By Bill ArmstrongMarch 30, 2009
FORT RILEY, Kan. - A group of boys and girls gathered around a pool table March 17 at the Fort Riley Middle School and Teen Center in Building 5800 on Thomas Avenue. The pressure was on for 12-year-old Rhemsey Jeremie, who entered the spring break pool tournament with a determination to win.
"I feel that I'm going to be the last person standing," Rhemsey said. "I like to take on new challenges, see how different people play and adjust myself to it."
In his first game, Rhemsey confidently slid his cue behind his back to take a shot. He showed little expression as he sank ball after ball while playing his first opponent. Rhemsey watched as the boy he played against prematurely sank the eight-ball into a corner pocket.
"The prophecy came true," Rhemsey said to a friend. Noting the victory, Maureen Harter, teen center assistant director, marked Rhemsey's name in an advancing slot on a large sheet of paper nearby.
Rhemsey's luck faded later in the tournament, but he said he was glad the center had so many activities planned to keep him busy while school was out.
"I think it's pretty cool to have some competition," he said. His next challenge would be a late afternoon basketball tournament, he added.
A few yards down the hallway in a small classroom, four youth sat around a large table covered with paint jars, brushes and paper. Michelle Lynch, 12, examined everything on the table before picking up her paint brush.
"I like being creative," Michelle said. "They should make a sign for this art room that says 'Creative Island.' I don't know what I'm drawing until I get started doing it."
Across from her, Natalee Bridges dipped a shaped piece of foam in pink paint, then pressed the pattern against her sheet of paper to create a heart image.
"Today I'm going to try to make an array with different colors and patterns," Natalee, 12, said.
Events such as the two-day art tournament guaranteed there would be activities any kid would enjoy, she said.
"I'm an artistic person and my talent is art. I've been making a lot of pictures. What I like about the events here is they're fun and some are educational," Natalee said.
At the end of the table, Tasia Phillips used a chair instead of the table as her creative platform. She carefully glued thin wooden letters spelling her name across the top of a paper sheet.
"At the bottom, it's going to say 'Luck of the Irish.' My favorite thing to do is singing, but I like to do art, too," Tasia said. "They have all these different tournaments, and I think it's great for us because we have something to do."
Other events for kids during the March 16-20 break included tournaments for ping pong, indoor soccer, dodge ball, volley ball and video games.