Durham Academy believes strongly in the value of community service. Service to others — on campus, in the larger Durham community and around the world — enhances students' sense of responsibility, selflessness, self-reliance, compassion and respect for others.
Some projects, like the annual Martin Luther King Day of Service meal-packaging event for Stop Hunger Now, involve the entire school community. Other projects, such as the Upper School's 30-year partnership with Special Olympics, are division-specific. As students age, they take increasingly responsibility for their community service efforts.
Explore the sections below to learn more about community service throughout our divisions.
In the Preschool and Lower School, students engage in age-appropriate community service projects ranging from preparing sandwiches for Urban Ministries of Durham to fundraising for the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital and Heifer International. Faculty work to truly connect students with this important work; for example, first-graders not only create seasonal decorations and fundraise for the Ronald McDonald House, but they have also visited the house annually for 17 years, seeing first-hand why their efforts are so meaningful.
In addition, many Lower Schoolers perform service outside regular school hours with the Student Service Club.
In the Middle School, students and faculty dedicate two afternoons each year to on- and off-campus service projects. Students fan out across the Triangle by advisory group to serve their community in a range of capacities. From providing entertainment at a local retirement home and creating luminarias for Ronald McDonald House, to organizing clean-up days at a nearby park and gleaning yams for the Society of St. Andrew, these projects emphasize a hands-on approach to service, encouraging students to become more personally involved in their own surroundings and in other people's lives.
Through service-focused clubs, Middle Schoolers have the opportunity to explore specific community service interests.
Upper School students dive ever deeper into community service. 2015 marked the 30th year that the Upper School hosted the Durham County Special Olympics, with DA students helping to organize the games, manage events and serve as athlete "buddies" for the day.
Ninth-graders participate in designated projects during the first week of school; 10th- and 11th-graders volunteer at the same community agency during four half-days spread across the school year; and seniors work at least 15 hours with a community agency of their choice. Most seniors go above and beyond that requirement, with the 100 members of the Class of 2014 serving a total of 2,500 volunteer hours in a year's time.
A number of Upper School organizations — whether exclusively service-minded or not — have a community service component. For example, the jazz-rock ensemble In The Pocket routinely raises uses its concerts to raise funds for nonprofits such as KidZNotes. Since 2006, Upper Schoolers have organized SOCK Camp, a free, weeklong summer experience for local children, and the Upper School has a longstanding partnership with the Augustine Literacy Project.