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On Wednesday, Dec. 4, we published feature reporter Corwin Gibson’s Coffee Talk column “Local graduates come home to find boredom” on Page 11A. The column explored Sedona Red Rock High School alumni visiting Sedona for Thanksgiving and finding, now as 20-somethings, as little to do around town as they did as teenagers.

Managing Editor Christopher Fox GrahamGibson postulated that with so little for teens to do in Sedona, some may turn to recreational drug use just to pass the time.

Late Wednesday, Sedona City Councilwoman Barbara Litrell called about the column to ask Gibson for “what ideas you might have about what youth are looking for.”

While we’re glad to help and we’re flattered Litrell would want our opinion on what to do to improve Sedona, my staff of 20-, 30- and 40-something reporters are really more skilled at reporting on the news than on creating it ourselves. We leave that to our city officials and leaders.

The phone call demonstrates the disconnect between the adults who run the city and the teens who are forced to live with their decisions. To find out what teenagers in Sedona want, just ask them.

Our summer teen interns, who are now back at SRRHS running The Sting newspaper, are still a great resource for me and my staff.

Every Wednesday night for the last four years, I head to Flagstaff for the weekly FlagSlam Poetry Slam. For the last six months, I have carpooled up with two poets who are recent SRRHS graduates. It’s 42 minutes from my West Sedona driveway to the Flagstaff venue and on the drive, we talk about national news, local gossip and events back home in Sedona. Many of their peers are still in high school.

In mentioning Gibson’s column, my female poet agreed that there is nothing for teens to do after 9 p.m. There are no late-night all-ages venues — no restaurants, coffeehouses, recreation centers nor video game arcades. She volunteered to work at an arcade, should one exist.

“I’ll hand out coins to kids,” she said. “I’ll even wear an apron.”

In all her years in Sedona, my female poet had never once set foot in the Sedona Teen Center, while my male poet said he had gone a few times when he was 13 or 14. Now 18, he hasn’t been there in years.

The Sedona YMCA, which now runs many events there, is making efforts to bring in teens, but the fact remains that the city built the Sedona Teen Center miles away from the high school and many local teens don’t have their own cars.

Years ago, the Sedona Child and Youth Commission had teenage members who brought forward many of the same issues and complaints Gibson mentioned and which I hear on my Wednesday drives. City Council killed the Youth Commission in 2006 and has not replaced it with any means to hear their concerns.

If city staff and Sedona City Council want to learn what Sedona’s teenagers want and need to stay busy and entertained — and maybe prevent drug abuse, underage drinking and wild parties in the process — why not ask Sedona’s teenagers? Ask them on the street, in classrooms or at school events or even a school assembly. They know better than any adult ever will.

Christopher Fox Graham

Managing Editor

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