BY STEPHEN KOWALKOWSKI
On Wednesday, December 16, The Hub held its grand opening, highlighting the program’s unique offerings in downtown Lewisburg. The Hub opened its doors at 4 p.m., inviting youths and adults alike to check out the student café operated by High Rocks Educational Corporation, a local non-profit most known for its Academy for Girls program. The Hub sits below Hill and Holler Bicycle Works in a space owned by Montwell Park.
The Hub’s mission can best be described by the three questions every student is asked upon entering the facility: “How was your day? Do you have any homework? Are you hungry?” Adults offer mentorship to middle school and high school students while student employees, with adult facilitators, work the smoothie bar. Students are offered free snacks and affordable meals. All the while, the cozy, mature atmosphere, which mirrors a café you might find at any of the nicest colleges, provides a safe learning environment where the kids can do their homework. A state-of-the-art computer lab sits in the corner, allowing students access to the Internet and academic software.
The youth who use the Hub must adhere to an honor code and must respect themselves, others, and the facility. The grown-up mindset of accepting responsibility for one’s actions governs the space. Additionally, the adult facilitators maintain the Hub as a “drug-free, drama-free, romance-free program.” While everyone who uses the Hub must follow rules, the student employees at the smoothie bar fulfill additional responsibilities as they learn about entrepreneurialism. Having designed and taste-tested the menu, the six students behind the smoothie bar business will learn which products are the most popular and which make the most money. As they tinker with the menu and manage the money coming in, they can learn the principles of good business.
The Hub also hopes to offer live music every Friday night. At their grand opening, students performed songs on a variety of instruments. The audience heard songs that were written at the program’s “song school,” which taught students about musical arrangement and lyric writing. In addition to the open mics, bands performances, and karaoke nights, the Hub also hosts numerous youth organizations. The Boy Scouts, foreign exchange students, sports teams, fundraisers, and homeschool groups all use the space, and the Hub welcomes other groups who wish to schedule events there. Executive director Sarah Riley says, “The Hub is a totally different kind of environment. The program runs on a big support system.” She hopes that the community will continue to value a place for teenagers to socialize, a place for them to call their own.