Big Surprise Awaiting High School Students?
High schoolers in Hopatcong will have an outdoor eating area in September—it will have hardly cost taxpayers a dime, school officials say.
Richard Lavery Jr. looked at Hopatcong High School and sighed. What was a dream was slowly becoming reality.
"It feels amazing," he said. "I'm so glad to see the hard work and effort pay off and things actually moving and happening. This is great. Now we'll have a place to go outside during the school day to eat lunch."
On Thursday, the district was in the middle of constructing an outdoor lunch area for students at the high school. Workers were busy laying concrete and marking the lot, which will host concrete tables and seating, not to mention new curbs and sidewalks.
And perhaps the best part? It's not your regular, taxpayer-funded project, Superintendent Dr. Charles Maranzano said.
Much of the project will be funded via contributions from recent graduating classes, and even the Class of 1982, which will donate tables, Director of Grounds Neil Piro said.
"It's basically an outdoor assembly place for students," Piro said. "Maybe to eat lunch, maybe to just sit and congregate and talk. Or maybe host little musical events that either the high school chorus or band might put on. Community meetings, perhaps. It's basically an extension of the school's open air facilities."
Lavery pitched the project to Emil Binotto, the high school's former principal, around January. And Binotto, now the middle school's leader, loved it and immediately began drafting plans with Lavery, who also convinced the Board of Education to go along with the idea as long as most of the costs didn't come from its coffers.
Maranzano said Lavery, the senior class liaison to the school board, was convincing.
"It was his voice that was heard at the board meetings," he said. "It caused us to have a discussion about how it could happen."
Piro said the furniture outside the cafeteria will be immovable. He also said he expected the project to be completed before the start of school in September.
Piro said the courtyard will be "very friendly and warm."
Bobby Weber, a 2006 graduate, said he wished he had something like an outdoor seating area for lunch.
"I would have loved that!" Weber posted on the Hopatcong Patch Facebook page. "They should also grow a garden and use the veggies and fruit for the lunch......."