SoZo Teen Center Executive Director Anthony R. Gullo said the teen center will "absolutely" be open Nov. 30.
To be able to stay in the downtown area was a big plus," said Mr. Gullo
, who pointed out that a number of teens walk from their homes to the center.
At its new location, the teen center will have several computers connected to the Internet, a pool table, video game systems and a fully operational kitchen.
is looking to use the kitchen not only to serve dinner to the teens, but also as part of a culinary arts program.
plans to invite local restaurant owners and staff from the culinary program at Jefferson Community College
as guests to teach teens cooking skills.
"We're looking to be a program-driven center," he
Through programs teaching teens marketable skills, including the culinary program as well as a multimedia program made possible by a grant from the Department of Social Services
, Mr. Gullo
said, the teens can become more competitive in the work force.
"When they get out there in the job market, we want them to know what they're doing," Mr. Gullo
About 35 to 40 teens had been going to the teen center every day, Mr. Gullo
Starting next week, the center will be open from 2:30 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday for teens ages 13 to 19.
Mr. Gullo, a softball coach at Immaculate Heart Central, promotes fitness and partners with the Watertown Family YMCA to allow the center's teens to use the Public Square facility.
The teen center also encourages students to study through its student zone, a daily 30-minute period devoted to homework or reading, Mr. Gullo
The center will have a library for teens to borrow from if they forget to bring homework.
"We're placing academics as a priority," Mr. Gullo
"Some kids don't have strong leadership at home.
Some aren't even going to school.
We want to have resources to help them, too."
directorship at the SoZo Teen Center
has seen the creation and enforcement of a student policy and a code of conduct, asking teens to respect the center's resources and each other.
The new rules have promoted a more comfortable atmosphere for the center's patrons, he
"They don't feel threatened," Mr. Gullo
Anthony R. Gullo, executive director of the SoZo Teen Center, sits Sunday in the center's new location in the Marcy Building on State Street in Watertown.