The transformation of the Middletown City Schools District is complete.
On Saturday morning, renovated Middletown High School and new Middle School, which represent the district’s historic and massive $96 million upgrade, were open to the public for the first time, culminating a facilities project that began six years ago.
Excluding MHS, which opened in 1970, the district has all new school buildings.
The high school and middle school, located on the same campus on North Breiel Boulevard, appear to be the cornerstone of the public school district.
Middletown Board President Chris Urso called the schools “two impressive buildings” and said they represent more than brick and mortar.
“Because at its core, what makes a community strong is its inclination and capacity to help families,” Urso said before Saturday’s double ribbon-cutting. “Middletown is stronger today because we have chosen to support families by investing in our families. Today is a ‘feel-good’ day. A day filled with hope and optimism. However, we know that hope and optimism can not sustain without action. We must continue to act. We must continue to work. This is our time. Our Middie foundation is strong.”
When that action continues, Urso said, “Middie Magic will work to elevate all of Middletown.”
Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. believes the technology advances allow the students to “accomplish their dreams.”
Carmela Cotter, principal at MHS, spent part of the ribbon-cutting welcoming students back to school. She hugged several students.
“Shelter is very important,” Cotter said. “And it’s one of the things that make us feel like we are a family. We work real hard to make our students feel like they belong, that they’re valued and lifted up every day.”
She remembers meeting the construction team several years ago. She delivered a message: “This is the game changer in your career because you are going to build a building that will be a family home for students, and it’s going to change our community.”
When students return to classes Tuesday, Cotter said, they will bring “heart and family” back into the building.
She mentioned the district’s motto is “unite, inspire and transform” its student body.
“This structure does that for our kids,” Cotter said. “It gives us a foundation piece and they can feel valued. This is no limit what they can be able to do.”
Tonya Mongar has custody of her three grandsons — an eighth-grader, seventh-grader and sixth-grader — who attend Middletown schools. She said the boys are “excited to come here.”
As she toured the Middle School, she said: “This is totally amazing. This is a great beginning for a new future.”
During the tour, no one seemed happier than Michael Valenti. For the last 29 years, he has served as principal at Middletown Middle School. The new Middle School features six learning pods and an incredible opportunity for students and staff, he said.
“This community deserves a building like this,” he said while looking down from a balcony toward the cafeteria.
Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan said the “fortunes” of the city and its public school district are tied together.
“When schools win, the city wins,” he said. “The City of Middletown has made great strides over the last year. People are starting to take notice. Students have incredible opportunities here.”