EAST ORANGE/ORANGE, NJ - Link Community Charter School, the charter school with the longest legacy in the state of New Jersey, has reached an important milestone in its history. The school is celebrating its 50th anniversary providing youth in Newark, East Orange, Orange, and Irvington with an outstanding middle school education that prepares them for competitive high schools and beyond as well as serving as a leader in the educational landscape, both locally and nationally.
Head of School Maria Pilar Paradiso states,” Link has been an amazing pioneer. Long before the charter school movement and discussions of the equity gap in education, Link took on the task of bridging the achievement and the opportunity gaps for urban youth through a low to no tuition model that relied on a generous community of donors; talented, committed teachers; a partnership with the Newark Public Schools, and a network of nonprofit partners to deliver an exemplary education and support the largest city in New Jersey. Link has created real change for scholars, for families and for Newark!”
Initially known as Project Link, the school was established by the Sisters of St. Dominic, Caldwell in 1969 as an act of social justice after the civil unrest that took place in Newark two years before. Their mission to provide a “safe haven” for under served youth in the city and they planned for a nurturing and academically sound school that would prepare students for success in life. The school transitioned to Link Community School with lay leadership in the 1990’s and then converted to a public charter school in 2014, continuing the Sister’s mission by ensuring educational equity and narrowing the achievement and opportunity gaps, so that Link scholars achieve and succeed. This is evidenced by the excellent growth in student standardized state scores since the school converted to charter and in the academic scholarships and financial aid Link students receive for high school. The Class of 2019 earned a record breaking $6.5 million for high school!
Link began its anniversary year with a special first day of school program for students and guests. Arriving to a building decked out with balloons, streamers, and banners in honor of the day, students and guests participated in a special Morning Circle that highlighted the history and the legacy of Link. Students formed a human timeline as they learned about the founding of Link, important events throughout Link’s life, and the impact of Link on the educational landscape, particularly the founding of NorthStar Academy (and the Uncommon Schools network) in Newark, the Denver School of Science and Technology network of schools in Denver, and Pride Academy Charter School in East Orange – all founded by former Link leaders and teachers who were inspired by their experiences at Link. Special guests included Link board members and a representative from the Newark Charter School Fund, who all joined in the morning’s festivities.
Link will continue to celebrate its anniversary throughout the school year, including a block party on Saturday, October 5, 2019 (https://linkedupartners.org/linkat50/), its annual fundraiser, A Taste of Newark at NJPAC on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 (www.tasteofnewark.org), and an alumni weekend in the spring of 2020.
About Link Community Charter School
Link is located at 23 Pennsylvania Avenue in Newark and currently serves 300 students in grades 5 through 8 from Newark, Irvington, Orange and East Orange. The mission of the school is to “provide an outstanding middle school education for learners of all academic abilities by developing the mind, body and spirit through a strong curriculum, experiential learning, immersion in the arts, and an enduring commitment to Core Values; this will allow them to be successful in competitive high schools and become responsible and resourceful citizens who give back to others.”