ELIZABETH –– On Tuesday evening, the Elizabeth Board of Education formally dedicated the district’s newly-opened, state-of-the-art Juan Pablo Duarte-José Julián Martí School No. 28. The ceremony was held in the auditorium and was attended by school and district representative, as well as local, county and state dignitaries.
The namesakes of School No. 28, Juan Pablo Duarte, known as the “Father of Dominican Independence,” and José Julián Martí, a Cuban writer and philosopher, are well-respected patriots in the Dominican and Cuban communities, who dedicated their lives to promoting freedom and independence in their respective countries.
Superintendent Pablo Muñoz noted, “Juan Pablo Duarte-José Julián Martí is a fitting name for the school because of their lessons of leadership and community service. They serve as an example to everyone at School No. 28 that through dedication, commitment and unity we can achieve our mission to be one of the best school systems in the State of New Jersey.”
The ceremony featured keynote speakers Lic. Teofilo Santiago, president of the Instituto Duartiano and Dr. Orlando Edreira, chairman of the Department of Foreign Languages, Literature and Culture at Kean University.
Santiago dedicates his efforts to the advancement and cultural preservation of the Latin community. He is very knowledgeable of Duarte’s history and legacy. Edreira is a life-long educator who has served for numerous boards and organizations including the Elizabeth Board of Education, New Jersey State Board of Education, Cuban-American Association of New Jersey and the Columbia University Hispanic Institute. Edreira, a Cuban American, takes great pride in his community and cultural heritage. He spoke on behalf of Martí, a celebrated Cuban patriot.
Highlights of the ceremony included the playing of the Dominican and Cuban National Anthems, performances by the school chorus, cultural foods, and tours of the facility. School No. 28 boasts a large cafetorium, combining stage with food service facilities; a major size gymnasium with high-tech sound system for special athletic activities; classrooms equipped with Smart Boards (white boards linked to computers for specialized instruction) and a media center.
“Both Juan Pablo Duarte and José Julián Martí devoted themselves to achieving freedom for their compatriots and were very passionate about their heritage. In such a diverse school district, the lessons of unity and honoring all heritages are very important and I strongly believe that honoring these two men with this dedication helps deliver that lesson,” said Board Member Pastor Raúl Burgos.
Elizabeth Board of Education President, Francisco González believes “Duarte and Martí serve as an example to everyone at School No. 28 to unite together and perform acts that will benefit the entire school community.”
“This is in recognition of these heroes and those that have continued to defend democracy and have given their life for democracy in the Caribbean,” said Board Member Rafael J. Fajardo.