New Modern Facility Joins Adjacent Lower and Middle School To Provide a Cohesive K-12 Campus for the Hoboken Community
Hoboken Charter School’s two-decade plan to build a single, permanent home for its K-12 program that was tested by a devastating fire, 100-year superstorm, forced relocations and a global pandemic, has come to fruition with the opening of its brand-new high school building at 711 Washington Street.
The new school facility was born out of a four-story, former residential property that was purchased by The Friends of Hoboken Charter School, a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization that raises funds and supports activities to benefit the Hoboken Charter School (HCS) and its students. In August 2019, The Friends initiated an extensive renovation and modernization of the building to convert it to innovative educational space. The comprehensive project, which was carried out with significant input from the Hoboken Historical Commission, the Zoning Board of Adjustment and community leaders, included preserving the building’s original façade and connecting it to the adjacent Hoboken Charter lower and middle school facility at 713 Washington Street through glass-enclosed bridges and a cantilevered external stair system. The result is a cohesive campus for the full K-12 program that will serve the Hoboken community for years to come.
“It’s a thrilling moment to finally and fully realize two key aspects of our original vision for the Hoboken Charter School,” says Mark Silberberg one of the founders of Hoboken Charter School. “The first is the creation of a single campus for the K-12 community. The second is a mission-aligned learning space for our high school students. We have always believed in the power of a multi-age learning community and now all of our students and teachers will benefit from hard work and dedication that has gone into realizing this dream.”
Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla joined administrators and students from Hoboken Charter School today (March 25, 2021) for a special ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of the new high school.
“I am so happy to see this vibrant public high school program finally have permanent space to continue to fulfill its mission of social justice and service-learning,” comments Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “Over the past years, I have personally seen the benefit HCS Upper School has brought to the community in providing a small, personalized program with a unique mission. I have particularly enjoyed the art installations students have created for display in City Hall over the years that provoke thought and action around social justice issues and their leadership in their annual March on Washington Street. I expect to continue to see great things from this little yet mighty mission-driven school in its new K-12 campus.”
High School Building Details
Hoboken Charter High School offers six spacious classrooms spread throughout four floors, access to an outdoor roof deck and courtyard, and a larger space for community meetings. The architecturally distinctive, external stair system and glass enclosed bridges connect the two buildings and provide efficient space for high school student lockers. Beyond its practical use for maximizing space, the unique bridges also serve as a metaphor for connecting the different divisions of the school into one cohesive campus. Lower, middle, and high school students enter their respective buildings through separate entrances down the main campus alleyway.
“Hoboken Charter School provides a thirteen-year mission-driven experience through which students engage in learning experiences, grounded in principles of social justice education and service-learning,” says school Director, Deirdra Grode. “With the opening of this modern shared campus, the transition from one division to the next will be more fluid allowing for deeper learning, and our ability to engage all of our students in rich and meaningful inter-age experiences will be enhanced. We designed the new upper school space to enhance personalized and active learning opportunities as we prepare our students to bring who they are to the program, find their areas of passion and depart HCS with a commitment and the skills to be agents of powerful change in their community and the world.”
Overcoming Obstacles Through Perseverance and a Galvanized Community
A seemingly simple idea to create a permanent home for Hoboken Charter School’s K-12 program has proven to be anything but simple. The school has endured countless hurdles and obstacles along the way, including a devastating fire that swept through the newly acquired and renovated 713 Washington Street building during the second day of the 2012 school year, severely damaging the building and necessitating the relocation of the school’s K-8th grade program to a temporary facility in Jersey City. A virtual gutting of the building and an all-encompassing renovation effort — funded largely through financial donations and sweat equity from community residents and businesses and dramatically slowed by Superstorm Sandy which caused catastrophic flooding in Hoboken — yielded a considerably more modern and safer building. Hoboken Charter’s high school was also forced to relocate multiple times when its lease was not renewed, further emphasizing the need for a permanent home and the stability that comes with owning and controlling the property.
With a steadfast commitment to realizing its vision of a shared campus that would serve the educational and service-learning needs of the Hoboken community, Hoboken Charter School forged ahead and persevered, most recently in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, culminating with the newly unveiled 711-713 Washington Street campus.