Centers serve displaced high school teens
Imagine being a teenager and having nowhere to launder your clothes, nowhere to access more than a weekly shower and no place to study, do homework or decompress.
It’s with these scenarios in mind that the Davis Education Foundation, in partnership with Davis School District and Clearfield City, began the process of building a teen center in the old gym at Clearfield High School.
“The mission of our school is to ensure high levels of learning for every student,” Clearfield High Principal Chris Keime said. “To do that effectively, our student’s basic personal needs must be met. This facility will help us do that.”
In the Davis School District, nearly 300 high school students are considered homeless. The conditions that come with homelessness create barriers that lead to school absences and the possibility of the student dropping out before graduation.
Foundation Director Jodi Lunt said she hopes drop-in centers at Clearfield, Woods Cross and Northridge high schools will remove those barriers and return a sense of dignity to the student. Meeting those basic needs can help a student complete their education and graduate equipped with lifelong skills.
The teen center is not an original idea. East High School in Salt Lake City, for instance, has a similar site on campus. Lunt said homeless students were recently added to her role and working in that arena has really educated her on the daily struggles that those classified as homeless face.
“The teen center is a place where students can receive social and emotional assistance,” Lunt said. “We’re hoping what it does is create a culture within the school, that students will know it’s safe. The whole purpose of building these centers is that it eliminates barriers to learning. We feel that if you can walk with dignity, you’ll come to school.”
Looking at the schools with the highest concentration of homeless students, Lunt said the Foundation then approached cities and communities and began the process of asking for financial support. Clearfield City agreed to provide $150,000 toward the center at Clearfield High. Additionally, VCBO Architecture donated the design of the center. The Foundation is in the process of raising funding for centers at Woods Cross High and Northridge High.
The teen centers include a shower, bathroom area, laundry center and comfortable study room. Basic hygiene supplies and other essentials will also be stocked.
Additionally, the centers will be a place where students can access counseling and receive assistance with pursuing a higher education or career path. The centers will be open before and after school with a part-time supervisor coordinating entry. A food pantry will also be located nearby to provide easy access to basic food necessities.
“Northridge is excited about the prospect of having a teen center as a part of our school so that we can better serve our students — especially students who do not have access to some basic needs,” Northridge High Principal Brian Hunt said. “Opening a teen center is a great next step to our Knights’ Pride Pantry that we opened several years ago.”
Community members interested in donating to one of the teen centers can contact the Davis Education Foundation at 801-402-4483 or go to davis.k12.ut.us and click on the Donate button at the top of the website.