Students at Buena’s J.P. Cleary Elementary School entered their future through their past Monday as they walked through the salvaged stone arch of the original 1928 school into new, modern classrooms equipped with electronic smart boards.

The Buena Regional school district had delayed starting school until Monday to make sure all would be ready for students at the Cleary School.

The project was funded as part of a $10.2 million bond referendum approved by voters in 2010 that included improvements to Buena Regional High School and Collings Lakes Elementary School. The state paid about $6 million of the cost, with taxpayers funding the rest.

The Cleary School had been closed since January 2010, when students moved into the new Buena Regional Middle School.

The project included tearing down the original 1928 structure and gutting or upgrading additions built in 1958, 1968 and 2001, Superintendent Walter Whitaker said. The stone arch and pillars bearing the school name were saved from the original building and integrated into the new structure that replaced the original building.

“We made it into a modern school,” Whitaker said.

The new building has security cameras, a zoned and computerized heating and cooling system, and a larger parking lot.

The district also restructured grades. Students in kindergarten through third grade attend the Collings Lakes and John C. Milanesi Elementary schools, fourth- and fifth-graders attend Cleary, and students in grades six through eight attend the Middle School.

The almost century-old William B. Donini Elementary School has been closed.

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