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Celebrating Our Vibrant Community

At the foundation of Durham Academy’s Strategic Vision is the understanding that “for two decades, diversity has been a competitive advantage of our school, an essential element of DA’s identity and a key component of our aspirations for the future.” That future has never looked so bright as it has this year — when, at every opportunity, we have come together to celebrate the richness that our differences contribute to the whole.

Students, faculty and staff members, empowered by their work in affinity groups, hosted events in every division. Parents and caregivers volunteered to share their traditions, cultures, foods and religious beliefs. Teachers continued to find ways to expand the variety of voices and perspectives represented in what they teach, while the entire community came together to explore those things we share in common at DEE (Diversity, Equity and Engagement) Engagement Nights and parent education programs

Lunar New Year

In the week leading up to Lunar New Year, each division celebrated with performances, student-led exercises, presentations and Lunar New Year food sampling stations offered by generous DA parents and caregivers.

Photo by Kate Auger



Eid al-Fitr

Upper Schoolers shared in the celebration of Eid, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, with traditional foods, henna stations and music.

Photo by Melody Guyton Butts



Hispanic Heritage Month Dropoff

Preschool/Lower School morning drop-off was particularly festive in October, thanks to DA’s Hispanic-Latinx parent affinity group and Upper School students. Santiago Hernandez-Cortes ’23 organized a display of arts and crafts from Mexico, and car line volunteers wore the traditional dress or jersey representing their country of origin or heritage.

Photo by Jazmin Garcia Smith



Celebrating Black History

Pierce Freelon — a DA parent, Grammy-nominated musician, educator and author — reflected on the importance and impact of art and music in African-American culture — both past and present — at the Upper School’s Black History Month assembly. In a visit to the Middle School ahead of seventh- and eighth-graders’ trip to Washington, D.C., Freelon shared about the life of his late father, architect Phil Freelon, who designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Photo by Kate Auger



Asian American Pacific Islander Assembly

The Upper School’s Asian American and Pacific Islander celebration included Manike dance and music performances, cricket and Mancala games, and a ramen and samosas tasting station featuring eight different types of sauces from India, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea and China.

Photo by Melody Guyton Butts



Upper School Tastes of the World

The Upper School held a “Tastes of the World” assembly in April in which students, faculty and family members volunteered to bring in bite-sized samples of food representing their family’s country of origin or heritage. From spanakopita and samosas to hummus and dumplings, all corners of the globe were represented.

Photo by Kathy McPherson




Upper Schoolers rang in spring with Holi, the Hindu festival that celebrates the new beginnings brought by the changing of the seasons. The Upper School Asian American and Pacific Islander affinity group hosted a joyous celebration, complete with music from the Indian diaspora and fistfuls of brightly colored powder.

Photo by Melody Guyton Butts



Middle School Cumbia Dance Performance

During a Middle School Community Meeting, some of Sonia Salas Chaparro’s Spanish students performed a Cumbia dance (the musical rhythm and traditional folk dance of Colombia) and gave speeches in Spanish.

Photo by Kate Auger



Parent/Caregiver Engagement Nights

Parents and caregivers from all divisions had spring and fall opportunities to gather this year and reconnect, discuss interesting topics, and hear an update of the exciting work being facilitated by the Diversity, Equity and Engagement team. There were 13 parent/caregiver affinity groups this year.

Photo by Melody Guyton Butts



Professional Development

In late November, a group of DA faculty and staff attended the NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) People of Color Conference in San Antonio, Texas, joining almost 8,000 students and educators. The theme for 2022 was “Reunited in Purpose: Elevating Our Worth, Our Agency, & Our Excellence.”

Courtesy of Jason Mundy



These are but a few examples of DA’s DEE efforts; learn more at