In regard to the opinions written (in the March 6 Lake Oswego Review) by the Youth Board , their bases of opinions are completely unfounded.
A few of them criticized the exterior of the West End Building, but really, does it matter how the building looks from the outside?
What's important is the environment that the teen lounge creates and where junior high and high schoolers are welcome to. As a member of the Youth Action Council, the committee that pushed for the existence of a teen center, I think the opinions that the Youth Board submitted are not as worthy as someone who actually goes to the McKenzie Lounge.
Creating a safe place for the teens is our main goal, not a place that looks chic and hip. For the past five years, the Youth Action Council has tried to create a place where teens can hang out without having to purchase anything.
Now that the McKenzie Lounge and the after school program have been created, some members of the Youth Board have picked it apart, mainly criticizing the exterior and the incorrect route they used to enter the building (there actually is an entrance directly to the lounge). The McKenzie Lounge isn't the 'nerdy kid who doesn't quite fit in,' but actually the safe environment parents of junior high students can trust their children to be a part of.
Also, the Youth Action Council raised money to purchase the Xbox, flat screen TVs, and furniture. How can you expect 10 high school students to raise enough money to create the idealistic teen lounge Lake Oswego students would approve of?
Which leads me to my next point, observing you 'don't think many people will come through (the Lounge's) doors. A lot of kids have Xboxes and couches at their houses,' only reaffirms the stereotype Lake Oswego has. Some kids don't have the possessions you may have so there are kids who come to the teen center to hang out and indulge in video games for free instead of going to Versis and overpaying.
It's the kids who don't have these niceties who actually respect the lounge and what it stands for.
Onto another point, the McKenzie Lounge isn't just a place to hang out. For junior high students who are a part of the after school program, there are many fields trips each month where they can go paintballing, laser tagging, see live theatre or do other fun activities usually unavailable to them. The lounge staff has not only tried to get the word out about these field trips, but also the fact that the teen center exists.
However, most kids the lounge is targeted at are closed minded about the idea of hanging out at a Lake Oswego-sponsored facility. Yet, there are several clubs and groups that go to the lounge to have meetings, including LOHS's Ping Pong Club and literary magazine staff.
Lastly, the lounge isn't a 'supervised area created by adults' but rather a place where local high schoolers work. The staff isn't comprised of 40-something-year- old uptight adults, but several seniors in high school and the older and qualified inclusion companions.
To sum it up, I believe the Youth Board didn't do enough research to properly make assertions about the McKenzie Lounge and its apparent flaws.
Jessica Lee is a resident of Lake Oswego.