Steel construction phase at new Ross Street School completed

Township and school officials, along with the fifth grade class at Ross Street Elementary School No. 11, held a Topping-Off ceremony on Sept. 20 to celebrate the steel construction phase completion of the new Ross Street school. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN HAGERTY
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Township and school officials, along with the fifth grade class at Ross Street Elementary School No. 11, held a Topping-Off ceremony on Sept. 20 to celebrate the steel construction phase completion of the new Ross Street school. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN HAGERTY

WOODBRIDGE — The steel construction phase of the new $30 million Ross Street Elementary School No. 11 in the downtown area is complete.

And to celebrate, township and school officials, including the fifth grade class at Ross Street, held a Topping-Off ceremony on Sept. 20 where attendees signed the structural steel beam before it was hoisted into place and secured atop the building’s frame.

“It is fitting that today we are well on the way to completing construction of the first new school in Woodbridge in more than 50 years,” Mayor John E. McCormac said. “The Topping-Off ceremony represents the unwavering commitment by the township administration, municipal council, school board and district administration, educators and residents to improve the future of education for all students in Woodbridge.”

Officials came together to break ground on the new school in July.

McCormac said officials are proud to be able to work together to make the schools in the township “the best they can be — not only in appearance — but in the quality of education received by each and every student.”

The mayor was joined by Schools Superintendent Robert Zega, Township Council members Nancy Drumm and Greg Ficarra, Board of Education member Joseph Velez, Ross Street School No. 11 Principal Tammy Giordano, students, representatives of DOBCO Construction, Iron Workers Local No. 11 and LAN Associates, the project architect.

“Our goal is to create students who are lifelong learners and it starts in an environment that fits their learning style,” Zega said. “By providing a new, modern learning environment that is engaging and interactive, our teachers can play to the strengths of students’ learning style.”

In March 2017, voters overwhelmingly approved a $57.7 million bond referendum, which included the construction of a new $30 million school and some $20 million in renovations and improvements to Woodbridge Middle School. The two projects include innovative learning environments and adaptations to help educators boost student collaboration and ideas.

McCormac and Zega noted that Ross Street School, the second oldest school in the district, was built in 1920.

The new three-story, 87,000-square-foot Ross Street school will be centered around a large atrium courtyard that will provide natural light and a connection to nature. The courtyard will house a small amphitheater for outdoor lessons, several “living learning” gardens and seating areas for reading and eating.

The school will promote break-out spaces and flexible learning environments for a variety of learning styles, while equipped with state-of-the-art photovoltaics combined with daylighting strategies to reduce overall energy consumption.

Construction of the school is anticipated to be finished for the start of the 2020 school year.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.