Today’s news:

Laurelton cyber center opens to student praise

Students in Laurelton celebrated the opening of their public library’s new cyber center Monday and took a class on how to create their own web page.

Many community events were canceled in the days following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, but City Councilwoman Juanita Watkins (D-Laurelton) pushed to keep the grand opening of the new center on time.

“Our children have to know we have confidence and faith in the future,” Watkins said.

Sixteen middle school and high school students attended the event, which preceded their first web design class in the new center.

Reginald Coupet, a 10th grader at Springfield Gardens High School, said he was looking forward to using the new center.

“At home I don’t have this type of access,” Coupet said of the Internet “and I live so close by.”

IS 59 students Chudney Williams and Glendom Lewis were also anxious to get online.

“I’m excited because I hope they work faster, so that when I do my research projects and everything it will be easier,” Lewis said of the new computers.

The 16 new computers feature the library’s catalog, research tools, word processing and spreadsheet software in addition to Internet access.

The cyber center is open to the public and no library card is required. All services, including youth computer classes, are free.

“This is something we hope will change the lives of kids and teens in this neighborhood,” said Gary Strong, director of the Queens Borough Public Library.

The center marks the first phase of a $1.2 million renovation of the library. Other projects include improving access for persons with disabilities.

Watkins secured the city funds needed for the renovations and donated a few books to the library, including a children’s book written by one of her staff members, Lynette Velasco, a Springfield Gardens native.

“Any of you who aspire to be an author can do the same thing,” Watkins told the young people in the audience.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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