As many readers know, Hoboken Charter School’s K-8 building suffered a devastating fire on September 6, 2012 the 2nd day of the school year. A tremendous amount of energy was spent moving into this beautiful building two years ago, and we made a further long-term commitment to the site when we purchased it last year. So watching the smoke billow out of the windows was heartbreaking to so many.
Three weeks later, I write this letter not about sadness, but inspiration, immense appreciation and even amazement at our community’s response. Our appreciation started immediately with the tremendous competency of our staff who efficiently evacuated our children within one minute of the fire alarm. And then our brave firefighters streamed into the building to ensure that all were out of harm’s way and to limit damage. Seven firefighters were injured and we are so thankful they are back in action to protect Hoboken.
While the fire was still being battled, Mayor Dawn Zimmer, HHS Director Leo Pellegrini and OEM Coordinator Joel Mestre provided immediate and ongoing assistance. School Superintendent Mark Tobak and the Board of Education offered advice and some of the classroom space we would need to reopen. We are very grateful. Our friend Msgr. Robert Meyer of Saints Peter and Paul connected us with St. Anne's Parish in Jersey City Heights that owned a recently vacated school building. After careful consideration, we felt it was the right temporary location to keep our educational program at its strongest. The Mayor of Jersey City, Jeremiah Healey’s support and that of his team of safety officials who prioritized and expedited inspections – all in the interest of getting our children back to school – was greatly appreciated.
Final State approval was delivered quickly from the Department of Education when Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf and Hudson County Executive Superintendent Monica Tone exercised great efficiency on our behalf. After missing only 6 days of instruction we began class again in our new K-8 facility, 1.5 miles away in the Heights. Restoration of our educational services in such a short period of time was a tremendous feat, only possible with the pairing of an outstandingly dedicated school staff with effective community leadership and support. We thank you all.
Businesses, organizations, and individuals, too numerous to list here, mobilized to help replace supplies. The emotional and physical support is so dear to us and continues to roll in.
So this is not a story of loss, but a story of renewal. We have strengthened faith in our neighbors, in our community, the businesses that serve us, as well as our local and state leaders. This story of renewal will continue through next year, as we work towards returning home to Hoboken. The campaign of Rebuild HCS will be ongoing and we hope you follow our progress on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/RebuildHobokenCharterSchool. On behalf of our children and the school, let me express our heartfelt appreciation.
President, HCS Board of Trustees