By Jonathan Williams
Times West Virginian
Middle schools got their name for a reason.
For school children, middle school, particularly seventh and eighth grades, represents a transition from the structure of elementary school to the relative freedom and responsibility of high school.
Transitions aren’t easy for anyone, and this can be an especially difficult time for young girls, who are often struggling to discover who they are and how they relate to a society in which they can be marginalized.
The Young Women Christian Association of Marion County, more commonly known as the YWCA, with the help of the United Way of Marion County, sponsors “Y Teens” in six county schools, empowering them to be better students and future leaders in their communities.
Though the YWCA does provide other services for the community, the Y Teens is “the program I love,” said executive director Cecily Enos.
The YWCA has a facility in Pleasant Valley used by the community for a variety of events and classes, such as kung fu, drawing, painting, instrument lessons (including guitar, piano and bagpipe), tai chi and more.
“We have a lot of classes,” Enos said.
The YWCA has been incorporated since 1922, and the Y Teens program is almost that old itself. Enos said she is surprised and pleased when she goes out into the community and meets past Y Teen participants in places of authority.
The program operates out of Monongah, Mannington, Barrackville, East Fairmont Junior High, West Fairmont Middle and Fairview Middle schools. The official mission of the YWCA is eliminating racism and empowering women, as their letterhead says, and the individual school programs are designed to meet those goals.