JCC teen center
by Seth Samuels
JCC Teen Center's bash inaugurates new teen hangout.
potlights, cameras and excitement filled the
air as 150 teens, parents and staff gathered
to finally open the innovative, kid-friendly
space known as the Beverly Prentis Wagner Teen
Center at the Jewish Community Center in West
Heavy December snowstorms plagued the origi-
nal opening, yet March rains caused no further de-
lay as the ribbon-cutting ceremony, complete with
red carpet and paparazzi, kicked off a night to re-
Upon entering from the lower level, computers
and workspaces make up the first section designat-
ed for what teen services coordinator Lindsey Fox
suggested as a student-centered environment.
Jeff Straus of Los Angeles, son of Beverly Prentis Wagner. cuts the ribbon to the JCC's new teen center named for his mother.
Sta n p ho to by Angie Haan
The rest of the center, mostly focused on enter-
tainment (which complements the "hangout" title)
includes a mini theatre, Nintendo Wii and Micro-
soft Xbox, pool, pingpong, and of course, food at a
curvy snack bar.
The center is pretty dead on in terms of teen ac-
commodations, and while this is a credit to those
who envisioned the project, JCC Executive Direc-
tor Mark Lit notes that teens had a large say in con-
"We got kids involved by having meetings where
they wrote daily hangout activities on a board; we
had them design the menu for the food served here,
and they even picked the colors," Lit said.
Throughout the evening, a Star Trax DJ and
tempting desserts created a dance-party scene while
kids enjoyed all that the center had to offer.
"There are nice amenities and good potential,"
said Birmingham Groves senior Josh Sklar.
"I thought the party was really fun," said Jessica
Leshman, 14, of Huntington Woods.
"I liked it; I liked dancing and hanging out," Sim-
ilarly, Becca Luettke, 15, also of Huntington Woods
thought the center was "really cool."
"It was really well put together and really good
altogether. I couldn't pick one favorite part,"
The Teen Center marks the rebirth of space that
once housed the Holocaust Memorial Center, now
in its own home in Farmington Hills. The nooks
and crannies and the multiple levels have been well
adapted to create an interesting, active space.
In describing what the Teen Center stands for and
the enthusiasm that it has ushered in, Lit said, "We
took a place dedicated to the darkest days in our his-
tory and turned it into an exciting teen center."
"We think teens will come," said Forest Levy,
JCC director of camps and youth services. They
didn't really have a good hangout place, and this
has a work place and a play place." They also expect
Teens on the red carpet flood into the Teen Center
Talia Weitzer, 15, and Jenna Golden, 14, both of
while "paparazzi" line the walkway.
Olivia Ruden, 17, Blake Orman, 17, Merrick Jacob, 16, all of West
Bloomfield, and Ben Govthovitch, 17, of Farmington Hills
future Teen Center events and events sponsored by
other youth groups to draw teens in.
"The community hadn't had a place where teens
could get together and hang out for 20 years," said
Larry Jackier, who serves on the United Jewish Foun-
dation board, the financial aim of the Jewish Fed-
eration of Metropolitan Detroit, which also provided
funding for the center.
The center's long-anticipated opening
night was certainly a shining event — evi-
dence that when multiple minds come to-
gether with an innovative idea, an effective
and exciting product can be created.
Major donors for the S850,000 Teen
Center were the Prentis Family Support
Foundation and the Bruce Frankel family.
The center is open to all Jewish teens.
Hours are from 3-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday
and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. Membership is $60
annually. Contact Lindsey Fox, (248) 432-
5428 or e-mail email@example.com . t I
Seth Samuels, 18, is a senior at Birming-
ham Groves High School. Gabriella Ring,
15, a sophomore at Berkley High School.
contributed to this report.
teen2teen April • 2009 B3