Pope John XXIII Middle School

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PJ Middle School ecstatic for 1st full year in own building

By ANTHONY SPAULDING
Director of Communications
Pope John XXIII Regional High School
anthonyspaulding@popejohn.org

SPARTA — There was only one feeling that summed up the first day of school at Pope John XXIII Middle School on Friday.

“Honestly, just being in our building was great,” Pope John XXIII Middle School Principal Mrs. Santore said with a chuckle.

This sentiment was felt from all 250 students, faculty members and staff members as they walked the halls, sat in classrooms, and came to learn and work on the opening day of the 2017-2018 school year.

After all, it was just a year ago that they had to start the school year at Pope John XXIII Regional High School while waiting for construction on their 22,000 square-foot, two-story building to be completed.

“I like it a lot,” Pope John seventh grade student Lauren Cunico said. “I think it is more comfortable knowing that we are going to be here for the entire school year.”

“We had a great first day,” Mrs. Santore said. “It was great to see so many smiling faces. This year, we are looking to reestablish ourselves since we were only here for three months.”

The middle school, which houses fifth, sixth and seventh grade students, had to have its students spend seven months in the high school last year as a result of the construction. It wasn’t until last March that they were able to move into their building.

But now, grades 5-7 can now enjoy a true middle school atmosphere that is the only one of its kind in the Diocese of Paterson.

The students are in a school that has 12 classrooms, including specialty rooms for science, engineering, music and art and a cafeteria/assembly room in the center.

One of those specialty rooms is the Engineering Design Lab, where the school is looking to evolve its engineering, electronics and design curriculum. This cutting-edge lab is designed to enhance each student’s creativity, collaboration skills and critical thinking in STEM courses.

Cunico and fellow seventh grade student DJ Rosanelli were thrilled that they were going to have classes in this lab and other science labs because of what they offer.

“It was cool,” Rosanelli said. “Last year as sixth graders, we heard the seventh grade did solar sprints using engineering and stuff. This year, we are going to be doing that, so it is awesome.”

“It’s great,” Cunico said. “We talked about what projects and experiments we will be doing this year. I can’t wait for it.”

The school has also added a full slate of athletic programs. In addition to basketball, cross country, soccer clinics and track and field, the school offers bowling, cheerleading, football, lacrosse and wrestling.

Students such as seventh grade student Dominick Bello were excited about this

“It’s going to be fun to play sports like football and basketball for the school,” Bello said.

As the day went on, students loved being back with their friends after having the last two months off for summer. They also had their school pictures taken to kick off the year.

But, the most important thing that mattered to them on Friday was that they had a place to call their own.

“It’s cool to be just us,” Rosanelli said.