Saturday, June 14

RHEE KILLS REC CENTER VITAL TO COMMUNITY

MARKETTE SMITH, WTOP When D.C. School Chancellor Michelle Rhee ordered the school building located at 3012 Georgia Ave. to be closed, classes weren't the only thing that were going to be shut down. The Bruce-Monroe Recreation Center will also be closed, the last day of school. The center offers after school programs to about 12 to 30 at-risk youth until 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. It has been around since the 1970s, but was closed in the late 90s and later reopened in November 2007 after a series of shootings plagued the surrounding Columbia Heights neighborhood.

"It's really become a safe haven for these youth," says Maia Shanklin, of the Peaceaholics, an organization that works with youth at the center. She says many of the young people, mostly males, were engaged in gang activity before attending the center.

The building, a window-less eye sore to many passers by, is described by Darren Jones, a life-long resident of the neighborhood and the current president of the Pleasant Plains Civic Association, as a haven, not just for the youth, but for the entire neighborhood.

"We were having kids robbing adults. We were having kids breaking up the park on Hobart Place. And since the rec center has opened we don't have those problems anymore."

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