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Newburgh’s Super School Not a National Finalist, but Still a Reality



     The Newburgh Enlarged City School District was notified on July 21, 2016, that it will not be selected as one of five national finalists for XQ: The Super School Project. Earlier this year on May 23, 2016, a team from the Newburgh Enlarged City School District submitted the final application to XQ: The Super School Project, a national challenge to rethink high school. The team believes their proposal created a school that invites students and community members to rethink citizenship, rethink equity and fairness, and rethink the way they work together to build the future of the City of Newburgh.

     Newburgh’s Superintendent of Schools Dr. Roberto Padilla said, “While the district is disappointed to have come this far and not be awarded the grant, we have garnered important and critical feedback from the process over the last year. The feedback is critical for the growth and success of our district. We will continue to strive towards making the Newburgh Enlarged City School District a district of excellence. On behalf of the NECSD, I want to thank everyone who contributed to this process.”

     Over the past year, the XQ committee reached out to students, educators, community members and parents to gain a better understanding of the needs of community; what they found was that there was a need to establish new partnerships that invite students to engage with the community, and the community to engage with students. The proposal is centered on the idea that the community itself will transform how education occurs in Newburgh. The proposal was informed by hundreds of voices from the Newburgh community. Mayor Judy Kennedy, parents, students, professors from Mount Saint Mary College and SUNY New Paltz, and members of the Newburgh Professional Business Association, the Board of Education and local community organizations were among the many constituents who contributed to the plan.

     In a statement from XQ: The Super School Project Contest, it was shared that opportunities will be forthcoming for Newburgh despite not advancing. “The passion, rigor, creativity, innovation, and invention in the applications have been nothing short of inspiring. America is restless to build, and is optimistic about building, a new American high school. We want to support as many teams as we can. It’s in that spirit that we are honoring additional teams with resources, separate and distinct from XQ: The Super School Project contest. We are announcing these honors beginning in September to recognize exceptional teams and ideas that are fundamentally reshaping how we approach high school in America.”

     Christine McCartney, an English Language Arts teacher at Newburgh Free Academy who helped lead the project explained, “Even though we don't have the financial support that we hoped for, this process helped us to build upon the dialogue that Dr. Padilla has been initiating between students, teachers, administrators and community members. Articulating the ideas of all stakeholders in Newburgh into a plan for the high school, whether immediately realized or not, was a worthwhile endeavor and can only lead to good things in the future.”

     Luis Aviles, the NECSD’s Director of Research and Grants shared, “Newburgh has an urgent need for a transformation and the ideas to make it happen have been taking shape. Let’s find strength in this outcome to move forward with our own project, shaped by the dreams and aspirations of our students, and funded by the efforts of our teachers and families. Rethinking high school is just the beginning, the real project is rethinking Newburgh, and we have already started that by daring our community to include themselves as partners in the process of community improvement.”