Ribbon Cutting for the WWMS Athletic Complex
The Clifton Board of Education and Superintendent Robertozzi invited Cliftonites to come out and celebrate the new, as yet unnamed, athletic complex at Woodrow Wilson Middle School (WWMS) with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3:30 pm on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. This project was funded with proceeds from the Clifton Public Schools Bond Referendum, which Clifton residents voted for on April 20, 2021. The groundbreaking for the project was on October 20, 2022.
The event began with a performance by the CHS Madcaps who sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. CHS sophomore Erio Spear then performed a solo of “God Bless America” for all assembled. To see more of Spear’s performances, his YouTube channel is HERE. The assembled crowd applauded Clifton’s young musicians, and then Danny Robertozzi Ed.D., the Clifton Superintendent, began his welcome speech.
Robertozzi reminded everyone that the Clifton Public Schools Bond Referendum, which raised $168 million dollars (of which $64.6 million was in aid from the State of New Jersey), was the largest bond offering in the history of the State of New Jersey until recently. He mentioned that the improvements at the athletic complex may be the smallest project, but also the most visible, as so many of the other projects at the 19 schools are upgrades to facilities, including security, ADA-compliant bathrooms, and new HVAC systems. He told the crowd that the old field did not have restrooms or seats for spectators and the students at WWMS could not use it for Phys. Ed. because of all the potholes. This new, beautiful field is for the entire Clifton community, he said. He ended his welcome by inviting Cliftonites to try the hot dogs, popcorn, and other snacks provided by Pomptonian Food Services.
Board of Education President Jim Smith then presented the acknowledgements, thanking the many people in Clifton who made this project possible. He mentioned architect Rodney G. Watkins of Di Cara Rubino Architects, who was able to add a soccer field to the plans to make the field more user-friendly. He also introduced WWMS Principal Andrew Jeager and thanked all the Clifton Councilmembers, Board of Education Commissioners, and Clifton Mayor Ray Grabowski for their time and efforts in making sure this project could be completed. Smith then mentioned that while the athletic complex is almost complete, PSE&G still needs to ensure that there is power to the facilities. Without it, the bathrooms, scoreboard, and concessions cannot be used. In addition, a flagpole and netting (to protect the parking lot from foul balls) still need to be installed. He introduced Passaic County Commissioner Bruce James and discussed how Passaic County might be able to help with improvements including additional lighting.
Athletic Director Thomas Mullahey, who is in his tenth year with the Clifton School District, spoke about the necessity of the improvements, and how they would contribute to all of Clifton, especially the young people who use them.
The Clifton Board of Education Commissioners (past and present) then gathered around as President Smith cut the ribbon. Dr. Lucy Danny, Fahim Abedrabbo, Judith Bassford, Mark Brunciak, Alan Paris, and Anthony Santiago as well as former commissioners Joe Canova, Frank Kasper, and Jim Daley were all present.
The ceremonies ended with the CHS Madcaps singing a rousing rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” with a new verse, celebrating the new WWMS field. Commemorative baseballs with the "One Clifton" logo were handed out to those who attended, and then a game began, putting the field to use. It was truly a great day to be a Mustang.