Parents Association & Parents Council
The Durham Academy Parents Association supports the school's academic, social, fine arts and athletic objectives. Parents Association encourages volunteerism, raises and disperses funds, promotes communication and cooperation, and provides input to the school on issues of concern and interest to parents. All Durham Academy parents are members of the Parents Association.
The Durham Academy Parents Council is the governing board of the Parents Association. This group comprises members of an executive committee; division representatives; members of schoolwide committees on matters such as diversity, wellness and athletics; and parents who organize both community-building and fundraising events. See a list of the parents who serve on Parents Council.
Parents Bulletin Board
Durham Academy Upper School hosted the Durham County Special Olympics Spring Games for the 33rd year on Friday, welcoming an estimated 500 athletes with open arms, high fives and cheers of encouragement.
The Upper School cancels classes each year for the event so that every student and teacher can volunteer. Responsibilities range from planning DA's efforts weeks in advance to serving as "buddies" to athletes and managing individual events.
Dance teacher Laci McDonald serves as coordinator of DA’s role in the Spring Games, working with Kristen Randall of Durham Parks and Recreation to plan the event.
“In talking with Kristen, I understand that the athletes — while they train for these competitive events — almost look most forward to working with our students and meeting new friends that give them a day of acceptance and inclusion, with open arms and excitement,” McDonald said.
A committee of DA Upper Schoolers is selected each year to help with planning and to train classmates to work with students with special needs. A list of full committee members is below.
“I joined the Special O’s committee in my freshman year because I really wanted to be involved in the whole process of planning for this event. I have a special needs sister, so I know first-hand how special the day needed to be for these amazing student-athletes,” explained sophomore Sophia Smith. “I'm sure it isn't only about competing that day, but also about the bond they form and the friendships they make with their DA buddies.”
It’s common to hear DA students and faculty describe Special Olympics as “the best day of the year” — full of joy for the hundreds of athletes, family members, teachers and volunteers.
“I decided to join the committee because Special O’s is something that I have a lot of fun doing, regardless of what my job is on the day of the event,” junior Justin Cobb said. “What's most important about the event is the athletes. Seeing them smile while running around the field really brightens everyone's day.”
With excitement palpable in the air, the fun kicked off on Friday morning with a parade of athletes, followed by remarks from representatives of the city and DA. After DA junior Sarah Booker sang the national anthem, the Spring Games torch was escorted around the Upper School track by Durham police officers and made its way to the stage for the lighting of the cauldron.
And then, with the games officially opened by Durham Mayor Steve Schewel, the friendly competition started.
Events included the 25-meter run, 50-meter run, standing broad jump, softball throw, 10-meter assisted walk, 25-meter wheelchair dash, 25-meter independent walk, 30-meter wheelchair slalom, 50-meter motorized race and 25-meter assisted walk. A play area was set up with activity items — bouncy balls, Frisbees and the like — for participants under 8 years old, and DA students and athletes alike had a great time dancing to music played by the day’s DJ, DA sophomore Davis McCain.
“I vividly remember running into my buddy from when I was a freshman during the event this year. I was walking around and found him eating lunch with his new buddies and said hi to him,” junior Isaias Reyes-Martinez said. “The change of emotion on his face made it clear to me that he remembered me and followed with a big hug. Special Olympics is not only about the competitions going on down by the track, it's about the friendships you establish with everyone involved.”
Each year, Special Olympics committee members work with ninth-graders during a community service day preceding the games to help prepare them to work with Special Olympics athletes. The training consists of an overview of the day’s activities and nine sessions focused on topics like mobility issues and verbal vs. nonverbal communication. Ninth-graders also participate in a discussion with an alumna of Special Olympics about her experiences as an athlete.
“For our students, I think Special Olympics is a great lesson in learning about differences and questioning what it means to be different,” McDonald said. “It’s about being overall more aware so that they feel comfortable as adults walking the earth with people with intellectual and physical disabilities.”
Reflecting on this year’s event, Smith said it was special to see her DA classmates and their Special Olympics buddies having a great time getting to know one another.
“It made all the hard work that goes into putting on the event more special,” she explained. “Since I live with a sibling who has special needs, it makes me so incredibly happy to see my peers interact with these athletes. I care so much about it because those with special needs are truly unique and have something exceptional to teach all of us.”
2019 Special Olympics Committee