Newark Academy conferred the degrees of 101 students from the Class of 2022 at the 248th Commencement Exercises in the Kirby Gym on Sunday, June 12, 2022.
The Class of 2022 boasted 53 International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidates, 31 National Merit Scholars and 20 Cum Laude Society Members; led the Minutemen to eight state championships and two Tournament of Championship wins; and completed nearly 9,000 hours of community service since their freshman year.
“Even though most of your high school time happened during the pandemic, you pivoted, adapted and had a remarkable run, both in the classroom and outside the classroom,” said Head of School Donald M. Austin. He noted that the Class of 2022 were great supporters of each other and rebuilt the school spirit and traditions that were lost during the pandemic.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees Samuel W. (Sam) Croll III ’68 encouraged students to savor this moment they have worked so hard for and to always stay connected to Newark Academy.
Director of Equity and Inclusion Rochelle Edwards commended the Class of 2022 for practicing a growth mindset and remaining resilient throughout the turbulent past few years. “You have chosen kindness,” Rochelle said. “Your dedication shows that you know that this community is not just about you, but about the classes of students who will follow.”
Stella Gilbert ’22 was chosen by the Cum Laude Society to deliver the traditional T.C. Abbey Oration, recited each year at Commencement in honor of beloved teacher T.C. “Charlie” Abbey. Stella discussed the less traditional type of leadership she watched spread through the Class of 2022 – being the “first follower.” “A first follower has the power to turn a seemingly absurd person or idea into a movement by being the first to align themself with an issue. They’re the person who sees a leader and follows along, shifting it from a solo effort to a defined group,” she said, noting that no movements, ideas or even arts performances are possible without first followers.
Michael Pyo ’22 followed with an original poem titled, “We > Me,” to his fellow graduates. “While at times we might feel alone, this community will always be your home,” he said.
Milanis Rivas ’22 then introduced Upper School Principal Dr. Richard DiBianca who gave the Commencement Address. “My high school career serves as a testament to his encouragement, support and unwavering belief in students,” she said.
Dr. D, who is stepping down from the post after 24 years to return to the classroom full-time in the fall, took the opportunity to teach one last lesson to the Class of 2022 – the quest for the best education in college. He equated college to an all-inclusive resort, encouraging the graduates to become a “bubble master” during freshman year by discovering all of the opportunities the university has to offer, and then stepping outside of that bubble in the following years. He followed with the second stage of the quest for the best education in college which he called “adventure tourism,” – engaging with the place where you live and the location of your college. Concluding Dr. D’s quest for the best education, is the stage of “interpersonal immersion,” in which he called on the Class of 2022 to get to know the people outside of their college bubble.
“College will be a fun and engaging all-inclusive resort bubble, but getting the best education at college will require you to get outside of it,” he said. “That is stepping away from the ‘me.’ Getting to know the area your college is in will broaden your horizons, but interpersonal immersion provides the double benefit of educating you and adding social value. That is stepping towards the ‘we.’”
Mathematics faculty member Tony Ungaro, who is retiring after 47 years of service to the Academy, concluded the ceremony by quoting singer/songwriter George Aberle. “The greatest thing you will ever learn is to love and be loved in return,” he said.
Senior Class President Luke Waskow sent the graduates off with the traditional turning of the tassel and the throwing of the caps.
To watch the entire 2022 Commencement Ceremony, click here
To view the full Facebook photo album, click here