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"Third Space" offers a safe place for students at Flowing Wells High School

Posted at 1:30 AM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 08:27:22-05

TUCSON, Ariz.  — There's a special classroom at Flowing Wells High School that was recently renovated. It has a full kitchen, but its purpose goes far beyond cooking.

On this particular Tuesday morning it's casserole time for special education students part of the Independent Life Skills Program.

That includes 9th grader Jade who is on dish duty. Jade and her peers learn everything they need to know to succeed once they graduate.

“We learn how to sew, how to pay bills, how to do rent and check booking,” said ILS specialist Dempsey Dandos.

The modified classroom is called “Third Space” and it serves a dual purpose. The ILS program students learn how to live independently, and it's a place where everyone at the high school can grab food from the pantry for free. There are even laundry facilities.

For years teachers had been handing out food to those in need, said Principal Jim Brunenkent.

“First space is home, second space is school, third space is socializing,” Brunenkent said. “So the Old Pueblo Club built this room specifically for a safe space for kids to go after school. But also we were handing out a lot of food.”

As Brunenkent mentioned, the Old Pueblo Rotary Club stepped in to fund the pantry through a grant.

New appliances were put in over the summer, including a stove, dishwasher, and even laundry facilities for students.

As a way to introduce the school to “Third Space,” there was hot chocolate, baked goods and more given out during finals week.

The school says in one day more than 400 kids stopped by before school. They also handed out jackets and gloves.