On September 9, 2015, Explore 2000 Middle School welcomed its new class of students to its new building at 180 9th Street, Jersey City. The sixth graders, also known as First Year Students, excited and ready to begin their middle school experience, took part in a Harry Potter style sorting ceremony to become assigned to their advisory groups. Each student will spend the year as a Lion, Tiger or Bear. Edwin gave a two thumbs up to the opening activities finding the sorting ceremony to be really personal and fun. Fellow sixth-grader Diandra agreed it was fun.
On the next day, all of the students arrived and the upperclassmen got their first look at their new educational home. Overall, they were excited and awed by the difference from the building they shared with County Prep. A Peer Mentor breakfast matched up upper and lower classmen for guidance and experience-sharing relationships that will last all year. The verdict on the meeting is “exceeded all expectations”. Facilitators and staff were introduced to the students and everyone was reminded that respect and trust was expected from everyone associated with Explore 2000.
Team building activities helped begin or develop friendships and rapport. In As the Wind Blows, students stand in a circle with one person in the middle. That person names an experience he or she has had and everyone who has had the same experience has to leave their places and find new ones in the circle. The last one standing takes the place in the middle. In another activity, each student tears off a length of toilet paper and has to give an adjective to describe him- or herself for each square of the length.
Friday’s more usual school day took time out for a September 11 tribute to the events of fourteen years ago. A short video provided the history of that day for the student body too young to remember it. When asked what she liked the best about the new building, 7th grader Nataly remembered how small a space Explore 2000 shared last year. She liked that, “We don’t have to share things with the high school.” Her friend Faith felt that the small space, “Made us closer.” Eighth grader Jonathan said that the new building, “Encourages me to work harder.” Aaron, also in the eighth grade said it was, “Cool having a whole building.”
On Tuesday, August 25, the faculty and staff from Explore 2000 Middle School traveled to the Ring Homestead Camp in Middletown, New York for a day of team building exercises. Situated on a very large plot of wooded land, the camp features workshops to develop skills related to teamwork, trust, communication, cooperation, goal setting and leadership.
“The entire Explore 2000 team would like to thank The HCST Foundation for sponsoring this experience. Team building exercises are vital to both our new and returning ‘family’ members,” said Principal Amy Lin-Rodriguez.
All of the trials were completely voluntary and even those who had to sit out a team undertaking, everyone encouraged their teams from the side lines. According to Explore’s Secretary Michele Jefferey, “Fun was had by all! Although I was not able to participate in most of the activities, it was a pleasure cheering the staff on to SUCCESS!”
From activities where teams have to work together to walk forward on wooden planks to passing through a web of rope with the guidance and lifting of team mates to swinging on a rope and being caught, the day offered many opportunities to grow as a team. “I thought the team building experience was fantastic!” said Language Arts Facilitator Heather Garrett, “The Explore 2000 staff demonstrated the characteristics of a great team.”
Games requiring trust and strategy more than physical prowess also forged unity, like the challenge of passing a hula hoop around a circle while holding hands and similar tasks. The members of team Explore 2000 returned home with stories to tell and moments to remember. “It was a fun-filled day and I really enjoyed working with the Explore 2000 staff on our team building activities,” said Science Facilitator Lauren Norcia.
Principal Lin-Rodriguez added, “The collaborative activities created a culture of trust. By contributing to the common goals of the day (and everyday) we can model a fine example for our learners. We are looking forward to an exciting new and expanded school year! “
The new school year will see Explore 2000, Hudson County Schools of Technology’s middle school, opening in a new building. After sharing space in County Prep High School in Jersey City for 18 years, Explore 2000 now has a building of its own.
The Redevelopment Agency of Jersey City and the Hudson County Executive’s Office have partnered to help Explore 2000 Middle School relocate to its own learning facility located at the Community Education and Recreation Center- 180 9th Street in Jersey City, allowing it the opportunity to expand its student population over a 5-year period.
Starting in September 2015, Explore 2000 will add stimulating project-based curricula in the areas of STEM, active citizenship, character education and the environment to its traditional learning labs in core subject areas, all integrated through thematic units and meeting New Jersey’s common core curriculum standards under the guidance of certified teachers serving as academic facilitators.
The students and staff of Explore 2000 are beyond excited and appreciative for this opportunity to open in our own facility. In doing so, we are finally able to expand and offer our unique learning environment to more Hudson County students.
In addition to Title I Enrichment in Mathematics and Language Arts, after school activities include Extra-curricular Workshops and a variety of Wellness Programs.
The Hudson County Schools of Technology will formally welcome Explore 2000 Middle School to their new home during the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony scheduled on Thursday, September 17, 2015.