From Donald M. Austin, Head of School
May 17, 2018
Design with Purpose
May 17, 2018
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From the Hallways to the Highways

How do Newark Academy students spend their summers?

Like generations of Minutemen past, today’s Newark Academy students spend their summers learning, working, growing and playing. Yet recent trends in how students spend their summers reflect broader economic and cultural shifts. On the one hand, today’s students are less likely to take summer jobs than were students in the second half of the 20th century; youth summer employment nationally is at an all-time low. On the other hand, today’s students are more likely to participate in structured programs. Service trips, academic enrichment courses, athletic training camps and artistic conservatories are among the most popular.

Since the implementation of the Immersion Experience graduation requirement, travel has become an increasingly purposeful activity for NA students. To fulfill their requirement, many students participate in excursions organized by a Newark Academy faculty member or by an approved third party. Every year, a handful of students even design their own immersive programs. Director of Immersion Experiences Maria Teresa McNeilly-Anta ’93 has worked with students to create a range of opportunities – from volunteering at a medical clinic in Senegal to living with a family in Denmark in order to learn Danish. “I’m always impressed by the sense of adventure among our student body,” says Maria Teresa. “There are few places our students haven’t been –or don’t want to go.”

An ever-increasing number of students are also seeking to use their summers to develop their skills and experiences in the STEM fields. Science faculty member Nancy Celente, who holds the newly created position of STEM coordinator, matches students with internships and research opportunities. In recent years, NA students have interned as medical investigators at hospitals, lab assistants at universities, and programmers at technology companies. “The value of these summer experiences is unparalleled,” says Nancy. “The students return from them with such passion for science and technology.”

No matter how they spend their summers, all NA students find opportunities to reflect upon and, in many cases, enhance the learning they engage in throughout the academic year. In the pages that follow, we profile eight of these students, whose summer undertakings reflect the breadth of interests found among the student body.

Stephanie Do ’19, Lab Assistant at Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine

What will your work this summer involve?
I will be assisting in the Loh Lab and managing a specific project regarding part of early brain development. I will be working with stem cells and using different proteins to signal them to different steps in development.

What are you most looking forward to at the Institute this summer?
I am looking forward to working with tissue culture and learning even more about stem cells and brain patterning. Last summer, I found it amazing to work with PhDs and undergrad students because they taught me so much more than I could have imagined. I am looking forward to seeing my work friends again.

Nate Drogin ’22, Golf Training and Tournaments

When did you start golfing?
I started golfing when I was two years old. I love it because it can be very competitive or just for fun. I do some golf-specific is a professional golf teacher, and she’s taught me a lot.

What role will golfing play in your summer?
Golfing is pretty much my whole summer. Every day, I will go to the golf course and play. I don’t do much else besides golf. I am looking forward to playing in tournaments as well. I just love playing the sport as much as I can.

Gianna Porcek ’20, Immersion Experience Living with a host family in Fiji

What will you do in Fiji?
In addition to traveling around the island and exploring Fiji’s waterfalls, rainforests and other natural wonders, I will spend 14 days in a host village, living with the locals and working on service projects. One of the projects involves building a kindergarten and working with children in the village.

Why Fiji?
I have never gone to a country like Fiji before. I am really excited to explore the cultural aspect of the country rather than what visitors usually come for: the beautiful beaches. My trip will also fulfill my NA Immersion graduation requirement.

Sammi Powell ’19, Senior Company Member at Paper Mill Playhouse Summer Conservatory

What is the Paper Mill Playhouse Summer Conservatory?
The Summer Conservatory at Paper Mill is a five-week intensive auditioned arts program. As a Senior Company Member, I’ll be taking three different classes –Musical Theatre Audition Workshop, Acting and Dance – and attending voice lessons. At the end of the summer, we put on a concert called New Voices.

What are you most looking forward to in the Conservatory this summer?
Definitely the dancing. I used to hate dancing because I’m not the best at it. But during the Conservatory last year, I danced so much that I started to actually really like it!

Rohan Gadhvi ’23, Spending the summer with friends and family and going to Camp Yawgoog

What is your typical summer day?
Many days, my friends and I go to the pool for the entire day. We then play billiards. I usually help my dad cook dinner. At night, my parents, sister and I might play a board game like Risk or Monopoly.

And you’ll also be attending camp?
I’ll be spending a week at Camp Yawgoog, a sleepaway camp in Rockville, Rhode Island. I’ve been a camper there for the last two summers. Every night, we have a campfire, sing songs and perform skits. Although the food isn’t the best, the exciting atmosphere makes camp an awesome experience.

Spencer Wang ’19, Translator at the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music

What does your work as a translator involve?
This will be my second year working as a translator for the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music. Each summer, theConservatory invites the best young pianists, cellists and violinists from around China to New York to take lessons from established American music teachers, performers and composers. These young Chinese musicians don’t speak English, so I translate instructions into Mandarin.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of translation?
Last summer, I loved interacting with the kids. Their ages ranged from eight to eighteen years old, so to many of them I seemed less like a towering adult and more like a fellow peer or an older brother. Having dialogues with people who shared my racial background but had a completely different upbringing was eye-opening, yet it made me realize how similar we are.

Lauren Dougherty ’19, Food Prep and Service at Montclair Beach Club

What will your work involve?
I have worked at the snack bar for several summers. I am a “salad girl,” which means I make all the sandwiches, salads and wraps. In addition to preparing and making food, I help out at the counter by taking customer orders. I also take inventory and help sort out our deliveries.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?
I know some customers very well and always look forward to seeing them. For example, we all know the usual order for an older woman named Charlotte. We always bring her meal to her lounge chair because she has trouble walking. Each year she writes us a kind letter, thanking us for giving her “celebrity treatment.”

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