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Church opens downtown student center
Church opens center pic
Leadership team members and volunteers at Highway Nine Student Center join representatives of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce on Monday to officially open the center. - photo by David Renner Dawson Community News

A new activity center recently opened its doors to Dawson County students.

Sponsored by Kilough Church by the Lake, Highway Nine Student Center is described by the church as "a place for middle and high school students to stop by after school and do homework or just hang out with friends."

"We believe there are going to be some good things happening here," said Jeff Burrell, pastor of Kilough Church by the Lake. "I'm hoping that this will catch on."

So far, the center has seen 60 students. It is also used by Young Life and Wyldlife for meetings.

Normally, the center is opened Monday through Friday with Saturdays open for special events.

"Our operating hours vary," Burrell said. "We try to keep it in sync with the school calendars."

The center also asks for nothing in return for providing a place for students to go.

"It seemed like parents were looking for a place for their children to go," Burrell said. "We really wanted a place that they could stay for hours. Everything is free here - there are no fees."

Burrell said that, while the church is sponsoring the center, the adult volunteers that work there are predominantly from the community.

"We really want to distance ourselves from the church," he said. "We don't want people to get the feeling that this is a church thing. It's for the community."

While the center keeps adults in the building at all times during operating hours, Burrell said he wanted to keep the adult influence to a minimum.

"Young people can help one another better than just coming into an adult's office and sitting there to talk to them," he said. "It's having that good strong support system - it's what we're trying to grow here."

The center operates on a leadership team of three adults and six students that schedule events.

"Young people will be in charge of what happens here," Burrell said. "Adults are just here to guide them."

Lois Zangera, former principal of Kilough Elementary School and Highway 9 Leadership Team member, said the center was something that the community had needed for some time now.

"After I retired as principal, I stayed involved in the school systems," she said. "I see such a need in our community for the students to have constructive activities, things for them to do. This is a safe place for them."

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