SECAUCUS, NJ — For months now, Secaucus residents driving to Xchange or Laurel Hill Park have seen construction going on at the new High Tech High School campus, located on the site of what used to be Field Station: Dinosaurs.
Well, construction on Hudson County’s new $160 million vo-tech campus is finally complete (a year and a half ahead of schedule), and this past Friday, they held a special grand opening and media sneak peek inside. Hudson County already owns the 22 acres of land where High Tech sits, technically part of the Laurel Hill complex. So Secaucus had little say when the county decided to relocate the tech school here, bidding farewell to its former home on Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen, where it had been located for nearly half a century.
Still, Mayor Mike Gonnelli said Secaucus welcomes having a second high school in town, saying that even though it’s a vocational school, High Tech has long been regarded as one of the top high schools in the state of New Jersey.
The campus is already open for classes. Students began coming in last week and they began their regular schedules Tuesday, Sept. 11.
While everyone calls it “High Tech,” the campus is officially called the Hudson County School of Technology, and it will actually house four schools inside: High Tech High School, KAS Prep, Hudson Technical and one day, will even serve as the main campus for Hudson County Community College.
Students must apply to attend High Tech, where they follow a special curriculum targeted towards trade skills or performing arts, tech/visual arts, science technology and culinary arts. As with any vo-tech school, students choose early on which field they want to study, with the goal of finding well-paying employment immediately upon graduation.
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez was even on hand for Friday’s ribbon cutting.
“We don’t have enough mathematicians or scientists in the U.S., so we have to give licenses to people across the globe to do that work. It’s fine, but it’d be nice to see Americans doing that work,” he said, to loud cheers from the audience. “(High Tech) was creating technology fields before STEM became part of the national curriculum.”
Menendez is facing a challenge to his U.S. Senate seat this fall from Republican Bob Huggins. Corruption charges levied against Menendez two years ago ended in a mistrial.
The 350,000-square-foot school is massive and has three levels. There is an underground parking garage and a 400-seat theater. The Secaucus campus is named for retiring Superintendent Frank J. Gargiulo, superintendent of Hudson County vo-tech program.