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

Success, camaraderie mark largest-ever speech and debate team's busy fall
Posted 12/08/2016 04:26PM

In the 17 years that Crawford Leavoy has spent in the world of high school speech and debate, he’s never seen a team like the one he now coaches at Durham Academy. The team has had incredible quantifiable success — for example, being honored as one of the top 20 schools at this year’s nationals — but what most impresses him are the intangibles.

“What really makes a team isn't the accomplishments, but how the team supports and encourages each other,” Leavoy said. “I have a front-row seat to watching our varsity members help and coach our newer members in between rounds, celebrate their victories and tell them that defeat is OK. It is sometimes difficult to generate a ‘team’ feeling with 60-plus students in a competitive atmosphere, but our students prove that this is truly a team built around hard work, mutual support and love.” 

An accomplishment In and of itself is the number of students competing on the speech and debate team — the largest in school history. The more than 60 competitors comprise about 14 percent of the Upper School student body. That figure is particularly impressive given the time and energy that students pour in to speech and debate; the team has spent 10 weekends traveling to compete in 11 tournaments just this fall — with several national-level competitors traveling to competitions as far away as Illinois, Connecticut and Louisiana — and has about a dozen more tournaments on tap for the spring.

The growth of the program — which was launched in its current format in 2005 (learn more about the history of the team at www.dadebate.com/history) — has been not just in participation but in the events in which DA students compete. The team now competes in nine speech events and three debate events.

“One thing we have worked on in my four years at DA is to make sure that we offer a broad selection of events and activities on our team,” said Leavoy, who served as an assistant coach for two years before being named head coach in 2015. “DA has a proud and rich history of debate, but we have spent the past two years working to build our speech program as well. I feel that students have the opportunity to find an event that fits their personality and interests no matter their background.”

Whether team members compete at a high level on the national circuit or choose to participate solely in tournaments close to home, there are valuable skills to be gained, Leavoy said. There are good reasons that college admissions officers love to see participation in speech and debate on applications, he continued.

“Students come to us and learn skills that they wouldn't necessarily hone in the academic environment,” he explained. “That means we are preparing students to be the leaders of tomorrow — our students gain not just the academic knowledge from speech and debate, but a great number of life skills. Our students gain so much from the weekend tournament environment, but also the travel that we do each week. I find that our students are more prepared to be successful, independent college students than students who do not have the speech and debate experience.”

As for what makes a successful speaker or debater, Leavoy said it’s all about attitude. Participants just need to have a willingness to work hard and be open to thinking differently. Even “the quietest novice” can grow into an outspoken varsity team member, he said: “It comes from the development of a passion to express oneself and to be an advocate for others.”

For Leavoy, the experience of working with the DA speech and debate team is a joy.

“I have enjoyed celebrating our students' successes, and I have had to comfort and reassure them when things get tough,” he said. “However, this team has been made of resilient and dedicated individuals that have made this team strong. I am often moved by the magnitude of a novice winning their first tournament, the gravity of a senior's last round, and the selflessness of our alumni coming back to help at practice and tournaments.”

Learn more about the DA speech and debate team at www.dadebate.com, and see results from the first 11 tournaments of the year below.

George Mason University
The Glenbrooks 
Cary High School Dogwood No. 3
Florida Blue Key
Corona Rostrensis at Charlotte Latin
Cumberland Polytechnic High School Forensics Tournament
Viking Classic at North Mecklenberg High School
Holy Cross Navy and Old Gold Debate and Speech Exhibition
Pinecrest Open
Yale Invitational
Wake Forest Earlybird 

George Mason University (Fairfax, Virginia)

  • As a team, Durham Academy was 14th place in Overall Sweepstakes.
  • Raksha Ramanan ('19) was a quarterfinalist (top 24) in Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Davi Saprio-Gheiler ('19) was a quarterfinalist (top 24) in Humorous Interpretation.
  • Yaakov Huba ('19) was a quarterfinalist (top 24) in Impromptu Speaking.
  • Nechama Huba ('19) was a quarterfinalist (top 24) in Informative Speaking.
  • Emily Kohn ('19) was a semifinalist (top 12) in Storytelling.
  • Bhamini Vellanki ('18) was a semifinalist (top 60) in Congressional Debate.
  • Ellie McGhee ('19) was a semifinalist (top 60) in Congressional Debate.
  • Olivia Chilkoti ('18) was an octafinalist (top 16) in Lincoln-Douglas Debate.
  • Hebron Daniel & Thomas Owens ('18) were triple-octafinalists (top 64) in Public Forum.
  • Luci Jones & Alex Hoffman ('19) were triple-octafinalists (top 64) in Public Forum.
  • Nathan Dalva-Baird & Sheridan Kum ('19) were triple-octafinalists (top 64) in Public Forum.
  • Jeanne Jung & Zoe Boggs ('18) were double-octafinalists (top 32) in Public Forum.
  • Michael Rohan & Rohan Patel ('17) were champions in Public Forum.

The Glenbrooks (Chicago, Illinois)

  • Bhamini Vellanki ('18) was a semifinalist in Congressional Debate.
  • Safiya Gallaghan ('17) was a quarterfinalist in Dramatic Interpretation.
  • Michael Li and Rohan Patel ('17) were quarterfinalists in Public Forum.

Cary High School Dogwood No. 3 (Cary)

  • Safiya Gallaghan ('17) was fourth place in Dramatic Interpretation.
  • Nechama Huba ('19) was sixth place in Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Collin Brown ('17) was fifth place in Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Emily Kohn ('19) was sixth place in Humorous Interpretation.
  • Carlton zum Brunnen ('20) was second place in Novice Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Christian Munoz and Shan Wang ('20) were champions in Novice Public Forum.
  • Michael Li and Rohan Patel ('17) were second place in Public Forum Debate.
  • Bhamini Vellanki ('18) was fourth place in Congressional Debate.
  • Osezele Okoruwa ('18) was second place in Congressional Debate.

Florida Blue Key (Gainesville, Florida)

  • Sonio Kum ('17) was an octafinalist (top 48) in Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Sonio Kum ('17) was an octafinalist (top 48) in Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Nechama Huba ('19) was an octafinalist (top 48) in Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Yaakov Huba ('19) was a quarterfinalist (top 24) in Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Emily Kohn ('19) was a quarterfinalist (top 24) in Humorous Interpretation.
  • Osezele Okoruwa ('18) was a semifinalist (top 60) in Congressional Debate.
  • Nathan Dalva-Baird and Sheridan Kum ('19) were triple-octafinalists (top 64) in Public Forum Debate.
  • Michael Li and Rohan Patel ('17) were champions in Public Forum Debate.
  • Michael Li and Rohan Patel ('17) were semifinalists in the Public Forum Round Robin.

Corona Rostrensis at Charlotte Latin (Charlotte)

  • Davi Sapiro-Gheiler ('19) was fifth place in Dramatic Interpretation.

Cumberland Polytechnic High School Forensics Tournament (Fayetteville)

  • As a team, Durham Academy placed second in Overall Sweepstakes.
  • Carlton zum Brunnen (’20) was recognized as the Best Novice in Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Emily Kohn (’19) was second place in Declamation.
  • Safiya Gallaghan (’17) was third place in Dramatic Interpretation.
  • Davi Sapiro-Gheiler (’19) was second place in Dramatic Interpretation.
  • Carlton zum Brunnen (’20) was fifth place in Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Dylan Jones (’19) was third place in Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Raksha Ramanan (’19) was second place in Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Collin Brown (’17) was the champion in Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Davi Sapiro-Gheiler (’19) was sixth place in Humorous Interpretation.
  • Emily Kohn (’19) was second place in Humorous Interpretation.
  • Sarah Booker (’18) was second place in Lincoln Douglas Debate.
  • Nathan Dalva-Baird and Sheridan Kum (’19) were second place in Public Forum Debate.
  • Bhamini Vellanki (’18) was second place in Congressional Debate.
  • Osezele Okoruwa (’18) was the champion in Congressional Debate.

Viking Classic at North Mecklenberg High School (Huntersville)

  • Emily Kohn ('19) was fourth place in Expository Speaking.
  • Annie Ma ('20) was fourth place in Novice Humorous Interpretation.
  • Carlton zum Brunnen ('20) was fifth place in Novice Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Nechama Huba ('19) was fifth place in Varsity Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Nathan Dalva- Baird and Max Gray ('19) were eighth place in Public Forum Debate.
  • Michael Li and Rohan Patel ('17) were third place in Public Forum Debate.
  • Emily Donaldson ('20) was sixth place in Novice Congressional Debate.
  • Bhamini Vellanki ('18) was third place in Varsity Congressional Debate.
  • Bhamini Vellanki was also recognized as the Best Presiding Officer in Congressional Debate.

Holy Cross Navy and Old Gold Debate and Speech Exhibition (New Orleans, Louisiana)

  • Emily Kohn ('19) was fifth place in Humorous Interpretation.
  • Raksha Ramanan ('19) was third place in Extemporaneous Speaking.

Pinecrest Open (Southern Pines)

  • As a team, Durham Academy was second place in Overall Sweepstakes.
  • Collin Brown ('17) was fourth place in Impromptu Speaking.
  • Raksha Ramanan ('19) was the champion in Impromptu Speaking.
  • Yaakov Huba ('19) was fifth place in Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Collin Brown ('17) was fourth place in Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Raksha Ramanan ('19) was the champion of Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Safiya Gallagahn ('17) was third place in Dramatic Interpretation.
  • Emily Kohn ('19) was the champion in Humorous Interpretation.
  • Sarah Kim and Sarah Farrin ('19) were sixth place in Duo Interpretation.
  • Bhamini Vellanki ('18) was the Best Presiding Officer in Congressional Debate.
  • Bhamini Vellanki ('18) was third place in Congressional Debate.
  • Osezele Okoruwa ('18) was the champion in Congressional Debate.
  • Andrew Owens and Adriana Kim ('20) were second place in Novice Public Forum.
  • Sarah Booker ('18) was sixth place in Lincoln-Douglas Debate.
  • Olivia Chilkoti ('18) was fourth place in Lincoln-Douglas Debate.
  • Nathan Dalva-Baird and Sheridan Kum ('19) were sixth place in Public Forum Debate.
  • Hebron Daniel and Thomas Owens ('18) were fifth place in Public Forum Debate.
  • Michael Li and Rohan Patel ('17) were second place in Public Forum Debate.

Yale Invitational (New Haven, Connecticut)

  • Michael Li and Rohan Patel ('17) were triple-octafinalists (top 64) in Public Forum Debate.
  • Thomas Owens and Hebron Daniel ('18) were double-octafinalists (top 32) in Public Forum Debate.
  • Osezele Okoruwa ('18) was a semifinalist (top 80) in Congressional Debate.

Wake Forest Earlybird (Winston-Salem)

  • Davi Sapiro-Gheiler ('19) was a quarterfinalist (top 24) in Humorous Interpretation.
  • Yaakov Huba ('19) was a quarterfinalist (top 24) in Impromptu Speaking.
  • Nechama Huba ('19) was a quarterfinalist (top 24) in Impromptu Speaking.
  • Dylan Jones ('19) was a quarterfinalist (top 24) in Impromptu Speaking.
  • Collin Brown ('17) was a champion in Impromptu Speaking.
  • Raksha Ramanan ('19) was a semifinalist (top 12) in Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Collin Brown ('17) was a semifinalist (top 12) in Extemporaneous Speaking.
  • Sarah Booker ('18) was a double-octafinalist (top 32) in Lincoln-Douglas Debate.
  • Bhamini Vellanki ('18) was a finalist (top 12) in Congressional Debate.
  • Osezele Okoruwa ('18) was a finalist (top 12) in Congressional Debate.
  • Michael Li and Rohan Patel ('17) were triple-octafinalists (top 64) in Public Forum Debate.
  • Thomas Owens and Hebron Daniel ('18) were quarterfinalists (top 8) in Junior Varsity Public Forum Debate.
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