We argue that there's no such thing as a "natural-born leader." Rather, the qualities of a strong leader are learned over time, given the opportunity — and, at Durham Academy, there's a place for all kinds of leaders.
What makes you light up? Whether you're a teenager who is hungry to dive deeply into existing passions, or you enter our community with a kindergartner's boundless curiosity about all that you encounter, you will discover interests and activities at Durham Academy that make your heart sing. And with DA's dedicated teachers and resources devoted to the student experience, you'll get to explore them at a high level of excellence.
Durham Academy's commitment to character development is clear in our mission, as it has been for more than 50 years: "to prepare each student to live a moral, happy and productive life." And that mission doesn't sit on a shelf gathering dust; it's our North Star, compelling our teachers to equip students with traits like kindness and engagement through classroom discussions and service-learning projects.
The Pre-K to Grade 12 Advantage
There's so much to love about being part of a school community that serves students ranging from 4-year-olds to high school seniors. Students of all ages benefit from their interdivisional interactions, from Upper Schoolers leading Preschool and Lower School assemblies about composting or Lunar New Year — to friendships forming across grade levels as a result of our student buddy program.
And there's nothing quite like the sound of all 1,200-plus Durham Academy students joining their voices to chant "One DA" at the annual All-School Pep Rally.
Some of the stickiest learning happens outside the walls of a conventional classroom. Sometimes, that's along a vertical rock face, pushing through mental and physical barriers to climb higher than you believed possible. Other times, that's fully immersing yourself in the culture of communities on the other side of the globe, or standing in the footprints of civil rights leaders to more thoroughly understand our nation's history.
Since 1979, Durham Academy's senior class has begun the school year with a wilderness adventure in the North Carolina mountains. The five-day experience challenges each student both physically and mentally as a way to help them better understand and appreciate who they are, what they are capable of and what responsibility to self and others entails.
Ready for What's Next: A Perfect-Fit College Experience
At the heart of Durham Academy's college counseling program are relationships. This begins in the 10th-grade year, when students meet one-on-one with our student development and career exploration counselor to consider "what makes me ... me?" — setting a foundation for exploring potential careers and colleges that align with their values and interests. In the junior and senior years, our three college counselors work to truly get to know each student and their family and help identify colleges and universities that would be ideal fits. Because our marker of success isn't a slew of name-brand college acceptances — but rather moral, happy and productive alumni.
As students progress through Durham Academy's four school divisions, more and more opportunities become available for them to try leadership on for size and to explore interests outside the classroom. From competitive academic teams — like our Middle and Upper School robotics teams and Science Olympiad — to student-run clubs, there are so many ways to get involved. Here are just a few!
Durham Academy students compete in two divisions of the FIRST robotics program: The Upper School fields a FIRST Robotics Competition team, while the Middle School typically fields multiple FIRST Lego League teams.
Speech and debate is about so much more than winning arguments. Participation in DA's speech and debate program is a journey into learning about current events, global politics, argumentation, research skills, thinking on one's feet and the ability to stand up in a room full of people and speak with confidence.