Student and Faculty Accomplishments 2021


Photo by Andrea Caruso

Science Olympiad

Durham Academy’s three Science Olympiad teams put forth strong showings at the  all-remote regional competition, held Feb. 20 and March 6. The Upper School varsity team placed 10th, and the two junior varsity teams took fourth and sixth.

With its performance, the Upper School varsity team earned a spot in the state tournament. Several students placed in their respective events, including Haley Fogg '22 and Julianna Hallyburton '22, who took fourth in Write It, Do It; Elizabeth Wong '23 and Joey Shaheen '21, who placed sixth in Rocket/Parachute Design; and Triya Venkataraja '23 and Kabir Khwaja '21, who finished eighth in Physics of Music while using a ukulele built by Cohen French '22. The duos of Brooke Adams '21/Mukta Dharmapurikar '22 and Nik Walling '21/Venkataraja also came in ninth in Chem Lab and Ornithology, respectively.

Photo courtesy of Vs. Cancer

Jon Lantzy

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation announced its inaugural class of Lacrosse Vs. Cancer Ambassadors in August, and among the 11 current and former coaches and players honored was Durham Academy varsity boys lacrosse coach Jon Lantzy.

 Lacrosse Vs. Cancer Ambassadors represent the athletic community’s shared resolve to raise awareness and funds for a world without childhood brain tumors. As the organizer of the annual Brine King of Spring Lacrosse Classic, Lantzy has helped raise more than $300,000 for Vs. Cancer. Read more here.

Photo by Melody Guyton Butts

Ginny Robinson

Eighth-grade language arts teacher Ginny Robinson filmed multiple segments for Fresh Quilting, a show produced in part by the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG), that aired on local PBS affiliates across the U.S. in 2021. A two-time winner in the appliqué category at the MQG’s QuiltCon, Robinson talked about appliqué technique, designing quilt blocks from other traditional crafts and designing modern memory quilts.

“I was so curious about how TV shows are filmed, and I felt like I’d regret saying no, so I did it,” she said. “I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but proud of myself for committing to it and learning along the way.”

Artwork by Emiliano García-Lopez and Omar Pasha

Jack Linger Explorer Grants

The Jack Linger Explorer Grant committee announced in April that six Durham Academy Upper Schoolers were awarded grants for independent study projects over the summer and/or the 2021–2022 school year. The group includes Alan Bernstein ’22, Emiliano García-Lopez ’23, Omar Pasha ’23, Mirella Kades ’22, Stephen Lamb ’22 and Holly Wilcox ’23.

Established by the Linger family in 2020 in memory of Jack Linger ’20, who rode his bicycle across the U.S. in search of new perspectives on the major issues facing our country, the Jack Linger Explorers Fund is intended to support a spirit of physical and/or intellectual adventure and the expansion of personal horizons. Grants may be used to cover tuition, materials, travel expenses, professional expertise or any other costs associated with a given learning experience.

Photo by Dave Chandler

Field Hockey Honorees

Ten seniors and juniors on the 2020 Durham Academy field hockey team were named to the Keith Waldman – Optimal Performance Associates/National Field Hockey Coaches Association High School National Academic Squad in March.

Seniors Katherine Lantzy and Cecile Meredith and juniors Haley Fogg, Emily Green, Abby Grosshandler, Molly Hunter, Mirella Kades, Amalie Keefe, Kaitlyn Kushner and Talbot Waters made the squad, with Lantzy, Fogg, Hunter, Kades, Keefe and Kushner earning “Scholars of Distinction” recognition. The High School National Academic program honors high school seniors and juniors who achieved a minimum cumulative, unweighted grade-point average of 3.5 out of 4.0 — or the equivalent — through the first quarter of the school year.

National Merit and African American Scholars

Twelve Durham Academy seniors were recognized in November by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation as commended students in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program, and three others were named National African American Scholars by the College Board.

Anna Brent-Levenstein, Tharindu Fernando, Asher Fields, Elizabeth Kohn, Henry Leasure, Molly McLaughlin, Ryan Norris, Charlie Robb, Jake Schwartz, Will Scurria, Nik Walling and Jackson Zobrist received letters of commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation by virtue of their performances on the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Teresa Ibeanu, Lee Jeffries and Graham Hairston were DA’s National African American Scholars. To be selected for the National African American Recognition Program, a student must excel on the PSAT/NMSQT, have a minimum GPA of 3.5 by the middle of their junior year and identify as African American.

Constanza de Radcliffe

Upper School Spanish and French teacher Constanza de Radcliffe’s latest short story, “La Bendita,” was published in the all-women anthology Féminas in February.

Photo by Kathy McPherson

Jordan Adair

Upon being recognized as the Veterans of Foreign Wars Durham post’s High School Teacher of the Year, English teacher Jordan Adair was named the VFW North Carolina High School Teacher of the Year in January, earning him a nomination for the organization’s national award.

Larry Coleman, a retired North Carolina National Guard lieutenant colonel and the current executive director of the North Carolina National Guard Association, nominated Adair for the VFW Durham post’s award after visiting Adair’s Literary and Artistic Response to War class during the 2019–2020 school year. Adair received a similar award from the VFW Cary post in 2016.“I am honored, to be sure, but I know that the work I do is incredibly important to me personally and by extension to the veterans who take the time to visit my class,” Adair said. “Their stories, passed along to my students, help shape the narrative more accurately and hopefully dispel any lingering misperceptions about those who serve. I have remained in touch with many of those vets over the years and with a number of students who have taken the class. Those relationships have been some of the most fulfilling of my life.”

More on Adair, who is this year’s recipient of the Hershey Award for Excellence in Teaching here.

Girls Make Games 

When Durham Academy’s members of Team Atlantis — Riley Kim ’24, Claire Hong ’24 and former student Catie Powers — won the grand prize at Girls Make Games’ Demo Day in August 2019, they knew they’d have a chance to get their game, “What They Don’t Sea,” published. But in February, that took a significant step toward becoming a reality.

From Jan. 5 to Feb. 5, Team Atlantis raised more than $40,000 on Kickstarter, allowing the girls to keep working on their game and enabling Girls Make Games to hire a development team to professionally produce and develop it. The game will be available on Mac, PC, Android, iOS, PlayStation and Xbox at a later date.

Chess Champs

For the seventh time in 17 years, four Durham Academy teams took home titles at the North Carolina K–12 chess championship in March. Featuring 23 chess players from kindergarten to 10th grade, DA’s teams in the K–1, K–3, K–5 and K–8 divisions each came away with first-place finishes in the first-ever online championships.

Ricky Li, Magdalena Fengler-Rodriguez, Felix Lowe and Alex Broughton made up the K–1 team; Dalton Lad, Leo Lad, Kai Lowe, Kellan Hranitzky, Ricky Li, Sebi Tiwari and Ronav Reddy the K–3 team; Lingaa Venkataraja, Connor Lang, Judson Roederer, Kieran Hranitzky, John David Spatola and Cyrus Policelli the K–5 team; and Asha Kumar, Nicholas Wang, Arav Goldstein, Andy Ye and Charles Roederer the K–8 team.

Artwork by Ash Granda-Bondurant

Ash Granda-Bondurant ’23

Through his involvement with the local Latinx youth organization Las Mariposas, Ash Granda-Bondurant ’23 helped write and publish a bilingual book titled Lenna’s Gift / El Regalo de Lenna, released in July 2020. It took over five months for Granda-Bondurant and the 45 other Mariposas students involved to complete the book.

All of the proceeds from book sales went to the Mariposas Scholarship Fund, a community-driven initiative that has awarded over $10,000 in scholarships to first-generation Latinx students since 2017.

Crawford Leavoy

After nearly 20 years of involvement with the Barkley Forum for High Schools, first as a student and most recently as a coach, DA Speech and Debate Director Crawford Leavoy was inducted into the Barkley Forum Gold Key Society in February.

The most prestigious honor given by the Barkley Forum of Emory University, the Gold Key Society recognizes significant contributions to forensics education. Each year, the members of the self-perpetuating Key Society invite a select number of debate teachers from schools across the nation into membership.

“Throughout my nearly 20 years involved with the Barkley Forum for High Schools, the Key Coaches have represented the foundation of this activity,” Leavoy said. “Their tireless effort, their push for continued excellence and their dedication to thousands of students should be an inspiration to each one of us. I’m both honored and humbled to be selected as an inductee into Gold Key Society.”

Photo courtesy of the Drive, Chip & Putt Organization

Saia Rampersaud ’25

Saia Rampersaud ’25 fulfilled a lifelong dream in April, when she competed in the Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club.

Rampersaud originally qualified for the 2020 finals through sub-regional and regional events in the summer of 2019, but the 2020 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than hosting another series of qualifiers for 2021, Drive, Chip & Putt invited Rampersaud, along with the 79 other young golfers between the ages of 7 and 15 who qualified in 2019, to Augusta the weekend before the Masters Tournament.

Randy Baker

Maintenance foreman Randy Baker celebrated 40 years at Durham Academy on Feb. 23. The father of a DA graduate, Baker spent his first 27 years working on the Academy Road campus, then moved to the Ridge Road campus.

“I will always remember the day I went by to see if they were hiring and [former DA business manager] Mr. [Jim] Horner talked with me for about 45 minutes and then hired me,” Baker said. “Ronald Reagan had just become president, and the top five shows were Dallas, The Jeffersons, Three’s Company, Alice and Dukes of Hazzard. Cell phones and the internet were still in someone’s mind. I remember saying, ‘I don’t need a computer unless it can cut my grass.’”

Catherine Hayward

Middle School Latin teacher Catherine Hayward was named co-editor of PRIMA, the official magazine of the Excellence Through Classics, in the winter. Published four times yearly, PRIMA is filled with articles by primary, middle school and high school Latin teachers. Hayward served on the joint ad hoc PRIMA/Resources Writing Committee in 2020.

Photo by Sarah Jane Tart

Speech and Debate

The 2020–2021 school year proved to be a banner year for the Durham Academy speech and debate program. In October, it was named one of the 2019–2020 Top 100 programs in the U.S. by the National Speech & Debate Association. Then, in January, the team hosted its biggest Cavalier Invitational yet, with 757 students representing 97 schools from 28 states competing in the virtual tournament.

The program’s most significant achievement came in March, though, when it won its first-ever overall state championship, beating eight-time champion Ardrey Kell High School. Five students also won individual state titles: Izzi Gershon ’22 (congressional debate) and Anna Brent-Levenstein ’21, Stacey Kang ’22, Teddy Wallen ’23 and Ani Sukhija ’23 (public forum debate).

Cal Baker ’22

Enrolled in Howard Lineberger’s Planetary Sciences course as a sophomore in the spring of 2020, Cal Baker’s research paper on binary black hole systems started off as just a class project. But within a few months, it became so much more.

With Lineberger’s help, Baker eventually submitted his research to the American Astronomical Society, and in January, his work was featured at the AAS virtual meeting.