Newark Academy students, faculty, staff and representatives from our Alumni Board of Governors gathered together to kick off the Academy’s historic 250th school year with the annual Convocation ceremony on Wednesday, September 6 in the Coraci Performance Hall.
The event included a keynote address by Pulitzer Prize-winning alumna Dr. Salamishah Tillet ’92, the debut of a 250th anniversary celebration video and the recognition of long-serving faculty and staff.
“Newark Academy has endured for 250 years because of its spirit of resilience, the resolve and commitments of its teachers and leaders, and the school’s capacity to adapt,” said Head of School Donald M. Austin in his welcoming remarks. “We all benefit from the experience of those that have come before us … simply knowing that thousands of students who walked these halls before you faced similar challenges and have gone on to live lives of meaning and purpose should give you the confidence to know that you too will thrive and succeed, even if there are setbacks along the way.”
School Council President Jamie Shen ’24 addressed her peers and encouraged them to embrace change, even when it may be daunting. “As we come together and celebrate the 250th year of evolution that has brought us the education, arts, athletics and community we have today, I would like to tell everyone in this room that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing and being exactly who you’re supposed to be,” she said. “Just like Newark Academy … you just need time to grow.”
Dean of Faculty Traci Osterhagen Brock recognized milestone awards for long-serving faculty and staff. Jim Coe, Rochelle Edwards, Cori Eggert, Kathleen Ollen, Danny Petrillo, Noelle Shirey and Ian Vallone received awards for five years. Jessica Cohen, Moussa Fall, Dana Pomykala, Alexis Romay received awards for 10 years. Lisa Mulligan, Eileen Petrillo, Beth Sparacino, Marissa Stephenson and Jeff Vinikoor received awards for 15 years. Tom Ashburn and Rich DiBianca received awards for 25 years. Nancy Celente and Deb Tavares were honored for 30 years of service to Newark Academy.
During her keynote speech, Salamishah asked that students spend this historic year celebrating investigation, diving into inquiry, embracing life’s messiness, trying to repair what has been lost and being excited about what there is to discover.
“You have more access to information than any generation before you, which means that you understand how the past lives on today and also how we might learn from it to be kinder to each other, to look out for one another and to actually change the inequalities that we’ve inherited that benefit some of us while still hurting many of us today,” she said.
Concluding her remarks, Salamishah looked 250 years into the future with hope that another generation of Newark Academy students will look back on this generation with pride.
The ceremony concluded with the singing of NA’s new alma mater, Toward the Light, composed by Music Teacher Jack Bender, performed by Academy Voices and conducted by Arts Department Chair Viraj Lal.