VINELAND — Two years after breaking ground on the $49.8 million building, school officials finally opened the doors to the public at the new Lincoln Avenue Middle School.
“This has been a long time coming and something I’m very proud of,” Superintendent Mary Gruccio said.
In addition to the school officials, the ribbon cutting Friday was attended by local students and parents, city, county and state officials and Gov. Phil Murphy.
The building was funded by the New Jersey Schools Development Authority, one of four new SDA-funded schools to open this fall.
SDA Chief Executive Officer Lizette Delgado Polanco said students deserve a place where they can thrive.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that Vineland students have access to the same opportunities as students in other districts,” Delgado Polanco said, noting that the school will address an over-crowding problem in the district’s younger grades.
The 99,000-square-foot facility will serve more than 600 students in sixth through eighth grade and will replace the former Rossi Middle School, which has been converted back into an elementary school as part of a redistricting plan.
Murphy told the students in attendance he knows the end of summer is bittersweet, but he hopes getting to start school in a brand-new building will add to the excitement.
“Our jobs are to ensure you’re fully prepared for your future,” Murphy said.
He said education and infrastructure are two of the most important items in the state budget and will enhance the future of the state.
Daisy Mercado, a parent and school employee, and her son, Michael Sanchez, 12, looked around with wide eyes as they entered the building after the ribbon was cut.
“We’re excited about all that is going to be offered here and kind of a little history for Vineland, and being a part of it,” Mercado said before embarking on a tour of the school. Michael will start classes at the school next week.
Mia Bradley, 13, also will attend the Lincoln Avenue school and said the start of the year will be an exciting time for everyone.
Her mom, Beth, said it was a monumental moment for her daughter, Mia’s classmates and the city of Vineland.
“I do believe this middle school will help these children reach their goals and dreams,” Bradley said.
Vineland students begin school Sept. 6.