In September 2018, 1,200 students will attend High Tech High School’s new campus at Laurel Hill County Park in Secaucus. The current facility in North Bergen is being sold and will no longer be used as the High Tech High School.
High Tech High is part of a system of countywide public magnet high schools that students from any Hudson County town can attend instead of the high school in their town. Generally they must apply for admission.
Board of Education members, officials, North Bergen and Secaucus mayors, and students from the current high school facility attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the future campus at Laurel Hill Park on Tuesday, May 17.
“I’m happy their using the money on future students.” – Bryanna Acosta, 17
Board Secretary Joseph Muniz said, “I look forward to a great facility to educate students for a better future.”
All of the same concentrations/majors will still be available in the new building, like culinary arts and media arts.
The new principal of Anna L. Klein School, Keith Petry, was on hand. He said, “Middle school students get to fill out an application to go to High Tech.”
“About 10 percent of our students from Guttenberg middle school went to High Tech last year,” Michelle Rosenberg, the superintendent of Guttenberg schools, said. Students in Guttenberg attend Anna L. Klein elementary school and then can attend high school in North Bergen or a school like High Tech High.
“You send us some great students, and you should be proud of it,” North Bergen Superintendent and Commissioner Frank Gargiulo said during his speech.
Lloyd Rosenberg, the president and CEO of the architectural company preparing the building, DMR Architects, said, “We’ve been planning this for years. We will finish and open in September 2018, because we’ve been working closely with Terminal Construction to ensure everything is done on schedule.” DMR Architects has worked on many Hudson County projects, like other High Tech High School projects, the North Bergen municipal court, and the Jersey City Urban Justice Center.
The school will cost approximately $160 million, and more than half was funded by the New Jersey Department of Education. Most of the rest will come from the sale of the North Bergen campus, which will be closed in 2018.
“This school acts as a teaching tool for a sophisticated, career preparation curriculum. They’ll have new vegetated rooms [for science], science labs, and more,” Megan Byers, the marketing coordinator of DMR Architects, said.
Gargiulo said during an interview, “This has been a 20-year project, and I’m excited to get it started, and put the shovel right in the ground. June 2018 it will be ready to move in.”
He added,”It’s an exciting time for the county, because it doesn’t get much opportunity for something as big as this, so we are blessed.” He thanked Mayor Gonnelli for having him in Secaucus.
Chef Peter Turro of the culinary arts program said, “All of these students are fabulous. They loaded the bus, assembled the food, ran, and plated. The day before, classes prepared the mincing and other food preparation. They pretty much ran a full catering job with us teachers in the background. They stepped up and took charge. All students did amazing. I’m going to miss the seniors.”
Seniors speak out
Senior Chloe Wiggins, 18, started in the culinary arts program her freshman year. She’s going to a five-year program at Marywood University in Pennsylvania to one day become a dietitian. “The move is well needed. Our schools are great on the inside, but on the outside…” she said, “we need more windows.”
She added, “I’ve seen the new set-up and there are more windows and a better kitchen.” She said she’s a little jealous of it, “There’s going to be a whole nut kitchen, so we can finally work with more nuts. So many recipes have nuts, and so many people are allergic to nuts.”
Current students said this was the first year they had some facts about the new building. Juniors Lisa Romero, 17 and Bryanna Acosta, 17 said they had heard rumors since freshman year.
“The kitchen is supposed to be huge. They need a lot of space. I heard the buildings might be separated by majors too,” Lisa Romero said. “I’m slightly jealous, because I want to be a part of it, but I’m excited for the new students.”
Different wings of the building are considered “self-containing,” meaning students in certain majors can find everything they need in certain wings.
“I’m happy their using the money on future students and not something irrelevant,” Acosta said.
Senior Nathaniel Mateo, 18, said, “I figured out last year it was going to be here. I’m excited for students to have a bigger and better school. If I could tell them one thing before they go, it’d be to have fun because high school is going to be an experience. You’ll learn to balance your life with your schedule and classes, but still have fun.”
Senior Brianna Kelly, 18 said, “They’ll have one main building that’s sports-based. We don’t have sports now, so people have to play for their town.”
Kelly added, “I have no idea what the new MAD [Media Arts Department] will be like, but I heard they’re getting new equipment and the soundstage is tripling in size.”
She added, “I saw the layout and I like that it’s built like a college. I got a full ride to Rutgers in New Brunswick, and I don’t know if I can tackle the big campus. I’m not going to be a part of the new building, but I’m excited for the new students.”
She said she loves the teachers she has. “Teachers and students work together to make big things happen. This is a place where grades doesn’t matter, its how you feel about the work you put out.”
Samantha Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .