As a senior, Nikolas Paladino ’16 can look back on his almost four years as a Crusader and review the “firsts” in his life. Before following his brothers, Artie (2008) and Chris (2010), to Bergen Catholic, Niko claims to have been shy, reluctant to sing or speak in public, and somewhat unfocused. Perhaps Niko was too hard on himself but to see him today, just a few months before graduation, is to see a self-as-sured, resolute young man.  Niko embraced the Crusader philosophy of striving for excellence in body, mind, and spirit while preparing for a lifetime of leadership and service to others. He excels academically and has made the Principal’s List with an average of 95 or higher.

As the Vice President of the Student Government Association, he takes his social leadership role seriously, helping to coordinate activities, representing fellow students’ concerns, and assisting underclassmen as they adapt to the school. He remembers the “off balance” feeling of starting in a new school and adjusting to new schedules, teachers and particularly, e-textbooks. A system of learning that seemed strange at first now flows easily, allowing him to help others make the same transition. Niko also participates in many clubs and extracurricular activities, rarely leaving campus for home until well after classes have ended. He participates in the Men’s Vocal Ensemble, learning and performing diverse styles of music including classical, spiritual, and pop. Finding his voice was a major first step in his growth process. Now, Niko regularly uses his voice in public speaking, most recently as the featured speaker for the Scarlet and Gold Open House in October. He is also the Captain of the Mock Trial team, a member of Bergen Catholic’s leadership program (SHIELD), an employee at the bookstore, and a writer for the Newspaper Club.

“Speaking and writing is important to me,” said Niko. “In my classes and activities at Bergen Catholic, I’ve learned how our language works. My plan after college is to attend law school and, as a lawyer, give voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.” Niko Paladino is confidently looking towards his future because he knows that he stands on a firm foundation. “Bergen Catholic has made me the person I am,” he stated. “I stand taller now, I speak louder, and I’m looking forward to what comes next for me.” We are too, Niko. We are too.