The Durham Academy Alumni Board will honor two accomplished alumni and a beloved faculty member at its Spring Alumni Reception, set for April 26. The entire DA community is invited to celebrate the selection of Distinguished Alumni Award winner Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery ’91; Alumni Service Award winner the Rev. John Hage ’94; and Faculty and Staff Legacy Award winner Debbie Suggs.
Those who plan to attend the ceremony, to begin in the Upper School Learning Commons at 6 p.m., are asked to RSVP to Director of Alumni Engagement Tim McKenna.
Distinguished Alumni Award: Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery ’91
Lowery 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.
The Distinguished Alumni Award was first awarded in 1983; view a full list of recipients at www.da.org/alumniawards.
Alumni Service Award: The Rev. John Hage ’94
Hage 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. He will be the third recipient of the Alumni Service Award; previous awards were granted to the late Chris Rosati ’89 and Patrick Nevins ’03.
Faculty and Staff Legacy Award: Debbie Suggs
This school year marks Suggs’ 24th year of teaching first grade at Durham Academy, and during that time, she has ignited a lasting love of learning in hundreds of students.
“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.
“[Former students] return because Debbie has made a special connection with each of them, a spark within them that enables students to believe in themselves, find and shine their inner lights and live their lives loud,” Ingui said. “Debbie Suggs and the FFGE community are a hallmark of what we aspire for all in our DA community.”
Suggs is mother of Steven Suggs ’03 and Christine Suggs ’05, and her husband, Steve Suggs, is a member of DA’s maintenance team.
Suggs will be the eighth recipient of the Alumni Faculty/Staff Legacy Award, which is given to the faculty or staff member who best represents the alumni's aspirations for the school. She joins Dave Gould, who was the award’s initial recipient in 2012, former Head of School Ed Costello, former Preschool Director Sheppy Vann, Middle School history teacher and former Middle School Director Tim Dahlgren, Middle School science teacher Barb Kanoy, Upper School math teacher/former varsity cross-country and track coach Dennis Cullen and former Associate Head of School Lee Hark.