Area residents will have more opportunities to learn new skills, engage in physical activity and connect socially with other residents when the Herndon Community Center opens next month after its completion of $3.5 million in renovations.
In anticipation of its grand re-opening after more than a year of construction, the Herndon Community Center will be closed for "finishing touches" and cleaning on Aug. 21 before opening back up for classes and programs on Sept. 16.
"We want to communicate to the people who might have driven by and seen the construction and the parking lot and said, 'well I don't want to go there,' that we'll have a brand new facility and more parking," said Abby Kimble a marketing specialist with Herndon's Parks and Recreation Department.
In addition to a near 25 percent increase in total square footage, the Herndon Community Center will be offering about one third more classes than it was able to host last year, Kimble said.
"We're really excited not just because of the added size, but because it was made specifically with classes in mind," Kimble said. "We've had these same type of classes before, but now we've been able to expand what we can offer — and have a more conducive environment for students."
AMONG THE INCREASED number of programs will be the reintroduction of cooking classes in a brand new kitchen that was designed specifically for instructional purposes. Because of the construction, cooking classes were not offered last year.
"The kitchen has been redesigned with a cooking class in mind," Kimble said, "whereas before it was primarily for events — students will now have an area built with them in mind."
The new kitchen will get its first test as Sandy Amato returns for the first time since 2000 to teach nine different culinary classes ranging in subjects from "Better-Than-Takeout Pizza" to "Hearty Soups."
"In 2000, there wasn't anything wrong with the kitchen, it just was not very conducive to the learning process," Amato said. "With a kitchen that's been set up for not just the students but also the teachers — I think we're really going to have a whole brand new opportunity for people to learn about cooking."
ONE OF THE ADDITIONS to the center that had not been offered previously will be the new teen center, designed as a place for area youth to hang out, socialize and get some exercise.
"This is probably the most new and unique thing that we're offering," Kimble said. "It's mean to be something that's approachable for kids to get comfy, so they can have a place where they can come — right from school."
The new teen center will be equipped with computer, a wide screen television, a stereo system and video games and will be open to teen residents for an annual $15 fee, which includes open gym time and access to special activities.
While the Teen Center is geared for teenagers of all ages, Kimble said she expects that many Herndon Middle School students will find a place to hang out with the new addition.
OTHER EXPANDED ACTIVITIES at the community center include classes in adult dance, yoga, pilates and feldenkreis, an "awareness through movement group" to "help to ease chronic problems, minimize pain, enhance flexibility, balance and coordination." The classes will all be taught in new rooms designed for these purposes, Kimble said.
The Herndon Community Center will also be offering some fitness classes as part of its general admission fee during the fall, Kimble said. Classes include cardio kickboxing, total body conditioning and step and sculpt, a dual cardiovascular and strength-training workout.
The size and scope of the classes and activities scheduled for the newly remodeled community center is a great achievement for the town, Kimble added.
"The whole program is not common for a community our size," she said. "We're just excited to get everything opened and show our members all the new things we've added."