Teen Underground sheds light on thought-provoking, entertaining library activities

By Lee Wardlaw lee@claytodayonline.com
Posted 1/12/23

FLEMING ISLAND – A group of three Fleming Island High students completed an abstract, psychological game of Perler Beads.

“Dream On” by Aerosmith served as a musical backdrop in the teen …

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Teen Underground sheds light on thought-provoking, entertaining library activities


FLEMING ISLAND – A group of three Fleming Island High students completed an abstract, psychological game of Perler Beads.

“Dream On” by Aerosmith served as a musical backdrop in the teen room at the Fleming Island Library. Distractions aside though, the trio of students is highly focused on completing the mission at hand.

Hundreds of plastic beads were arranged by color in a large bucket, with each student racing to arrange a rainbow of colors onto a 2D pegboard to create an alluring shape.

The first completed a flashy yellow pokemon Pikachu; the second arranged a gray rat with a pink and reddish finish; and last, 6-foot James Mirtyl crafted a green frog native to his home state which will soon become a keychain adorned on his book bag.

Brandi Black is a young adult librarian for the county. She led the group along as they shifted through their motions.

When the students were finished with their projects, Black pulled out an iron and a baking sheet and melted their creations into form.

The plastic beads fused, providing a cool creation for each student to take home as a proud souvenir.

The trio said they will be back soon for more fun, but the question is whether they will be joined by more students seeking to be creative.

This was a small glimpse into a single hour of the Teen Underground program. The event was held on Monday, Jan. 9, from 2:30-3:30 p.m.

The event is not exclusive to the school or community. The program came to the Orange Park Library on Jan. 4, and other county libraries soon will be included, including Jan. 25 at Green Cove Springs and Jan. 26 at Middleburg.

The core group at Fleming Island elected to play Perler Beads, but if your child wants to attend Teen Underground, they can do anything they want.

Students can browse several aisles of library books from their favorite genre and lay down to read. Another option is to bring friends for a winner-take-all game of Mario Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo Switch.

If that’s not enough, anime and other games and arts and crafts are available.

For Teen Underground, the goal is for students to pick a brain-stimulating game or activity for the entire group.

During the summer, Black estimated that between eight-to-15 students attend a session.

“Since they enjoyed it so much over the summer, maybe they’ll come back,” she said.

Even if a teen doesn’t attend Teen Underground or another regularly-scheduled program, Black encouraged everyone to attend. It’s a trend for local youth that appears to become popular at the Fleming Island branch.

“Mondays and Tuesdays are really popular at Fleming Island. Everybody comes over after school, and we try to create a space where they can hang out. We’ve got them coming in to play video games and board games, and they have computers to use as well,” she said.

“A lot of times, we leave it up to them on what they can do. We might watch anime, and we have some higher-end art supplies that I let them use. We’re just trying to give them something that they like to do in general, and I’m always open to suggestions.”

There are a lot of options available at Teen Underground, but it’s only one of the programs offered at the county’s libraries.

Just this month, a Super Smash Bros. video game tournament, Smash Clash, will be at the Orange Park Library on Jan. 18, followed by a Video Game Day at the Keystone Heights branch a day later. Some of the options include FIFA 19, Just Dance 2019, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, NBA 2K19, Party Arcade, Rocket League, Sports Party and more.

Then, on Jan. 23 at Green Cove Springs, Anime Club will allow lovers of hand-drawn, computer-generated animation to watch episodes, draw, craft, and, most importantly, socialize with friends.

Both events will take place from 2:30-3:30 p.m.

A puzzle program has been organized in Middleburg, and Black and her team are in the process of opening applications for a Teen Advisory Group, which will be kickstarted in May.

“It’s sort of like a service group for the library. Part of what they would do is help provide the services that they need, and the other part is leadership. We might have speakers come in and talk to them about leadership and how they run their own programs, and (the students) would also earn volunteer hours for Bright Future and other scholarships. We’re just really looking forward to seeing everyone and hope that they will be able to join us,” she said.

To find out more, please call the library’s programming team at (904) 278-3614 or visit their online teen and tween schedule of events calendar at https://www.claycountygov.com/community/library/events-and-classes/teens.


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