Teen center open mic draws a crowd

ANTRIM — Avenue A Teen Center’s first teen-only open mic night of the summer attracted a large crowd of youths who said they were happy to be there, and they’re interested in volunteering at the center.

Community organizer for Avenue A, Maddie Beihl of Antrim, said only three youths came by when doors opened at 7 p.m. for the open mic to begin. The teens told Beihl that they would be back, and sure enough around 8:15 p.m. the three teens returned and the young people began pouring in.

Beihl said she was happy to see so many at Avenue A on Friday because she and the teen center’s board of directors are trying to gauge the interest level of local teens, in order to find ways to attract volunteers and create financial sustainability for the center.

Although some teens played guitar for the gathered audience Friday, most chose to sing along with music their friends played off the sound system. Due to the strong interest in singing and karaoke, Beihl said the next musical night the teen center has will be karaoke-themed, although no date has been set yet.

“You always have fun [at Avenue A],” Cassidy Varney, an Antrim teen, said Friday. “It’s nice to get out and it’s an amazing time. This is the only thing to do in Antrim.”

Varney, along with fellow Antrim teen Cameron Ibach, sang several songs at the open mic, and helped play music and give encouragement to other teens who sang in front of the crowd. “I get to hangout, have fun and play music,” Ibach said about the reasons he likes Avenue A. “It’s a good escape from everything.”

When Ibach and friends were asked in an interview at the center Friday if they felt comfortable being themselves at the teen center, they agreed that Avenue A is a judgment-free space.

Before the event ended at 9 p.m., Beihl asked if anyone would be interested in volunteering at the Community Supper the teen center is hosting Friday at Gregg Lake in Antrim. Several teens committed to helping and seemed enthusiastic when Beihl mentioned that the volunteer time would translate into community service hours.

Beihl said the supper will be barbeque-style , and will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the town beach on Gregg Lake. All the donations will benefit the Avenue A Teen Center. Swimming is permitted, Beihl noted, although no lifeguard will be on duty.

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