The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

May 16, 2013

Teens want laser tag, shopping, shelters and more in Athens

Athens teenagers have some great ideas about how to improve their city, including community storm shelters, new entertainment opportunities such as laser tag, and converting to a five-block school schedule so they can take more elective classes.

These were just some of the suggestions made to City Council members during a presentation made Monday by 11 of the 27 members of the Mayor’s Youth Commission.

Fresh ideas

The first group of commissioners, including Kennedy Palmer, appreciated that they recently developed a Future Land Use Plan outlining its long-term goals. However, they would like to see some immediate changes — some “fresh ideas” for the city.

Palmer created an online suggestion form that would allow residents to offer ideas on appearance, utilities, schools, roads, security and other topics.

“Who better than residents of Athens to provide ideas for the city to improve?” she said.

Tourism and recreation

The second group of commissioners — Katie Dunn, Christina Brewer, Maggie Besh and Mary Claire Breakfield — studied tourism and recreational opportunities in the city. They counted as positive features the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives, antebellum Donnell House, historic districts, The Square downtown, Cinemagic Theatre and drive-in, batting cages, miniature golf and Interskate roller rink. However, they would also like to see more clothing stores for teens, especially males; a bowling alley; and a laser-tag business.

“Although we have entertainment for most ages, teenagers struggle to find something to do,” they said. “Things such as more shopping opportunities, a bowling alley or laser tag … would be an exciting development.”

Block schedule

The third group of commissioners — Mac McAlister, Cara Harris, LaVinson Rogers and Benton Key — said they would like to see city schools convert to a five-block schedule so students can take more elective classes or to have a study period during the day.

They concluded that the current schedule prevents them from “discovering new hobbies and talents that could be beneficial to them, or even lead them to a future job.”

The proposed schedule would also create time for busy students to study during the day rather than wait until night, after sporting practices and other extracurricular activities, when they are tired.

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