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Lower School News
Third-graders celebrate their grandparents and 'grandfriends'
Durham Academy third-graders celebrated the USA before an audience of their grandparents and "grandfriends" April 11 with a morning of song and dance, as well as with a video detailing the history of some of their special guests. View the full version of the video at, and view more photos from the day on Flickr.
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Big kids welcome little kids and promote DA-Ravenscroft lacrosse game
Editor’s note: The DA-Ravenscroft game has been rescheduled for Wednesday, April 9, at 4:30 p.m. 

Six members of the varsity boys lacrosse team were opening car doors Tuesday morning at Lower School drop-off. The big kids, sporting lacrosse gear or wearing a collared shirt and tie for game day, were easy to spot. They were part of a still-young tradition of promoting an athletic contest to students and their parents as they pull up to the sidewalk for the 7:30 to 8 a.m. drop-off. 

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A poet who gets kids excited about poetry
John McGowan and his parents were sitting front and center in Kenan Auditorium for Lower School Family night on March 20. The second-grader raved about performance poet Allan Wolf when he came to the Lower School last year as a visiting author, and Jenny and Jim McGowan were there to hear the man who got their son so excited about poetry.

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First-graders get a taste of chemistry, physics and biology
Liquids magically changed from purple to green to orange to red, and balloons appeared to inflate themselves. Structures built with a broad base stood tall, and animals’ feet are related to what animals do. It’s part of the annual first-grade science fun day, when Upper Schoolers bring their love of science to the Lower School and first-graders get a tantalizing taste of chemistry, physics and biology.

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LS Service Club makes blankets for Urban Ministries
The work tables in the Lower School science lab and art room were covered with large squares of colorful fleece, not beakers or paints, on March 27. Members of the Lower School Service Club were busy making blankets they will donate to Urban Ministries of Durham, a nonprofit that provides resources for the homeless and hungry.

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Music/drama teacher Elizabeth South in semifinals of Let it Go cover contest
Durham Academy Preschool music and Lower School drama teacher Elizabeth South's cover of the hit song Let it Go has advanced to the semifinals of Ryan Seacrest's March Music Madness competition. 

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Newbery medalist Katherine Applegate to speak at Middle School
Katherine Applegate, author of the 2013 Newbery Medal-winning children's book The One and Only Ivan, will speak to fourth- through sixth-grade students on Thursday, April 24, at 8:45 a.m. Durham Academy parents, siblings, faculty and staff are also welcome to attend the talk at the Middle School's Taylor Hall.

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Lower School ReadDA logs 47 days of reading for pleasure
Give Durham Academy students a challenge, and they get to work meeting it. ReadDA kicked-off on Feb. 17, encouraging Lower School students and teachers to read and enjoy books, and to keep a record of the time they spent reading.

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Reading for pleasure is focus of Lower School's ReadDA program
The Lower School is serious about reading, but when it comes to ReadDA the emphasis is on reading for pure pleasure. The three-week campaign — condensed to Feb. 17 to March 7 because of snow days — is a time for students and teachers to read and enjoy books.

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Lower School Jump Rope for Heart raises $31,034
The Lower School gym was rocking with music and movement Feb. 7 when second- through fourth-graders were giving it their all for Jump Rope for Heart. The annual event raises money for the American Heart Association and demonstrates the importance of exercise to a healthy lifestyle. This marked the 25th year the Lower School has participated in the program, and students celebrated the silver anniversary in a big way, raising $31,034.57.

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Legendary coach Al Buehler gives fourth-graders first-hand account of Civil Rights Movement
It’s one thing to study the Civil Rights Movement. It’s another to hear from a man who helped bring the races together in 1950s Durham when racial segregation was the rule and the law. Durham Academy fourth-graders had that opportunity March 3, when legendary Duke University and Olympic track and field coach Al Buehler sat down for a question-and-answer session at the Lower School.

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Students make case for at-home productivity in Snow Day Video Challenge
Thanks to the polar vortex, the winter of 2014 has been a particularly nasty one with more inclement-weather days than usual for Durham Academy students. In an effort to keep students' minds on academics between showers of snow and sleet, Head of School Michael Ulku-Steiner issued a challenge: Make a short video "showing why snow days can be academically productive (and making the case for more of them)."

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Eighth-grader Logan Fogleman wins equestrian state championship
Eighth-grader Logan Fogleman recently received a blue ribbon for winning her division's state championship with the North Carolina Hunter Jumper Association. 

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Test of emergency system will take place Friday, Feb. 14
Durham Academy will test its emergency notification system around 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14. All DA parents, faculty and staff should receive an email, text message and a voice message to mobile phone numbers indicating that DA is testing its emergency system. There is no need to take any action in response to the message, which will be sent to the email addresses and phone numbers listed in Veracross.
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All divisions celebrate legacy of Martin Luther King
Durham Academy's commemoration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and other civil rights pioneers might best be illustrated by the sound of two seniors' soaring voices over the soft snapping of Lower Schoolers' fingers — some of the school's youngest and oldest students, gathered to honor those who have fought in the battle for civil rights. Each division marked Martin Luther King Day in its own way.
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Fatback, hoecakes, biscuits and chicken slick: Fourth-graders help prepare traditional southern delicacies
Green beans seasoned with fatback. Hoecakes cooked in a cast-iron skillet, flipped high in the air and topped with molasses. Freshly fried chicken legs and chicken slick bubbling in a big pot. Biscuits made from scratch. It’s doubtful these Southern delights are prepared often in Durham Academy home kitchens any more, but they were but they were on the lunch menu in Tom Barry’s fourth-grade classroom on Jan. 2, and kids helped with the cooking.

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Construction of library treehouse is a Lower-School-wide effort
Kids using power tools? Construction noises in the library? It’s happening in the Lower School’s Kirby-Horton Library, where every Durham Academy first- through fourth-grader is helping build a treehouse under the careful guidance of Randy Baker, maintenance foreman for the Ridge Road campus.  

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Those little plastic tiles have gone digital; DA teachers’ app is in the iTunes store
Marcy Cook is a rock star when it comes to kids’ math. Instructional materials she created in the 1980s are used all over the globe — laminated sheets and little number tiles about the size of Scrabble pieces. It’s definitely old school. The materials may have more in common with 1950s Dick and Jane readers than today’s digital world, but teachers say they can’t be beat for helping children better understand the concepts behind math applications, sharpening reasoning skills and forcing children to become better problem solvers.
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Check out your favorite Summer Programs camps now; registration to open soon
Durham Academy 2014 Summer Programs information is now available at!  

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DA students take time for an 'Hour of Code'
Computer science is a top-paying college degree — yet it is estimated that there will be 1 million more jobs than students by 2020. So, along with schools around the country, from Dec. 9 to 13, Durham Academy celebrated Computer Science Education Week, the highlight of which was an activity known as "Hour of Code" —an opportunity for every student to try their hand at computer science for one hour.

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Transition events slated for students, parents
Moving up to the next grade level can be nerve-wracking. Here at Durham Academy, it may mean new teachers, unfamiliar classrooms, different expectations and maybe even a two-mile move to another campus.

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LS Student Service Club looks to bring warmth to people served by Urban Ministries
With temperatures expected to plummet to the low teens on Jan. 7, members of the Lower School Student Service Club were likely thinking about Urban Ministries of Durham and what they saw and heard when they visited the center in late December.
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Jan. 14 parent coffee to focus on school security
Durham Academy Head of School Michael Ulku-Steiner will host a parent coffee on the topic of school security Tuesday, Jan. 14. The coffee is scheduled for 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. in the Brumley Performing Arts Building on the Preschool/Lower School campus.

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Second-graders wear PJs and donate PJs at the annual Very Beary Bedtime Bash
Durham Academy second-graders were asked to do some additional chores around their houses in early December. The idea was to earn money so they could buy pajamas for children who are in need.
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Fourth-graders Skype with NASA chief scientist
Fourth-graders have been studying about space in science class this rotation, and they wrapped up their study with a bang. They had a Skype conversation with Dr. Ellen Stofan, chief scientist with NASA! 

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Record crowd turns out for fourth annual Turkey Trot
A record 535 people registered to trot, gallop or power-walk in the fourth annual Turkey Trot 5K and Fun Run on Nov. 16, raising approximately $10,000 for Parents Council.

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Mix it Up Day offers students the opportunity to explore new hobbies, friendships, ideas
Students salsa danced out of their comfort zones, befriended classmates outside their usual friend groups and engaged in discussions related to diversity as part of Durham Academy's observance of Mix It Up at Lunch Day in late October and early November. 

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Mystery solved: Lower Schoolers will build a treehouse in the library
The story began early this fall, when Durham Academy parent Amanda Dolan began creating a tree in a corner of the Lower School’s Kirby-Horton Library. The plot thickened as the tree grew bigger and bigger and students wondered what it was all about. 

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Urban Ministries to receive blankets from LS Student Service Club
Some of Durham’s residents in need will be warm this winter, thanks to the handiwork of the Lower School Student Service Club. On Dec. 19, members of the club will deliver more than 15 blankets to Urban Ministries of Durham

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LS faculty brunch will aid military veterans
The holiday brunch is a celebration for Lower School faculty, but the gifts they bring will be for military veterans. 

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Lower School Service Club pays forward Halloween treats
Much to the relief of area dentists, Durham Academy Lower Schoolers chose to pay forward much of their Halloween haul, bringing in a whopping 340 pounds of candy to be donated to folks who could use a dose of sweetness in their lives. The Lower School Service Club packaged the collected trick-or-treat confections into several dozen gallon-size zip-top bags during an after-school gathering Nov. 14. 

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A winning-the-lottery day for Lower School teachers
Some days are better than others, but Nov. 12 must have been a gold-star, red-letter, winning-the-lottery day for Durham Academy’s Lower School teachers. “Have a grateful heart” was the theme of the day’s LS sharing assembly, but only LS Director Carolyn Ronco knew Middle School students would be on hand to tell what LS teachers had meant to them.

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Writing consultant teaches LS students and faculty
Teachers became students on Oct. 15 and 16, when the Lower School welcomed a nationally known writing consultant. Rebecca Cronin is a speaker and researcher with the Teachers College Reading & Writing Project at Columbia University. The Lower School has adopted material from the project to enhance consistency and continuity in teaching writing.

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Mayor Bill Bell welcomes DA second-graders
When Durham Academy second-graders began studying about community in late October, they had no idea they would visit with Mayor Bill Bell at Durham City Hall, see the inner workings of the Durham County Library or serve as jurors in a mock trial at the Durham County Courthouse!

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16 years of faculty blue jeans and pink ribbons in the name of breast cancer research
Wearing jeans to school is against the dress code for Durham Academy faculty and staff, but there was a lot of denim at the front of classrooms on Nov. 1. The day isn’t a revolt against authority, but a way to raise money for breast cancer research. It was the 16th annual “Wear Your Jeans to Work” day sponsored by DA’s second grade team, and it raised $1,130.

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From the sweet to the spooky, DA's Halloween festivities delight
Looking for a crayon? There were some super-sized ones Halloween morning at the Preschool: 10 of the PS teachers came colorfully dressed as every kid’s favorite art tool.

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DA celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month in style
The Durham Academy community celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15, with activities ranging from the festive to the more purely educational.

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Kindergarteners, fourth-graders meet for frightful fun
What happens when you mix kindergarten students, fourth-graders and a colorful assortment of craft materials and ask them to make Halloween witches as big as 5-year-olds? You get an array of witches more fun than frightful! 

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Dance Club raises $650 for Komen through hair extension event
The Upper School Dance Club raised $650 for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation through its second annual hair extension event Oct. 9. Sixty-five people participated, each donating $10 to have a bright pink hair extension applied to their coiffures.
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Fourth-graders pick up 53 pounds of trash on campus
Durham Academy fourth-graders set out on a trash patrol across DA’s Ridge Road campus Sept. 26, picking up 53 pounds of trash. They were diligent in their work — filling trash bags with 64 food wrappers, 35 plastic bottles, 32 cigarette butts, 20 building materials, 16 bottle caps, 12 plastic bags, three articles of clothing, two glass bottles and much more.

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Lower School celebrates community, performs service at Unity Day
From swaying together in song, to joining forces to make nearly 1,400 sandwiches for those in need, Lower Schoolers were the epitome of togetherness Sept. 27 as students in first- through fourth-grade celebrated Unity Day.

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Nine days, 391 students and 1,894 books
Reading is a big deal at Durham Academy. From their earliest school days, DA students are encouraged to enjoy books. Even so, Preschool and Lower School librarians Michelle Rosen and Letizia Haynie have been amazed at this year’s library’s circulation figures.

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Seniors reflect on Lower School years in video
The following video, filmed and edited at Durham Academy by our own Rosemary Nye, first-grade teacher and DA alumna, was commissioned and presented by Carolyn Ronco, Lower School director, at the Lower School opening assembly last week.

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DA opens with 1,165 students, a record enrollment
Durham Academy opened the 2013-2014 school year with a record-high enrollment of 1,165 students.

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Twelve new faculty and staff join the Durham Academy family
Note: An incorrect link in News & Notes directed readers who were looking for the "Seniors reflect on Lower School years in video" story to this page. Please view this page instead if you were one of those readers; if you would like to learn about our new faculty and staff, please see the story below. We apologize for the error.

The start of the 2013-2014 school year brought several new faces to Durham Academy, including nine new — or relatively new — faculty members and three new staff members. 

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New school year kicks off with a splash (a few dozen, actually)
There are a number of ways that a new school administrator might attempt to learn his or her students' names, from mnemonic devices and flash cards to late-night study sessions with the online directory. 

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26 DA faculty, staff honored for a total of 425 years of service
Twenty-six Durham Academy faculty, administrators and staff were honored June 6 at DA’s closing faculty/staff meeting for their years of service to the school. All together, they have been a part of DA for 425 years! Elizabeth Aldridge, president of Parents Association, presented each of them with a book to commemorate their 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years of employment at DA.

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DA fourth-graders win awards in water conservation poster contest
Water is a precious commodity, and two Durham Academy fourth-graders combined creativity with lessons learned in science class to produce prize-winning posters in local and statewide contests promoting water conservation.

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Lower School teachers were feeling the love
Lower School teachers were feeling the love on Wednesday, May 8. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, LS students and parents made sure the day was special.

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Third-graders raise more than $2,000 for sea turtles
This is a big week for sea turtles, and Durham Academy third-graders. Raffle prizes, baked goods, face painting and turtle-related craft items helped third-graders raise $2,300 at the Sea Turtle Gift Shop on May 7!

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Lower Schoolers test themselves on World Math Day
Durham Academy Lower School took on the world March 6 on World Math Day. That’s when DA first- through fourth-graders competed on a math test with students of the same age all over the world. 

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Sister Cities of Durham brings Chinese elementary students to DA
Twenty-one students from a Chinese elementary school immersed themselves in American experiences while sharing their own culture with Durham Academy families during a five-day "sister city" visit to Durham.

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Jump Rope for Heart raises more than $11,000
A big effort calls for a big to-do, which is why the Lower School created a super-sized check to recognize its $11,116.56 donation to the American Heart Association. The donations were raised through the Lower School’s Feb. 8 Jump Rope for Heart. 

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Math teacher Bonnie Boaz 'figured' in national skating championships
Bonnie Boaz has been Durham Academy’s Lower School math specialist since 1992, but she’s been involved with “figures” a lot longer than that. Boaz grew up figure skating in Connecticut; she competed in partners ice dancing in high school; and she is part of a Hillsborough-based team that competed at the national synchronized skating championships in March near Detroit, Mich.

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Lower Schoolers are serious about reading for pleasure
Take 291 Durham Academy students in grades one through four, ask them to read for pleasure each day for three weeks, mix in a request to read “a poem a day for DA” and what do you get?

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Lower School students 'Drop Everything and Read'
No Lower School student would be caught without a book within easy reach on March 5. That’s because March 5 was Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) Day, a fun, reading-on-demand activity that is part of the Lower School’s overall Read DA program.

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DA fourth-grader wins golfer of the year honors at Pinehurst, is one of world’s top-ranked 10-year-olds
Durham Academy fourth-grader Jackson Brimfield won player of the year honors Feb. 3 for his performance on the U.S. Kids Golf Pinehurst Winter Tour. The tour consisted of 15 players competing in six events played on Pinehurst Resort courses.

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First-graders explore philosophy with UNC professor, students
Can philosophy and first grade mix? Michael Burroughs, visiting professor and outreach coordinator for UNC Chapel Hill’s department of philosophy, thinks they can. Listening to a discussion about “love” in Rosemary Nye’s first-grade classroom would make you a believer, too.

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On sabbatical from DA, brothers look to clean up India's water
It all started two and a half years ago, as Durham Academy students Zach and Aidan Hunter dined at a nice restaurant with their parents following a trip to India.

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DA chess players bring home five titles from state tournament
Chess teams and individual chess players from Durham Academy shined in the North Carolina State Scholastic Championships, bringing home three team titles and two individual titles. The championships were held March 2 to 3 at the Raleigh Convention Center.

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Third-graders 'experience' Ellis Island
Lower School librarian Michelle Rosen told the 16 parent volunteers to wipe the smiles off their faces.

“You can’t smile,” she said. “You have to be stern and official. You can’t act like you know the boy or girl who spent Saturday night at your house.”

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Cavaliers return from Harvard debate tournament with 'much to celebrate'
Durham Academy's speech and debate team returned from the Harvard National Forensics Tournament with "much to celebrate," said team advisor Robert Sheard, including one student's qualification for the Tournament of Champions and an eighth-place finish in Congress Sweepstakes.

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Visiting author asks students, 'Are you a Po-Folk or a No-Po?'
Did you know there are two kinds of people in the world: the Po-Folk, as in poetry people, and the No-Po, or no-poetry people?

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Poetry is cool at DA Lower School
Lower School students have been writing poetry to prepare for a Feb. 20 visit from poet Allan Wolf, who is this year’s Preschool and Lower School guest author. Every LS student was given a special notebook and pencil and encouraged to write poetry in a “list” style like Wolf. They then copied their poem onto a graffiti wall at the Lower School.

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'Read DA' kicks off in lively fashion with poems and a handstand
Members of Durham Academy's Lower School kicked off “Read DA” on Feb. 15 to motivate students and teachers to read for pleasure. Students are asked to read not only books, but also “A Poem a Day for DA,” which is the theme for Read DA 2013. 

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100th day celebration is a math lesson in disguise
If you happened into Durham Academy’s first-grade classrooms on Feb. 8, you saw lots of 100s. There were hats emblazoned with 100, “eyeglasses” made from 100, necklaces of 100 bells, poster boards with 100 pipe cleaners, Lego creations with 100 blocks, puzzles with 100 pieces and 10 kinds of snack foods, counted out in groups of 10 to equal 100.
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A whole lot of jumpin’ raises a whole lot of money
When the music is pulsing, jump ropes are twirling and rubber soles are slapping the Lower School gym floor, it’s Jump Rope for Heart time at Durham Academy. Second through fourth-graders jumped rope to raise money for the American Heart Association Feb. 8 and to show the importance of exercise to a healthy lifestyle. This marked the 24th year the Lower School has participated in the program, and the event raised $10,890.56.

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Second-grade hobby day: play a tune, take a photo, crack an egg
Keeping chickens, taking photographs and playing violin were just a few of the interests on display Feb. 1 when Durham Academy second-graders celebrated Hobby Day. The array of hobbies confirmed that DA attracts students with a wide range of interests.

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Lower School’s Empire State Building has a special perch
Durham Academy Lower School students constructed a 1,200-piece replica of the Empire State Building last spring, and now Durham Academy’s version of the famous skyscraper has a place of honor in the Lower School’s Kirby-Horton Library.  

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Veteran P.E. teacher and coach Judy Chandler takes time off to train for Ironman 70.3 Hawaii
Students, faculty and parents would often see Judy Chandler running around the campus, leading Lower Schoolers on a quarter-mile run as a warm-up for physical education class. If they happen to be in Hawaii on June 1, they will see her run a lot farther  than that — and swim and bike, too.

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If the weather turns frightful, plug in for news on closings, delays
If the winter months bring snow and ice, here's how to find out about school closings or delayed openings:

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Lower School students make Valentine cards for homebound residents
Valentine's Day is more than a month away, but Lower School students were busy Jan. 10 making Valentine cards for shut-ins. The cards will be distributed to homebound residents through A Helping Hand, a nonprofit organization that serves senior citizens and younger adults who have a temporary or ongoing need due to an accident, illness, injury or disability. Services include companionship, transportation and in-home assistance.

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DA students forge new friendships, discuss diversity at annual Mix It Up Day
It's all too easy for students to fall into a routine at lunchtime, eating with friends of the same grade level or who participate in common activities.
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Vince Gill records duet with DA teacher Elizabeth South
“It’s too good to be true. Things like that don’t ever happen to me,” Elizabeth South said. The Durham Academy music and drama teacher was shaking her head in disbelief, but she had a smile as wide as the state of Tennessee when she talked about singing a duet with country music legend Vince Gill in a Nashville recording studio Nov. 11.

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Durham Academy celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month through song and dance
The Durham Academy community celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15, in a variety of ways, from creating a wax museum of influential figures in Hispanic culture to welcoming the larger Durham community to the DA campus for an evening of Latin-inspired song and dance.
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Durham Academy's Halloween festivities feature cheers and BOOs alike
There was a babe-in-arms dressed as a tiger, and a dad who came as a king. Librarians were outfitted as “Dewey” and “Decimal,” and one kindergartener was disguised as a venus flytrap. There was an ice cream cone. Harry Potter made an appearance. And there were enough super heroes and princesses to populate an entire network of cartoons. 

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Second graders test their skills with 'pumpkin math'
A visitor to Karen Lovelace’s second-grade classroom spotted a note on the board about “pumpkin math” the students had done earlier that day. So what’s pumpkin math?
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Gasp! Was that teacher wearing jeans?
Wearing jeans goes against the dress code for Durham Academy faculty and staff, but there’s one day a year when all DA employees are encouraged to wear denim. This year it fell on Thursday, Oct. 25, as the school community wore jeans for a good cause.

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Fourth-graders' sandwich donation to Urban Ministries seemed like 'millions and millions'
Durham Academy fourth-graders cast a lot of bread upon the waters last week – they made more than 1,600 sandwiches for the soup kitchen as part of Lower School Unity Day – and in return they got a big “thank you” from Faye Morin, volunteer coordinator at Urban Ministries. 

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Second-graders get their hands dirty on Botanical Garden trip
Durham Academy second-graders learned about the soil and plants that are indigenous to North Carolina's three regions during an Oct. 4 visit to the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill.

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Lower School 'makes a difference' on Unity Day
The Lower School brimmed with school spirit and bustled with service projects Sept. 28, when grades one through four celebrated Unity Day. Students and teachers dressed in Durham Academy attire or decked themselves out in green and white school colors.
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Lower School students honor International Day of Peace with pinwheels
“Visualize world peace” became “whirled peace” when Durham Academy Lower School students and teachers planted nearly 300 colorful pinwheels on the school's front lawn in observance of International Day of Peace, Friday, Sept. 21.

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19 new faculty and staff join DA
Welcome to the 16 new faculty members and three staff members who have joined Durham Academy.
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First day of school stirs emotions at Durham Academy
There were high fives, fist bumps and lots of hugs and kisses, but the only tears at the Durham Academy Preschool were parents who walked away a bit weepy after saying “goodbye” to their little ones. 

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Lower School library offers summer hours
The Kirby-Horton Library will be open on an abbreviated schedule this summer for Preschool and Lower School students and their families. Librarians will be on hand to help with book selection and hopefully read a story or two.
“We are pleased that the library will have summer hours for the first time this summer,” Lower School Director Carolyn Ronco said.
The library will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. between June 12 and July 19.

Parent Survey to be distributed in mid June
Durham Academy’s parent survey will be distributed via email mid June. The survey, which should take no more than 20 minutes to complete, provides DA administrators, faculty and staff with valuable feedback that is used to evaluate various aspects of the school year and to improve the school. Please plan on participating in the survey as your feedback is valuable to ensuring Durham Academy’s continued excellence.

Conservation group honors fourth grade as Big Sweep Group of the Year
Durham Academy fourth-grade science classes and Lower School science teacher Lyn Streck have been honored by the Durham Soil and Water Conservation District as Big Sweep Group of the Year. DA fourth-grade science classes have been participating in N.C. Big Sweep, an annual clean-up of North Carolina waterways and watersheds, since 2007.
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Fourth-grader’s poem appears on Nasher Museum blog
It seems one art form inspired another. A visit to the Nasher Museum’s “Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art” installation motivated fourth-grader Jackson Futrell to pen an original poem about what he saw. His poem, “The Chicken,” appears on the Nasher Museum blog.

Jeff Burch named “Best Teacher” in Durham Magazine reader’s poll
Third grade teacher Jeff Burch has been named “Best Teacher” in Durham Magazine’s annual “The Best of Durham” feature. Burch was tops in the magazine’s recent readers’ poll.
“It feels really nice to have an award for something that I am passionate about,” Burch said. “I’ve been teaching for a long time, and I’ve heard from former students that I am a very good teacher. This kind solidifies it and makes me realize it. Even if it is just a voter poll, it just feels good.” 

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K-1 chess team places sixth at National Elementary Championships
Durham Academy’s state champion K-1 team finished in sixth place in the 300-player Championship Division of the 2012 National Elementary Championships held in Nashville, Tenn.
“The K-1 Championship Division section was incredibly difficult with so many strong teams and players from California to New York participating,” said Craig Jones, DA chess coach. “Playing chess competitively is hard for any age group; it is particularly challenging for six-year-olds to maintain their wits during a long and exhausting schedule. Our guys gave their all for three long days – it was quite amazing!”

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Closing exercises set for all divisions
Between June 1 and June 8, each of Durham Academy’s four school divisions will hold closing exercises or commencement and send students to their next level of schooling. 

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DA fourth graders win awards in water conservation contest
Two Durham Academy fourth graders combined creativity with lessons learned in Lower School science class, and the result was prize-winning posters in local and state-wide contests promoting water conservation.

Maggie Wittman and Casey Carrow were recognized for their winning interpretations of the annual Water Conservation Poster Contest at the May 7 meeting of the Durham City Council and shook hands with Mayor Bill Bell.  Wittman’s poster won first prize in the Durham and state contest, and Carrow’s poster took third prize in local and state contests.

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Culture and Community Festival to celebrate diversity
Come for food, live entertainment and fun as Durham Academy celebrates diversity at the Culture and Community Festival Friday, May 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Upper School Learning Commons and Courtyard. This annual event, which used to be called the Diversity Dessert, has grown into an all-school celebration and is open to the entire DA community.
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Mascots and Rangers make library research fun at Lower School
From Dewey the mascot to the Research Rangers, the Dewey Decimal System is alive and well at the Durham Academy Lower School.
Just ask Joan S. Mitchell, editor-in-chief of the Dewey Decimal Classification at the Library of Congress, who posted a photo of herself with Lower School Librarian Michelle Rosen and Library Assistant Debra Halabis on The Dewey Blog. Rosen and Halabis are dressed in the photo as Dewey, the Lower School library’s mascot.

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Third-graders celebrate 50 nifty United States
Third-grade students welcomed grandparents and “grandfriends” for a “Celebration of Our Nation” April 13. The morning began with a spirited musical program following by visits to third-grade classrooms. Shortly thereafter, students got into character, including costume, to present their respective state projects with visitors to the Lower School gym. The celebration was fittingly topped off with a slice of apple pie for anyone who wanted to enjoy an all-American treat.
Photos of the performance and state projects are available in the Lower School section of SmugMug.

DA is top performer at state chess championship
Durham Academy was the top school in overall performance at the 2012 N.C. State Scholastic Chess Championships March 16 to 18 in Charlotte. DA chess brought home state championships for K-1, K-4 and K-12 U1300 teams; second places titles for K-5 and K-8 U1000 teams; and individual championships for first-grader Pete Crowley (K-1), sixth-grader Colin Grant (K-8 U1000) and 10th-grader Spencer Hallyburton (K-12 U 1300).

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Jump Rope for Heart raises more than $7,800
The Lower School’s Jump Rope for Heart event Feb. 10 raised $7,864.55 for the American Heart Association. Students in grades two through four had a great time jumping and dancing, and the gym was abuzz with activity. This marked the 23rd year that the Lower School has participated in Jump Rope for Heart, said physical education teacher and Jump Rope for Heart organizer Judy Chandler.  

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Third-graders create self-portraits in style of Frida Kahlo
Third-grade art students recently studied the work of Frida Kahlo, Mexico’s most famous female artist. Kahlo was well known for her self-portraits, which often included one of her pets and a background that reflected her appreciation of nature. 

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Hobbies are as varied as DA’s second graders
Rock collections, martial arts belts, baseball cards, chess sets, art supplies, stuffed animals, “matchbox” cars and swim team ribbons were among the items on display at the second grade’s Jan. 27 Hobby Day. Second graders were invited to bring something that represented their hobby and display it on their desk top. Students rotated among the four, second-grade classrooms to share their hobbies.

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Pajamas were de rigueur at third-grade “Rise and Read”
If you walked by a third-grade classroom and wondered why the children were wearing pajamas, it was because Jan. 27 was “Rise and Read” day. The third graders — and many of their parents — began the school day with a half-hour of quiet reading, with students and parents reading together. The Rise and Read theme continued throughout the school day, and students were treated to eggs, bacon, pancakes and blueberry muffins at lunch time. 

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Re-enrollment contracts to be handled electronically;
contracts are due on Friday, Feb. 10

Durham Academy will be handling re-enrollment contracts electronically for the first time this year. Re-enrollment and tuition information for 2012-13 will be emailed to parents of current Durham Academy students on Jan. 24. Using the personalized Veracross link, families can re-enroll, submit tuition deposits via bank draft and update any medical information. 

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Lower School Family Night to be held Jan. 12
Durham Academy’s Lower School Family Night will be held Thursday, Jan. 12, at 6:30 p.m. in Kenan Auditorium and will feature a musical performance by Roger Day. Visit to learn more.

Third annual meal-packaging event set for Jan. 16 at DA
By Anne McNamara
Upper School Director of Community Service 

The national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. will be observed on Jan. 16. Congress designated the holiday as a national day of service in 1994, making it the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service. Durham Academy will observe this day by hosting the third annual meal-packaging event in conjunction with Stop Hunger Now. 

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Transition events help students, parents prepare for next grade level
Moving up to the next grade level can be nerve-wracking. At Durham Academy it means new teachers, unfamiliar classrooms, different expectations and maybe even a two-mile move to another campus. In order to help families with this transition, DA has planned a series of events geared toward both children and their parents.
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Parent coffees to be held in January and February
The second parent coffees of the 2011-2012 school year will be held in January and February. All coffees begin at 8:15 a.m.
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Get to know members of the DA community with Five Questions
What makes people want to work at Durham Academy? What interests do employees have beyond their jobs? Find out the answers to these types of questions and more in Durham Academy's video interview series known as Five Questions.
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Admissions Office schedules tour and information sessions
Are you interested in admission to Durham Academy for next year? The Admissions Office is already recruiting new students for fall 2012. 
Tour and information sessions have been scheduled for families to visit and ask questions while school is in session, and also speak with the headmaster, school directors and Director of Admissions Victoria Muradi. 

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Cyber safety workshops target parents of children age four to 12
The Wellness Committee is sponsoring four workshops on cyber safety for parents of children age four to 12. The first session will be Nov. 2 in the Lower School second floor commons, offered both at 8:15-9:30 a.m. and 7:00-8:15 p.m.

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DA financial aid meeting is Nov. 21; Dec. 2 is deadline to apply for aid for 2012-13
Durham Academy will host a financial aid information night on Monday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. in the Lower School commons. Any family interested in learning more about the financial aid process is invited to attend.

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Jeans fundraiser tallies record-setting total for breast cancer research
Durham Academy's second grade teachers raised a total of $1,226 to support breast cancer research as part of the the14th annual "Wear Your Jeans to School Day." It was the highest-ever total raised for the event.

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Lower School students combine volunteerism, learning
A group of Lower School students participated in the 2011 North Carolina Big Sweep program on the first Saturday in October. The annual Big Sweep involves cleaning up local land and waterways; it is the statewide component of the International Coastal Cleanup that takes place in approximately 90 countries worldwide.

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Sixth annual Fiesta Latina celebrates traditional music and dance
Durham Academy hosted the sixth annual Fiesta Latina on Oct. 28 at the Brumley Performing Arts Building on the Lower School campus. The free community event featured Latin harpist Pavelid, the Charanga Carolina ensemble from UNC and a variety of entertainers from Latin America and South America performing traditional songs and dance routines.
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Test of emergency notification system to take place Nov. 15
Durham Academy will test its emergency notification system on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 3 p.m. In the event of an emergency that requires parents to come to campus during the school day, an email and a text message would be sent out using the Veracross system.
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Used Book Sale needs your help, both now and later
By Kim Leversedge and Caroline Rogers
Co-chairs, Used Book Sale
Now that fall is here, it’s time to clean off the bookshelves and dust off those books (and dust off the bookshelves for that matter).  If you’re like us, your bookshelves are overflowing.  So, why not free up some space and donate those books to the 2012 Used Book Sale?  The sale will be held on March 29-April 1 in the Middle School gym.

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Take a hard hat tour of the new US learning commons
Hard-hat tours of the Upper School construction site and new learning commons are conducted every Tuesday.  Anyone interested in taking the tour should be in the Kenan Auditorium lobby at 11:45 a.m.  Following a brief introduction, the tour will begin at noon and will last about 20 minutes.  You don’t need to make a reservation, but please wear closed-toe shoes.  Hard hats will be provided.

Students tap creative side in celebration of International Peace Day
Durham Academy third and fourth graders displayed their “Pinwheels for Peace” and sang songs as part of International Peace Day on Sept. 21. The students created the pinwheels, which featured words and symbols expressing their ideas about peace, in art class. Meanwhile, they learned about the concept of peace expressed in song during their music classes.

International Peace Day started in 2005 and has grown to include more than 3,500 school locations and 3.5 million pinwheels spinning worldwide.

All-School Picnic delights kids, parents alike
The threat of rain did not discourage members of the Durham Academy community from attending the annual All-School Picnic on Sept. 25. Approximately 800 people from all of the school's divisions came to the picnic, which featured food trucks; a giant inflatable obstacle course and screamer slide; carnival games and prizes; sports competitions; face painting; crafting with the Scrap Exchange; and temporary tattoos.
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First parent coffees of the year to be held in October
The first parent coffees of the 2011-2012 school year will be held in October. Parents will receive an overview of how to access their child’s student information online and hear comments from their division director as well as Headmaster Ed Costello. All coffees begin at 8:15 a.m.

Dates and locations:

Oct. 4 – Upper School Coffee, Room 225
Oct. 6 – Middle School Coffee, Board Room
Oct. 13 – Lower School Coffee, First Floor Commons
Oct. 20 – Preschool Coffee, Preschool Great Room

Best-selling author shares her journey with sixth graders
“Do you know what you want to do when you grow up?” Frances O’Roark Dowell asked Durham Academy sixth graders on Sept. 19.  Hands shot up. There were aspirations expressed of being a teacher, a forensic scientist, a doctor, a professional athlete, a lawyer and a writer.

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DA's updated strategic plan is now available on
The Durham Academy Board of Trustees approved an updated version of the school's strategic plan at its May meeting. Beyond Excellence, Durham Academy Strategic Plan 2.0 builds on the work accomplished towards many of the goals identified in DA's 2006 strategic plan. Much of that plan is still relevant today, and this latest version also includes an emphasis on the integration of technology into the educational program.

Headmaster search committee appointed
The second-longest tenure of any Durham Academy headmaster will conclude at the end of the 2012-2013 school year when Ed Costello leaves after 14 years of service. Only Bess Pickard Boone, headmistress from 1938 to 1957, served longer. In preparation for Costello’s departure, DA has formed a search committee with the goal of having his successor in place by Dec. 2012.
Brendan Moylan ’85, a member of the board of trustees, will chair the search committee.  Also serving on the committee will be David Beischer ’85, chair of the board of trustees; Liz Gustafson, immediate past chair of the board; Anne Murray Lloyd ’82, vice chair of the board; Kip Frey, secretary of the board; trustees Jim Coleman and Laura Horton Virkler ’91; Margaret Jones, president-elect of Parents Association; Jamie Krzyzewski Spatola ’00, vice president of the DA Alumni Association; and faculty members Tim Dahlgren and Karen Lovelace. 

DA matches largest-ever enrollment
By Victoria Muradi
Director of Admissions
The Admissions Office had reason to celebrate on the first day of school. With an enrollment of 1,145 students, Durham Academy was tied for the largest enrollment in the school's history.  
DA continues to buck national trends in enrollment.  Independent schools around the country are reporting enrollments down three percent from last year and four percent from the year before.  Statewide, enrollments are down eight percent from just two years ago.

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Nineteen new faculty and staff members join DA
Welcome to the 13 new faculty members and six staffers who joined Durham Academy.
Preschool and Lower School
Elizabeth Lyle is teaching Preschool art and cooking. She is a graduate of Grove City College in Pennsylvania and has done graduate work at Greensboro College. She taught art at Haw River Elementary for four years.
John Bacsik is teaching second grade. He earned a B.A. magna cum laude and a M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame. He worked at St. James Catholic School in Savannah, Ga., for seven years, teaching second grade and seventh grade.
Jeff Burch is teaching third grade. He earned a B.S. from Indiana University and a B.T.N.D. from West Cheshire College in England. He taught at Duke School for Children since 2001 and also has taught in public schools.

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Summer Programs provided
125 sessions for campers

By Mike Ronco
Director of Summer Programs
Campers came from far and wide this summer to attend our summer programs. The longest commute award goes to a family from Wilmington who felt it worth the trip to have Bonnie Boaz as a math teacher.  I agree.  
We offered a record number of enrichment, sports and academic camps during the 2011 summer program, a total of 125 sessions for campers ages three to 18.  Additionally, we lengthened our hours of extended care to meets the needs of all our working parents.  

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DA welcomes 1,145 students, a near-record enrollment
Durham Academy welcomed 1,145 students to the first day of school on Tuesday, Aug. 23, a number that equals DA’s largest-ever enrollment! Preschool and Lower School teachers welcomed nervous newcomers and cool-as-a-cucumber returning students. At the Middle School, students met Jon Meredith, their new MS director. Upper School students came back to a campus that’s a construction site until the new learning commons open this spring, bought lunch from food trucks and enjoyed a concert by Delta Rae.
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Jump Rope for Heart
raises over $8,000

Lower School’s Jump Rope for Heart event was held on February 11, raising $8,015.75 for the American Heart Association.  Students in grades two through four had a great time jumping and dancing to music provided by fourth graders.  “Congratulations to everyone for making this year’s event such a complete success,” said physical education teacher and Jump Rope for Heart organizer Judy Chandler.

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Lower School logs 2,749 hours
of reading during READ DA

Who says kids don’t read anymore?  During the Lower School’s 2011 READ DA, the LS community logged 164,960 minutes of reading, which equals 2,749 hours, which translates to 115 days!  Congratulations to Lower School students and teachers, and to Mary Kendall, LS reading teacher and organizer of READ DA.

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DA chess brings home
four state championships

Durham Academy chess finished first in four of the five divisions DA entered at the N.C. State Chess Championships on February 19, 20. DA chess took 49 players from kindergarten through 12th grade to the competition.

The most dominating/impressive performance was by DA’s youngest crew. The K-1 team put on an extraordinary show, winning the K-1 division by four points. “This team ranks among DA’s best ever and is a national level team,” said chess coach Craig Jones. Top individual performances were second place, Pete Crowley; fourth place, Ian Evans; fifth place, Reed Burkert; 10th place, Nathan Wang; and 12th place, Tate Staples. Also competing for the K-1 team were Matthew Krieger, Aaron Caveney, Mark Caveney, Ben Tarpey, Nicole Romach, Sky Oh, Jillian Strebel, Simon Fortner, Hannah Midha, Ceci Moore and Perry Tseng.

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Second graders buy pajamas for Native Americans

The second graders at the Lower School have been learning about the lives and culture of the Native American people. They are studying how the different landforms of the United States affect the culture and lives of the tribes. In a season of caring and sharing, the children wanted to give back to a Native American community.


Each child worked at home to earn money. They used their money to buy pajamas for the children of the Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyapi organization in Pine Ridge, S.D. Then on December 10, the children celebrated their hard work by wearing pajamas to school and enjoying breakfast for lunch. What a great day for the second graders!

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Fourth graders “sweep”
78 pounds of trash
from DA environs

By Michelle Rosen

Lower School Librarian


What do a toothbrush, jump rope, sunglasses and a plastic shovel have in common? Ask any Durham Academy fourth grade student and they will tell you that these items are part of the 78 pounds of trash that fourth grade classes picked up recently as part of the North Carolina Big Sweep.


On October 8, fourth graders scoured the edges of Sandy Creek, Pickett Road and the DA campus and athletic fields to recover litter, which was later inventoried, weighed and recorded. The statistics were reported to the Big Sweep Statewide Headquarters in Zebulon. The event also was included a discussion about plastic awareness facilitated by Jennifer Brooks of the Durham County Soil and Water Conservation. She explained to students how animals become trapped in plastic products when they mistake them for food.

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Coming in October: parent coffees for each school division

Headmaster Ed Costello and each respective school director will be on hand for a parent coffee at the Preschool, Lower School, Middle School and Upper School.  Each coffee will begin at 8:15 a.m. with a short talk by Ed Costello and the school director, followed by a question and answer session.

  • Preschool Coffee, Oct. 14 in the PS great room
  • Lower School Coffee, Oct. 7 in the LS first floor commons
  • Middle School Coffee, Oct. 21 in the MS board room
  • Upper School Coffee, Oct. 26 in the US conference room

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DA’s Katie Concannon creates winning design for NC Zoo’s Endangered Species Poster Contest

Thanks to a poster created by Durham Academy fifth grader Katie Concannon, students across North Carolina and Virginia have become aware of the Rockhopper penguin, an endangered series. Katie’s colorful and informative poster won the NC Zoo Endangered Species Poster Contest for her age group.

Lower School art teacher Fran Savarin sponsored Katie in the poster contest. In addition to her artwork, Katie had to submit written information about the Rockhopper penguin and why the species is endangered.

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Parent Coffees will focus on DA’s next strategic plan

All Durham Academy parents are invited to a discussion about the school’s next strategic plan. Board of Trustees Chair Liz Gustafson, Trustee Sara Pottenger and Headmaster Ed Costello will present and answer questions at each school division coffee. School directors also will attend.

• Upper School Parent Coffee – Tuesday, May 4, at 8:15 a.m. (US Student Commons, next to bookstore)

• Lower School Parent Coffee – Wednesday, May 5, at 8:15 a.m. (First Floor Commons)

• Preschool Parent Coffee – Tuesday, May 11, at 8:15 a.m. (PS Great Room)

• Middle School Parent Coffee – Tuesday, May 18, at 8:15 a.m. (MS Board Room)

Lower School gym was jumpin’

The Lower School’s annual Jump Rope for Heart for grades two through four is a mix of health education, physical activity and fund raising. The Lower School gym was filled with noise and activity on February 12 as students, teachers and parents jumped rope to raise awareness and money for the American Heart Association.

Jump Rope for Heart has been a fixture at Durham Academy for more than 20 years. Students learn how a healthy lifestyle can have a positive impact, and jumping rope is an excellent cardiovascular exercise.

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Lower School shines a spotlight on reading
Reading is always important at Durham Academy and reading will be “front and center” March 1-5 when the Lower School celebrates Read Across America. DA’s week-long event is an expansion of a nation-wide celebration on March 2, the official day of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, when children all over America will be encouraged to read with a family member.
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Coming in April: DA’s used sports equipment sale

Spring cleaning?  Save your used sports equipment for Parents Association’s sale April 23-25 at the Middle School gym.  Collection bins will be located on all three campuses April 12-22.  We will accept equipment donations for lacrosse, tennis, field hockey, baseball and golf, as well as inline skates, scooters, pogo sticks and stacking cup sets.

Want to help?  Volunteer opportunities are available to sort donations and/or work during the sale days.  Please contact Jeanne White or Chesley Sneed for more information.

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Durham Academy invites parents to learn more about your child's next school division

Getting to Know the Lower School

Thursday, February 4, at 7 p.m. (Lower School Library) *

Getting to Know the Middle School

Wednesday, February 10, at 7 p.m. (Middle School Library)*

Getting to Know the Upper School

Wednesday, February 3, at 7 p.m. (Kenan Auditorium)

Please join us for dessert as school directors introduce current DA parents to the divisions.

Learn about programs, curricula and opportunities for the next year (and years to come) from faculty as well as current parents and students.

To RSVP, please contact or call 493-5787.

*Note: Childcare will be provided by DA Rent-A-Juniors.

DA chess teams sweep regional K-5 tournament

Members of the Durham Academy chess team participated in a k-5 (U1100) regional tournament on December 13 and won first, second and third places! This was a “Heads Up” tournament meaning that the players are seeded according to team rank, much like tennis matches.

Team A, placing first, consisted of fifth grader John Heaney, fourth graders Robert Hellinga and Elias Tymas and second grader Christopher Chaves. Team B, placing second, was comprised of fifth grader Nijel Hunt, fourth graders Ian Layzer and Scott Hallyburton and second grader Will Staples. Finishing up in third place was Team C, whose members are fourth grader Eric Bradford, fifth grader Xavier Nonez, third graders Sheridan Kum and Jesse Tymas and second grader Leo Strebel. Congratulations to all of the team members!

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Second graders buy PJs for Native Americans

The second graders at the Lower School have been learning about the lives and culture of the Native American people. They are studying how the different landforms of the United States affect the culture and lives of the tribes. In a season of caring and sharing, the children wanted to give back to a Native American community.

Each child worked at home to raise extra money. They used their money to buy pajamas for the children of the Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyapi organization in Pine Ridge, S.D. Then on December 11, the children celebrated their hard work by wearing pajamas to school and enjoying breakfast for lunch. What a great day for the second graders!

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Iraqi children thrilled by toys from Durham Academy

A community service project initiated by Middle School administrative assistant Anna Tabor is touching children thousands of miles away.  Spc. Kelly LeCompte of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team posted this article about what the donated toys have meant to children in Iraq.  Thanks for the generosity of MS students, Anna shipped 12 large boxes of stuffed toys to Iraq!   

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First grade celebrates early
with Thanksgiving feast

The aroma of turkey and dressing was enticing enough to make a “grown up” second grader want to return to first grade!  The annual Thanksgiving feast enjoyed by Durham Academy first graders the Friday before break was the culmination of their study of the first Thanksgiving.

In preparation for the feast, first grade students decorated t-shirts and made necklaces and headbands with Native American symbols.  They snapped green beans, chopped onions and celery for stuffing, zested orange rinds for cranberry relish and made butter from cream.

On the day of the feast, first graders choose whether to be Indians or Pilgrims, and many Indians were seated at the long row of tables that stretched through the first grade pod.  The abundance of Indians was true to history according to first grade teacher Debbie Suggs, who said there were 90 Wampanoag Indians and 50 Pilgrims (including 30 children) at that first Thanksgiving feast.

Want to learn more about Plymouth Colony, Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians?  Check out this link from

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A Day in a Spanish class! ¡Un Día en la clase de Español!

By Mercedes Almodóvar

Lower School Spanish


DA students are fortunate in all areas of instruction. The opportunity to be exposed to the variety of enrichment classes offered at DA is enviable! The Preschool and Lower School added Spanish to the list of enrichments offered over the course of the past four years. Fabiola Salas teaches Spanish in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and first grade and Mercedes Almodóvar teaches Spanish in second through fourth grade. 

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Third grade teacher participates in sea turtle release

by Candice Gabrielli

Third grade teacher


As a third grade teacher, I have the privilege of teaching my students about sea turtles, ocean conservation and protecting endangered species during our sea turtle unit.  For a field trip, the third grade takes a three-hour bus ride to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail Island, NC.  This trip really brings to life all of the things that we’ve been teaching the students.


During the first week of June, the sea turtle hospital releases any of the sea turtles that are recovered and ready to go back to their home, the ocean. I have always wanted to make the trip to see this amazing event, but unfortunately, the release is usually on the last day of school.

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China study comes alive for fourth graders

Classrooms were filled with books, photos and items from China as fourth graders prepared for a week-long China study.  Cong Yuan, a visiting artist from the Durham Arts Council and a native of Beijing, gave students a hands-on experience with Chinese culture. Fourth graders practiced the ancient art of Chinese calligraphy and brush painting, experimented with tai chi and took turns wearing a colorful dragon head.   This is the sixth year that Mr. Yuan has visited Durham Academy. He comes to us as an artist in residence through the Durham Arts Council CAPS program (Creative Arts in the Public/Private Schools). The China study is part of the social studies curriculum. First graders have an in-depth study of Africa, second grade focuses on Greece and third grade concentrates on Mexico.

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LS’s Mary Kendall, Debbie Suggs publish A Giving Garden
First grade teacher Debbie Suggs and Lower School reading teacher Mary Kendall have published A Giving Garden, a truly beautiful book about Durham Academy’s Lower School Garden. The book features a poem by Mary Kendall and photos by Debbie Suggs.

Mary and Debbie received a standing ovation when they presented the book at the opening meeting of DA’s faculty and staff on August 19. Debbie put together a slide show of the book, and Mary read it aloud to the audience.

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N.C. coastal trip gives third graders an opportunity
to experience what they’ve been studying

By Becky Green
Teaching Assistant, Lower School science

At 6 a.m. on May 15, two charter buses filled with third grade students, teachers and parent chaperones pulled out of the Durham Academy Lower School parking lot on their way to Topsail Island. This marked the fifth year the third graders have made the trip to the N.C. barrier island to conclude their ocean studies unit in science and classroom study of sea turtles. Science teacher Lyn Streck organized the trip and created an itinerary which took the students on an educational journey from sound to ocean, and many places in between, in five short hours.
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Yoga comes to PS, LS

The controlled movement of yoga isn’t the sort of activity that comes to mind when you think of physical education for rambunctious Preschool and Lower School students.  Yet yoga is so popular that nearly every LS student wanted to demonstrate yoga at a recent assembly. 

Pre-K through fourth graders learned yoga in March, with each student getting at least six classes that advanced in difficulty.  Physical education teacher Eric Block has taught the classes for three years.  The program was begun by former p.e. teacher Taylor Poitras.  Lower School Art teacher Fran Savarin leads an after school yoga club.


At a Lower School assembly, 32 students from first through fourth grade demonstrated a variety of poses that demonstrated focus, concentration, strength, balance and flexibility. Be sure to ask a Lower Schooler about plank, cobra, warrior two, tree, bow and downward facing dog!

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Pass it on: Science is fun!
Members of the Upper School’s Science Olympiad team think science is fun, and they want Lower School students to feel that way, too.

Team members held a “science fun day” for Durham Academy first graders on March 25. The first graders learned about physics by creating structures with Legos, about chemistry by experimenting with water and Alka Seltzer tablets and about biology by discovering how the shape of an animal's foot reflects its habitat.

Good luck to the Upper School’s varsity Science Olympiad team and Middle School team as they prepare for the state Science Olympiad competition April 24, 25 at N.C. State University.
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Families, fun and food fill LS on March 19
Nearly 800 Lower School students, their families and faculty turned out March 19 for an evening of fun and food. Parents and students were treated to a spaghetti supper at Lower School Family Night before heading to the classrooms for a variety of activities.

Each grade level hosted a different type of game: fourth grade explored math manipulatives; third grade challenged with games about the United States; second grade hosted old-fashioned card games; and first grade activities included chess and checkers.
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DA chess teams win first and second at states
Durham Academy chess teams came home from the 37th North Carolina State Chess Championships with first place finishes for the K-1 and K-12 U1300 teams, and second place finishes for the K-3, K-12 and K-8 U1000 teams.

DA’s 37 chess players represented their school and themselves in outstanding fashion. “All of our teams were in contention to win state titles right until the end and we finished no worse than second place in any division we competed in,” said DA chess coach Craig Jones. “Many players beat, or in several cases crushed, their all time personal best ratings as the players continued to develop and improve!”
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From The Wheels on the Bus to Rumpelstiltskin,
Caldecott winner Paul Zelinsky wows PS, LS students

Children’s book illustrator and Caldecott winner Paul Zelinsky wowed Preschool and Lower School students during his visit as part of Parents Association’s guest artist program. There were “oohs” and “aahs” as Zelinsky’s quick strokes in charcoal brought a large, white tablet to life with familiar characters from his favorite books.
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In unity these LS students made a difference
As part of this year's "Look Back, But March Forward" celebration for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, students at the Lower School were challenged to do a simple act of kindness in their community. They were to record their activities on leaf templates with writing, drawings and photos. The colorful leaves were attached to the Giving Trees (with a nod to Shel Silverstein) and are on display in the Lower School lobby. Michele Gutierrez, Lower School computer teacher and diversity coordinator, compiled these snapshots into a testimony of their service.  Click here to watch a movie of the children's activities.
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Lyn Streck is NC Conservation Education Teacher of the Year
The Durham Academy community knows her as the driving force behind the Lower School garden, and now her dedication to environmental education has been recognized with a statewide award. Lower School science teacher Lyn Streck is the 2008 NC Conservation Education Teacher of the Year for the K-6 grade level. On Jan. 5, she received a plaque and an honorarium at the annual meeting of the NC Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts.

“Lyn goes above and beyond in her teaching style, engaging her students in hands-on experiences and experiments,” said Jennifer Brooks, environmental education coordinator for the Durham Soil and Water Conservation District. Lyn was the 2007 Durham District Teacher of the Year, which put her in consideration for the statewide award.
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MLK celebration focuses on human rights, leadership, service
By Carolyn Ronco
Lower School Director

Three years ago, Durham Academy's Diversity Committee initiated a five-day, school wide celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that includes special presentations at assemblies, classroom activities and discussions about civil rights, and the introduction of a community service project. The Lower School also includes a home/school connection – an activity that requires parent guidance in hopes of fostering conversations between parents and their children about this important topic. One of the five days is a day off from school, a national holiday in recognition of Dr. King.
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Third grade visits residents at nearby Emerald Pond
It was indeed a “Happy Holiday” for residents at the Emerald Pond Retirement Community as third grade students from the Lower School visited residents. Armed with hand-made holiday cards, the students walked to the community and shared their works of art with the residents. This project is part of an ongoing initiative for students to give back to the community in an age-appropriate manner. As she held her stack of cards, one resident exclaimed, “You just don’t know what this means to us…”
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Kathy Pause and DA students perform at national Orff conference
Fourth and fifth grade students from Durham Academy performed in front of 2,000 music teachers and parents at the American Orff-Schulwerk Association national conference in Charlotte on November 13. DA Lower School music teacher Kathy Pause was cool and collected as she led students from the three participating schools in providing the creative backdrop of music and movement for nationally renowned storyteller David Holt. Durham Academy’s 47 performers (21 fourth graders and 26 fifth graders) were joined by students from Cannon School in Concord and Rashkis Elementary in Chapel Hill. The culmination of nearly a year of work, the students were at ease with their parts and enthusiastic in their performance.

As part of her continuing effort to provide students with a joyful music experience, Kathy Pause created "A Patschwerk of Stories, Music and Song." The stories that made up Kathy's musical extravaganza were written by storyteller David Holt, who joined the students at the convention to narrate the tales.
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DA Cares: Feed the Need Campaign provides 1,993 meals for NC Food Bank
Lower School students, families and faculty answered the call when they were asked to donate to a pre-Thanksgiving drive for the North Carolina Food Bank, which is located in Durham. Here are the results from the Lower School’s “DA Cares: Feed the Need Campaign:”

293 grocery bags sent home
216 grocery bags returned
74% participation
3 cars loaded up
4 loading bins filled at the Food Bank
2,367 pounds of food
1,993 meals provided
34 counties helped

Thanks go to Jenni Thornton, third grade teaching assistant, and the LS Community Service faculty committee for organizing such a successful project, and to students, families and faculty for such a generous response!
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ASK–that’s the mantra in Lower School library
The Kirby-Horton Preschool/Lower School Library kicked off the year with a new theme that’s short and sweet, but designed to get students thinking deeply about the world around them. “ASK. every day.” is the mantra LS librarians are chanting this year. While the word “ask” prompts students to question, it also serves as an acronym, standing for "Always Seeking Knowledge."

All Lower School students received bookmarks with the new slogan, complete with a logo designed by librarians. The phrase and logo also appear at the three entrances to the LS library and on the library pencils that all children use. Finally, a large triangular sign hangs near the entrance that repeats the phrase on all three sides. By bombarding students with the new theme, librarians hope that these little Cavaliers will ultimately realize that the road to knowledge is littered with one essential element — questions!

So when your Lower Schoolers come home with lots of inquiries for you, remember they are only doing what their librarians have taught them. They are “Always Seeking Knowledge. every day!”

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Beijing native brings Chinese art to DA’s fourth grade
By Trena Griffith-Hawkins
Fourth grade teacher

For five years now during the month of September, the Lower School has had the pleasure of having Mr. Cong Yuan introduce the history and culture of China for a whole week to our fourth grade students. Mr. Yuan comes to us as an artist in residence through the Durham Arts Council CAPS program (Creative Arts in the Public/Private Schools).
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Teamwork is key in the Lower School
The first Lower School assembly of the school year kicked off with a new theme song written by music teacher Kathy Pause. “A Caring Community” is a simple song about working together as a team and respecting each other. A brief video of this song may be downloaded from the downloads section on the left.

Carolyn Ronco, Lower School Director, encouraged students to think of their class as a team. Using the Olympic teams as an example, she reminded students of the qualities that a team shares, such as working together, helping one another, encouraging each other and enjoying special events.

Then she shared with the students that they are part of several teams: the Durham Academy team, the Lower School team and their individual classroom team. Then, amid much clapping and cheering, she introduced each “team” from the Lower School. A slideshow of the pictures is available in the media gallery. Click here to access this show.

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Mayor, city council honor DA artists
Mayor Bill Bell and the Durham City Council honored 11 student-artists, including three from Durham Academy, for their winning interpretations in the city’s 2008 Water Conservation Poster Contest. The poster contest is a part of the city's annual celebration of Drinking Water Month.
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Lower School says goodbye to 72 fourth graders
Lower School bid farewell to 72 fourth graders at June 3 closing exercises, presenting each a certificate as they head to fifth grade and Middle School. The fourth graders heard remarks from Headmaster Ed Costello, who donned a tall, red and white “Cat in the Hat” hat and sent them off with advice from the beloved Dr. Seuss!
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LS science teacher Lyn Streck recognized by conservation group
Lower School Science teacher Lyn Streck has been named Teacher of the Year by the Durham Soil and Water Conservation District. Lyn was presented a plaque and an honorarium at an awards ceremony on May 16 in recognition of her work to incorporate conservation into her curriculum.
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Third grade, grandfriends celebrate “Fifty Nifty United States”
On April 18, third grade students and their “grandfriends” celebrated the United States. The morning began with a stirring musical performance directed by Kathy Pause, Lower School music teacher. Each of the third grade classes accompanied the grade-level chorus as they sang folk songs and danced. Then students and their guests rotated through three activities: square dancing, students' multimedia presentations in the computer lab and watching commercials which students created for each of the states.
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Lower Schoolers use iPods to learn math skills
Think iPods are only for music? Then think again! Lower School technology coordinator Michele Gutierrez has partnered with a Durham-based software company to help students use iPods to learn math.

Durham Academy has purchased a site license for Raybook Math Facts to outfit first and second grade students with Math Facts: Addition and Subtraction and third and fourth grade students with Math Facts: Multiplication and Division. The programs provide simple flash cards and study guides to help students learn fundamental math skills. In addition to having them in the classroom, students and parents will be able to download these Raybooks for home use.

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Lower School gym was jumpin’
The Lower School’s annual Jump Rope for Heart for grades two through four is a mix of health education, physical activity and fundraising. The Lower School gym was filled with noise and activity as students, teachers and parents jumped rope to raise awareness and $5,545.25 for the American Heart Association.
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Second graders experience a taste of Colonial school
Second grade students have been reading and studying about Colonial times since mid January, and their class work culminated last week with a two-day Colonial immersion experience. On March 27, students and teachers alike dressed in period costumes. The students rotated through activities simulating schools in the 1800s (with quill pens but sans the corporal punishment, of course). On March 28, Camp Flintlock visited Durham Academy, complete with a tent encampment on the front lawn of the Lower School, a fife and drum corps, candle-making, games and other period activities.
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DA donates 4,104 pounds of food
Durham Academy wrapped up a week-long celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. with a tremendously successful food drive for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

DA’s Freedom Bus was loaded Tuesday with food from each campus: a total of 4,104 pounds of food! That represents 3,456 meals, based on a formula provided by the Food Bank.

Congratulations to the DA community for this very generous response to the perishable food drive. Special thanks to DA parent Jennifer Crawford, Diversity Coordinator Torsie Judkins and maintenance staff Pete Blackwell, Big Mac McDonald and Charlie Piekaar for helping unload the 4,104 lbs of food at the Food Bank.
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Third graders experience what it was like
to arrive in America via Ellis Island

By Michelle Rosen
Lower School Librarian

The line of weary souls moved slowly through the hallway, looking at the photographs of those who walked this path before them. Anxious and scared, they jumped as the baggage official barked at them to put down their bags in a language they could not understand. Then it was on to the documentation desk where they would wait in another line for their name to be called.

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Third graders "experience" Ellis Island
As part of their ongoing studies about immigration, third grade students recently experienced an Ellis Island simulation. Bearing their luggage (aka backpacks), they trudged through the lines and numerous stations until they finally received that much-coveted stamp of approval and entry to the United States. A new twist to this year’s simulation was Liliana Simon’s Spanish 4 students, who acted as immigration officials, interpreters and immigrants. Click here to read an article about the Ellis Island simulation written last year by Lower School Librarian Michelle Rosen.
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Lower School students learn how to be CyberSmart!
Lower School computer teacher Michele Gutierrez has implemented a program to teach students how to safely navigate the waters of the Internet.
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Second graders send pajamas to needy children
Second graders recently participated in a service project to benefit Native American children who are in need. Throughout December, Durham Academy second grade students helped with household chores to earn extra spending money. This money was used to purchase pajamas for children who receive support from the Oglala Lakota Integrated Tribal Child and Family Services Agency on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

The students’ hard work and efforts were celebrated at the second annual Very Beary Bedtime Bash. The second graders wore pajamas to school, helped wrap pajamas to be sent to South Dakota and enjoyed a mid-day menu of “Breakfast for Lunch.”
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LS donates sports equipment to Special Olympics
Boxes and bags full of sports equipment have been donated to North Carolina Special Olympics by Durham Academy’s Lower School. The sports equipment drive, a community service project of LS Unity Day, also picked up generous support from Eurosport and Duke University.
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Fourth graders make a "clean sweep"
Have you noticed anything missing from the Durham Academy campus? Take a look around the Pickett Road athletic fields and what you won’t see is 70 pounds of trash collected by DA fourth grade students.

DA fourth graders are participating in the North Carolina Big Sweep for Litter-Free Watersheds. This statewide program is a component of the International Coastal Cleanup where volunteers from all 100 counties in the state come together to clean up our watersheds.
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Illustrator Jerry Pinkney “wows” and is “wowed” by DA PS, LS
By Michelle Rosen
PS and LS Librarian

Do you know what famous children’s illustrator got his start by sketching while he sold newspapers at a Philadelphia newsstand? Jerry Pinkney, that’s who! Pinkney delighted students with this story and many others while visiting the Preschool and Lower School on October 25. Pinkney read from many of his works, including Julius Lester’s Sam and the Tigers, a new telling of the controversial Little Black Sambo. He also shared The Little Red Hen and Pretend You’re a Cat by Jean Marzollo.
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LS Real Time Radio Show debuts
With inspiration from Garrison Keillor, students in the Lower School have created their own radio show. Under the direction of their music, library and computer teachers (Kathy Pause, Michelle Rosen and Michele Gutierrez, respectively) students will highlight events at the Lower School, share parts of their cultures and perform their music.

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What makes DA Lower School special?
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Upcoming Lower School Events
Fourth- to Fifth-Grade Transition Night
7:00 PM

Kindergarten to First Grade Transition Night
7:00 PM

Fifth Grade Parent-to-Parent Coffee
8:00 AM

Sea Turtle Gift Shop

LS Teacher Appreciation Breakfast

Third-Grade Trip to Topsail Island

Fourth-Grade Play Morning Performance
8:30 AM

Fourth-Grade Play Evening Performance
7:00 PM

Early Dismissal

Lower School Field Day

Memorial Day: No School, Offices Closed

Lower School Early Dismissal
11:45 AM

Lower School Early Dismissal
11:45 AM

Lower School Closing Exercises
10:00 AM

LS Early Dismissal/Last Day of LS Classes
11:45 AM

Summer Programs Begin