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
Heroes are often portrayed in popular culture as larger-than-life figures — caped crusaders fighting evil, cool-headed athletes making game-winning shots, selfless public servants rushing into burning buildings. But Durham Academy sixth-graders know that you don’t need a cape to be a hero, as they’ve demonstrated in the “My Hero” pop-up books on display at Chapel Hill’s FRANK Gallery through April 9.
“I think our students start to realize that heroic actions are everyday little occurrences,” explained Julie Williams, who, along with fellow sixth-grade language arts teachers Patti Donnelly and Melissa Mack, helps shepherd students through the month-long process of creating the books. “What defines a hero is really someone who makes your day better on a daily basis and someone who inspires you to achieve great things in your own life.”
In the 10 years of the “My Hero” project, students have paid tribute to all sorts of everyday heroes — from the first-grade teacher who inspired a love of reading, to the father who moved halfway around the world to pursue his passion for engineering, to the younger child who displayed courage in the face of life-threatening health problems.
After selecting their heroes — whom they had to know personally — each student interviewed their subjects or someone who knew the hero well, and wrote stories that illustrated a moment in the hero's life in which they demonstrated a heroic quality, like courage, strength, fortitude, achievement or faith.
At the same time that students are crafting their stories, they’re crafting the physical books that will hold them. Under the tutelage of artist-in-residence Peg Gignoux, students begin the process by creating what Gignoux calls the “marketplace of color” — stamped, colorwashed papers.
After constructing a three-dimensional pop-up foundation for the books, the entire sixth-grade class then draws upon this bank of vibrant, textured papers to create scenes unique to their heroes. To finish the books, students paste in their carefully edited stories, cut a “secret room” portal to show a scene inside, and add covers. Books then go into a press to dry.
“To get everything into the gallery is the culmination of a great deal of work,” Williams said. “I think students end the project with a great feeling of great pride in what they’ve accomplished. It’s such a process of changing and tweaking and improving that when they get to the final product, they have a lot to be proud of.”
That feeling of pride is magnified by the opportunity to have their literary works of art displayed so prominently for a full month at FRANK, located in the heart of Franklin Street. The exhibition kicked off in early March with a reception for the young artists, their family members and heroes.
Williams said she feels fortunate to teach in a school that “supports the ideas and the creativity of the work of people who are as talented as Peg Gignoux.”
At another school — without the support of Head of School Michael Ulku-Steiner, Middle School Director Jon Meredith and the English department — “this type of collaboration and creativity in the work would not be able to take place,” she continued. “That is one of the things that makes this community so unique — that we have that support in the classrooms to follow these wonderful ideas.”