EARLY LOOK

Of­fi­cials get a glimpse in­side the new Tren­ton Cen­tral High School that opens fall of 2019 >>

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - FRONT PAGE - By Su­laiman Ab­dur-Rah­man Su­laiman@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @sab­durr on Twit­ter

TREN­TON » The new Tren­ton Cen­tral High School be­ing con­structed on Cham­bers Street is go­ing to be so nice it may help re­duce the cap­i­tal city’s long­stand­ing chronic ab­sen­teeism prob­lem, said Tren­ton Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Pres­i­dent Gene Bouie.

“This is in­cred­i­ble, so wor­thy of the chil­dren,” Bouie said Fri­day as he toured the new TCHS con­struc­tion site along­side ed­u­ca­tion lead­ers and City Hall of­fi­cials. “They are go­ing to want to come to school. This is gen­er­a­tional trans­for­ma­tion.”

The Tren­ton school board in Oc­to­ber 2014 voted to de­mol­ish Tren­ton Cen­tral High School. The orig­i­nal fa­cil­ity, which opened in 1932, was torn down in a slow, piece­meal fash­ion in 2015 and 2016 as of­fi­cials like for­mer State Assem­bly­man Reed Gus­ciora pushed for­mer Gov. Chris Christie’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to make a mean­ing­ful in­vest­ment in Tren­ton’s crum­bling schools in­fra­struc­ture.

“It was dis­gust­ing,” Gus­ciora, now serv­ing as Tren­ton’s newly elected mayor, said Fri­day of the orig­i­nal TCHS. He was specif­i­cally talk­ing about the old base­ment cafe­te­ria, which was of­ten called “the mold room” be­cause it had fungi­in­fested walls. “It was re­ally de­press­ing to be there,” the mayor said.

The orig­i­nal TCHS was no­to­ri­ous for mold, leak­ing roofs and crum­bling walls, a text­book ex­am­ple of what hap­pens when pub­lic of­fi­cials fail to prop­erly main­tain pub­lic prop­er­ties over the long haul. The new high school, slated to open in Septem­ber 2019, is “go­ing to be a state-of-the-art learn­ing center,” Gus­ciora said Fri­day as he toured the con­struc­tion site.

The new TCHS will be a 374,000-square-foot fa­cil­ity de­signed to ed­u­cate 1,900 stu­dents in grades 10 through 12, ac­cord­ing to the New Jersey Schools De­vel­op­ment Author­ity, which hosted Fri­day’s guided tour of the con­struc­tion site.

The new school will boast a va­ri­ety of ameni­ties, in­clud­ing a swim­ming pool, dance stu­dio, weight room, me­dia center and full-stage au­di­to­rium with a bal­cony level, in ad­di­tion to a plethora of ed­u­ca­tional labs ded­i­cated to sci­ence, culi­nary arts and other ar­eas com­ple­ment­ing a holis­tic cur­ricu­lum.

“It’s great to have a new, shiny build­ing,” Tren­ton Pub­lic Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Dr. Fred McDow­ell said Fri­day, “but if noth­ing changes, it’s just a shiny build­ing.”

McDow­ell said he is fo­cused on pro­vid­ing stu­dents with an ed­u­ca­tion that builds work­force skills and pre­pares them for col­lege. “This re­quires us to teach dif­fer­ently,” he said. “When you give chil­dren choices, they are more suc­cess­ful.”

Lizette Del­gado-Polanco, who re­cently be­came the new CEO of the Schools De­vel­op­ment Author­ity af­ter Gov. Phil Mur­phy ousted for­mer SDA CEO Charles McKenna, also toured the new TCHS con­struc­tion site on Fri­day.

“We are very proud to be part of this his­toric mo­ment, which is this school,” Del­gado-Polanco told the group at the end of the tour. “This is a team ef­fort, and it is all worth it for the stu­dents.”

The school’s swim­ming pool will be 25 me­ters — smaller than Olympic-sized — and will fea­ture six lanes and a max­i­mum depth of 15 feet to eas­ily ac­com­mo­date div­ing on the deep end, ac­cord­ing to Thomas Schrum, SDA’s manag­ing di­rec­tor of pro­gram oper­a­tions. “I’m sure many chil­dren will learn how to swim here,” he said, “which is a won­der­ful thing.”

Funded by the SDA, the new TCHS is be­ing built on the same par­cel of land where the orig­i­nal high school once stood. The to­tal es­ti­mated cost of the project is es­ti­mated to ex­ceed $155 mil­lion.

SU­LAIMAN AB­DUR-RAH­MAN — THE TREN­TO­NIAN

Tren­ton Mayor Reed Gus­ciora (center) tours the new Tren­ton Cen­tral High School con­struc­tion site along­side the New Jersey Schools De­vel­op­ment Author­ity Manag­ing Di­rec­tor Thomas Schrum (right) on Fri­day.

The New Jersey Schools De­vel­op­ment Author­ity guides com­mu­nity mem­bers on a tour of the new Tren­ton Cen­tral High School build­ing.

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