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

Middle School, Upper School students take to the great outdoors
Posted 09/03/2015 03:55PM

School is in session, but more than half of Durham Academy’s students are taking their curriculum on the road this week. Students in grades five through 12 embarked on outdoor, overnight excursions during the second week of the school year. These trips – from destinations as far away as Georgia and Alabama, to wilderness areas in the North Carolina mountains and as close as Falls Lake – are part of the experiential education program that is a hallmark of the Durham Academy experience. They are often among students’ most memorable experiences at DA.

Middle and Upper School students begin each school year with trips designed to help students get to know their teachers, advisors and classmates. Sharing an adventure together away from campus helps establish a cooperative, friendly and supportive sense of community. The skills fostered in overnight trips begin in Middle School and culminate with Senior Challenge, a six-day backpacking, hiking and rappelling adventure in the North Carolina mountains. Here’s a rundown of this year’s trips.

5th grade Camp Hanes

The Thursday and Friday before Labor Day weekend mark a very significant event for fifth-graders: their first overnight school trip. This experience takes place at Camp Hanes, a 400-acre outdoor education center at the base of Sauratown Mountain. The goal is to help students develop leadership skills, get to know one another quickly and in new and different ways, solidify advisor/advisee relationships, help new students assimilate to DA, and to foster cooperative group learning, social responsibility and healthy lifestyles through outdoor recreation and activities. This trip is important in establishing a sense of community as fifth-graders begin a new phase of their schooling and personal development. Activities include team-building exercises, hiking, a water zipline, primitive survival skills, canoeing and plenty of time for fun. “It’s fun because we can see a beautiful view and it’s fun spending time with your advisory and all of your friends,” says fifth grade advisor and Middle School history teacher Virginia Hall. “And we have group bonding activities and it helps build character and strength,” say fifth-graders London Burnham and Emilie Kirschner.

6th grade Camp Cheerio

Sixth-graders spend Wednesday to Friday at Camp Cheerio in the Blue Ridge
Mountains. Students create new friendships, renew relationships with old friends, get to know their teachers and increase their self-confidence by overcoming mental and physical obstacles. “Camp Cheerio offers our children an opportunity to step outside their comfort zone and challenge themselves while developing new friendships within their advisory, with teachers and fellow sixth graders,” says sixth grade team leader and Middle School math teacher Tyrone Gould.

7th grade Falls Lake

Seventh-graders kick off the year with a trip to Falls Lake on Friday for a day of bonding and recreation. “Falls Lake is a short drive from DA, and we like to take students away for the day to play games, advisory bonding and just plain old fun!,” says seventh-grade team leader and Middle School French teacher Teresa Engebretsen. “We cook hamburgers and hot dogs, swim, and hang out together. Each advisory group has been working on a skit of scenes from our summer reading book The Revealers to present to the group. A good time will be had by all!” In February, the seventh grade takes a three-day trip to Washington, D.C., bringing their study of American history to life.

8th grade Camp Kanuga

The eighth grade’s Wednesday to Friday trip to the Mountain Trail Outdoor School at Camp Kanuga uses the outdoors to teach and inspire students to care for the environment around them. In February, eighth-graders travel to the North Carolina coast. This experience initiates the eighth grade’s study of coastal and barrier island habitats, and helps foster deeper friendships as students prepare for Upper School. 

9th grade Green River Preserve

Ninth-graders spend Tuesday to Friday at Green River Preserve, a 3,400-acre land preserve near Brevard. The focus of the trip is “getting back to nature” and heightening the sensitivity to native and natural heritage. Daily field studies are led by Green River Preserve’s professional naturalists.  

10th grade High Rocks

The 10th grade’s Monday to Thursday trip to High Rocks near Brevard helps students gain an appreciation for group problem-solving dynamics and develop respect and sensitivity for fellow classmates. The trip also helps prepare students for the Senior Challenge experience, by learning basic compass and topographical map-reading skills and controlled rock-climbing skills. Camp sites are organized around “A-frame” structures or tarps and activities take place in Pisgah Forest and DuPont State Forest. Students are also challenged with a high ropes course and whitewater-rafting experience.

11th grade Civil Rights Tour

The Civil Rights Tour is a departure from the outdoor education experiences. From Tuesday to Friday, students meet with foot soldiers of the Civil Rights movement in Atlanta, Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham to have the experience of history that can best happen by standing in the places where it was made. Because this is a more emotional than physical experience, students meet in advisory groups for nightly debriefing and reflection sessions. “Not only does it give the students exposure to challenging ideas and emotions, it connects them to parts of history not found in any textbook,” said junior class advisor and Upper School physics teacher Meg McNall. “The first-hand accounts of Civil Rights pioneers show the students that the potential for change is in their hands if only they grab hold of it.”

Senior Challenge

Since the fall of 1979, the senior class has begun the school year with a wilderness adventure. The Saturday to Thursday trip challenges students physically and emotionally to help them better understand and appreciate who they are, what they are capable of and what responsibility to self and others entails. Some seniors have their Senior Challenge experience in the shadows of the Black Mountains near Mt. Mitchell, while others journey through the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. “This is a magnificent senior class, and it was a thrill for me to share this experience with them,” said Assistant Head of School and seven-time Senior Challenge trip leader Lee Hark. “I was so proud of the way they supported each other and celebrated each other’s uniqueness. My group decided I had a split personality: Lee (who is fun and risk-taking, trail named “Fuego”) and Hark (who is cautious and rule-bound, trail named “Wetfoot”). They have no idea how right they are.”



Read more about DA’s 37-year Senior Challenge tradition in the Durham Academy magazine.

See photos of the various class trips on Flickr:


Parent Events
  • March 2019
    • MonMar25 CavClassifieds Ad Deadline
  • April 2019
    • SatApr06 Benefit Auction 6:30 PM
    • ThuApr18 Parents Association General Membership Meeting 8:15 AMBrumley Performing Arts Building
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  • May 2019
    • WedMay22 Parents Council Luncheon and Meeting Brumley Performing Arts Building (Lower School)
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