Newark Academy students, faculty, staff and representatives from our Alumni Board of Governors gathered together to kick off the 2022-23 school year with the annual Convocation ceremony on Thursday, September 7 in the Coraci Performance Hall. The event highlighted the annual Convocation address, delivered by alumnus and Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon ’02, and recognized long-serving faculty and staff.
“The wonderful thing about the school calendar is that every fall offers the promise of new beginnings,”said Head of School Donald M. Austin in his welcoming remarks. Mr. Austin closed by asking students to think about the ways in which they can both draw strength from Newark Academy and contribute positively to the experience of others.
“We’re not here just to get straight A’s and into college, we’re here to build a foundation of knowledge that allows us to find, excel at, and pursue our passions,” said Student Council President Harold Fullilove III ’23. “Find that thing you won’t shut up about and use that passion to leave a permanent mark on the NA community.”
Dean of Faculty Traci Osterhagen Brock recognized milestone awards for long-serving faculty and staff. Shun-Yao Chang, Rachel Shapiro Cooper, Bella Galvez, Felipe Ledezma, Tim McCall, Alexis Sommers, Reyther Ortega, Patty Pascal, Margaret Purcell and James Worrell received awards for five years. Diana Fernandes and Stephanie Hammond received awards for 10 years. Don Austin, Bill Hobson, Viraj Lal and Julius Tolentino received awards for 15 years. Benson Hawk, Betsy LaPadula, Maria Teresa McNeilly-Anta, Kerry Winiarski and Mary Ellen Weinel received awards for 20 years. Director of Counseling Carol Spooner was honored for her 30 years of service to Newark Academy.
During his keynote speech, James recalled seeing the words “all beginnings are hard” written on the chalkboard in his very first college class. He shared these words with Newark Academy students, faculty and staff as they embarked on the new school year. “I hope that phrase provides you with a dose of perspective, a little bit of compassion, as you weather the ups and downs of finding your place here,” he said.
James, a cancer survivor, went on to detail his journey battling lymphoma and how the two things that got him through the hard time were laughter and community — including his friends from Newark Academy who took him out for walks, brought him meals and provided him comfort through his recovery.
Concluding his remarks, James left one final piece of advice for students, “I hope that as you move through NA and the rest of your lives … that each of you will take this year to erase the difficulty of beginnings, knowing that with perseverance, with strength, with passion, with laughter and with community, you can use this year to build or build upon foundations that will last your lifetimes.”