Urban oasis for Union City
High school breaks ground for Student Sanctuary
by Gennarose Pope
Reporter Staff Writer
Nov 06, 2011 | 7050 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
UC High School Principal John Bennetti, Superintendent Stanley Sanger, and Board of Education members break ground for the new Student Sanctuary.
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On such a chilly October Friday afternoon, it may have been hard to envision a plant-lined walkway, fountain, and waterfall that are planned for Union City High School’s Student Sanctuary, but school officials “broke ground” on Oct. 28 with gleaming shovels and began a project tentatively set for completion on June 15 of 2012.

Mayor Brian Stack was joined by the Board of Education to launch the $930,000 project funded by the state. The Student Sanctuary, which currently stands as a weedy, cordoned-off 16,900 sq. ft. lot on the corner of Kennedy Blvd. and 24th Street, has already received a Gold Award from the Hudson County Planning Board.
“We feel that having this facility will further add to our academic enrichment that we have been working so hard to achieve.” –Jowkuell Arias
The sanctuary not only promises to provide students with trees and plants, a rain garden, and a small amphitheatre, but it marks the completion of the new Union City High School, which was selected almost a decade ago by the State of New Jersey as one of three “demonstration projects” for the state’s school construction program.

Outdoor ‘classroom’ is a breath of fresh air

Everyone who attended the ceremony agreed that the Student Sanctuary will provide a much-needed refuge for students and residents, helping beautify the urban surroundings.

UCHS Principal John Bennetti announced that the area will provide students with scientific, horticultural, and environmental research opportunities.

Superintendent Stanley Sanger said the sanctuary will serve as an outdoor extension to the school’s classrooms and “provide a tremendous opportunity and learning experience on so many different dimensions.” He thanked Mayor Stack for his “tireless efforts” in acquiring the state funding.

Stack said, “This is going to be a tremendous facility. It’s a beautiful addition to Union City.” He gave special thanks to the students of UCHS and the “great example that each of [them] set.”

Student Council President Jowkuell Arias, who is set to graduate in the top 10 percent of his class this year, told the audience that the sanctuary would bring the student body “a stronger sense of community and pride.”

He also mentioned that the school’s environmental and horticultural clubs were excited for the sanctuary’s opening.

“There are not many places in Union City where students can relax in an oasis after a stressful school day,” Jowkuell said. “It will make our school even more of a second home.”

The sanctuary was designed by Becica Associates L.L.C., Borst Landscape and Design, and Environmental Resolutions Inc.

Time capsule in the works for the opening of the sanctuary

UCHS Bilingual At-Risk Leader Chris Abbato believes the sanctuary will be a great asset to the school, and to the city. He is working with students to create a 100-year time capsule that will be buried somewhere on the property once it is completed.

The aim of the time capsule is to capture what life was like for UCHS high school students in the year 2011.

A capstone—with a wire attached to the capsule to keep it from being lost as the earth beneath it shifts over the next century—will be placed in the sanctuary, and a contest is currently being held to decide on its inscription.

Gennarose Pope may be reached at gpope@hudsonreporter.com/a>

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