Boys and Girls Club

Staffers Mary Perryman and Germann Bostic, board member Jeff Gilbert and Jaiden and Brianna Brewington during the open house for the Boys & Girls Club of the Sandhills Trinity Unit on Nov. 18.   Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot

The Boys and Girls Club of the Sandhills’ long year of regrouping is about to pay off with the opening of two new after-school program sites.

Like so many other organizations, the pandemic totally rearranged its plans. The club saw its membership shrink by half in 2020 and had to adjust to the closing of the old Aberdeen Elementary School, where it ran programs for Aberdeen-area students. Those factors combined forced the Boys and Girls Club to consolidate from three locations to operating only out of its headquarters in Southern Pines.

Since 1998, the Boys and Girls Club of the Sandhills has become the largest youth service organization in Moore County. The club offers after-school and summer programs that emphasize fun and educational activities as well as developing life skills for students who might not otherwise be supervised outside of school hours.

Now the club is set to move its elementary school program for Southern Pines area members to a new location at Moore Montessori Community School on North May Street. The new site will replace space at Trinity AME Zion Church that the club’s membership had outgrown.

“We are honoring our past partnership and history with Trinity AME Zion Church by retaining the club’s name and moving to Moore Montessori with plans to restart our performing arts programming as well,” said Fallon Brewington, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of the Sandhills.

“This new facility allows us to serve more kids with richer programming, as this move gives us access to a whole wing, playground and gymnasium, which our kids missed during our time at the old location.”

Moore Montessori bought the old Southern Pines Elementary campus earlier this year, and moved in over the summer. The charter school is still growing its own enrollment as it adds on grade levels, but its plans for the large campus include long-term partnerships with organizations whose goals dovetail with its own.

So The Boys and Girls’ Club will have its own space for the new Trinity Unit, in a wing not currently being used for Moore Montessori’s regular school activities. Where the club had three small rooms at Trinity A.M.E. Zion, it will now have separate rooms for K-1 students, second and third graders, and fourth and fifth graders. There’s a separate game room with ping-pong — an air hockey table is on the way — and another cafe area where food will be served.

The club will also have access to the playground and gymnasium, amenities it didn’t have at the church. When the site opens in the coming weeks, about 130 students will move there from the club’s Morganton Road site.

Brewington said that the facility could easily serve up to 300 club members, and she predicts that enrollment could be close to that figure soon. She also predicted that the Boys and Girls Club’s accessibility for after-school hours will complement Moore Montessori as an option for families.

“You’ve got kids that typically couldn’t go to the Montessori school because they get out a little earlier than the other schools and are on an alternative schedule. So then they don’t have after-school care. With us being right here, they can walk right on over,” she said.

Katrina Williams, the Trinity unit director, will move over to the new site along with other staff members passionate about the arts.

“We plan on developing skits, plays and all kinds of dance, including stepping and painting,” said Williams. “I’m excited to have more space so we can learn more about each other.”

The Boys and Girls Club is also preparing for a grand opening at its new Logan-Blake unit off of N.C. 5 in Pinehurst. Just three miles from the new Aberdeen Elementary, that site will effectively replace the old school in serving elementary school students from in and around Aberdeen.

That 9,000-square-foot building offers about six times more space than the club had at the old elementary school. Renovations began this spring to create a game room, two classrooms, a kitchen with cafe-style seating, a flexible indoor recreation area, a quiet “focus” space and bathrooms, as well as a reception area and offices.

The club’s overall membership is now up to 400 from a low of around 270. Between both elementary sites and the Baxter Teen Center in Southern Pines, which will continue to serve middle and high school students, the club will have space to eclipse its pre-pandemic membership of 600.

The Boys and Girls Club of the Sandhills’ three sites are open each day after school from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., when research has shown children to be most vulnerable to gangs, violence and other risky behaviors.

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