After three years of planning, effort and hard work, the Brownsville Students in Action cut the ribbon Tuesday on the new Teen Space built onto the Brownsville Free Public Library.

The space includes couches, shelves of books geared toward teens, instruments like a keyboard and guitar, a television, gaming systems with controllers, two game tables and even a functional typewriter. On one wall is a shovel with a ribbon that says the library name and “Students in Action” on it next to a photo of the students holding shovels behind the broken ground where the Teen Space now sits.

Jaden Harvey, who was a high school senior and member of SIA in 2018, when the project was started, said he is proud the group persevered through all the unknowns they encountered along the way. Harvey, now a senior in college, said his future is uncertain, but there is one thing he knows.

“All I know for certain is that I want to keep working on projects like this,” he said. “We cannot thank you enough for believing in us.”

Originally the team planned on putting the Teen Space in the library’s basement, but the library’s board of directors gave the group permission to build a new addition onto the south side of the building, with its own entrance.

In 2018, Brownsville Area School District was named a Gold Leadership School by the Jefferson Awards Foundation for the Teen Space project.

Andrew Haven, also a senior high school student in SIA in 2018, said he sees the completion of the Teen Space as a symbol in the community.

“The young people of Brownsville are many different things. They are ambitious, they are gritty, they are driven, they’re hard-nosed, and above all else, they love their hometown,” Haven said. “(The Teen Space) can be viewed as a symbol – a symbol of the young community’s ability to thrive when we are just given a chance.”

Dr. Keith Hartbauer, superintendent of Brownsville Area School District, said SIA finishing this and other projects has given the people of Brownsville hope and taught valuable lessons to the students.

“More than any English, history or math class will ever teach them, the lessons that they have learned in this process to get here today is going to be of great value that’ll count (as a) success for the rest of their lives,” he said. “They’ve overcome administrators saying no, they’ve overcome politicians saying, ‘Are you crazy”,’ and they’ve overcome a pandemic to get us here today. They never, ever quit.”

The Teen Space will be open during the time the library is open, which is Mondays and Tuesdays, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lori Barron, library director, said Teen Space hours will likely be extended past library hours during the school year.

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