She works 25 hours a week at a retail store in Vineyard Haven. And she's doing her best to plow through a thousand pages of Anna Karenina in time for advanced placement English class, which starts just over a week from now.

But that's only the chore list for summer. The rest of the time, this 16-year-old Islander would much rather head to South Beach by day or Circuit avenue by night.

Summer for many Island teenagers is a tug-of-war between work and fun. They want money for new bikes and used cars, but they also crave those hours off the time-clock when they can join what looks to them like one never-ending party - the Vineyard summer scene.

"It's like one big weekend here in summer," says the girl.

By all appearances, teenagers flock to Oak Bluffs for that scene, lured by video games at The Game Room and Teen Night at The Atlantic Connection, a weekly event when the nightclub opens up to 13 to 18-year-olds who pay $10 to dance and socialize until closing time at 11:30 p.m.

Inside, the place is teeming with young people. The official count on a Monday night a few weeks back was 235.

Most are in the younger bracket, between 13 and 15 years old, according to the consensus of the kids who go in and the adults who are paying attention.

"Younger kids are enthralled with everything happening on Circuit avenue," says Amy Lilavois, a counselor at Island Counseling, an agency of Community Services. "By the time they're juniors and seniors, they're not hanging out on the streets anymore. They move to home parties."

For those who haven't witnessed young teens on a dance floor in a while, the experience can be an eye-opener. A style of dancing called grinding is commonplace. Essentially, a boy stands behind a girl and gyrates against her buttocks.

The music is almost entirely rap, and the lyrics would no doubt warrant parental advisories on the cellophane packaging. "Lick it now, lick it good, lick it like you should," goes the refrain to one tune.

"I'm just amazed by what these kids listen to," says Michael Santoro, manager at the Atlantic Connection.

Mr. Santoro sat down with Oak Bluffs police chief Joseph Carter to draft rules for Teen Night, which are now posted right by the door. Kids with weapons, drugs or alcohol will be kicked out. Fighting, profanity and any type of sexual behavior are also grounds for expulsion. Once you leave, for any reason, you can't get back in.

But what worries Ms. Lilavois more is the wide age range inside the club. "It's great that Teen Night is happening, but the mixing of the young with the really older kids makes me nervous," she says.

One of the security staff manning the door, Cory Cabral, says some of the older kids want to get in because there's no place else for them to go until they turn 21.

"There are probably a few kids in there who are 19," he admits.

But Teen Night is also virtually the only place where young people can go to practice moves they learned in hip hop dance class or to show off their musical knowledge, spinning their vinyl and CD collections in the deejay booth.

Not every teen is piling into the Atlantic Connection. Some are happy just to be on the streets at night. As one 18-year-old woman puts it, "On a typical night, I wait 'til bar closing and see what's going on. That's the beginning of the night from there on."

Others freely concede that their goal is to link up with someone old enough to obtain alcohol.

"It's easier to get drugs during the summer and easier to get alcohol," says a teenaged girl, 16. "You meet a lot of guys who are older from off-Island. Being a girl, my friend and I are just walking down the street on Circuit avenue, a guy will think you're older than you are. You ask them to go get liquor, and they do it just so they can hang out with you."

Police are trying to foil that practice. In Oak Bluffs, for example, police run undercover stings aimed at catching people buying alcohol for underaged drinkers. But they can't close all the holes, and the dangers are obvious.

"The younger kids mixing with the older ones from off-Island are introduced to all these things - drugs, alcohol and sex - things that are really risky," says Ms. Lilavois.

"Most girls I know are on the pill," says the 16-year-old. But she adds that she was frightened to find out that a friend suspected she had recently been given a date rape drug Rohypnol, known as a roofie. "She had to go to the hospital," she says. "She couldn't remember anything."

The streets aren't the only place Island teens are meeting up with older people. The workplace, particularly the food service industry, is also an ideal setting.

A 15-year-old boy from Edgartown who buses tables at Lola's Restaurant from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. says, "I'm the youngest one there. It's really fun."

Then he smiles and looks down, adding, "It's a new experience."

Island teens are most likely working alongside college students, and they're often invited to parties, says high school guidance counselor John Fiorito.

"These kids are living in a college environment, and I don't know if they can handle it," says Mr. Fiorito.

But there's not always a downside to mixing with older co-workers. Says another 15-year-old from Edgartown who works at the Quarterdeck Restaurant, "They're college students, and they're like my family. A lot of them are foreign from Bulgaria. We've become pretty good friends."

The teen works the counter at this take-out joint almost 40 hours a week, and he likes his job. "A lot of people in restaurants get uptight really easily, but we have time to joke around here and laugh," he says.

The money's not bad either. He saves the $250 weekly paycheck and spends the tip money - between $50 and $60 a week - on something he really wants. This summer, it was a mountain bike.

His buddy, who works at Lola's and at the Dock Street Coffee Shop, is logging close to 50 hours a week between the two jobs. "I didn't cash a check. If I have cash, I end up spending it," he says. "I started with $12 in the bank. Next week, I'll be breaking $3,000. I gotta get a car, and I gotta go to college."

But are teens working too much? "Some of them come back to school completely wiped out," says Mr. Fiorito.

Child labor laws are supposed to keep 14 and 15-year-olds from working more than 40 hours a week, eight hours a day or past 9 p.m. For 16 and 17-year-old, the limit is 48 hours a week and nine hours a day.

Hardly anyone is abiding by the laws that require teenagers to apply for work permits at the school superintendent's office. This year, the school office has processed fewer than 50 permits.

But work can also keep some teenagers out of trouble. "I'd get drunk every night if I didn't have to work," says the 16-year-old girl who still needs to finish reading her Tolstoy.

Drugs and alcohol figure heavily in an Island teenager's summer, even if they're not partaking. In surveys over the last three years, the Vineyard teenagers have reported higher rates of drinking alcohol, drunk driving and marijuana use than their peers in the rest of the state.

School leaders have blamed some of that behavior on life lived in a resort community where the party culture is so dominant. But not all teens are sucked into the scene of drugs and alcohol.

"Some people do it, and others don't," says a 15-year-old boy. "I've been offered it many times, but I don't like to be around my friends when they're doing these things."