During a morning ribbon-cutting that had the youthful energy of a pep rally, Governor Dannel P. Malloy urged Connecticut River Academy students to set a high standard for those who will follow in their path.
“You have the opportunity to set the tone, to make sure that each student that follows you understands how high the bar has been set, how much is expected of students who go to this school and how much will be given back by them to the greater society because you, this first class, set the standard,” said Governor Malloy, speaking to a crowd of over 500 students, teachers, and guests on Tuesday, January 7.
The governor was one of many people on hand to formally open the new Connecticut River Academy at Goodwin College, a 105,000 square-foot, four-story magnet high school located on the College’s River Campus. Though the school has been open since 2010, it has existed in multiple incubator locations, including the College’s main building, while work progressed on a permanent home.
The three-and-a-half year wait came to an impressive conclusion for the students, teachers, staff members, and administrators with the completion of the $57 million building. The school, located at 9 Riverside Drive, incorporates the Connecticut River and the surrounding environment into its design and curriculum, with a habitat room and “green roof,” project center, numerous high tech laboratories, and oversized windows.
The building’s amenities also include a digital music lab, fitness center, and a full-size gymnasium. The latter served as the setting for the ribbon-cutting, where the entire school celebrated a new beginning.
“The day that we have been waiting, for planning, and anticipating since Connecticut River Academy first opened has finally arrived,” Principal Linda Dadona said, recounting how two years prior, many of the same students had been present at the building’s groundbreaking. “Sometimes things aren’t what you imagined. Sometimes they are even better.”
Dadona has been principal since the inception of the Connecticut River Academy. Many of the teachers have also been there since day one, teaching out of modular classrooms as concepts for the permanent school took shape. The first graduating class never got to set foot in the school as students, but many of the grads were back on Tuesday to celebrate with their former peers.
Upon arriving at the school during the morning, the students were given the literal red carpet treatment, walking the new corridor like celebrities while teachers and staff members snapped photos as paparazzi. Many students and teachers dressed up for the occasion, marking a classy debut for the school.
In his remarks, Governor Malloy urged the students to make the most of their educational opportunities and congratulated them on their decision to attend the Academy. As a magnet school, CTRA is part of the state’s attempt to solve the educational challenges faced by many of Connecticut’s cities. Goodwin College built the Academy, as well as two other new magnet schools already open or scheduled to open this year.
“If you take care of business, if you become well educated, if you get the kind of job that you want to have and makes you happy, and if you give back to community, you will live a most rewarding life,” Malloy said. The governor also took time to recognize every faculty member at the Academy and thanked them for their service and dedication to education.
East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc wished the students good luck in their new building and said she was happy to have such a facility in her town.
“It gives me great pleasure to see 9 Riverside Drive rise from the rubble to what it is today,” Leclerc said. The Academy stands on the site of former brownfields that have been remediated for new use.
Other dignitaries who spoke included State Representative Henry Genga, who presented a citation on behalf of East Hartford’s General Assembly delegation as well as the entire state legislature. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congressman John Larson were in Washington, but sent their regards and congratulations to the CTRA students and faculty.
Goodwin College President Mark Scheinberg also extended his good wishes on the students. He called the Academy the best high school in the region even before the building was complete, and now the students have the chance to be the first of many to leave their mark.
“There are no words I can say that can possibly describe how it feels to walk into this place,” said Scheinberg.
Following the ceremony, students led tours of guests through the facility. Images of the day’s festivities are available for view on Goodwin’s Flickr page. Watch a student-produced video. Video created by CTRA student Hannah Conde for JT Foster’s journalism class.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.