Top Grads Announced for NFA Class of 2024

NEWBURGH – The Newburgh Enlarged City School District announces Valedictorian & Salutatorian for the Class of 2024.

Sarah Hyun is the Valedictorian for Newburgh Free Academy’s class of 2024.

Next year, Sarah plans to study abroad at the Richmond American University of London for the fall semester and continue her post-secondary education path at the University of Southern California. Sarah plans to study Music Industry and Business Administration. Prior to attending Newburgh Free Academy, Sarah attended Balmville Elementary School and Heritage Middle School.

While at Newburgh Free Academy, Sarah has been a member of the Student Council, Science Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, National Honor Society (Treasurer), and Asian American & Pacific Islander Club (Secretary and Treasurer). She was also in the Ski and Snowboard Club and an active volunteer photographer at several school events. Sarah was a four-time winner of the NFA Talent Show, receiving the Judges’ Favorite Award for her original son in 2022 and 2023, first place Vocal in 2023 for her original song, and first place Group Performance for her original song with Polarity the Band (@polaritytheband on Instagram).

Sarah has completed independent studies for Music Production, AP Music Theory, Photo 2 & 3 and notes Ms. Gina Carbone and Dr. Paul Carroll as teachers who have inspired and supported her throughout her high school career. She also notes Mr. Matthew Abate as one of her favorite teachers, always making an effort to make class fun for everyone.
Sarah plans to work in the music industry but is keeping her options open as far as specific career goals. She is interested in the possibilities of managing bands/artists, scouting talent, being a publicist, etc. Earlier this year, Sarah received a 2024 YoungArts award in Singer-Songwriting. From more than 9,000 applicants, across nine artistic disciplines, Sarah was selected. Hyun has been recognized for her caliber of achievement and joins nearly 700 of the most accomplished young visual, literary, and performing artists from across the country, heralding the next generation of artists to watch. YoungArts award winners are selected through a highly competitive application, which is reviewed by panels of esteemed, discipline-specific artists in a rigorous adjudication process.

“I know that I’ll always do music and songwriting, so I hope to apply the skills I learn in school to my own music/concert photography career,” Sarah shared.

Outside of school, Sarah interns at the NYS Music Publication, focusing on concert photography (Steve Lacy, Laufey, Beabadoobee, and more across NY and NJ) and writing for their website. She is also a freelance photographer for weddings, parties, and events.
Sarah is the lead singer/songwriter of an alternative rock band called Polarity (@polaritytheband on Instagram) and has written songs and held performances in/outside of school with solo performances at DuBois Farm, Newburgh Illuminated, as well as other venues.

Sarah is a Gold Key recipient (highest award) of the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition for her concert photography portfolio (2024) and is currently under review for national consideration. She was the winner of the Hamilton Education Contest (2023) for my original son and has been invited to perform at the annual Gilder-Lehrman Institute Gala in NYC (all-expense paid trip). Sarah is a Student Advisory Council member for Gilder-Lehman Institute of American History.

Sarah credits her parents and her Uncle Gin for having a huge influence on her, pushing her to try her hardest in school, while also encouraging her to focus time on her music and photography.

When asked what advice she has to share with younger students, Sarah shared: “Make sure you find something that you really love or really want to pursue and go after it. Don’t be afraid to try something because you think you’ll fail. No one gets anywhere without taking chances.”

Sarah’s sister, Sophia Hyun was the Valedictorian for the Class of 2021.

Anakin Landolfa is the Salutatorian for Newburgh Free Academy’s class of 2024.

Anakin plans to attend Princeton University to study Electrical & Computer Engineering this fall. Prior to attending Newburgh Free Academy, Anakin attended Fostertown Elementary School and Heritage Middle School.

Anakin is the President of both the NFA Debate team and the NFA Chemistry Club. He is a Senior Team Member and Novice Recruiter of the NFA Cyberpatriots (a National Youth Cyber Education Program created by the Air & Space Forces Association). Anakin is a member of the National Honor Society and New York State Science Honors Society. Anakin is also an athlete, as a member of the NFA Unified Bowling team, NFA Crew team, and NFA Ski & Snowboarding Club.

Giving back to our community, Anakin is a Teacher and Evening Program Team Leader for the Computer Science Education Program at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center.

In the future, Anakin wants to either be at the head of one of the largest STEM companies in the world or at the forefront of research that brings us closer to a technological utopia. At NFA, his favorite classes have been Physics, Calculus, and Computer Science.

Anakin expressed his sincere thanks to several people who have supported his academic journey, first and foremost his family for instilling his sense of ambition and sense of morality throughout his development.

He acknowledged several teachers for sparking his passion for different academic subjects. Specifically, Anakin expressed thanks for Mr. Kenny (Physics), Mr. Guzman (Calculus), and Mrs. Thomas-Cappello (Computer Science) for helping him discover the interests that led to his desired major and career.

Anakin also expressed thanks for his fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Santana for getting him started on his college journey and encouraging him to apply to Princeton, back in elementary school.

Anakin acknowledged his coworkers and bosses at the Newburgh Armory for making his job such an incredible opportunity.

Last, but not least, Anakin expressed thanks to his great friends for their great moments and laughs, specifically one of his closest friends, Sarah, for being my bestie for much of their high school career. He also expressed thanks to his cousin Tommy for being his other half and being with him on all their adventures. Finally, Anakin expressed thanks to Julian Lamar because he is Julian Lamar.

When asked for advice that he would like to share with his younger colleagues, Anakin shared, “ The odds that a radioactive cow will burst through the window and eat you are low, but not zero. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how unlikely something is to work, try it anyway.”

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