Frank Lautenberg, the late senator who passed away earlier in the year, will be honored by his hometown with a school naming. Members of the Paterson Board of Education voted during Wednesday night’s regular meeting at John F. Kennedy High School to rename Public School Number 6 to Senator Frank R. Lautenberg School in his honor.
During his boyhood years, when his family resided on Carroll Street, Lautenberg roamed the hallways of School 6, an elementary school located on the aforementioned street, until his family moved out of the city. Lautenberg’s father left and returned to the city many times while attempting to start his own enterprises, most of which ended in failure; however, his son, after returning from fighting in World War II got together a group of friends and founded Automatic Data Processing or ADP, a payroll processing company. The company had its offices in the city prior to moving elsewhere.
His business success later propelled him to enter politics, where he managed to pass legislations whose impact are still felt by most Americans. He passed a national drinking age restriction law that set the minimum age for drinking to 21; he passed a law to end smoking inside planes; and he brought millions of dollars to keep New Jersey’s public transportation and infrastructure the best in the nation – so much so that a train station in Secaucus is named after him. “In his heart, in his life time, he was a man from New Jersey,” said Christopher Irving, a school board member. “He was one of a kind.”
While he was bringing changes all over the country and the state he never forgot his city of birth; in 2011, after almost a decade of fighting, Lautenberg along with Bill Pascrell got national park status for the Great Falls.
The senator understood the value of education, he once recalled his father telling him to get an education to avoid working in brutal factories that shortened one’s lifespan. Lautenberg followed his father’s advice attending Columbia University which paved the way for much of the success in his life.
In February 2013, it was inside a building on Spruce Street, where he announced his retirement, explaining to the media that he wished to spend more time with his children and grandchildren. He could have made the announcement in Washington D.C. or elsewhere in the state, but he never forget – as the cliché goes – where he came from, saying, “They can take the kid out of Paterson, but they can’t take Paterson out of the kid.” He often identified himself as a kid from the city, with this school he will be memorialized as “a kid from Paterson,” said Irving.
“I have an inherent love for Paterson,” said Lautenberg during his brief speech in February. With this school naming the affection is more than mutual. The Lautenberg family will attend the ribbon cutting ceremony when the school name is changed, according to Irving. Terry Corallo, spokesperson for the district, said an exact date for the renaming has yet to be scheduled; however, it is being worked on and a date will be determined after school re-opens next month.