Teenagers in Hudson County have a new place to go to high school, as the new High Tech High School opened in Secaucus on Wednesday, Sept. 5, with a ceremony on Friday, Sept. 7. High Tech was moved this year from North Bergen to Secaucus.
At a ceremony that Friday, officials dedicated the campus that houses High Tech to the outgoing superintendent for the Hudson County Schools of Technology, Frank J. Gargiulo.
Gargiulo oversaw the various schools that make up the HCST. He is also North Bergen’s DPW commissioner.
The new $160 million, 350,000 square foot Frank J. Gargiulo Campus takes up 22 acres in town. It also includes the vocational KAS Prep program and Hudson Technical, a post-secondary certification program.
The new campus is located next to Laurel Hill Park and near the Secaucus Junction NJ Transit train station.
High Tech High School is one of the most competitive magnet high schools in New Jersey, attracting students across the county.
The campus is divided into three wings. The first is the performance art wing, featuring three floors with recording and dance studios, music and TV production, and broadcasting. Soundproof studios are also available.
The second wing is the science wing, which spans two floors, featuring environmental and bio medical science.
The third wing is the Design and Fabrication wing.
Students enter through a bulletproof glass vestibule, where they encounter a video wall featuring a wayfinder navigation system. allowing them to find their way around the massive building.
According to the HCST, it can take some time to get from one side of the campus to another.
Other amenities include charging stations for handheld and electronic devices, a 360-seat performance theater that officials say will “rival” anything Broadway has to offer, weight and Crossfit training rooms, and 12 science labs.
Future plans call for a partnership with the Hudson County Community College and other institutions.
“What do you say when they put your own name on a building?” – Frank Gargiulo
Gargiulo, who is retiring from the superintendent position he first took in 1990, was awestruck at the honor.
“I’ve been talking to my wife all week–what do you say when they put your own name on a building?” he asked.
But he sees the opening as more than just about himself.
“The building represents thousands of people. Just because my name’s on there, doesn’t mean that I am this building. It’s people that make the difference.”
Gargiulo is a former principal at the now defund St. Joseph’s High School in West New York. During Gargiulo’s HCST tenure, High tech and County Prep High Schools opened, along with Explore 2000 Middle School, the first vocational middle school in state history.
“This is a beautiful complex,” said Secaucus 2nd Ward Councilman James Clancy at the ceremony, reading a statement from Mayor Michael Gonnelli, as he was dealing with a family emergency and could not attend.
Clancy said to Gargiulo, “Your commitment to educators, administration, staff, students their families, and the rest of Hudson County has been evident for many years. Naming the building in your honor is most fitting.”
According to HCST Board President Craig Guy, Gargiulo and county freeholders — who voted to approve the project and secure funding — had the idea for the new campus for at least the past 10 to 12 years.
“We can think of nothing better than to name this campus after Frank,” Guy said. He credited the Hudson County Freeholder Board for passing legislation that made the school a reality. The Hudson County Improvement Authority, which developed the project, was able to finish it “under budget and ahead of schedule,” Guy said.
Freeholder Chairman Anthony Vainieri has known the Gargiulo family since he was 5.
“We’ve been at each other’s houses; we hung out together; they were St. Joseph’s, I was Bruins [sports teams],” said Vainieri. “Mr. Gargiulo never forgot the children in his community. Look at what he has done.”
State Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco said he first met Gargiulo in 1984, during a run for county freeholder. He supported Gargiulo, who ultimately lost that race.
“Thank God we didn’t win,” Sacco said. “Frank would’ve gone off to become a freeholder and we wouldn’t be here today honoring him with a building. Things sometimes, the answer ‘No’ from God is better than the answer ‘Yes.’”
Sacco pushed for Gargiulo to become the superintendent when the position opened up.
“What a great day for the next generation of Hudson County residents, who are going to be able to reach for the stars and realize it as a result of the education they’re going to receive at the Frank J. Gargiulo Campus,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.
A flurry of officials also attended, including Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, Guttenberg Mayor Wayne Zitt, council members, West New York Commissioners Cosmo Cirillo and Margarita Guzman, county freeholders, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez, and County Executive Tom DeGise.
Hannington Dia can be reached at email@example.com