With an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, Hoboken Charter School has opened its brand new high school at 711 Washington St.
The new school marks the completion of a decades-long effort to have one permanent campus for the Hoboken Charter School’s K-12 program. Until now, the upper school was downtown at 360 First St, while the lower and middle school is housed at 713 Washington St.
The upper school will now be in the newly renovated four-story former residential property neighboring the lower and middle school.
“It’s a thrilling moment to finally and fully realize two key aspects of our original vision for the Hoboken Charter School,” said Mark Silberberg, one of the founders of Hoboken Charter School. “The first is the creation of a single campus for the K-12 community. The second is a mission-aligned learning space for our high school students. We have always believed in the power of a multi-age learning community, and now all of our students and teachers will benefit from the hard work and dedication that has gone into realizing this dream.”
A long time in the making
Getting to one unified campus hasn’t been without its hurdles.
In 2012, a devastating fire swept through the lower and middle school at 713 Washington St. building during the second day of the school year, severely damaging the building and causing students to relocate temporarily to Jersey City.
The virtual gutting of and renovation of the building was stalled by Hurricane Sandy which caused catastrophic flooding in Hoboken.
But through community donations and some sweat equity from residents and businesses the school was reopened about a year later.
Hoboken Charter’s high school was forced to relocate multiple times when its lease was not renewed.
The unified campus became a reality after The Friends of Hoboken Charter School, a 501 (c)(3) that raises funds and supports activities for the Hoboken Charter School and its students, purchased 711 Washington St.
In August 2019, the nonprofit began renovating and converting the building into a school.
The project, which was carried out with input from the Historical Commission, the Zoning Board of Adjustment and community leaders, included preserving the building’s original façade and connecting it to the lower and middle school through glass-enclosed bridges and a cantilevered external stair system.
Hoboken Charter High School offers six classrooms on four floors, access to an outdoor roof deck and courtyard, and a large space for community meetings.
Lower, middle, and high school students enter their respective buildings through separate entrances down the main campus alleyway.
“Hoboken Charter School provides a thirteen-year mission-driven experience through which students engage in learning experiences, grounded in principles of social justice education and service-learning,” said school Director Deirdra Grode. “With the opening of this modern shared campus, the transition from one division to the next will be more fluid allowing for deeper learning, and our ability to engage all of our students in rich and meaningful inter-age experiences will be enhanced.
“We designed the new upper school space to enhance personalized and active learning opportunities as we prepare our students to bring who they are to the program, find their areas of passion and depart HCS with a commitment and the skills to be agents of powerful change in their community and the world.”
Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla joined administrators and students from Hoboken Charter School for the ribbon cutting.
“I am so happy to see this vibrant public high school program finally have permanent space to continue to fulfill its mission of social justice and service-learning,” said Bhalla. “Over the past years, I have personally seen the benefit HCS Upper School has brought to the community in providing a small, personalized program with a unique mission.
“I have particularly enjoyed the art installations students have created for display in city hall over the years that provoke thought and action around social justice issues and their leadership in their annual March on Washington Street. I expect to continue to see great things from this little yet mighty mission-driven school in its new K-12 campus.”
To learn more about the Hoboken Charter School go to http://www.hobokencs.org/www/