Student and Faculty Accomplishments Winter 2022


Zeb Jewell-Alibhai ’23 Earns National YoungArts Awards for Accomplishments in Jazz 

The National YoungArts Foundation recognized Zeb Jewell-Alibhai ’23 in December as a 2022 YoungArts honoree in the jazz music category.

The only individual to be recognized in three separate instrumental performance categories, Jewell-Alibhai won an honorable mention on jazz trumpet and was honored at the merit level for his skill on the tenor saxophone and the soprano saxophone. He joined 719 students in being named among the most accomplished young visual, literary and performing artists in the country.

YoungArts award winners, all 15–18 years old or in grades 10–12, are chosen for their caliber of artistic achievement by esteemed discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process. Winners gain access to one of the most comprehensive programs for artists in the United States, in which they will have opportunities for financial, creative and professional development support throughout their entire careers.

As a member of the Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble, Jewell-Alibhai was awarded an Outstanding Soprano Saxophone from the 2020 Essentially Ellington Competition. In 2021, he received the International Trumpet Guild’s Sandy Sandberg Memorial Fund Scholarship and was the Gerry and Franca Mulligan Foundation’s “Gerry’s Jazz Challenge” scholarship winner. He also performed with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra at the Monterey Jazz Festival. 

Speech and Debate Named Top 100 Program

The Durham Academy speech and debate program had an eventful fall semester, with Upper Schoolers producing spectacular results over 17 virtual competitions. Through their collective efforts, DA was named by the National Speech & Debate Association as one of the nation’s top 100 programs for a second straight year.


3 DA Teachers Selected as University of Chicago Outstanding Educators 

Durham Academy Upper School teachers James Bohanek, Dr. Lauren Garrett and Thomas Phu were selected in October for the University of Chicago’s Outstanding Educator Award, given annually to teachers who “go beyond everyday teaching and leave an impression that is carried over a lifetime.”

As part of a more than 30-year tradition, students accepted into the University of Chicago Class of 2025 were asked to nominate an educator whose guidance has helped them along the path toward intellectual growth. Responses were received from thousands of students in recognition of educators who have positively impacted their lives. 

All award winners receive a commemorative award, certificate and letter that includes details from the student they were nominated by.

Former DA Coach, Teacher Joe Seivold Joins National Lacrosse Hall of Fame 

Photo Courtesy of USA Lacrosse

After a year’s delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, former Durham Academy Middle School teacher and varsity boys lacrosse and soccer coach Joe Seivold was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in October as part of the Class of 2020. 

A four-time All-American midfielder at UNC-Chapel Hill, Seivold helped lead the Tar Heels to the 1986 NCAA men's lacrosse championship. He was also a member of the 1986 world champion U.S. lacrosse team and was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference's 50th Anniversary Men's Lacrosse Team in 2002.

As DA’s varsity boys lacrosse coach from 1991–2004, Seivold’s teams won 10 state championships and compiled a 214–36 record. He also coached the varsity boys soccer team from 1991–1999, helping the Cavaliers to a 111–37–8 record and two state titles. Across both sports, he coached multiple All-Americans and set a standard for excellence that remains a presence at DA today. He was inducted into the DA Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.

Seivold is currently serving as headmaster of Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa, Florida, a role he has held since 2011.



DA Athletics Honors Longtime Varsity Field Hockey Coach Judy Chandler

With her 30th and final season coaching Durham Academy’s varsity field hockey team nearing its end, DA honored Judy Chandler during a special ceremony before the Cavaliers' Oct. 1 game at Alumni Field. 

Chandler — who retired from teaching Lower School P.E. in 2017 — led DA to 384 wins, 10 state titles and 16 state finals appearances in her illustrious career.

Third-Grader’s Artwork Published in SPIDER Magazine 

Third-grader Deeya Nanda had her artwork featured in the September 2021 issue of SPIDER magazine — a magazine for kids ages 6 to 9, featuring short stories, poems, articles and activities by the best children’s authors and artists from around the world. 

In each issue, readers are invited to submit their original artwork or writing on a specific theme to Spider’s Corner. The editors then select their favorites to be published in the magazine. In April, readers were asked to submit an original picture of the best breakfast, and Deeya’s picture was one of seven published.


Holly Wilcox ’23 Receives Girl Scouts Gold Award 

Holly Wilcox ’23 was honored in July with the Girl Scouts Gold Award for her project “Nature Trails at Pure Hope Ranch.” 

A Jack Linger Explorer Grant recipient, Wilcox spent the summer developing three nature trails and a wildflower meadow at a Texas ranch that provides treatment and sanctuary for survivors of human trafficking. Linger grant funds helped pay for the production and installation of the educational graphics that Wilcox designed for the trail. She also built from scratch a giant board where you can check your wingspan against those of a variety of birds.⁠⁠

The Girl Scouts Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn.


Bonnie Wang Joins Area Studies Teacher Advisory Council 

Upper School Chinese teacher Bonnie Wang accepted an invitation in August to join the UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University Area Studies Teacher Advisory Council. 

Composed of up to 14 representatives from K–12 schools and other educational leaders in North Carolina who have an active relationship with at least one area studies center, the council helps evaluate and support the direction of the area studies centers’ K–12 outreach. Over her two-year tenure, Wang will provide valuable feedback on programs and resources, guide the planning of future opportunities for teachers, and advocate on behalf of UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University area studies programs.

John David Spatola ’28 Named Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association Champ 

Sixth-grader John David Spatola, aka “The Dude,” took first in his age group at the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association World Series Championship finals in July in Las Vegas. It marked the first national-level championship win for Spatola, who competed on the nationally televised American Ninja Warrior Junior in the summer of 2019.


Jenna Kim ’27 Wins U.S. Kids Golf World Championship in Pinehurst 

Seventh-grader Jenna Kim won the 12-year-old girls division at the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship in July. By shooting an 11-under-par 205 and making a first-round hole-in-one at Pinehurst No. 5, Kim won the 111-player tournament by a whopping seven strokes.


Constanza de Radcliffe Co-Edits Literary Magazine 

Upper School Spanish and French teacher Constanza de Radcliffe co-edited the second literary magazine from Addanomadd, a collective of women from around the world. Titled El Ojo, the issue — which went online in October — explores the theme of the eye: observing, seeing, watching and surveilling.



8 DA Seniors Named National Merit Semifinalists 

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation recognized 29 Durham Academy seniors in September as semifinalists or commended students in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. 

Eight DA seniors were named semifinalists, including: 

  • Mukta Dharmapurikar
  • Haley Fogg
  • PJ Gillispie
  • Aidan Hunter
  • Mirella Kades
  • Stacey Kang
  • Sarah Ridley
  • Caroline Sun 

In addition, 21 DA seniors were recognized as commended students, including: 

  • Aadesh Anchaliya
  • Amrit Bhutani
  • Ben Browner
  • Reed Burkert
  • Asia Crowley
  • Sassan Fahim
  • Emily Gao
  • Baylor Goldthwaite
  • Aamer Husain
  • Claire McGovern
  • Tyler Powers
  • Edward Rogers
  • Sarah Shi
  • Tate Staples
  • Chaz Strickland
  • Jet Tanaka
  • Meghan Tarpey
  • Anna Templeton
  • Page Tsirigotis
  • Nathan Wang
  • Aaliyah Wines 

Both semifinalists and commended students were selected by virtue of their performance on the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors, included the highest-scoring entrants in each state. 

Of the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 90% are expected to advance to the finalist level and will be notified of that designation in February. About half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, with notifications beginning in April and concluding in July. An estimated 7,500 National Merit Scholarships, worth nearly $30 million, will be offered in spring 2022.

Uma Mahajan Named ‘I Am a Scientist’ Educator Ambassador

Upper School science teacher Dr. Uma Mahajan was recognized in November as an educator ambassador for “I Am a Scientist,” an initiative that provides opportunities for middle and high school students to interact with modern-day researchers while breaking down barriers like race, gender and personal interests.

According to the “I Am a Scientist” website, the initiative’s educator ambassador program is “designed to build meaningful relationships with the educators we serve and help increase the visibility of ‘I Am A Scientist’ within teaching communities. Educator ambassadors apply and are chosen as exemplary educators responsible for doing things like helping moderate our social media, co-host professional development events and amplify our resources.”

Mahajan will serve as an educator ambassador for the 2021–2023 scholastic years.

"As an immigrant and a woman of color, representation in science matters,” Mahajan said, “and I feel that ‘I Am a Scientist’ is doing just that."


Third-, Fourth-Graders Excel in Virtual Math Tournament

Led by Lower School Math Specialist Emily Pyron, 65 Durham Academy third- and fourth-graders participated in the Perennial Math Winter Dash Virtual Tournament in December. 

Answering questions involving time, money, algebraic concepts, geometry, logic, computation and patterns, students competed in teams of four or five. DA’s third-grade teams placed first, second and third in their grade level category, while the fourth-grade teams placed second and third in theirs.

Unless otherwise noted, photos are courtesy of individuals' families or the DA Office of Communications.