NEWBURGH – Newburgh Free Academy is proud to announce Sophia Hyun and Jacob Johnston as the NFA Class of 2021 Valedictorian and Salutatorian, respectively. Both scholars attend Newburgh Free Academy Main Campus.
More about Valedictorian, Sophia Hyun:
Sophia Hyun has been named the Newburgh Free Academy Class of 2021 Valedictorian. Prior to attending Newburgh Free Academy Main Campus, Sophia attended Balmville Elementary School and Heritage Middle School. Sophia is the daughter of Dale Hyun and Mina Park. Her siblings Sarah Hyun and Victoria Park currently attend NFA Main and Fostertown School.
Earlier this fall, Sophia was named a Commended Student in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program in the fall. Commended Students are recognized for the exceptional academic promise demonstrated by their outstanding performance on the qualifying test used for program entry.
After graduating from Newburgh Free Academy Main Campus, Sophia plans to attend the University of Southern California next year to study Computer Science with a focus on Game Development. She plans to become a Video Game Developer. Currently, Sophia enjoys her STEM classes the most, especially AP Physics. Sophia also really enjoyed VisCom (Visual Communication and Design) when she took the class in freshman and sophomore year.
Aside from her academics, Sophia is part of Science Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. She joined the NFA Anime Club her freshman year. Sophia is currently part of the Guidance Advisory Council and was a peer tutor her junior year.
Outside of school, Sophia has been virtually volunteering with the Library of Congress’s By the People and Be My Eyes, to help blind and low-vision people lead more independent lives. Sophia also manages an online print-on-demand shop where she sells her graphic designs.
Sophia credits her parents, her fourth grade teacher, Mr. Mohammed, and her 11th grade English teacher, Mrs. Mordecai-Moore for teaching her valuable lessons and helping her reflect and adjust her approach to academics and life in general.
When asked what advice Sophia has for younger scholars, she said, “Be honest with yourself. If you have a specific goal in mind, be serious about dedicating time and effort towards achieving it. At the same time, be realistic with your expectations and take a break when you need it. You know yourself best, and lying to yourself will only harm you in the long run.”
More about Salutatorian, Jacob Johnston:
Jacob Johnston has been named the Newburgh Free Academy Class of 2021 Salutatorian. Prior to entering NFA Main Campus, Jacob attended Horizons on the Hudson and Heritage Middle School. Jacob is the son of Andrew and Hannah Johnston. Jacob’s sister Ada, graduated from Newburgh Free Academy Main Campus in 2019.
Earlier this fall, Jacob was a semi-finalist for the 2021 National Merit Scholarship program.
After graduating from Newburgh Free Academy, Jacob plans to attend RPI to study computer science. Jacob plans to be a software developer or video editor.
Aside from academic excellence, Jacob has played tennis since he was in 9th grade and made the Varsity team his junior year. Additionally, Jacob has played the trumpet since he was in 3rd grade. Jacob is also a member of the NFA Debate Team. Jacob thinks back fondly to his days in elementary school, remembering his favorite teacher, “My favorite teacher was my 5th grade teacher, Ms. Hoffman, who let us do lots of creative writing. I had a lot of fun in that class, making comic books and written stories.”
Outside of school, Jacob has explored his interest in computer science in a variety of ways. He has taken online classes, independent of his high school curriculum. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Jacob has developed a simple mobile game called “Orbit Hit,” available on the iOS app store. Jacob is currently interested in web development and created the game for fun as a way to develop his skills. Jacob was the winner of the Hudson Valley Hackathon in 2019 and 2020, in which groups had to develop application prototypes and pitch their creations to judges. Jacob has also taken an interest in video editing, and has been making videos in his free time.