Annual Report on Giving
Annual Report on Giving 2019-2020

Stories on Giving

Cetrulo Family Fencing Center Renovation Sparks A Historic Year

The renovations and technological upgrades to The Cetrulo Family Fencing Center during the summer of 2019 made the NA facility one of the finest fencing centers in the United States. The installation of new, specialized flooring and five state-of-the-art “strips” that provide electronic scoring top the list of improvements within the new center. The upgraded center was opened prior to a historic season for the Minuteman Boys’ Varsity team, which brought home its first-ever State Championship banner in 2020. In addition to clinching the Boys’ New Jersey Interscholastic Fencing Association (NJIFA) Team Tournament title for the first time, the Minutemen also won the District 3 and Prep B championships. The team’s successes also resulted in individual accolades. Sophomores Michael Pyo and Konrad Czyzewski were named USA Fencing All-Americans. Michael was named to the First Team in Foil, while Konrad was named to the Second Team for Saber. The team was led by Head Coach Dan Bailey-Yavonditte, in his second year at the NA helm. Coach “BY”, as the student-athletes call him, was named 2020 USA Fencing National High School Coach of the Year. Renovations to the fencing center were funded by donations from the Cetrulo Family, including Newark Academy Trustee Lawrence G. Cetrulo ’67.

Coraci Performance Hall Meets Needs of Growing Community

From Morning Meeting to the final curtain of artistic performances, Newark Academy’s Rose Auditorium has been at the heart of the campus since 1964. Originally named in honor of former Chairman of the Newark Academy Board of Trustees Gary Rose and his wife Karen, the space underwent a complete transformation during the 2019-20 school year and opened in fall of 2020 as Coraci Performance Hall.This jewel of the campus can now accommodate 743 guests and features state-of-the-art acoustics and lighting, as well as a two-tiered production booth. The design and construction of the Coraci Performance Hall was made possible through gifts from more than 140 donors to Rise & Flourish: The Campaign for Newark Academy. This includes a gift of $1 million from the family of the late Anthony Coraci, father of NA alums Lara Coraci-Basile ‘88, Maria Coraci Sabando ‘86, and James Coraci ‘92 and grandfather of five Newark Academy young alumni and current students. Highlights of “The Coraci” include 5,712 square feet of audience space and 2,393 square feet of performance space (including stage and back-stage areas), a glass-fronted lobby, Kinetic Ovation Ceiling (sound) Clouds and absorptive fabric wrapped panels. More than 130 NA alumni and families are honored in the Coraci Performance Hall through a seat-naming gift program that helped to complete the project’s funding.

Appreciating The Effort

March 12, 2020 was one of very few unhappy days at Newark Academy. The announced closure of the campus due to the coronavirus pandemic left both students and faculty with great uncertainty. Yet just a few weeks later, after a Spring Break filled with skill-building and lesson-plan revisions, the NA faculty and staff were back, delivering educational excellence remotely. Drawing on the expertise of some of the most tech-savvy educators, including Instructional Technologist Stephanie Hammond, Newark Academy faculty members leaned into innovation to ensure that students could continue to learn and to fully engage in all aspects of the NA experience. From live-streamed science lab demonstrations and online art projects to work-out videos, online choral performances and remote school council elections, NA’s faculty and staff met the challenges of creating a “new normal” for students during the nearly three-month long shutdown.
To recognize and express appreciation for these efforts, parents and students made gifts to the NA Annual Fund as part of Teacher Appreciation Day on May 7. While several of the gifts honored the entire faculty and staff, most of the gifts were given as a special “thank you” to one or more teachers who were making an impact on the lives of the donating student and his/her family. Teachers and staff members who were honored with such gifts received personal notes of appreciation. As one NA faculty member noted, “There is no better gift to receive from a student or parent than hearing them say ‘thank you for your efforts.’ It really means the world to us.” Teacher Appreciation Day contributed a total of nearly $25,000 to the Annual Fund – and a year’s worth of smiles on the faces of the faculty.

Bringing Artistic Innovation to Campus

Alexa Meade, an award-winning California-based artist, shared her innovative painting process with Newark Academy visual arts students in the Fall of 2019. Alexa applies paint to the human body and three-dimensional spaces to create the illusion that our reality is a two-dimensional painted dreamscape. Her unique approach has gained worldwide acclaim and her ability to move between dimensions has fascinated people across disciplines. She has collaborated with space-time researchers at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, created illusions with the world-renowned magician David Blaine, and painted on the body of pop star Ariana Grande for her iconic “God is Woman'' music video. Students had the unique opportunity to interact with and ask questions of a world-renowned artist, whose work the students had seen in pop culture. In turn, they received inspiration through her story and work. “If you’re passionate about something, just do it...You never know where it’s going to lead,” Alexa told NA art students about her journey which began with a dream of being a politician and eventually brought her to becoming an award-winning artist. Visits from working artists, including the annual Artist-in-Residence program, are made possible through the generosity of NA alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends.

Multiplying Chameleon’s Music Success

It was another banner year, if a somewhat unusual year, for Newark Academy’s jazz band, Chameleon. Several NA student musicians who helped Chameleon to national prominence were invited to sit-in with the renowned Mingus Big Band during the 12th Annual Charles Mingus High School Competition and Festival in February 2020. NA’s Vikram Bala ’20 (bass) and Teddy McGraw ’20 (drums) won solo awards at the Festival, which included a film showcase, student jams and a full day of instrumental clinics exploring the music of Charles Mingus. The Mingus Big Band celebrates the music of Charles Mingus, who died in 1979. Under the artistic direction of Sue Mingus, this 14-piece band performs regularly at jazz venues in and around Manhattan, tours extensively in the United States and abroad, and has been nominated for seven Grammy awards.
NA musicians also earned orchestral honors, with 14 students earning spots in the North Jersey Region Band and Orchestra. Ruthie Gu ’21 (principal oboe) and Leah Shiff ’20 (French horn) auditioned for and were accepted to the New Jersey All-State Bands and Orchestra. 

Global Speakers Series & Feinberg Lecture Give Students the Gift of Expanded Horizons

The Global Speakers Series is one of many programs supported by gifts to the Newark Academy Annual Fund each year. One program in the series is designated as the Feinberg Multicultural Lecture, which exposes students to cultures from all across the globe and is supported by an endowed fund created by gifts from Peter Feinberg ’78, Margery Feinberg ’78, Louis Feinberg ’08 and Nathan Feinberg ’13. These lectures leave students with inspiring, thought-provoking messages, such as John Bul Dau (also known as Dhieu-Deng Leek), who shared his story of perseverance as one of 27,000 "Lost Boys of Sudan." Mr. Dau, a noted human rights activist, was featured in the 2006 award-winning documentary God Grew Tired of Us.  “Don't ever give up. Don't let your past hurt you and hold you back...If I can make it, you can too," said Mr. Bul Dau in his closing message to NA's Middle School last January. After years of living in war-torn South Sudan, Mr. Dau immigrated to the United States, eventually graduating from Syracuse University. In 2007, he founded the John Dau Foundation which aims to transform healthcare in South Sudan, including the Duk Lost Boys Clinic in his native village of Duk Payue.

The Impact of Black History

Newark Academy hosts a wide range of noted educators, scientists and writers throughout each school year, giving students the opportunity to hear significant voices and connect their ideas with their work in the classroom. Donor support of the NA Annual Fund makes these lectures and programs possible. This includes Black History Month which was celebrated at Newark Academy throughout the month of February 2020. Student presentations at Morning Meeting, club meetings and class discussions took place throughout the month as students and faculty celebrated the Black diaspora. An evening program, co-sponsored by NA’s Equity & Inclusion Team, Umojaa (now named the Black Student Union), featured historian Don S. Polite, Jr. speaking on “The Burden of Respectable Behaviour: Race and Gender Under the U.S. Jim Crow Empire.” The event, which took place in the Wilf Middle School Commons, brought together members of the NA community to have a facilitated discussion with Mr. Polite.

No Stopping NA Community Service

Regardless of the challenges, Newark Academy’s generosity of spirit and commitment to service never falters. Participating in national and regional events including Clean Ocean Action’s Fall Beach Sweep at Sandy Hook and the annual MLK Day of Service, NA students, faculty and staff serve the broader community through a variety of direct and indirect service efforts throughout the school year.
Even as the COVID-19 pandemic upended NA’s usual full slate of service and service learning programs, the Community Service Council quickly adjusted to a “new normal” by offering weekly community service challenges to students of all ages and their families. Each Monday, during the Spring 2020 campus shutdown, Director of Community Service Sarah Fischer and the 13-member Community Service Council posted a new opportunity for NA students who wanted to serve others and each one of those opportunities could be done from the comfort (and safety) of their own homes. “The challenges were based on the recognition that we were all in this (COVID lockdown) together and were designed to help create community despite being apart from others who needed help or support,” Sarah said. “The hope was that we could see service as a means of taking action even when we were forced to be inactive and stay home.”  Among the weekly challenges was a partnership between NA and the local organization Front Line Angels to make face masks for healthcare workers. “I haven’t done any sewing since 7th or 8th grade when I first learned, so seeing this challenge from the Community Service Council was pretty interesting to me. It gave me a chance to reignite the excitement I used to get from sewing,” Stella Gilbert ’22 said, adding, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to make these masks, to feel like I’m a part of something bigger than myself, despite the pandemic being out of my control.”

Athletics Growing, Giving, Impacting

2019-20 was a year of exciting change and growth in Minuteman Athletics. July 2019 saw the arrival of new Director of Athletics John Amosa, who joined NA from a similar position at Atlanta International School. John immediately began making his mark on the Minuteman by successfully recruiting new coaches, revising policies and procedures within the Department of Athletics, initiating events to bring together student-athletes, coaches and parents before the start of each season and completely revamping Minuteman Athletics’ presence on social media. “Communication is one of the keys to having successful athletic programs,” John said. “I intend to make sure that our coaches are keeping their student-athletes and parents informed and to share the success of our teams with the broader community on social media.”
John and the Minuteman teams had plenty of success stories to share during the Fall 2019 and Winter 2020 seasons, including a second consecutive state championship for boys’ cross country and NA’s first-ever state championship in boys’ fencing. Other highlights included an SEC Conference title for girls’ soccer and girls’ cross country. Unfortunately, COVID-19 school closures preempted the Spring 2020 season, but that is when John Amosa, the Athletic Department staff and NA coaches really got creative. Determined to build and maintain team cohesion despite the athletics hiatus, the Department of Athletics used every technology platform available to showcase the talents of student-athletes and the fun of being on a Newark Academy team. Workout videos, featuring Strength and Conditioning Coach Youthser Guerrero, kept student-athletes in shape. “Senior Salutes” on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, highlighted the contributions of team captains and other graduating student-athletes. And teams took to their own social media channels to post quirky skills tricks.
Despite a truncated spring season, Minuteman Athletics also celebrated seven members of the Class of 2020 who committed to continue their athletic careers in college. These included:
  • Lucas Rich, Lehigh University (Baseball)
  • Alison Bader John Hopkins University (Tennis)
  • Eleni Dakos, Kenyon College, (Tennis)
  • Nora Gaby-Biegel, Haverford College (Soccer)
  • Danning Hu, Carnegie Mellon University (Swimming)
  • Colin Murphy, McGill University (Baseball)
  • Carl Vestberg, Washington University (Soccer)

Growing Engagement and Giving COVID-19 Relief

Throughout the pandemic, the Newark Academy Alumni Board of Governors went above and beyond to keep the alumni community together, albeit virtually. With the cancelation of an in-person Spring Reunion, 107 alumni from class years ending in 0’s and 5’s from 1975 through 2015 gathered on Zoom for Newark Academy's first Virtual Reunion Celebration. Through the @newarkacademyalumni Instagram and Facebook accounts, Director of Alumni Relations Evan Nisenson ’99 hosted live chats with featured alumni. Guests included Actress/Programmer Lyndsey Scott ‘02; Founding General Partner of Eniac Ventures Nihal Mehta ’95, and Actor Akshay Oberoi ’03. Another NA virtual program featured Pamela Vichengrad ’94, a human resources manager at Honeywell International, who hosted a resume building workshop.
NA alumni who were/are on the frontlines of the pandemic were recognized throughout the spring semester, as were those who led efforts to support frontline workers. Emily Labdon ’16, a product design major at Marist College, harnessed the power of her 3D printer to make face shields, sending them directly to fellow alum Ruth Antwi ’10, R.N. who was working on a COVID floor at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson. Aman Patil ’17 hosted a food drive to help gather food for MEND, a food pantry network that supports local residents in need, and Lauren Jacobs-Lazer ’98 collected and delivered  supplies and snacks to frontline healthcare workers in a COVID unit at Morristown Medical Center.

Growing as Educators

Newark Academy faculty and staff members continue their education in a variety of ways through an organized program of professional development. The 2019-20 program included a session on how to stimulate and foster creativity in the classroom. Exploring how creativity can be fostered across the curriculum, the February 2020 professional development session began with an exercise of writing captions for New Yorker cartoons.  NA teachers and staff members then engaged in discussions about the role of creative thinking in their respective disciplines and departments and how such creativity is best taught. According to Director of Studies Jeff Vinikoor, who led the session, “Creativity is one of the 6Cs that are fostered through our curriculum at all grade levels. If we expect our students to understand and embrace creative thinking, we have to first make sure that we, as the adults in the building” are modeling that skill in our daily work and approach to teaching.  The program on creativity was one of the three annual professional development mornings that promote faculty and staff growth. These sessions are made possible through support from the NA Annual Fund. 

Preparing for Entry: NA Students Look to Careers of the Future

As the second decade of the 21st century began, Newark Academy sophomores and juniors had the opportunity to consider how seismic shifts in everything from artificial intelligence to globalization are impacting the types of work that will be available to them. This opportunity came through NA’s inaugural Future of Work Conference in October 2019.  The event featured a panel of professionals – from the New York Times’s Harvey Araton to Aero Farms’s Enrique Rodriguez – and more than a dozen other leaders from the business, law, government, technology and education sectors. Panelists offered thoughts on how their field has evolved in recent decades as well what skills would be the most sought after in years to come. Several of the panelists were Newark Academy parents or alumni including:
  • Ajay Dhankhar (parent) – Senior Partner - McKinsey & Company
  • Caroline Fullilove (parent) – Diversity Recruitment Manager ADP
  • Katherine Johnson ’11 (alumna) –Registered Architect - NK Architects
  • Basel Kayyali (parent) – Senior Partner - McKinsey & Company
  • Valarie Radwaner (parent) – Deputy Chair - Paul Weiss Rifkind,Wharton & Garrison LLP
  • James Solomon ’02 (alumnus) – Ward E Councilman, Jersey City

The event began with a keynote address by NA Trustee and parent Ajay Dhankhar, followed by break-out sessions where students could attend two sessions based on their career interests.
The Future of Work program was created to help NA students learn about the essential skills necessary for success in the workplace. This and other special programs are funded, each year, through donor support to the NA Annual Fund.

Learning From the Best in STEM

NA students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) had the opportunity to work alongside Dr. So Yeon Yoon, a renowned expert in artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Dr. Yoon is a professor at Cornell University where she leads the Design for User Experience with Technology (DUET) research lab. Her work involves applications of virtual reality technology and the intersection between the science behind VR and the user experience. Dr. Yoon’s visit to the NA campus in November resulted in summer learning opportunities in Cornell’s DUET lab for six NA students -- Ryan Kim ’22, Molly Cantillon ’21, Kaya Patel ’22, Kayla Cohen ’21, Julia Seebach ’23 and Lizzie Schwartz ’21. Despite restrictions due to the pandemic, each of the NA students completed a virtual summer internship at the lab and were invited to present their projects at The MixedReality@Cornell Consortium, a professional cross-disciplinary conference focusing on virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies. 
Another STEM expert, Dr. Pradeep Kumar, a Senior Portfolio Manager at Prudential Investments, visited Newark Academy in February. Dr. Kumar spoke to the students about his career path that began with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Later earning a Ph.D. in financial economics, he encouraged students with a variety of interests (e.g., arts and technology, math and music, etc.) to pursue all those interests and to recognize the importance of developing skills that are transferable and applicable to different professional fields. Today, Dr. Kumar’s work involves currency and bond trading in emerging global markets.
Throughout the school year, Newark Academy brings leading practitioners in STEM fields to campus to meet with interested NA students. These opportunities are among the many programs supported by gifts to the NA Annual Fund.

Twice as Nice: Class of 2020 Enjoys Multiple Celebrations

What do you give Newark Academy seniors who’ve lost so much? Thanks to COVID-19, Spring 2020 saw the annual Senior Prank fall by the wayside. Senior projects were limited to what could be done at home. Project Graduation and Senior Prom also fell victim to the pandemic. Yet, the Newark Academy faculty, staff and administration were determined to give the Class of 2020 a proper, if unique, send-off with multiple events. The festivities began on Sunday, June 7 with a virtual celebration of the class that featured both the Senior slideshow and a speech by Humanities faculty member and Polymnian dedication recipient Sean Cosgrove. Shortly after the online event concluded, NA Seniors, many with their parents in tow, arrived on campus for the school’s first-ever Senior Car Parade. Cars, trucks and SUVs were decked out with signs and streamers and some students donned their graduation caps and gowns. Convertible tops were dropped down and sunroofs opened as members of the Class of 2020 drove a loop from the Wilf Middle School parking lot, through the back of the campus, finishing outside the Simon Fieldhouse. Along the way, the students were able to see Good Luck banners from the Alumni Board of Governors, NAPA, the Arts Department and NA Athletics and they were greeted with good wishes from a proper social distance – by many of their favorite teachers, administrators and coaches.
Later in the summer, when pandemic restrictions were eased to permit larger gatherings outdoors, the Class of 2020 finally received their diplomas in an outdoor ceremony in front of the school.
Reimagining rigor for students in grades 6-12