NEWBURGH – On Thursday, June 22, members of the Newburgh Free Academy Class of 2023 arrived at their high school for the last time as high school students. They hurried inside to find their respective class to make final wardrobe adjustments before they lined up in front of NFA to form the academic processional of graduates. With a motorcycle police escort, the NFA JROTC Color Guard led the way down South Street, onto Academy Field.
NFA North Principal Matteo Doddo offered welcoming remarks to the family, friends and graduates of the Class of 2023.
Doddo said, “We are all filled with emotion of excitement and hope, hope of our community and our students.”
“We are humbled that we live and work in such a diverse and special place. But we are at times defined by negative and perceived reputation of this beautiful community,” Doddo continued. “As Goldbacks for life, you are defined by how our community is defined. We are defined by a reputation that circumvents the true meaning of a Goldback. A Goldback is strong, our Goldbacks have committed to excellence, our Goldbacks who dream of a future that will bring happiness, failure, promise, victory, defeat, success, and the blue and gold pride of being an alum of NFA.” He then reflected upon an unfortunate evening, on September 30, when “an unthinkable event happened here after a football game. It was an event that we often see in the news in other places. But now it happened in our house. However, we were quickly defined as such, quote, ‘it’s typical Newburgh, it’s who they are, it’s what they are.’ But no one focused on the actions and of the staff that kept everyone safe. And especially the actions of our players who assisted the young people to safety and protected them.”
Doddo concluded, “I tell you today that we will not be defined by negativity or perception. We will be defined by our sports teams who will accomplish scholar athlete status. We will be defined by the many performing arts students who perform, dance, sing and master their craft. We will be defined by our students in ROTC, CNA, criminal justice P-TECH, culinary, barbering, cosmetology, automotive, construction academy, job board, and on and on and on. We will be defined by outstanding academic students, both high honors and those who have worked to improve their grades to become successful students and are here today with us. We will be defined by events like today, our graduation that makes us Goldbacks for life!”
Newburgh Free Academy Valedictorian Aarav Shah was honored to be representing the Class of 2023.
In expressing his sincere gratitude, Shah thanked all the parents and teachers for their, “unwavering dedication, passion and motivation” which he called the driving force behind the graduates success. He acknowledged their countless sacrifices to prepare them for the challenges beyond graduation to ensure they have the tools and opportunities to thrive.
Shah told the Class of 2023 that, “the constant pressure to excel can be overwhelming at times and it can be tempting to become solely focused on the end result. However, it is important to remember that true growth lies not only in the destination, but in the journey itself.”
Following the speeches, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jackielyn Manning Campbell certified the Class of 2023 and members of the Board of Education handed out the diplomas.