NEO opens doors to new adult education facility

PORTAGE — Barbara Woodruff looked around the new Neighbors’ Educational Opportunities building and knew her husband would be pleased.

“I think he would have been thrilled and overwhelmed. He believed in this so much,” she said of her husband Ken, who founded the original adult education program in Portage in the 1960s and guided it for the next nearly three decades.

Barbara Woodruff was one of over 200 people who attended the ribbon cutting and open house of the new facility which will house New Vistas High School and NEO adult education programs.

“It has been a whirlwind to put it mildly, especially the last four months,” said NEO executive director Rebecca Reiner.

It was four months ago that NEO took possession of the old Camelot Bowling Lanes. Contractors completed extensive remodeling of half of the 70,000-square-foot facility to turn it into a school with classrooms, offices, performance area, cafeteria, child care room, community room and “the cavern” — 9,400 square feet of multipurpose area.

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    Remnants of the bowling alley remain in the school. The wooden lanes were saved and recreated into benches, which dot the hallways.

    Bob Marr, executive director for the office of charter schools at Ball State University, lauded the school and the community.

    “This serves the purpose of what charter schools are about,” said Marr, adding he was most impressed that those involved are teaching by leading.

    “What you have are young people with challenges. You all are teaching them by doing, dealing with challenges. You are people who are teaching young people by example,” Marr said.