ST. ALBANS CITY — Bellows Free Academy students gathered earlier this month at the St. Albans Free Library for a night of trivia, nachos and video games.
Friday, Sept. 2 was the premiere event in a series called “First Fridays," during which the library stays open late, from 6-9 p.m. as a place for teenagers to hang out. Each event, held on the first Friday of the month will offer a different activity. September's activity was trivia, put on by Top Hat Entertainment.
The First Fridays program came about thanks to a grant opportunity from the Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation.
“I saw [the] grant, and I thought, ‘What could we use [it] for? What are we kind of missing here?’” said Becky Manahan, assistant director and youth room director of the St. Albans Free Library.
“I realized that there was really no place for [teenagers] to go hang out other than friends’ houses occasionally,” she added. “So, I thought, why not open the library up on Friday evenings for them to just hang out?”
And so the idea for the First Fridays program was born. But that wasn’t the end. Manahan had to come up with things for teenagers to do at the program as well as arrange the space.
The day of the first event, BFA alumni helped man the door and library staff helped set up. To accompany the trivia, volunteers dished out Dorito-based bags of nachos, candy and various drinks for refreshments. There was also a room available to watch movies. In another, kids could play video games on a Nintendo Switch bought specifically for the event.
The main feature of the evening, however, was the trivia game. Kids split into five teams and competed in nine rounds of trivia in different categories, such as “Disney Princesses,” “Math Questions” and “TV Women.” Their motivation to win? A $25 Subway gift card for the first place winners and a $15 Dunkin’ gift card for the second place winners.
The event came to a close with the Top Hat Clan declared as the winners, with “The BFA-ers” finishing in a close second.
Victories aside, however, those who attended the event viewed it as a success.
“It was fun,” said Lillian Foisy (‘24), a member of the “BFA-ers” team.
While Manahan said she was very nervous about how the night would go, the event had a decent turnout of 21 kids.
“I knew we were up against the home football game,” Manahan said. “So I thought we had a pretty good turnout, all things considered.”
This is only the beginning for the First Fridays program. Manahan said the next event, “Mimmo’s and Magic,” will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7. It will feature a magic show from Alyx Magic, as well as pizza, games and movies once more.
“We just really hope that kids will take advantage of this space, and not just BFA students,” Manahan said. “We want students from [all schools] to have a safe place to hang out and have fun.”