“A Safe Place to Hang Out and Have Fun:” St. Albans Free Library’s First Fridays Program

BFA students enjoy St. Albans Free Librarys First Friday event.
Photo credit: Penelope Noza

BFA students enjoy St. Albans Free Library’s First Friday event. Photo credit: Penelope Noza

Rachel Ledoux, Editor

Sept. 2 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Bellows Free Academy students gathered at the St. Albans Free Library for a night of trivia, nachos and video games. 

According to Becky Manahan, the Assistant Director and Youth Room Director of the St. Albans Free Library, this was the premier event for a series called “First Fridays,” a designated event each month where the library would be open late to allow teenagers to hang out. It would take place on the first Friday of every month, hence the name, and involve a different activity each month. This month’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?’” Manahan said.

Soon after, Manahan came up with the idea for the First Fridays series.

“I realized that there was really no place for [teenagers] to go hang out other than friends’ houses occasionally,” Manahan said. “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.

“We had some BFA alumni here to help man the door, and [the library staff] helped to set up for it,” Manahan said.

According to Manahan, 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,” Lillian Foisy (‘24), a member of the BFA-ers team, said.

Penelope Noza (’24) agreed with this.

“I’m really looking forward to the other events, especially more trivia,” Noza said. “BFA-ers for the win.”

While Manahan notes that 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. According to Manahan, the next event, “Mimmo’s and Magic,” will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on 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.”