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Alumni Awards

The Durham Academy Alumni Board recognizes the contributions of accomplished alumni and the legacies of dedicated faculty and staff members each year at the Spring Alumni Reception.

The board has honored alumni with the Distinguished Alumni Award each year since 1983, and a faculty or staff member with the Faculty and Staff Legacy Award each year since 2012. In addition, at its discretion, the board may choose to honor an alumnus with the Alumni Service Award, first bestowed in 2014.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Each year, a recipient is selected by a Distinguished Alumni Award Committee. Through this award, the Alumni Board aims "to recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves in their business, profession or vocation and through their actions have demonstrated concern for, and service to, their community. The individuals should have shown loyalty to Durham Academy, and their personal values and achievements should be representative of Durham Academy's highest ideals."

2019 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Malinda Maynor Lowery '91 is associate professor of history at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she serves as director of the Center for the Study of the American South. She holds an A.B. from Harvard University; master’s degrees from both Stanford University and UNC-Chapel Hill; and a Ph.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill. Lowery is the author of two books: The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle (2018) and Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity and the Making of a Nation (2010), both published by UNC Press. 

Lowery also works in documentary film production, most recently as a co-producer with Markay Media, including Private Violence (broadcast on HBO in 2014), A Chef’s Life (broadcast on PBS from 2013 to 2018), and Road to Race Day (streamed online). Previous films include In the Light of Reverence (broadcast on PBS in 2001), and two short films, Real Indian (1996), and Sounds of Faith (1997), both of which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Faculty and Staff Legacy Award

The Alumni Board grants this award annually to the faculty and/or staff member(s) who, in their service to the school and its mission, best represent the alumni’s aspirations for Durham Academy. Recipients embody the best of the teaching profession in general and are committed to excellence at DA; share a substantial history with the school and have impacted a significant number of alumni; have imparted lessons that transcend subject matter and extend beyond classrooms; have instilled values in students that continue to play a role in the lives of alumni beyond graduation; and serve as pillars of the DA community by representing the school's mission and core values of living moral, happy and productive lives.

2019 Faculty and Staff Legacy Award recipient Debbie Suggs has taught first grade at Durham Academy for nearly a quarter-century.

“For 24 years, Debbie Suggs has shared her love for teaching and a love for the ‘Fabulous First Grade Explorers’ (FFGE) at DA,” said Sterling Mah Ingui ’97, Alumni Board member and mother of one of Suggs’ former students and one her current students. “She has helped hundreds of students discover their personal strengths and find joy in learning math, reading and writing — foundations needed to be successful. What makes her a legacy is the FFGE community of students, families and friends who share her love of learning, kindness, helping others and giving gratitude and respect.”

Suggs is known for the candle-lighting ceremony that takes place in her classroom each year just before winter break. Her first-grade students, their families and many former students form a circle classroom, each making a wish as the flame passes from candle to candle.

Alumni Service Award

This award, granted at the discretion of the Alumni Board, recognizes an alumni with superior service in the public sector, or a sustained pattern of volunteer service in the community. Recipients have demonstrated a continued connection to Durham Academy and its core values of living a moral, happy and productive life. 

2019 Alumni Service Award recipient the Rev. John Hage '94 is the senior pastor at Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church, a church of 1,100 members in Southern Pines. Hage’s mission work and life in the ministry have taken him around the world and across the country. For Hage, the focus of that work has always been to build bridges of faith from the churches he serves to their surrounding communities.

Hage’s calling and career trajectory have led him to some of his most challenging and important work — helping to heal a community reeling from the deaths of nine African-American parishioners killed in a mass shooting during Bible study at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., in June 2015. At the time of the shooting, Hage was pastor of nearby Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church.

Hage holds a B.A. from Wake Forest University and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary.