Learning outdoors, among waterfalls
New UC High School sanctuary offers peaceful place for class, rest
by Christian Diaz
Reporter staff writer
Jun 09, 2013 | 5247 views | 1 1 comments | 204 204 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FUTURE PERFORMANCES – The newly built mini-amphitheater has faculty and students excited for potential future productions, meeting, and classes.
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An urban oasis has opened outside Union City High School on bustling Kennedy Boulevard. The 19-month-project has culminated in a ribbon cutting for the Student Sanctuary on Wednesday, May 22.

The Student Sanctuary is a landscaped pedestrian plaza located at the main entrance to Union City High School. Design teams from Becica Associates LLC, Borst Landscape and Design, and Environmental Resolutions, Inc. helped make the estimated $930,000 state funded project a reality.

The 17,000 square foot area offers students and teachers a change of scenery before, during, and after school. With features such as a small amphitheater, functioning waterfall, fountain, decorative brick paved walkways, patios, and over 100 different species of all season shrubs and grasses, the tranquil oasis stylishly contrasts with the urban surrounding.

“The Student Sanctuary is a fitting and unique addition to the new Union City High School,” Mayor Brian Stack said in a statement. “These beautiful gardens not only enhance the atmosphere of the high school and the surrounding neighborhood, but they provide a beautiful outdoor space for our students.”
“We can extend the classroom and make learning come alive” – Principal John Bennetti
The sanctuary is also a wireless environment with free wifi, allowing students and faculty to use their electronic equipment outside, whether it is for class work or leisure time. The area has in-ground speakers that provide additional sound to events hosted in its amphitheater.

“We can extend the classroom and make learning come alive,” said Principal John Bennetti. “It’s been a long time coming to see this built.”

Many of the faculty members have said they are looking into utilizing the sanctuary for environmental sciences classes and amphitheater for future performances.

The students in attendance were given a standing ovation for their contribution to the gardens. One student, Juan Vargas, was very appreciative.

“I used to stay home as long as I could before school because there was nothing to do. Now I can come to the sanctuary with my phone or computer early,” said Vargas.

“I am really excited to see if the teachers take us outside for classes now,” added Vargas. “Especially when it’s nice out!”

The sanctuary is also home to the high school’s 50 year time capsule. The capsule was buried on Dec. 18, 2012 and is scheduled to be opened in 50 years. The capsule was buried with items and memorabilia that represent Union City High School.

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June 11, 2013
I like to know whether this garden will be accessible to residents during non-school hours. It would be a shame to not have use of it, when school is not in session, this includes evenings during the summer.

There are so many facilities which should be accessible to residents, but like many places in Union City they are either under lock and key or only accessible to certain groups/organizations.