Upper School Wellness

A vital component of a "moral, happy, productive" life — Durham Academy's goal for each student — is physical, social-emotional and mental wellness.

Physical Wellness

All Upper Schoolers participate in annual substance abuse prevention programs led by the Upper School Assist Team, a group of faculty trained by Freedom from Chemical Dependency to offer support and education around issues related to drugs and alcohol.

Each spring, the Upper School hosts a wellness fair during which students have the opportunity to chat with representatives from local health-related organizations, practice CPR, learn new exercise moves, get advice from nutritionists and sample healthy dishes (and learn how to make them at home!).

The importance of good sleep habits is emphasized in advisory group discussions, assemblies, and other contexts at the Upper School.

The importance of developing and sustaining an exercise routine is emphasized in the ninth-grade physical education course, in which all ninth-graders participate. Students in grades 10, 11 and 12 must complete one approved PE activity per year. In addition, all students complete the Health, Wellness and First Aid Seminar.

Opportunities for developing physical fitness abound, from athletic teams fielded in more than a dozen sports, to a high-caliber dance program, to an after-school running club. A state-of-the-art weight room is open to all students before, during and after school.

Social-Emotional Wellness

All ninth-grade students participate in Self and Community, a class in which highly trained senior Peer Educators lead discussions about healthy relationships, positive social media use and good decision-making.

Each week, all Upper Schoolers participate in advisory programs that address a wide range of social and emotional themes, including positive psychology, gratitude, compassion and emotional wellness.

The Upper School’s affinity group program allows students to connect around shared identities and discuss their experiences at school and off campus. Affinity groups are student-formed and student-led; groups are only established if current students express an interest in participating.

Mental Wellness

Instructors from Duke University's Koru mindfulness program, a research-supported program for young people, work with Upper Schoolers to develop mindfulness skills.

Each year, the Upper School invites mental health researchers and psychologists to campus to present to students; likewise, our Cavalier Conversations series offers parents a unique opportunity to hear from experts on topics like stress management, mindfulness-based parenting and promoting resilience in teens.

Certified therapy dogs from Canines for Service visit campus multiple times each year to offer a fun form of stress relief and highlight the importance of self-care.

After-school yoga classes provide students with a regular opportunity to unwind.

Health Care Professionals

Teachers are at the heart of wellness efforts, and to enhance care for students and bolster our medical policies and procedures, DA also relies on multiple health professionals.

Licensed Nurse Practitioner Sarah Chaires is DA’s medical consultant. Parents may occasionally hear from Chaires regarding health alerts and advice.

Dr. Walker Robinson serves as DA’s collaborating physician, supervising sports medicine education programming and schoolwide health care policies and protocols.

During the school day and after school during sports practices and contests, at least one of our three certified athletic trainers is available. These professionals emergency management and care, concussion management and injury prevention.