Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

Student suggestions led to new lounge at Willmar's ABE

Erica Dischino / Tribune The entrance to the new student lounge is located among the other classrooms used for Adult Basic Education at Jefferson Learning Center in Willmar. A grand opening for the lounge was held Wednesday to celebrate the new place for students to take a break between classes.1 / 4
Erica Dischino / Tribune Maria Garcia, left, Jose Ayon and Darian Ponce enjoy the potluck lunch celebrating the grand opening Wednesday of Willmar Adult Basic Education's new student lounge at Jefferson Learning Center in Willmar. 2 / 4
Erica Dischino / Tribune A grand opening Wednesday for Willmar Adult Basic Education's new student lounge at Jefferson Learning Center celebrated the new place for students to take a break during the school day. Thanks to a grant, the new lounge features a refrigerator and microwave as well as tables and chairs.3 / 4
Erica Dischino / Tribune Hubi Osman fills her plate with treats from a potluck lunch held Wednesday to celebrate the grand opening of Willmar Adult Basic Education's new student lounge. Classes are offered during the day and in the evening, to accommodate student work schedules, and the new lounge offers a place for students to rest, study or heat up a meal between classes.4 / 4

WILLMAR — A new student lounge opened Wednesday at Willmar's Adult Basic Education, giving students an alternative to wandering the halls during class breaks.

Dozens of students and teachers visited the lounge on its first day and loaded their plates from a potluck lunch. The food was from a variety of cultures, representing the diversity of the Adult Basic Education students.

Many in the program are learning English. Others are studying for their GEDs or preparing to take citizenship tests.The program uses the western half of Jefferson Learning Center, the base of Willmar Community Education. Classes are offered during the day and in the evening, to accommodate student work schedules.

"We've dreamed about it for years," said program director Laura Morales in her welcome.

"Thank you to the students; it was your idea," she said. She thanked teachers, too, for helping to make the break room possible.

Students participated in a video as part an application for a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota grant.

The grant allowed the program to purchase a refrigerator, microwave, tables and chairs, Morales said. It gives students a place to keep their lunch and heat it up, or warm a cup of tea.

Students said they are glad to have the room.

"It's a good room," said Madina Ali. She has lived in the United States for nine years, six years in Texas and the past three in Willmar.

"I think everybody's happy," she said.

After living in Virginia for a few years, Darian Ponce moved to Willmar a year ago. She is originally from Honduras.

The break room "is very needed for the students," she said. "We feel welcome here; it's a very nice place."

The lounge will be used a lot, she said, and will be a good alternative to hanging out in the hallway.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340
Advertisement
randomness