Governor Chris Christie and First Lady Mary Pat Christie visited Highlands Elementary School this morning to accept a $4.5 million dollar gift to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba made the presentation and, along with the Christies, met with students of the school’s Summer Camp Program.
The UAE Embassy gift, made on behalf of the people of the UAE, will help address critical technology needs, such as infrastructure construction to increase internet bandwidth capacity, wiring and hardware for instructional areas, acquisition of mobile computing devices for faculty and students, and additional training for teachers and administrators.
“Superstorm Sandy brought unprecedented destruction to New Jersey, including more than $40 million in damages to our schools. While our state has made great strides to re-open our schools, this donation will undoubtedly relieve some of the burden placed on New Jersey’s hardest hit towns and help enhance our students’ use of technology as they enjoy a normal return to school this fall,” said Governor Christie. “On behalf of the people of New Jersey, I want to thank Ambassador Al Otaiba and the UAE Embassy for this generous and important donation.”
“The Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund is extremely grateful for this generous donation from the UAE Embassy,” said Mrs. Christie. “This contribution will repair and improve technology resources to provide many students in the hardest hit towns with the means they need to succeed.”
“The entire world was touched by the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy last year. Given the scope of this disaster, we felt it was important to provide assistance,” said Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the United States. “This program will be a small piece to help dozens of schools and thousands of kids around New Jersey by repairing and upgrading schools that were hit by the storm.”
Approximately 20,000 students will benefit from the improvements that will be made as a result of the UAE gift. These include students at public schools in communities that are still rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy. The technology and infrastructure upgrades will help these schools exceed pre-Sandy conditions and implement the Common Core State Standards, established by the New Jersey State Board of Education and New Jersey Department of Education. By addressing these critical technology needs in schools, affected communities can better direct their attention to other recovery-related work.
The following 30 schools will benefit from the UAE’s generosity:
Belmar School District
- Belmar Elementary
Brick School District
- Brick Township High School
- Brick Township Memorial High School
- Drum Point Road Elementary School
- Emma Havens Young Elementary School
- Herbertsville Elementary School
- Lake Riviera Middle School
- Lanes Mill Elementary School
- Midstreams Elementary School
- Osbornville Elementary School
- Veterans Memorial Middle School
- Veterans Memorial Elementary School
Highlands Borough School District
- Highlands Elementary School
Hoboken School District
- Hoboken High School
- Joseph F. Brandt School
- Salvatore R. Calabro
- Thomas G. Connors
- Wallace Elementary School
Little Ferry School District
- Memorial Elementary School
- Washington Elementary School
Moonachie School District
- Robert L. Craig School
Sayreville School District
- Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School
Union Beach School District
- Memorial School
Mrs. Christie noted that the UAE donation puts the amount raised by the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund since the storm hit last October at over $38 million dollars.
Otaiba said that while meeting the Highlands students, he was impressed by one young boy who looked Governor Christie in the eye and said, “Thank you for helping to rebuild our town.”
Governor Christie said that the recovery from Sandy is a team effort and that he is honored that Otaiba and UAE are part of the team. The Governor acknowledged the elected officials and government employees for their team work in the recovery.
Officials present at the event included School Superintendent Christopher Rooney who introduced the governor. State Senator Joe Kyrillos, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon and Freeholder Serena DiMaso were also present, as were Mayors Frank Nolan (Highlands), Paul Smith (Union Beach), Matt Doherty (Belmar) and Dawn Zimmer (Hoboken) were on hand to thank the UAE.