This first-ever digital-only issue of Durham Academy Magazine takes readers on a video tour of the Middle School’s new Arts & World Languages Center. Set to open in a few weeks, this new building marks the completion of the first phase of a multi-year makeover of DA’s Academy Road campus. This expansive space will house the Middle School arts program — visual art, band, chorus, drama and movement — and world languages — Chinese, French, Latin and Spanish — and features the largest special event/performing arts venue on any DA campus.
Three years in the making and just weeks from completion, the new Middle School Arts & World Languages Center marks the first phase in a multi-year makeover planned for Durham Academy’s Academy Road campus.
In July, a group of current students and recent graduates proposed a series of concrete short-term, mid-term and long-term racial equity reforms that Durham Academy could implement to become a more inclusive and fair school community.
Much of the energy that Durham Academy faculty and staff put into making the school’s hybrid mode of instruction possible this year is beyond quantifying (think countless hours spent reworking lesson plans over the summer and on weekends).
John David Spatola trains for ninja competitions nearly every day, either on his backyard obstacle set or at a local gym — and he’s even competed on the nationally televised American Ninja Warrior Junior.
Ginny Robinson hit gold when her master’s degree thesis was published in 2005. Carrier, a collection of her original poetry, was not a chart-topping bestseller, but it gave Robinson an opportunity to read from her book at San Francisco’s renowned City Lights bookstore and she learned a lot about herself after it was published.
When the school went on spring break in early March — and changes that the COVID-19 pandemic would bring were not yet fully apparent — no one knew how long it would be before students and coaches would return to school and resume interscholastic sports.
With a school that couldn’t gather en masse for any of its traditional community-building events, Parents Association’s leadership and committee chairs were charged with reinventing their community-building, philanthropic and volunteer engagement efforts from the ground up.
Chris Mason remembers a piece of advice his father gave him: Figure out what you love to do and then find someone to pay you for it.
One of the highlights of fall 2020 was the opportunity to benefit from the wisdom of Julie Lythcott-Haims not just once, but twice!
Speaking from her home in New York City via a virtual meeting of DA Upper School’s History of Durham class in October 2020, Valerie Kennedy ’81 held students in rapt attention as she recalled the challenges and opportunities presented by growing up in Durham and attending DA in a time of change.
“Sitting in that meeting, listening to my friends who are people of color share their pain, I thought, ‘You need to practice what you preach, Harry,’” Thomas recalled. “Just as it shouldn’t be solely my job to fix homophobia on campus, it shouldn’t be faculty of color’s sole job to fix racism on campus. So, after that meeting, I sent a message to some Upper School and Middle School white faculty. I said, ‘I don’t know what we need to do, but we need to do something.’”
Three parent groups have been at the forefront of families’ engagement efforts around diversity, inclusion and racial justice reform at Durham Academy.
DA Hybrid was built to bring as many students “back to school” as possible, as safely as possible, prioritizing the youngest learners first.
If you’ve wondered what the Upper School is like in hybrid mode, here’s a glimpse of how students and teachers have adapted to interact safely on campus.
Science labs, French, language arts, math, PE, band — all the usual subjects (pun intended!) — are happening with COVID-19 precautions in place.
Teachers and students found new ways to explore familiar spaces as grades one through four continue to learn and enjoy their time on campus.
Take a look into our Pre-k and kindergarten classrooms to see how Durham Academy’s youngest students are experiencing school in hybrid mode.
Classrooms looked different than they ever had before, but Lower School Director Carolyn Ronco shows us that DA still has the same sense of community that makes the school so special — with students who collaborate and are full of curiosity and creativity!
School looks a little different this year, but each day is still full of discovery and joy! Kindergarten teacher Lori Hanks offers a look into how the Preschool prioritized safety, fun and learning.
COVID-19 caused Jessica Soler’s first grade Fireflies to relocate to a new learning environment, but they didn’t miss a beat.
Jeff Burch loves teaching third grade because his students make huge leaps in independence and become abstract thinkers — especially in math, where students learn about mathematical concepts as a form of language and expression.
You can see Nikki Graves’ enthusiasm for being back in the classroom, even through her mask! The pre-kindergarten teacher and varsity girls basketball coach offers a window into the magic of pre-k in this unusual school year that is as joy-filled as ever.
For Ashley Hinton’s second-grade Heroes and for all DA students and teachers, participating in enrichment classes together on campus again has given them opportunities to create and express themselves in real time.
As DA's Preschool Director Christian Hairston-Randleman helps ensure students get to interact and engage with each other in fun and meaningful ways. That's still a top priority this year, but most important is making sure the students feel safe and supported.
With reduced class sizes and increased social distancing, Chip Lupa has become well-versed in providing collaborative learning material for his students and fellow teachers.
Dan Gilson (or "Mr. Dan," as he's lovingly known by students) and the entire Extended Day team have worked diligently to ensure that this after-school program remains fun while prioritizing safety.
The Comedy Show is an online-only event modeled on Saturday Night Live, produced, directed, written, acted, danced and played entirely by Upper School students.
To say Gerty Ward grew up in a family of scientists is an understatement. Her grandparents, Carl Cori and Gerty Cori, won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1947. Her father, who holds a Ph.D., was head of the chemical company Sigma-Aldrich. But coming from a family of renowned scientists made Ward determined to follow a different path.
Frances Dowell has been writing since she learned how to put words on paper — poems, short stories, essays, novels, nonfiction. The little girl who grew up to become an award-winning author remembers writing “500 brillant beginnings that were never finished.” That’s one of the reasons why she is so passionate about helping young writers “get through that first draft all the way to the end."
Seven Upper School students are doing an independent study this semester. Faculty member Tina Bessias coordinates the independent study program and has seen the program grow from two or three projects in early 2018 to about 15 per school year now.
As the new school year opens, Durham Academy welcomes 16 new faculty and staff members to our school community.
Susan Ellis, who teaches physical education at the Middle School and coaches varsity girls soccer and JV girls tennis, is the 2020 recipient of Durham Academy’s F. Robertson Hershey Distinguished Faculty Award. The award was presented Monday at DA’s opening faculty and staff meeting. Watch a recording of the award presentation via Facebook.
The Durham Academy Summer team has envisioned a fresh approach to DA Summer for 2021 — a transformative all-day camp experience that keeps campers close to home but feeling far away as they gain independence and confidence. Since registration opened in early December, feedback from families has been overwhelmingly positive, with 150 campers registered for a total of 513 weeks of programming.
I graduated from DA in 1997, filling the next 23 years of my life with adventures that have a common theme — learning and having an open and agile mindset to take on new challenges. I attended Columbia University, where I played Division I field hockey, majored in political science and spent a semester in Beijing, all of which truly challenged me as I worked hard to find a balance between academics, sports and fun.
When Faith Couch ’15 arrived in Baltimore to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art, she had no family living in the area and didn’t know anyone. Her plan was to make friends, to get involved in the community — and did she ever.
If you think the interests that grab a teenager’s attention in high school don’t really have an impact, talk with Brendan Bradley ’01 and you may change your mind.
When the winds of COVID-19 touched down in North Carolina, the pandemic was met by Becki Feinglos Planchard, a 2007 Durham Academy graduate who has helped navigate the waters of how to safely reopen the state’s public schools.