Superhero Ambition: of the Class of 2013

It has been ten years since I stepped out onto the field of my high school to accept a Regents diploma from the State of New York. That time was filled with possibility and excitement about what adulthood would have in store and what college might bring. Few times in life are as pivotal as this, craving entry through a door where upon looking back, nothing ever looks the same again. It is that very moment which brings us fatefully forward and closer to our destiny

Two brilliant minds at the head of their class of 662 students are Newburgh Free Academy's Valedictorian: Alexandra Morehead (left) and Salutatorian: Ashley Torres (right). The young women helped make commencement at Newburgh Free Academy graduation ceremony on the evening of Tuesday, June 25th humble and precocious as they subtly imparted wisdom and laughter on to friends, family and the community that they love.

Fun fact: This was the second year in a row that two women took the number 1 and 2 academic positions among Newburgh's graduating class. 

The two are fun-loving and poised, their smiles showing their essence. Each of them is invested not only in strong academic performance, but they left no interest unturned, packing their schedules with everything Newburgh Free Academy had to offer.

Alexandra spent 3 of her high school years working on the Solar Car team, 4 years on the debate team (she even went to nationals last year), and served as president of the National Honor Society. Her sport of choice on campus was fencing. Off-campus she enjoyed ballroom dancing and even studied the craft in Poland. Alexandra was accepted by her first choice school: Harvard University in Boston where she will heavily pursue sciences as something of a pre-med. Since they don't offer that program exactly, she will be able to create her own concentration at a school she chose for its rich-with-research qualities where she will delve into the world of microbiology and immunology. 

Ashley took to the field as a proud Goldback as a varsity soccer player. She also spent 5 years on the women's lacrosse team.  In-between games you might find her working on the campus TV project making videos for up-and-coming freshman. She served as class president at NFA North campus, and is active at her church, Sacred Heart, in Newburgh. Ashley also gave her time (after homework was finished) to being an active military teen with New York Air National Guard Teen Council in honor of her Dad who at one time worked as a C5 engineer at Stewart Field. These were the pieces that helped Ashley decide to enlist in Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. They offered her a full ride. She reported for duty the morning after graduation at 7am.  (Dad watched Ashley deliver her graduation speech via Skype.)

I listened gleefully on graduation day as Alexandra addressed her peers. She made no mention of her personal accomplishments, instead struck a playful and universal chord drawing parallels between her classmates and none other than Batman. "Anyone can be a hero," she said as she meandered through the list of everyday characteristics that define the mythological man, landing on his work ethic as the source of his greatest strength. She concluded by encouraging her peers to let their passions seek them. The statement was poignant and malleable, lending itself to easy-application among all the graduates. She gave everyone something to reflect upon in the years ahead.  

Both she and Ashley in interview and on the field giving their speeches were confident and charismatic. It is clear that they made the most of their time on campus, letting the multi-cultural community be a place to learn from as well. And, yes, graduation day should feel like winning an epic battle. We are analogous with Batman, fighting for a chance to prove ourselves, calling on our inner-superhero to discover strength we didn't know we had in pursuit of our dreams. 

As their senior of 10 years, I look promisingly to them to see what the future will hold and how it will be pioneered. I celebrate them, two exemplary women who applied themselves wholeheartedly often forgoing sleep to get the job done each and every time. The pair seem wise beyond their years, with much hard work ahead they simply smiled. The future, if it be them, looks bright from here. 

Congratulations girls, and Congratulations to all of the grads of the class of 2013! 

This is yours, keep it safe.