A wing of the historic Roberts School Community and Education Center on School Street was transformed from a dull series of rooms that serve as the program’s workstation and recreation center into a hip space with computers, flat-screen TVs, lounge areas, a chalkboard wall and a new ping-pong table.
Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins, Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood and other officials conducted a ribbon-cutting Thursday morning to introduce Acworth Achievers students to the improved space.
Wilkins, who remains active in the Hawks organization, told the students they should take full advantage of their new space.
“I grew up in a community recreation center in Baltimore, Md., where I learned a lot about life, as well as basketball,” the Basketball Hall of Famer said. “This learning center helps you better yourself. This is a safe haven for a lot of you.”
Acworth Achievers has provided middle and high school students with educational assistance, mentoring and recreational activities since it was developed by the Acworth Parks and Recreation Department in 2009. Frank White, the city’s recreational coordinator, said the program’s 30 to 35 daily students were excited to learn about having a revamped space, which he said was formerly in bad condition.
North Cobb High School freshman Jennifer Castillo, who has been involved in Acworth Achievers for two years, said she was happy about the makeover.
“It helps us to come to a place where we can concentrate, do our homework and just know we have somebody to talk to and tutors to help,” said Castillo, 14.
In 2011, Acworth Achievers entered the Atlanta Hawks Reading and Learning Zone Contest and placed second. However, the program entered again this year and were selected last month.
Andrea Carter, Hawks’ director of community development, said the Hawks organization was impressed with the program’s work and its persistence. The Hawks award one grant per season to an organization within 50 miles of Philips Arena that serves youth younger than 18.
The grant provided a special design team from Gensler and other companies to help make over a portion of the Roberts School facility. Improvements included new books, furniture, and a red and blue Hawks color scheme.
In 1947, the Roberts School was built on the former site of the Rosenwald School, which served Acworth’s black students during segregation. In 2002, the city utilized a community development block grant to renovate and turn it into a community center.
“Our children are now going to be able to have some really, really special cutting-edge technologies,” Allegood said. “It’ll change their lives and change the direction of their lives.”