PATERSON, NJ – It’s been said that clothes make the man.

And while this old adage may take on different meanings to different generations, there is no doubt that for teenagers image is a priority. When a teenager doesn’t have clean clothes, it’s a problem that can keep a high school student from coming to school. 

But now, through a joint effort between Paterson Public Schools and the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC),  students at the John F. Kennedy Educational Complex have an alternative to sitting out school days thanks to two washers and two dryers that have been installed at the school and made available for students to use.

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Alleviating chronic absenteeism has long been a priority for Superintendent Eileen Shafer who celebrated the partnership that made the new facilities available, free of charge, to students at JFK. 

“When a needs assessment indicated that more students would come to school more consistently if they simply had an easier and more economical way to clean their clothes, we knew what we had to do,” Shafer said.

The washers and dryers were purchased and installed as part of the districts $2.5 million Full Service Community Schools (FSCS) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. That funding, also awarded to School No. 2, according to Michael Hill, principal of operations at the JFK complex allows schools officials, in partnership with NJCDC, “meet the needs of our students so that they can succeed in school.”

Other programs and services provided by Paterson’s seven FSCS include: in-school health clinic with medical, dental and mental health services; in-school academic assistance; afterschool and summer programs inclusive of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and performing and visual arts; programs to support our students’ transition to elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education.

“The laundry room at the John F. Kennedy Educational Complex is set up to be almost like a laundromat, with folding areas and lockers to store their laundry during the school day” said Nicole Sweeney, who works for the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) and has been the FSCS site coordinator since April 1. “The students’ use of the facilities indicates that we are fulfilling a need for our students, and that makes it easier for them to attend school.”  

Students can use the laundry facilities to wash and dry school uniforms and undergarments by making an appointment between 3:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m., Monday through Friday. Four appointments are available per day with up to 60 minutes allotted per appointment. Students do not pay for detergent or any other laundry necessities.


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