STAMFORD, Conn. -- With a gleaming new building in the background, officials celebrated the reopening of the J.M. Wright Technical High School on Wednesday and said it will help chart a way for the state's future economic development.
A state-run technical school, Wright Tech shut its doors in July 2009 as plunging enrollment, low test scores and the state’s dire financial situation during the recession hammered the school.
In a five-minute speech, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy lauded the reopening of the regional state-run school, which serves students from Stamford, Norwalk, Easton, Fairfield, Weston, Wilton, Westport, New Canaan, Greenwich and Bridgeport.
"By no means four years ago was it certain that Wright Tech would open but it became a certainty and we have gotten it done and we are very proud of that," he said. “This is the new standard. All of our buildings should be of this quality. All of our programs should be of this quality.”
The school opened for classes Monday with its first class of 145 students in ninth grade. That is expected to grow to 625 students by 2017 as a new class of ninth-grade students is added each year.
The school has programs in the nation's first high school facilities management program, health careers, automotive engineering, culinary arts, plumbing, carpentry, electrical, digital media, information systems technology and hospitality/tourism.
The project was 15 months long and came in at $90 million. It added 1,550 square feet of new space and the school's existing 199,135 square feet was renovated.
There was nothing but optimism Wednesday as officials said the school will help change lives and strengthen Connecticut.
“Today is New Year’s Day. In education, we get two — Jan. 1 and the opening of the school year,” said Wright Tech Principal Joseph Tripodi. “There are amazing things going on already on our first day of classes. We have a successful school that’s going to transform the lives of these and many more students in the years to come.”
The superintendent of the state's technical high school system, Nivea Torres, said the school will help set a "new direction" for the state system.
“Today, we’re setting a new direction, not only for this school, but for the technical high school system, with a state-of-the-art facility and a unique instructional program that includes 10 career pathways. We are redefining career and technical education,” she said.
“We have carefully designed this school and our program offerings to prepare students for the careers of the future and teach them the skills that employers require. We want to grow a talent pool that lives, works and thrives in Connecticut.”