PLAINFIELD, NJ - Plainfield School District Superintendent, Anna Belin-Pyles and the Plainfield Board of Education presented a ribbon-cutting event on Tuesday evening, Oct. 29, providing members of the Plainfield community an opportunity to witness the state-of-the-art science laboratories and prep-rooms; 16 spaces in all. 

Two years ago, the school unveiled the new, highly impressive media center.  Like the media center, the recent completion of the renovated science labs, a $2 million project, greatly supports the district’s mantra, which includes the statement, “...whatever it takes for every student to achieve high academic standards…No alibis! No excuses! No Exception!  

Beaming throughout the event, Plainfield Board of Education Superintendent Belin-Pyles, and Plainfield High School Principal, Otis Brown, Jr, spoke passionately about the new science laboratory project and how it will impact the Plainfield High School students.  It was appropriate that these two leaders, along with the nine other School Board members would have a lot to be proud of.  The labs are top-notch, and most agreed that other districts would be envious.  Although, it was a full board initiative, three of the board members, Dorien Hurtt, Jameelah Surgeon, and Alex O. Edache were given the chance to “run” with the project. 

With echoes of awe and expressions of admiration, the students, parents, board members, and city officials who attended seemed genuinely thrilled about the renovation.  Nothing could have been more demonstrative of the approval than the exhilaration of two Plainfield High students, Brittney Adams and Chelsee Sutton.  The two students had just completed one of their extra-curricular practices and entered the event admitting that they had not yet seen the labs.  Upon entering Mr. Worobetz’s biology lab, room # 252, Adams and Sutton gasped with excitement and sat at the new hydraulic tables and began to look through the new microscopes.  “The labs are so…nice...and wow…filled with a lot of equipment,” expressed Adams.  “You can tell that it’s a science lab,” Adams said, looking around in admiration.  When asked about her career path, Adams said she wants to be a military nurse.   “I need science,” she said. 

“I really do like science,” articulated Chelsee Sutton, who wants to be a family counselor. Observing the room carefully and taking note of the neatly displayed science apparatuses, Sutton, stood poised and fully engaged in what she was seeing.  “You can see the things that we will actually be using,” Sutton said.  Both Sutton and Adams said they look forward to using the labs, and there are plenty of opportunities for them.  Plainfield High has a robust science curriculum, including, Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry, Forensic Science, Environmental Science, Physics and Robotics.  There are honors and AP classes, also.

The renovation is a big step towards achieving the district’s goal of moving the Plainfield High School infrastructure into the 21st Century. A photo of the previous labs showed scruffy tables that looked more like the basement wood shop of the 1960’s.  “The science labs hadn’t been touched in 42 years,” said Gary Ottmann, Plainfield School District, business administrator. Seemingly, the district is making every attempt to spend the tax payer’s money wisely.  Superintendent Belin-Pyles spoke about how the various projects rolled out.  Endeavoring to place the projects in proper order, “We knew that, next…we needed the science labs to be updated,” Belin Pyles said.  During previous district-funded projects, the original boilers were replaced, new windows and exterior doors were added.  “We wanted” the facility to be “energy efficient,” said Ottmann. 

Expressing what has become a national sentiment, School board President, Wilma Campbell said, “We recognized that we don’t need to continue to out-source our science and technology jobs to other countries. It’s a way to help empower our children’s economic futures,” she continued.

District Superintendent, Anna Belin-Pyles compared the new media center to that of “college level” in many respects. An attendee of the event agreed, exclaiming during the tour, “No one would know this school has so much.” 

Highly sought after, architectural firm, Johnson Jones, of Princeton and Newark, NJ, who designed the science labs, was on-hand to share in the celebration. The well-appointed science labs and preparation rooms feature numerous, Cardinal red hydraulic lab tables…computer ready.  There are also plenty of work stations, top-notch microscopes, sleek cabinetry with glass views and beautiful counter-top surfaces, digital powered video screens, LED energy efficient lighting, and of course, additional tasteful punches of Plainfield Cardinal red inspirations throughout.   

Kirk-Dean Scarlett, Architect of Johnson Jones had a big hand in the project’s end result.  Speaking about his motivation for the project, Scarlett said, “Part of the approach…was trying to get what was newest and most affordable, economically. We had to look at accessibility, taking into consideration how technology is changing, and…try to work with school colors, and creative designs that would allow a fun educational experience for the students,” said Scarlett.  Johnson Jones has designed projects for a number of New Jersey school districts, including, Trenton, Elizabeth and Plainfield.  The firm has a rich history, dating back to 1969, of designing schools, churches, libraries, and a vast array of other types of structures.