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Newburgh Free Academy

“School Is Cool” Program Provides Backpacks to over 500 NECSD Students


Recently, the Newburgh Enlarged City School District with the support of local businesses and community service organizations hosted the annual School Is Cool: Back to School BBQ Bash at Gidney Avenue Memorial School (GAMS). In an effort to assist young scholars attending public schools in the District, the NECSD handed out just over 500 backpacks with grade-level aligned supplies. GAMS, through the support of their school community professionals and staff and generous friends, provided backpacks to their families to welcome their young scholars back to school.

Community-based organizations offered face painting, arts and crafts, and family fun activities. The CBOs also distributed information regarding health insurance, afterschool programs, and services for children, youth and families. Young scholars and their families were also treated to a tasty BBQ. Supplies include composition books, notebooks, binders, paper, pens, pencils, dictionaries, scientific calculators, scissors, crayons and much more. School Is Cool began in 2003 with a small group of volunteer parents and community members partnering with the Newburgh Enlarged City School District to help families support the school readiness of their young scholars. The distribution of backpacks at this event was 175. Since that initial event, the distribution has grown steadily each year.

Also in attendance representing the District were Ms. Carole Mineo, President of the Board of Education, Mr. Philip Howard, member of the Board of Education, and Dr. Roberto Padilla, Superintendent of Schools. “Our District Mantra this year is, Do it With Love. This event reflected our mantra perfectly. Passing exams and meeting state requirements are important, but nothing we do should supersede the important work of building and nurturing loving relationships. As educators, we understand how education transforms the lives of children and their families, and School Is Cool ensures that our young scholars are ready for the school year, ” commented Dr. Padilla.

Event Coordinator, Pamela Peterson, Director of Family and Community Engagement, said, “the best part of the event is seeing a child smile as you hand them a backpack and school supplies. Many of them are excited about the new school year.”

Community Partners included: Newburgh Lions Club, Boys and Girls Club of Newburgh, Newburgh Free Library, Department of Health, Planned Parenthood, Orange County Youth Bureau, Maternal Infant Services Network, YWCA of Orange County, Christ Lutheran Church, Life Chapel Newburgh, Newburgh Anti-Poverty Task Force/United Way of Dutchess-Orange Region, The WIC Program, MVP Health Care, Fidelis Health Care, Freihofer’s Bakery, Barnes and Noble, New York Civic Engagement, Healthy Families, NECSD Adult Basic Education, and Price Chopper.

“This was truly a team effort by a caring and supportive community. Because of their generosity, our scholars are off to a great start,” said Dr. Padilla.



Superintendent Dr. Padilla helps people check in to the event.
Vendors lined the outdoor area and talk to attendees after event.
Attendees visit a booth for one of the community partners
Board President Carole Mineo helps pass out backpacks to students.


Board members Carole Mineo and Phil Howard help distribute backpacks.
Two students are excited about their backpacks and schools supplies.
Anthony Grice helps check in attendees.
Volunteers BBQ for the attendees


Additional community partners
Backpacks are stacked up and ready to distribute.
The boxes of school supplies are organized by grade level and ready to distribute.
Volunteers ready to distribute backpacks




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