NEO prepares to open new adult education facility

PORTAGE — For nearly four decades the classrooms at the Portage Adult Education Center on Central Avenue were filled with students taking a second chance.

Thursday, there was a stray desk here, a few boxes there, all ready for the move from the nearly century-old building to a new facility across town.

When students return to New Vistas High School Sept. 6 and others seek out adult and continuing education opportunities, they’ll be going to a new facility. Neighbors’ Educational Opportunities has recently completed the first phase of the renovation of the former Camelot Bowling Lanes on U.S. 6 for its new adult education center and adult high school

“We had all the teachers box things up in June,” said Rebecca Reiner, NEO executive director, adding since then, it’s been sorting and packing what will go to the new facility. Students and staff also had a rummage sale to get rid of extras. By today, they hoped to have all the furnishings moved to the new building.

NEO will host a ribbon cutting and open house at the new building beginning at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

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    Assistant Director Paula Siminski, a longtime teacher, said at first the idea of moving the facility was bittersweet, but she’s now looking forward to the potential the new facility will bring.

    “We have a lot of good memories of the place. We’ll leave behind a lot of good memories, but this is a good move,” Siminski said.

    “The potential of the new place is exciting. It is an affirmation of what we told our students all along, that they matter,” Reiner said.

    Renovations began at the new building only four months ago. They’ve completed renovating 35,000 of the available 70,000-square-foot building.

    “The rest is a blank canvass that will be filled with what the community and business wants. We hope to make it a really community hub for adult and continuing education,” Reiner said.