Hartford, Connecticut, February 1, 2016 – The official opening of Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy’s high school expansion was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, and Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney. Joining school officials and dignitaries to cut the ceremonial ribbon on January 25 were Jordan Gershman ’19 and Alex Tomcho ’19 – two of three current Trinity students who last year were members of the first high school class to graduate from HMTCA. The third HMTCA graduate now attending Trinity is Dario Gaci ’19.
The $29.4 million project added 56,628 square feet of space and renovated 14,200 square feet at the 220,205-square-foot HMTCA campus, which stands across Broad Street from the Trinity College campus. The expansion includes: two student breakout spaces to encourage collaborative learning; specialized dance, fitness, and orchestra spaces to be shared by middle and high school programs; and an outdoor courtyard with tables featuring inlaid traditional game boards. Efficient LED fixtures and 57 smart boards also were installed.
“This school exemplifies what I hope to see in every school under my care,” Schiavino-Narvaez said during her remarks. “None of this would be possible without the leadership of our visionary principal, Sally Biggs.”
HMTCA opened in 2000 as Hartford Magnet Middle School and quickly became an award-winning arts and sciences magnet school. Starting in 2011, Trinity College – which was part of a coalition that first envisioned Hartford’s Learning Corridor – pursued the HMTCA initiative as a project overseen by the Dean of the Faculty’s Office. This initiative is designed to develop early college experiences for public school students. Since its launch, the 600-pupil HMMS has become HMTCA, educating more than 1,000 6th- through 12th-grade students. “This is what partnership looks like,” Bronin said at the ceremony. “This is an incredible model of what we hope to do in the city of Hartford.”
The high school students have many opportunities to learn on Trinity’s campus, including a 9th-grade summer writing academy, a 10th-grade summer science academy, and some introductory-level Trinity College courses that are available to seniors. The HMTCA high school held its first graduation on Trinity’s Quad in June of 2015.
Berger-Sweeney told the crowd assembled for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, “These kinds of public-private partnerships in education are special.” To further support this relationship, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving awarded Trinity a grant in 2014 to hire a director of urban educational initiatives. In that role, Robert Cotto, Jr., oversees and strengthens the ongoing partnership.
As HMTCA senior class president Kevin Paradis explained, before this expansion was completed, high school teachers used carts to go from classroom to classroom in the space that was shared with the middle school during construction. “As we watched the building grow, we grew alongside it – in numbers and in knowledge,” Paradis said. “This is more than just a building to us; it’s a place where we can grow as students and as people.”
Story and photos by Andrew J. Concatelli