PATERSON, NJ- The Wildcats roared in Paterson on Wednesday. After moving facilities four times in six years, and increasing enrollment to nearly 700 students, the ribbon was officially cut on the former warehouse turned Paterson Arts and Science Charter School in front of several hundred students, staff, and guests.
Recalling leaky roofs, a growing student body, and red tape they have encountered Danny Necimo, the school’s director, said that “the challenges and obstacles we faced are unforgettable.” Still, it was all worth it he said as now they have “a place to call home.”
Nihat Guvercin, CEO of iLearn Schools, the charter management organization (CMO) behind Paterson Arts and Science Charter School told the audience that “without quality public schools we can’t think about the future.” This, he said, is the driving force behind the CMO’s efforts to continue to make sure that top quality public education is available to all children.
The CMO, according to Guvercin, currently has an enrollment of 3500 students in four charters spread out over nine campuses in Passaic, Bergen and Hudson counties.
Choosing Wednesday’s ribbon cutting as her first public appearance since being sworn in earlier this week, Paterson Mayor Jane Williams-Warren said that “investment in human capital is the wisest investment of all.” Offering her belief that among the students gathered today was a future mayor she added “when we invest in our children we invest in our city.”
Believing that the new building offers “more opportunities to learn,” Esperanza Angon, the mother of a sixth grade student at the school, praised the efforts of all involved in getting to this day. Her daughter’s grades, she reported, have gone up in since enrolling in the Paterson Arts and Science Charter School, something Angon attributes to the fact that “the teachers are really interested in our children’s learning, and they want the parent involved in that.”
Amidst all of the speeches during the program, it was inarguably the fifth grade students taking to the stage to sign Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” that made the event.
“In this school we don’t stop believing what we can do together,” said student Alex Rodriguez when asked about the meaning behind the song. “We just keep trying.”