By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – Wall Street does it at 9:30am to begin the trading day, and now The Newburgh Enlarged School District (NECSD) will make ringing a bell an annual ritual to officially welcome in the new school year.
Last Wednesday the first “Ring the Bell Ceremony” took place inside the South Middle School Auditorium. With the entire sixth grade population in attendance, along with some select community members, honored for their powerful and positive effect on students’ lives, Dr. Roberto Padilla, Superintendent of the NECSD, provided Welcome Remarks, inciting excitement for the 2019-20 school year.
“Welcome to middle school where you will have multiple opportunities for success,” said Padilla, who urged students to ask for help if they needed any at all. “Think about all of the success you have had in elementary school; I realize there is more to get to know now, but you will be successful, and you have many people cheering you on.”
Some of those pivotal supporters-each invited to “Ring the Bell”- were seated on the auditorium’s stage. In addition to several School Board Members in attendance, there were five special guests who were recognized. Selected as the 2019 “Ring the Bell” Honorees, the five community members have made their imprint on both their community in general as well as its youth.
First, there was Joe Alvarez, leader of We are Newburgh and a promoter of peace, love and unity in the community. The Kaplan Family was cited for their commitment to youth through the Newburgh Armory Unity Center and the Kaplan Family Foundation. New Windsor Councilwoman, Patricia Y. Mullarkey, rang the bell for ensuring NECSD students get the best education and facilities possible. Maddalena Casabianca-Reade was honored for her healthy living promotion as well as dedication to raising awareness for cancer research and organ donation through Lap for Life. Finally, Kevin White was recognized for his work with the Boys & Girls Club of Newburgh, providing multiple opportunities for youth.
The event, which also included a South Middle School student ringing the bell, was met with great applause and cheers. It’s that very excitement that Dr. Padilla and the entire district are hoping will carry over throughout the school year. It’s also one of the many reasons each of the honorees felt incredibly fortunate to be a part of this special, new tradition.
“When I was contacted by Dr. Padilla as being selected as an honoree, I was completely overwhelmed; you just don’t expect things like this,” said Casabianca- Reade. “I do Lap for Life from my heart, and to be recognized for a labor of love, leaves me speechless; the support has been magical, and the event has taken on a life of its own.”
Reflecting further, the extremely touched Casabianca-Reade added, “This is the inaugural year of this Opening Ceremony that starts everything off on a positive note, and I’m just so honored to be a part of this wonderful district and have two children who are in it.”