By Ross Markman
What was once a principal's office is now that of Robin Morris and Krista Solomon. What was once a teacher's lounge is now a board room. And what was once a place for elementary education is now a club for kids ages 6 to 18 to hang out.
The Hi-Line Boys & Girls Club expects to open its doors at the former Devlin School on First Avenue on July 1.
Right on schedule.
"What started in November as a plan is almost a reality. It's all falling into place," said Solomon, the club's program director. "We're getting a lot of calls from parents who are excited. And when the school bus drops off, you see a lot of kids looking into the windows."
The club is leasing the school, which closed with last year's Havre Public Schools restructuring at 50 cents a year. The lease says the district can recapture the building if there's an enrollment change or loss of another facility.
The Boys & Girls Club will be open weekdays from 1 to 5 p.m. this summer. During the school year, its hours will be 2 to 6 p.m.
Former classrooms are being transformed into game rooms with pool, ping pong and fooseball tables. A onetime computer lab will become a "power hour" center, a place where kids can study or catch up on homework. There will also be a snack bar and ultimately a technology center featuring computers with Internet access.
In February, Morris, the club's executive director, said the organization needed to raise $48,000. With donations coming in including one for $10,000 from a person Solomon won't identify they're moving closer to that goal.
Contributors of $500 or more will become part of the Founders Club and will be recognized on a permanent display at the Devlin School. Also being established is an endowment fund to be used for philanthropic gifts, memorials and long-range capital improvements.
With more than 3 million kids participating at more than 2,800 clubs in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the Boys & Girls Club of America has been providing youth programs for 140 years.
By mid-June, Solomon said, the Havre facility will look less like a school and start to resemble a Boys & Girls Club. The building is cluttered with old computers, desks and other furniture the district intends to get rid of at its June 12 garage sale.
One thing at the school will remain: the intercom system.
"We'll be able to announce activities," Solomon said. "It's not just going to be a free-for-all when the kids are here."