WOODS CROSS, Utah (ABC4) – A new $500,000 teen resource center is now open at Woods Cross High School and its goal is to help students who need it most. According to the Davis Education Foundation, the Davis School District has 17,000 students who are facing food insecurity and 1,200 who are facing homelessness. The resource center at WXHS will give students access to basic necessities.   

After school let out for the day Tuesday, students, parents and community members met at Woods Cross High School to celebrate the grand opening of the school’s new teen resource center.   

“We raised around $150,000 which is a huge deal,” Student Body President Liam Henriksen told those in attendance. In total, the community brought in $500,000 for the project.   

“I’d just like to say how proud I am of our Woods Cross students who still try their best to come to school despite their challenging circumstances,” Henriksen stated. “They’re resilient, seriously, and they deserve all the help they can get.”  

The teen center is a stand-alone building behind the main campus at the school. Students who go to the center will have access to laundry facilities, a food pantry, private bathrooms and showers, as well as activities and tutoring. Most importantly, they will have access to adults who care.   

“Some of the students that we work with have had such hard lives, but they have so many people that care about them in this space,” Kabrie Smith told ABC4. Smith is one of those adults who will be there for students. As the Teen Resource Center Coordinator, she will make sure the center runs efficiently and meets all the needs of the students who seek help.  

“We really hope that students will use this place as a safe place for them to be themselves and to realize that they’re worth all the resources that we have,” Smith stated.  

The sad reality is that this center is needed. More than 1,000 students in the county face homelessness and Smith said many are currently living in cars. They don’t have regular access to things like showers, food, internet to do homework, etc.  

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of to come in and ask for help and we have students who bring a friend because they came in and had a positive experience and know that resources are here,” Jenica Whitworth explained. Whitworth is the Teen Center Supervisor for the district. The WXHS center is the sixth to open at a high school across the county. There are three more in the process of being funded and built. She explained that the centers have proven to be more successful than anyone could have imagined and it’s thanks to the students.  

She explained that teachers often don’t know about their students’ hardships because it is not something they openly share. However, students often know about their friends’ homelife and hardships. When one checks out the center and learns of all the services it offers, they usually share that will other friends in need.  

As inflation continues to impact families, Governor Spencer Cox is recommending $20 million for students experiencing homelessness in his 2024 budget. The Davis Education Foundation is a nonprofit and spearheads the development and fundraising for teen resource centers in the district. The foundation fully supports this idea.  

Davis Education Foundation Executive Director, Jodi Lunt, told ABC4 they hope to see teen resource centers in every school district from Cache County down to Washington County. While referring to the governor’s recommendation she added stated, “This would be an amazing day in Utah if every school could create a place, and a safe place, for our students.”