BPL 2020 Commencement Address - Jordan Patterson

 Four years. Four years is all you get for high school. To many, it is the biggest trial of their life. However, that is not how it was for me. For me, being a student from NFA West will always be the greatest four years of my life.

If you asked me four years ago if I wanted to come to a small school with small classroom sizes and, because it has housed in a former elementary school, practically small everything, I definitely would have said “no”. However, fortunately, I didn't really have a say in the matter. When my mom was younger, she had to enroll at one of the two other high schools in the area. Newburgh is not viewed as the “greatest” place in the world, and that includes its schools. Therefore, when it was my turn to start my high school career, my mom wanted to keep me away from trouble. Luckily, a third NFA building, NFA West, was opening and my mom jumped at the opportunity.

When I first started out at West, my goal was to keep a low profile. I did not want to stand out much and I definitely wanted to stay out of trouble. However, since NFA West is a Big Picture School, things didn't go exactly as planned. For starters, internships. Students had to find local businesses in the community to intern at depending on our interests. I have been and still am interested in technology since I was younger. At first, I was nervous about working at an internship because I was not an outgoing person at the time. Over the course of four years, I have had three internships and three unique mentors. While they can all tell you that communication is not my strong suit, little by little I have become a better communicator. Exhibitions also challenged me to speak publicly. I have done numerous exhibitions up to this point and while I have become a better public speaker, I still feel there is room to grow. 

Thanks to West, I have also built plenty of important relationships with other students, teachers, and countless mentors. Since the school is small, you really get to know everyone around you. This is especially the case with advisories. You practically become a family, whether you like it or not. I have created bonds with the mentors I had and I will always remember them. Last but certainly not least, my guidance counselor. She is the person who has constantly pushed me to be the best I can be every single day and I cannot ever be more grateful than I already am for it.

Something I am the most proud of is when I was inducted into the National Honor Society last year. This was one of my greatest academic achievements. It was solid proof of the hard work I put into my academics and showed my progress on my social skills. I remember staying after school to finish writing the essay on why I deserved to be inducted with my advisor. When I walked onto the stage to grab my certificate I felt nervous but also so accomplished.

If it were not for Big Picture, NFA West would not have existed. In addition, if NFA West never existed then I probably would not have the knowledge or experiences that I have had up until now. Coming to West was the best thing that could have happened to me. I’ve made friendships that I’m sure will last a lifetime, I’ve learned life lessons that will stick with me as I journey into the real world, and I’ve gained knowledge on what I love; technology. Some advice I can give to current and future Big Picture scholars would be to be yourself, do your work, and keep your head held up high.