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The Red Barn Youth Center in Key Center is open Tuesday through Thursdays during the summer. Photo: Ted Olinger, KP News

Clint Rosson, executive director of the Red Barn Youth Center, completes his first year Aug. 1 and is excited about past successful projects and adding new ones.

Remodeling the large, unused space tentatively planned as a gymnasium will triple the space the center has available. Attendance was pushing the limit during the winter season last year, with up to 50 teens at a time.

Funding for the project and the center at large comes from local people, organizations and grants.

Rosson foresees a variety of uses for the extended space: individual computer stations, physical activities, music programs and perhaps an area where organizations can hold fundraisers.

“One person asked if she could have her wedding here,” he said.

Updates this past year have included security cameras inside and out, two new outside lights and new fencing next to the KP highway.

A former shop teacher, Rosson plans to teach a small gas engine class in the coming year, with the eventual goal of a complete automotive program as well as building trades classes. He wants to see students graduate with marketable skills that are no longer taught in local schools.

He would like to see another building closer to the high school that becomes a teaching center for various skills.

“Olympia, OSPI (the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) and even other states are watching us,” Rosson said. Training centers for some industries “can’t get them in fast enough” to fill their vacancies, he said.

Rosson also hopes to arrange field trips to broaden the horizons of the local youth.

Harbor WildWatch will teach a marine biology class on how to farm oysters in the late summer or early fall.

The center’s goal is to meet the basic needs of their students. They get help with their studies during the school year and, on open days, each attendee is offered a full meal.

Games, crafts and other projects are available, said Morgan Blalock, program director. Kelly Bennet was recently appointed assistant program director.

“The kids know that they can speak to any staff about anything at any time,” said Rosson. “We do a tremendous amount of one-on-one counseling.”

Chief cook Susan Ricketts supervises the garden where students tend the plants they get to eat later.

“Susan can make a beefsteak out of beans,” Rosson said.

She prepared much of the food and supervised last year’s Thanksgiving dinner for students and some of their families.

“There was plenty of food for everyone,” Rosson said. “Kind of like the five loaves and two fish.”

The Peninsula School District provides pickup for students in the summer and delivery home at the end of the day’s programs year-round if needed.

The Red Barn’s summer hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. During the school year, it is open every weekday from 2:30 to 6 p.m. The Red Barn follows the school calendar and is closed when schools are.

For more information, go to www.redbarnkp.org.

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