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Still queen of the teen scene

Cydny Fletcher survives big changes for the city youth program

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Cydny Fletcher describes herself as a mama bear for the Lake Oswego Parks & Recreation Department's teen program. Fletcher says she is determined to make sure that the program benefits every teen.Cydny Fletcher knew she couldn’t go into cruise control when the Lake Oswego Teen Scene program moved from the West End Building to Palisades Elementary School.

It was a move that would tax even Fletcher’s prodigious energy as the teen program coordinator, and it came at a time when she was seeing the biggest change in her own life. Four months ago, she gave birth to a baby boy named Everett Holmes Fletcher. So far, his reviews have been excellent.

“I never thought I could love this tiny human being as much as I do,” Fletcher says.

While her little guy has taken over the No. 1 position in Fletcher’s life, she still had the strongest possible desire to maintain a successful teen program in Lake Oswego — especially during its transition to a new location in August. Fletcher asked herself, “Will the teens keep coming?”

“We had a great program in the West End Building, and the kids were used to being there,” Fletcher says. “When we switched locations, I suspected our attendance would go down. I thought we might have a serious decline. This move was very hard on some of our kids. It had the motto ‘For teens, by teens,’ and they were upset at the prospect of moving.”

However, Fletcher, who thinks largely in exclamation points, soon returned from her rare excursion into negative thinking. True, her teen program would undergo changes. It would be different from what it was before. But the program has held its own ever since it moved to Palisades, and it shows every sign of getting bigger and better.

“Instead of our attendance dipping, we saw a surge,” Fletcher says.REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Rikkel Simpson, a teen program staffer, prepares for another busy day in the Teen Lounge. Cydny Fletcher, teen program coordinator, praised Simpson's hard work in preparing the new location.

Although the program shifted its attendance base away from Lake Oswego High School and Lake Oswego Junior High, it saw a big increase in attendance from kids in the Lakeridge area. Palisades also proved to be a dandy place to have a teen program. It didn’t have the tradition of the West End Building, but it had been an elementary school in its previous life, and the place still exudes a “kid” atmosphere.

For instance, pictures of buffalos drawn by kids still adorn the walls of the long hall in the heart of the building.

“Palisades is so much more conducive to having kids in it,” Fletcher says. “We did have to revamp things in the lounge so teens didn’t feel they were coming into an elementary school. We parted walls and put in new lights. We have the same energy we always had, but it’s new and fresh.”

The more kids got used to Palisades, Fletcher says, the more they liked it, because it offers things that the WEB did not have.

“Palisades is even better,” says Rikkel Simpson, Fletcher’s top sidekick on the youth staff. “The dynamic of it being an elementary school is great, and it has a soccer field, a gym and a playground. There are so many bonuses from being in this place. And we still have the same fun stuff we had at the other place.”

Yifan Mao, a member of the Youth Action Council, gives her seal of approval to Palisades too. While she notes that transferring the location of meetings and events to the other side of the lake made transportation and scheduling less convenient, Mao thinks Palisades is a “more friendly” place for a youth program.

“I think moving Teen Lounge to Palisades has been much better for the after-school program, because there are so many classrooms available in addition to the school’s gym,” Mao says. “To me, it makes sense to have the program at a school rather than an office building.”

Emily Elott, another Teen Lounge stalwart, misses the WEB building for its convenience for so many LOHS teenagers, but she is getting used to the Palisades scene.

“Palisades has improved the Youth Action Council because it is a school and not an office building,” Elott says. “This atmosphere is much more conducive to kids and teens.”

As for YAC, Elott gives it credit for guaranteeing the quality of the program.

“Our council this year has been creative, dedicated and hardworking,” Elott says.

The cornerstone of the new program is the same as it always has been: making sure every kid coming through the doors feels welcome and is given as much opportunity as possible to have a happy, successful experience in the Teen Lounge. Fletcher says she would settle for nothing less.

“I’m a mama bear,” she says. “I protect this place, the kids and the staff.”

In the future, there are plans to make the Teen Scene even more attractive to teens and younger kids.

“We’ve added a lounge lab (for computers and other academic technology), which is something parents have been asking for for a long time,” Fletcher says. “We’ve started to focus on pre-school kids because we have such a big demographic of kids 2-5 years old. We have an indoor playground. Our dance programs are full. We might even have a little medical school where we learn about how to keep our own bodies healthy and about the medical field. In the future, I would love to see a play care program.”

That would undoubtedly include little Everett, which would make Fletcher even happier.

“I love this job, and I enjoy coming here every day,” Fletcher says. “I’ve had to shift where I spend my time, but I still get to think outside the box and use my creative side. I want to expand the idea of what a teen program is all about. This job falls in line so much with my values as a mom and a professional.”

As always, Fletcher’s main goal will be the same.

“I want us to be a big, weird family,” she says.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..