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Davis Journal

WXHS Teen Center will provide a safe place for youth in crisis

Dec 23, 2021 09:10AM ● By Becky Ginos

WOODS CROSS—It was cold and windy Tuesday afternoon but those in the small crowd gathered outside of Woods Cross High School were all smiles. The groundbreaking ceremony was for a new teen center where students experiencing homelessness will receive the help they need to be successful at school.

“It’s amazing to see the commitment students across the district have to want to help each other and care for the community,” said Davis District Superintendent Reid Newey. “This is a great labor of love. It’s a great opportunity for students – you just don’t know how much need is out there.”

The first teen center opened at Clearfield High in April of this year. In addition to Woods Cross, four other centers are under construction at Northridge, Layton, Mountain High and Renaissance Academy. 

Each center provides a safe place for teens in crisis to shower, launder their clothes, have access to hygiene items and have a quiet place to study. 

“A few years ago a young man came before our board,” said Dan Pratt, President of the Davis Education Foundation Board of Directors. “That was bold because usually people seeking a grant send a letter. He told us that he and his mom were homeless. He attended Mountain High and at night they slept in their car. His mother worked two jobs so she couldn’t pick him up after school so he spent a lot of time on his own devices.”

He had prepared a list of workout equipment he needed for a fitness room, said Pratt. “There was not a dry eye on the board. Of course we approved it and three months later he had filled the room with brand new equipment. Sometime later, I asked Jodi (Lunt, Foundation Executive Director) if we’d made a difference in his life. She told me he was active duty in the military.”

He had broken the cycle of homelessness, Pratt said. “You never know what’s going on in the lives of young people. It’s hard to be successful or get a job when you can’t shower or to succeed when you are always hungry.”

The Woods Cross Teen Center will be built as part of a larger construction project that includes new restrooms and a concession stand for the football field. The school district will cover the costs for that portion of the building but the teen center is funded totally by community donations, according to the Foundation.

“My sophomore year I started to realize a big difference between students at Woods Cross,” said SBO Klara Laurence. “I didn’t know half of what kids were dealing with. I started doing a period project to provide products for girls who couldn’t afford them.”

“We’re healthy and wealthy here in Davis County,” said SBO President Austin Bradley. “But there’s always students in need. We have good counselors and teachers who care and look out for them. This will be a great addition to what we already had.”

“A couple of years ago I walked the hallways with Principal (Deanne) Kapetanov just hoping to find a place to plug in a washer and dryer,” said School Board Member Liz Mumford. “Now we have a place where students can support their friends and a place where all students can feel welcome.”