Heads Up

Welcome to Heads Up, a blogging experiment that aims to: 

  • connect the people, parts, and principles of Durham Academy;
  • share ideas about learning and human development;
  • spotlight a few of the many wondrous things I get to see every day at Durham Academy. 

Thanks for reading the posts below — and sending news, links and ideas worth sharing. 

Michael Ulku-SteinerHead of School 

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How Roger Daltrey made a difference in cancer care's teenage wasteland

An article in today's Wall Street Journal detailed the important work being done by people on both sides of the Atlantic for teenagers with cancer.

This work will be aided by DA's dance team, whose Zumbathon Friday afternoon will raise funds for the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation. Click here to see my earlier post about the Zumbathon, the foundation, and why I care so much about this issue.

An excerpt from the article:

New treatments and earlier detection have led to steady gains in cancer survival for children and adults. But survival rates for teens and young adults with some types of cancer have barely budged in 30 years.

A push is on for better care and better outcomes for patients in what the National Cancer Institute calls a "no man's land" between pediatric and adult oncology. At …
Posted by in Other on Tuesday April 29, 2014
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Dancing on a bucket of joy

Lower Schoolers launched their week with a rousing assembly performance by Billy Jonas, a one man band from Asheville. In fact, the band was about 300 strong-  with our students standing, clapping, stomping, and making joyful noise with their bodies.

Click here to see Billy's web site. Click here and here to see a couple of short videos captured on my phone. There you'll see and hear some of the instruments played, named, and described by Billy Jonas:

• magic music moccasins (shaker shoes)
• industrial re-percussion (buckets and water bottle)
• hip hop hardware (garbage can bass drum)
• nimbus 2000 (tambourine stick)
• frame drum
• 6 string acoustic guitar
• fusenklanger (foot percussion thing)
• bucket of joy, shaker of joy

Here's to any teacher who …

Posted by in Lower School, Other on Monday April 28, 2014
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Pork, water, and student leadership

On Wednesday 4/23/2014, the Upper School quad was filled with music, smiles, and the smell of barbecue. The reason? Sophomore Tad Ghanem (President of The Water Project club) explains:

"The Water Project club has been raising money since the beginning of the school year. Our "Water Project Cookout" was the biggest event we have done this year, raising $700 for The Water Project charity. In total we have raised around $1,200 this year with the help of Vice-Presidents Stephanie Jaffe and Sam Frey and all the member of this school club. The money we raised will go to help build wells in countries in Africa. We have already helped finish a project in Rwanda and the money we just raised should be a huge help for any other projects that need funding."

Click here to see a terrific slide show of…

Posted by in Upper School, Other on Friday April 25, 2014
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Three serving senior stars

For three of the last four weeks, the Volunteer Center of Durham has recognized a DA Senior as their Volunteer of the Week. Congratulations to these terrific representatives of a terrifically generous class.

Posted by in Upper School on Wednesday April 23, 2014
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Three cups of gratitude

On a recent Friday night, our Spring Alumni Reception capped an emotional day of multigenerational DA connections.

Yesterday the DA Alumni Facebook page posted three excerpts from the comments of our honorees:

What luck I feel to work, learn, and live in a community that generates so many reasons for gratitude and so many people willing to express it.

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Recently in the Upper School Learning Commons, Senior Kelly Moore (leader of DA's spoken word poetry club) moderated a lively "Listening Lunch." Among the bold young voices reading their work were (pictured) Brooke Joynes, Katie Concannon, Kiran Baucom, Breanna Byrd and Kelly himself. Stay tuned to the DA Facebook page for some photos and videos from the event.

Wednesday evening at Carborro's ArtsCenter, Breanna will be among a dozen young people competing in the Sacrificial Poets Grand Slam Finals. Click here for more information about that event. Or here to learn more about the Sacrificial Poets, who collaborate with our students to strengthen their command of their words, feelings, and futures.

Posted by in Upper School on Tuesday April 22, 2014
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Durham-born, DA-educated piano prodigy returns

Jim and Wendy Speir (US History Teacher and Hill Center Admissions Director) were among many DA community members in the audience recently at Duke's Baldwin Auditorium to hear alumnus Andrew Tyson '05 performing with the Ciompi Quartet. Click here to see that program.

From his first assembly performance in Kenan Auditorium, Andrew's classmates and teachers knew he would soon be on a national stage. In fact, Andrew continues to excel internationally. From his impressive web site:

"Since winning the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 2011, Mr. Tyson has received a 2013 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Sixth Prize at the 2013 Queen Elisabeth International Piano Competition of Belgium, and Fifth Prize and the Terence Judd – Hallé Orchestra Prize at the 2012 Leeds …

Posted by in Other, Alumni on Monday April 21, 2014
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Mañanas mejoradas

Upper School parent and DA Trustee Janis Tillman shared a great article about Diane Evia-Lanevi -- another Upper School parent changing the world for the better. Click here to see the full article in the Triangle Business Journal. Here are the opening paragraphs:

A month before Cuban-born Diane Evia-Lanevi was set to begin her senior year at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla., the federal Pell Grant she counted on for her tuition was halved as a result of cuts by Congress.

So she told the director of admissions, who had employed her in a work-study job since her sophomore year, that she would need to take at least a semester off to earn enough money to return to school.

But he persuaded the college president to make up the difference so she could stay in school.

Soon after they …
Posted by in Upper School, Other, Alumni on Sunday April 20, 2014
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Our friend stress

Upper School Counselor Lindy Frasher hosted a pair of meetings to share information, tools and resources to address stress, anxiety and depression.

Two dozen US parents discussed these issues with Lindy and two clinicians from Duke, Dr. Jennifer Holton and Liz McInerney (see below to learn a bit more about them).
Our US students also heard from those two clinicians and from Duke Senior Josh Hairston, who used a variety of strategies to leverage stress productively and ward off anxiety during his career as a college basketball player. As usual, our students were engaged and active in stretching the conversations beyond the assembly period.

Upon return to my office I found a well-timed email from my wife, suggesting that I share this compelling TED Talk on my blog. It's a great one: "How to …

Posted by in Upper School, Other on Thursday April 17, 2014
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Shakespeare at 450, Brendan at 30

DA alumnus Brendan Bradley '01 emailed to invite any and all interested students to participate in The Digital Stage's "Shakes450" initiative.

In honor of the Bard's 450'th birthday, Brendan and his buddies aim to collect 450 Shakespeare Monologues for April 23, 2014. All are welcome to join the collaboration by emailing a monologue, sonnet or quick speech to thedigitalstage@gmail.com.

Here is Brendan's impressive contribution, from Richard III, Act 1, Scene 2 (after seducing Lady Anne Neville during the funeral of her father-in-law).

When not playing Shakespearian villains, Brendan acts, produces, writes, and directs in Los Angeles. Read more about him here.

Posted by in Other, Alumni on Monday April 14, 2014
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