198 students aged kindergarten through eighth grade returned to the school on Wednesday, located at 713 Washington Street, after a lengthy and expensive renovation period that in recent weeks involved work taking place literally around the clock.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer joined Executive Director Dierdra Grode and Student Body President Elizabeth Bondulich to cut the ribbon on the renovated building, which now boasts 40 percent more space due to two additional floors and a finished roof space that will ultimately be used for passive recreation and horticultural education.
“We lost a home on that day, but not our family,” said Bondulich. “And ash may have covered the halls, but it didn’t cover our hearts.”
Also joining the mayor and school representatives was Henry Gomez, Hewlett Packard’s chief marketing and communications officer. In the wake of the fire, Hoboken residents employed by Hewlett Packard (HP) had implored the company to assist in the recovery effort, and the company responded with a $425,000 technology grant which was used to purchase laptops and servers for the school.
“This was easy for HP because we could tell the community was fully behind the school’s efforts to recover,” he said. “When I was in school, technology meant a light bulb or a radio. Now it’s everything, and kids have to spend time with it and learn to use it so that they can do their best in the real world.”
The massive redevelopment, which required continued waivers from the city to allow construction to proceed throughout the night time and on weekends, was funded mainly through donations. The students forced out by the fire, who range in age from Kindergarten to eighth grade, spent the remainder of the year and the beginning of this year at a building in the Jersey City Heights formerly used by the St. Ann’s School.
Look for a full story on the school’s return to Hoboken in an upcoming Hoboken Reporter. – Dean DeChiaro