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
Each year, Durham Academy's graduating class of seniors is challenged with a question ripe with possibility: "What would you do if your employer told you to take seven days off from work and explore any area of interest through shadowing, interning or volunteering in your local community?" After exams but before donning their caps and gowns, the seniors set out about the Triangle to answer that question.
For 39 years now, DA's Senior Projects program has been providing students with the encouragement and support to spread their wings in "real world" ways that they might not yet have had a chance to try. Some students explore career options or potential college majors in a professional setting. Others spend their time volunteering with community service organizations or launching their own community service projects. Some embark on research projects, working to apply their talents and interests in new ways.
"This year, the seniors were engaged in a myriad of different activities, from working with financial and marketing professionals to baking cakes, donuts and biscuits in the early morning to exploring careers in education, law, medicine and many other fields," said Julian Cochran, director of Senior Projects and Upper School technology and computer science teacher.
This year's Senior Projects spanned from May 11 to 19. The program was originally devised as a way to bridge the time between early May when students took AP exams and graduation in early June. With graduation now in mid-May (this year, May 22), Senior Projects' function as a time-filler is less necessary — but the enrichment that the projects bring to students' lives is as valuable as ever.
Interested in the restaurant business, senior Alexi Kontos focused his Senior Project on Durham farm-to-fork restaurant Watts Grocery.
"My grandparents owned a restaurant before I was born, and the only thing my Papou [the Greek word for grandpa] would tell me is 'Never, ever go into the restaurant business.' I decided to go against what he told me and work over at Watts Grocery to get an idea of what the restaurant business is actually like," Kontos said.
He spent his first few nights at Watts working in the kitchen — "complete chaos, yet everyone got their cooking done and it all came together in the end," he said — and then at the front of the house as a host.
"Seeing how each piece of a restaurant falls into place to make sure everything works flawlessly was the most interesting part to me," Kontos said. "After working at Watts, I have a newfound respect for anyone who works in restaurants, or any other establishment that serves people. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to work at Watts Grocery, and I would do it again in a heartbeat."
Nathaniel Brooke and Zain Clapacs, both aspiring engineers, chose to spend their time building an electric-motor go-kart — which would cost upward of $1,000 when built with conventional parts — on the cheap, for less than $400.
"We're doing this because it's really cool, really fun," Clapacs said.
"But if we didn't have this dedicated time to do it during Senior Projects, we probably wouldn't have thought to do it," Brooke added.
Seniors Helen Morgan and Jordan Barry, both athletes, were inspired to learn more about the business of collegiate athletics by working in the UNC athletics communications office and volunteering at the NCAA Division I men's golf championship regional competition at UNC's Finley Golf Course.
In the communications office, the seniors dove into tasks like editing football books, compiling basketball statistics and attending press conferences. Leading up to the golf championship — where Barry and Morgan worked as scorers — Morgan conducted a Q&A with two of UNC's golfers.
"It has been a great experience, and I'm glad that I have had the opportunity to do something new and out of my comfort zone," Morgan said.
"Even though I didn't know what I was doing, everyone was super helpful, and the players we're so nice," Barry added. "I never thought I would enjoy an entire day of golf."
Cochran said he's grateful to the many community partners who make DA's Senior Projects program possible by opening their doors to one or more seniors, as well as to the seniors "who pursued an area of interest and worked hard to land fun, creative and interesting projects."
"As the Senior Project has always historically provided," Cochran said, "students again gained valuable experience, insight and contacts in the Triangle-area community and beyond for what DA hopes will be an important step toward fulfillment of our mission for them to lead 'moral, happy and productive lives.' "