New Harrison school to be named after JFK

New Harrison school to be named after JFK
Posted on 02/16/2017

The Harrison Board of Education has revived the memory of a former U.S. president by voting to name its newest school – yet to be built – the Kennedy Elementary School, for John F. Kennedy.

After Kennedy was killed by an assassin in November 1963, many governments and schools dedicated public facilities in the president’s memory, as did the Harrison school board with its former high school stadium which stood at Warren and Dey Sts., then bearing the name of Mayor Frank E. Rodgers.

That stadium was phased out in the aftermath of the construction of the new Harrison High School – the first new school in Harrison in 46 years – and its field in May 2008.

Now on the threshold of seeing another new school, the school board – after consulting with other stakeholders in the school community – voted Jan. 19 to restore the Kennedy name by attaching it to the new school, said James Doran, newly appointed assistant superintendent of schools.

Kennedy visited nearby Newark during his presidential campaign.

“His name across the board everyone likes,” Doran said, “and people wanted to stay with the president-type tradition.” Other presidents so honored in town are Washington (for the middle school) and Lincoln. Another school is named for Alexander Hamilton.

With some excavation work and remediation largely completed at the construction site, a former municipal parking lot at Harrison Ave. and Washington St., the next step will be demolition of several now-vacant homes bordering on the site, Doran said.

Under a contract between the N.J. Schools Development Authority – which is financing the project – and general contractor Brockwell & Carrington, the contractor is to begin work on the school’s foundation within 90 days after the homes are torn down, said Doran.

“We should begin to see steel rise by spring and completion of the job by spring 2019, with the first classes starting in September 2019,” he said. 

The 3-story school will be designed to accommodate up to 392 students in pre-K, kindergarten and first grade spread among 24 classrooms, plus a media center, cafeteria and gym. If sufficient funding is available, the district would also provide space for special needs students, he added.