Heads Up

Welcome to Heads Up, a blogging experiment that aims to: 

  • connect the people, parts, and principles of Durham Academy;
  • share ideas about learning and human development;
  • spotlight a few of the many wondrous things I get to see every day at Durham Academy. 

Thanks for reading the posts below — and sending news, links and ideas worth sharing. 

Michael Ulku-SteinerHead of School 


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"Our greatest whole-team performance ever"

This just in from DA Debate Coach Robert Sheard:

We're still in snowy Boston, and the weather reports and airport projections worry me about getting home tomorrow, but there's so much good news from the Harvard National Invitational Tournament that we'll deal with what comes with plenty of smiles.

This was without doubt our greatest whole-team performance ever at the largest and most prestigious of the country's invitationals. Some 3,500-4,000 students compete at Harvard, surpassed only by our national championships.

The Cavaliers sent twenty competitors (including an 8th grader!), and of those twenty, sixteen of them made it into elimination rounds. That kind of "breaking" percentage is unheard of and we're so proud of the whole squad.

The highlight we'll all remember is Justin Katz and Will Ruff winning the Public Forum Debate title! They are pictured above with their awards, and with DA alums, past Harvard champions, and current Harvard students Nathaniel Donahue Josh Zoffer.

Justin and Will have worked for four years to win a major national title, and after coming so close so many times, they closed out this phase of their career with the biggest invitational title of them all, beating 293 other teams from all across America. Of nearly 600 speakers:

  • Justin Katz was the top speaker.
  • Catherine Yang was 6th.
  • Will Ruff was 9th.
  • Caroline Wechsler was 14th.

Rahul Sharma and Catherine Yang were double-octafinalists (top 32), getting eliminated only because they ended up paired against Will and Justin that round. Eilene Yang and Loften Deprez also made the round of 32. Reena Sudan and Lily Burdick, and Caroline Wechsler and Collin Brown both reached the round of 64.

And in JV Public Forum, freshmen Michael Li and Rohan Patel also cleared to the round of 64.

In Lincoln Douglas Debate, Derek Brown advanced to the round of 64, but had the unfortunate luck to be paired against the country's top-ranked LD debater.

And in Extemporaneous Speaking, three Cavaliers advanced into the elimination phase. Eitan Sapiro-Gheiler advanced to Octafinals (top 48), while Connor Leech and Abhishek Kodumagulla each reached the top 96.

I couldn't be any prouder of this team's performance on one of the nation's largest stages. Will and Justin join DA alumni Patrick Toomey, Katherine Buse, Josh Zoffer, Robert Kindman, and Nathaniel Donahue as Harvard Champions. In Public Forum Debate, The Cavaliers have now won the Harvard title three times, more than any other program in the country. (Nathaniel's title was in Extemporaneous Speaking.)

Thank you for all your support. These students work tremendously hard for me, and much of that is because they have faculty support in their courses as well. DA is truly a special place for them to thrive.

Posted by in Upper School on Tuesday February, 18, 2014


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