISA ADAMS/The Acorn  WELCOME--Kelsey Life of the Boys & Girls Club Color Guard performs during the grand opening of the first local Boys & Girls Club. The event took place at Los Cerritos Middle School in Thousand Oaks last Wednesday. Officials hope to open several more clubs in Conejo Valley/Las Virgenes.

LISA ADAMS/The Acorn WELCOME–Kelsey Life of the Boys & Girls Club Color Guard performs during the grand opening of the first local Boys & Girls Club. The event took place at Los Cerritos Middle School in Thousand Oaks last Wednesday. Officials hope to open several more clubs in Conejo Valley/Las Virgenes.

Boys & Girls Club opens new facility



By Michelle Knight


Acorn Staff Writer

Happy parents and students joined local school and government officials for the grand opening of the Boys & Girls Club at Los Cerritos Middle School in Thousand Oaks last week.


The 10,000-square-foot facility—the first of six clubs expected to be built in the Conejo/Las Virgenes area—offers a choice of recreational activities that include a pool, foosball, dance and gymnastics, and a 38-station computer room, to be used by the Los Cerritos sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade members before and after school.


The club is also open to non-member students and faculty during school hours.


"Good things come to those who wait," said Ronnie Hewitt, president and chief executive officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of Conejo/Las Virgenes. "Is this good or what?" Hewitt asked the audience.


The club’s major emphasis is on education, particularly providing homework help, said Phil Hamrick, program director. Hamrick hopes the club will encourage members to make short- and long-term goals for graduation and beyond with the overall goal of building good character.


"We want kids to come out good people," Hamrick said.


Hamrick points to the Torch Club as an example of some of the positive things that Boys & Girls Clubs members can accomplish. Torch Club is a community service group that raises money for youth organizations and selects a project each quarter that helps the community.


Lindsay Zangri, a Torch Club member and sixth-grader at Los Cerritos, said her experience has been "really fun." She enjoys the games the club offers and the help she receives with her homework. The club is good for the school, she added, because it keeps kids occupied and active.


Jackie Crouse, representing Amgen, which contributed $3 million to the project, said the club is "all about the children." Their happy faces are worth a thousand words, she said.


Building the club wasn’t easy. While many businesses and corporations supported the project, as evidenced by the many sponsor plaques that adorn the club walls, some Conejo Valley residents objected to the building of a private facility on public property. Others feared the club might attract a criminal element.


Residents of Oak Park rejected the club.


Cal Johnston, Boys & Girls Clubs chairman and the person credited with introducing the organization locally, said that building the club was like playing a team sport. When you get knocked down, you get up and keep going on toward the goal, he said. "I think that’s what our team has done."


The club controversy didn’t seem to bother the dozens of teens who attended the opening.


Autumn McBroom, 14, though not a Boys & Girls Club member, wants to join if her mother allows it. She said the facility "seems like a really good place."


After praising the club’s staff during her speech to the group, Torch Club member Ashleigh Townsend said she hopes more students will join up.


The Conejo Valley Unified School District has approved two additional clubs, one at Colina Middle School in Thousand Oaks and the other at Sequoia Middle School in Newbury Park.




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