(reprinted with permission - copyright Independent Coast Observer 2016)

“The Arena Tech Center fits in great with the project based learning, focus brought about by the Point Arena High School’s adoption of the New Tech Network, and we are working with teachers and the administration to bring more project based learning opportunities for students to complete their work in a mentor-based, after school setting,” Blake More, Director of the Arena Tech Center, told the ICO this week.
The Arena Tech Center, also known as ATC, was founded in 2004 by More and Christian “Cybirk” Birk to be a multi-ethnic youth media literacy assistance center, with a mission to help youth, parents, small businesses, local nonprofits and community members gain technologic skills, training and assistance.
ATC is a subsidiary of Point Arena Schools, where it receives most of its funding. The center is open to students and people who need high-speed internet access or technological assistance Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., at 185 Lake Street, in the rear building of South Coast High School, across the street from Point Arena High School.
The center is run by co-founder and Director More, Technology Director Brendan Mobert and John Bove. More specializes in graphic design, web, video and audio — generally Mac based. Mobert’s focus is on computer science technology, hardware and software — specifically open source. Bove is a graduate of Point Arena High School who has grown up with technology. He teaches a Mindcraft class for elementary students and helps people with both Mac and Windows needs.
More said financial resources for the center, besides from Point Arena Schools, comes from the California Arts Council, which supports her teacher training, the Community Foundation of Mendocino County, which purchased a block of new computers for the center two years ago, and Andy Lang of Mac Link, Inc., who donates used computers.
“I love the Tech Center,” said Mobert. The ATC is exceedingly important, he said, and he would like more people to come and avail themselves of the possibilities of the ATC.
“The Arena Tech Center is an amazing resource for a small city like Point Arena,” said Point Arena resident Ellen Rosser. She described the ATC staff as having excellent technical skills and being able to help the technically inept, like herself. “It is a real blessing to have such competent people there to help us and to work with the students,” she added.
High school junior Clayton Bean, 16, does not have internet access at home and comes to the ATC to do his homework, to play games, to watch YouTube videos and prepare for college. Bean is interested in the medical aspects of biomedical engineering and may go to the University of Berkeley. “I hope to get a scholarship if I can find one that interests me,” Bean said.
Charlie Mitchell, a seventh-grade student at Pacific Charter School in Point Arena, does not have internet access at home and hangs out at the center after school. Mitchell does homework there in spelling, math, science, Social Studies and “everything.” He likes Mobert, in particular, because he is funny and helpful. When asked if improvements were necessary for the center, he said “Improved? I don't think it could be improved.”


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