ROSELLE – Space is at a premium at Abraham Clark High School, especially in the cafeteria during lunchtime. There aren’t enough seats to accommodate all of the students. So, last Wednesday, when a group of ACHS students from the Workforce Readiness Program unveiled the outdoor picnic area they designed and built, it was well-appreciated by the entire school community.
“These young men and women have created something that will be enjoyed by not only their peers, but by future generations of Abraham Clark High School students.” ACHS Principal Dr. Nathan Fisher said. “We are thankful to them and to all of the people, businesses and organizations who helped them along the way.”
The Three-Season Outdoor Space is a fenced-off picnic area in the corner of the ACHS parking lot on E. 7th Avenue. It holds six bright tables and four freshly-painted park benches: enough seating for about 60 students. A wooden stage in the corner overlooks the outdoor space, providing a scenic location for teachers to hold an outdoor class on a nice day or for student organizations to meet after school. Flowers and shrubs will be planted in the spring to provide the students with a garden setting.
The space was unveiled last Wednesday afternoon, in front of a crowd of 75 parents, teachers, students and community members. The project began in the fall of 2007, when the Workforce Readiness students and their teacher – Suzanne Sena, from the Trinitas School Based Youth Service Program at Abraham Clark High School – began brainstorming ways they could help improve their school.
They wanted a project they could take ownership of, so they could leave ACHS a better place when they graduated. They quickly narrowed a list of 20 projects down to one, the Three-Season Outdoor Space. After two years of raising funds, planning and building the space, it was finally ready to be unveiled last week.
The project taught the students to work together to accomplish a common objective. They had to organize fundraisers, solicit help from local businesses and make presentations in front of the Roselle Board of Education and Borough Council. Some of the roles they took on resemble job roles they may have in the future in fields such as architecture and marketing.
The students experienced delays along the way due to fundraising issues and scheduling conflicts, but the community pulled together to make the students’ vision of a better ACHS come true.
More than 20 organizations, businesses and people donated time and money to make the project possible. The largest monetary donations came from the Trinitas Health Foundation ($3,000 grant), ADP ($1,000 donation) and Home Depot ($1,000 donation). Several organizations donated time and services, such as J.A.M Maintenance, of Rahway, who built the stage for free.
“I’m very proud of what our Workforce Readiness students have achieved and I’m happy to see so many members of the community came out to support us,” Sena said.
Students and school community members cut the ribbon of the new Three-Season Outdoor Space at Abraham Clark High School on Dec. 16. Front row (from left to right): Priscilla Vientos, Daniela Espinosa, Danielle Guerrier, Brittany Woods-Turner, Councilman at Large Jamel Holley, Suzanne Sena, of the Trinitas School Based Youth Service Program, Ali Pintauro, of the Youth Service Program, Sherrill Curtis, of Work Force Readiness, Jacqueline Williams, Annalisa Hinds, Randy Clarke, Ryan Clarke, Chief of Police Gerry Orlando and Fire Chief Paul Mucha. Back row (from left to right): Julio Garcia, Director of Curriculum Tamika Bauknight, Board of Education member Shondalyn Gales, Principal Nathan Fischer and Marlyse Benson, Director of Behavioral Health & Psychiatry at Trinitas.
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