CA Curious

Time Well Spent

October 19, 2023

It is perhaps a (deceptively) simple question: How is your relationship with time?

I mulled over this question after reading a chapter called “Generosity with Time” in Chris Balme’s Finding the Magic in Middle Schools. As someone who teaches in middle school but lives with teenagers of various ages—especially older ones—I found it resonant, offering essential lessons that extend to kids and parents alike.

Many of us feel anxious about time. We never lose track of it. Ever. We might stand in awe (or horror) of those who breezily do. After all, we have color-coded calendars with a paper planner backup to prevent that exact occurrence. We might just be the ones who breathe a guilty sigh of relief if a surprise thunderstorm cancels a soccer practice; time is scarce, and we are not in control of it.

Then there are those people at the other end of the spectrum. Let’s call them the time-abundant mindset folks. Whoever you are, please stand over there; you’re messing up our schedules. 

All joking aside, the world often suggests to us that we should have a scarcity mindset regarding time. Whether real or not, we perceive that we don’t have enough time for All The Things.

It affects our behavior—how we talk about time hints of pressure and victimization. (“Can you hurry up and get in the car? You don’t want to be late to school and make me late to work, do you?!?,” said me, not ever. Never. *ahem*)

Indeed, I would wager that we make some of our poorer decisions as parents because of our own anxious relationship with time (and the tween and teen years are often when even the breeziest of parents shift into a higher-pressure, time-anxious mentality). The behavior that follows is often very controlling, albeit exerted in love.

Have you ever heard yourself say, “We don’t have time to wait for you to pack your gym bag; I’ll just do it for you.”  Ooops, we’ve just accidentally undermined our kid. And so begins (or continues) a generational curse of time scarcity.

Research shows that for middle and high school students to be academically resilient and prepared for all the things college and life offer, they must develop a healthy relationship with time. To get there, we need to trust our kids by granting them the space (and grace) to exercise more autonomy—to practice being in charge of their ‘when’ and ‘whats,’ to learn what time management strategies work (or don’t) for them, to fail, experience boredom, or miss something (and regret it).

Consider a new 9th grader experiencing a cherished free period for the first time. The freedom! The possibilities! THE FRAPS AT THE HUB!!! As a parent, you might be tempted to offer suggestions on how they could best spend that time (because: Homework! Practice schedules! Weekend plans!).

Here’s my advice, however: pay attention, but let these kids figure it out without us putting our anxiety onto them. 

High schoolers need to go through a period of failure with their free periods and sit in the uncomfortable repercussions of not having used their time wisely at least once. In experiencing that natural feedback and the consequences that come with it, the motivation to better manage their time becomes intrinsic. It’s how they learn to balance, pace, and spend their time to meet their academic and health needs.

During free periods, we often see our students on the Quad throwing a ball, sitting together in the winter sun, or chilling to music. We hear their witty banter during video games. Is that time misspent? Could be. (But perhaps not; research shows that mixing social connections with learning brings more focus into their actual class time. But that’s a blog for another day.)

Alternately, we may hear the clickity-clack of the speed typing of those students who may be feeling the effects of their procrastination. Or witness the ‘competitive sleep deprivation’ banter typical of many students—students who simply repeat what feels like a generational expectation, scholars who view sleep deprivation as some sort of signal of dedication.

These stories offer insights into the two opposite ends of a spectrum and underscore the importance of finding a middle ground regarding our relationship with time—one that honors both academic and social/emotional needs. After all, we want our kids to navigate life at CA and beyond with an understanding of how they can meet their academic obligations in healthy ways by effectively managing their time.

Knowing what we know about how WE have been socialized, it’s wise for us parents to be aware of how we talk about time with our children and to address our own time-related baggage. To jump-start that process, I spoke with Ms. Monds, our Director of Student Support Services and Counselor extraordinaire, and we curated this short list of suggested questions to gauge your own relationship status:

  1. Do I think that my child’s idle time will lead to problems? If so, what message is that sending to my child?
  2. Am I giving my child enough credit for managing their own schedule?
  3. Can I sit down in my own home? (If you know why I ask this, you know why I ask this.)
  4. Have I spoken about time without being a victim of it in the last few days?
  5. What do I feel when I have “idle time”?
    • Do I criticize/judge others for being idle?
    • Do I judge myself for being idle?
    • Do I create an environment for other to feel like they can relax?
  6. When was the last time I, myself, had free time that I didn’t fill with errands?

Ask even one of these questions, and we promise it will be time well spent.

Written by Josette Huntress, Head of Middle School

CA Curious

Innovation on Vacation

CA Curious

Centering Student Wellness


Stats and Storytelling

Magazine of CA

Showing Up for Each Other

October 13, 2023


To be fair, that’s a question that is always top of mind for Head of Middle School Josette Huntress. But in the fall of 2021— with students set to return to Middle School after two years of COVID-disrupted learning— it felt particularly pressing.


Community Days.

“Our kids had been so isolated during COVID. Now we were going to ask them to sit in a classroom—to socialize, collaborate, and solve problems. The development of those skills was interrupted,” reflects Huntress. “We needed to set them up for success. And we needed to do it in a way that didn’t call out any single student but signaled that we are all in this together, that asked ‘How can we best show up for each other?’” Community Days bring together the entire Middle School for age-appropriate experiences designed to flex social and emotional learning muscles that atrophied during the isolation of the pandemic. Once a month, in a low-stakes environment, students learn just how to be a CA community member—how to approach difficult topics, set boundaries, lean into authenticity and openness, embrace difference, protect mental health, navigate relationships, improve communication, and more.

“During Community Days, you don’t just learn about yourself; you learn about other people and how to interact with them—like when we learned about consent or setting healthy boundaries. It builds you as a person,” shares Hogan Wendt, ‘27.

Community Days, Cary Academy

Through inclusive community-building experiences (think ropes courses, Charger Cup, or peer dialogues led by Upper Schoolers from across the Quad), students create a foundation that enables vulnerable connection, self-expression, active listening, and deeper learning. In intensive workshops, guided by faculty and outside experts, they tackle complex themes—such as anti-racism, bullying, consent, and healthy friendships—to create a shared vocabulary and establish a set of community expectations on which everyone can build.

“These days solidify for the kids what it means to be part of this community and what we do to make sure that everybody feels safe and welcome. It’s giving the formula for how our community works— what flies and what doesn’t,” shares Matt Koerner, Middle School seventh-grade social studies teacher. “And it ties in nurtured risk-taking; students know they can try new things—that they aren’t going to be penalized for trying to figure out who they are and what their role is in the community.”

Indeed, whether rocking the mic at the poetry slam, engaging with new upper-class friends during cross-grade-level pod time, or participating in thoughtful debate, self-expression is an encouraged dimension of Community Days.

We want all students to feel as though they can be their authentic self here. Our goal is to have every student leave Community Day feeling seen and connected and proud to be a CA community member,” shares Assistant Head of Middle School Nicky Allen. “And we’ve been so impressed with how seriously students have taken it, how they understand the importance of these days—how attentive, vulnerable, and genuine they have been with each other.”

“During Community Days, you’re doing a lot of personal reflection, but you are also doing it as a part of a group, which brings you closer together. It helps you see the whole person, rather than just the half that they only show in school,” shares Sachir Tharwani, ‘27.

“You really get to reflect on your peers’ experiences,” adds Juliette Alvarez, ‘27. “Most of the time—I’m just gonna say it—teenagers can be selfish. We don’t always want to look at others’ struggles or consider what their lives are like; we’re more focused on ourselves. When we have Community Days, it really helps me open my eyes to my peers’ lives as well.”

Fostering that kind of empathy is at the heart of Community Day. “These days aren’t just about building our CA community; it’s also being aware of the broader community in which we live,” shares Koerner.

To that end, Community Day often takes students into, well, the community. Students might engage in service learning opportunities or hear from experts—past guests have included veterans, Holocaust survivors, local migrant workers, or members of the CA community who migrated to the United States from abroad—that exemplify the diversity of life experiences, cultures, knowledge, and perspectives of those beyond our campus.

“Community Days just make you feel so connected to the world. I’ve met so many people and learned so much; you learn different peoples’ stories and you interact with people that you might not normally. It makes you more empathetic; it makes you open- minded,” shares Emma Curtis-Maury, ‘28.

Now, two years later, what started as a stop-gap measure to play developmental catch-up has proven invaluable, thanks to the faculty and staff who immediately jumped at the idea and ran with it. As a result of their creativity and flexibility, Community Days have become an enduring and beloved hallmark of the Middle School experience, one inextricably tied to our mission.

“At CA, we believe that creating a secure and affirming culture enables both the individual and the community to flourish. Our most impactful learning occurs when people, disciplines, and ideas connect to address human and community needs,” offers Huntress. “When we focus on building an inclusive environment, we’re paving the way for more academic security for our students.”

Written by Mandy Dailey, Director of Communications

CA Curious

Beyond the Walls

CA Curious

Design thinking: the story behind our new digital home

Middle School

Earth Day at Cary Academy


Upper School sets the tone for the new year with class trips

August 31, 2023

Nothing sets the tone for a new year quite like class trips with their memory-making, team-building, and class-bonding opportunities. Last week, our 9th graders spent three days at Camp Skelton in Virginia where they enjoyed a gauntlet of fun and challenging outdoor activities– including combat golf and a challenge course–and evenings spent dancing and playing games around a bonfire.

Written by Jack Swingle, Digital Content Specialist

CA Curious

Glimpsing the future

Alumni Spotlight

Selling a brighter future

Latest News

Responding to Crisis Through Giving on May 5


CSA Kickoff

August 25, 2023

Did these delicious items make it home to your fridge yesterday? Led by our 7th-grade students and faculty, CA’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project kicked off yesterday as part of the Migration Collaboration project, an immersive, interdisciplinary, and experiential exploration into human migration. 

In partnership with our Center for Community Engagement and Transplanting Traditions Community Farms, Migration Collaboration aims to foster empathy, ethical leadership skills, and community activism—all while giving our community the (delicious) opportunity to try new foods and support our local refugee opportunity.

Written by Jack Swingle, Digital Content Specialist

Magazine of CA

Follow the leaders: Spotlight on Migration Collaboration


National History Day successes

Magazine of CA

Spotlight On: Poetry and Hip-Hop Showcase

CA Curious

Innovation on Vacation

August 24, 2023

Have you ever wondered what our teachers are up to during their summer breaks? Each year, many CA faculty spend their well-deserved summer vacation on professional development opportunities that translate their interests into incredible learning opportunities for our students—in the classroom and beyond. 

Cary Academy offers two major grant programs to support the professional development of our faculty during the summer months: the Friday Fellowship and the Innovative Curriculum Grant.

So, what exactly did our tireless teachers work on this summer through these grant programs?

Kendall Bell, Heidi Maloy, and Charlotte Kelly, Upper School science teachers, received a collaborative fellowship to interweave DEI work into the chemistry curriculum, incorporating a broader range of scientific, cultural, and professional examples of who contributes to our understanding of chemical concepts, with the goal of giving all students the opportunity to see themselves doing chemistry.

Lauren Bullock, Middle School language arts and social studies teacher, received fellowship funding to participate in the Kundiman summer retreat for Asian American writers.   Participation in the retreat not only helped to sharpen Lauren’s own skills as a writer, but also enabled Lauren to foster connections to the writing world as the language arts team searches for more diverse voices to add to the Cary Academy literary canon and even invite onto campus.

Tamara Friend and Danae Shipp, Middle School science teachers, received a collaborative fellowship to research and develop a plan for creating a dedicated STEM space in the Middle School building.  Tamara and Danae attended the 2023 ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference with a focus on sessions and exhibitions related to Makerspace development, and also conducted site visits to local schools and public libraries with Makerspaces. They used the information they gathered to produce a layout and equipment acquisition plan for a pilot STEM space to be housed in a first-floor science classroom, with the goal of having the space outfitted and ready to use late in the first semester or early in the second semester of the 2023-24 school year.

David Kaufmann, Middle School math teacher, received a fellowship to participate in the 2023 ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference to learn more about supporting student learning through gamification, coding, and technology-enhanced projects that encourage both application and creative expression. David used the conference experience to design three new digital projects for his math classes.

Ty van de Zande, digital arts and coding teacher, received fellowship funding to undertake a visualization project using hand-made glass objects to model fundamental concepts and principles of computer science. Ty produced a set of models built from glass, photos of the glass models, photo documentation of the building process, and a write-up describing the models and how they represent the fundamental processes. Through the photography process, the glass models can be combined and arranged with other glass models to represent a real computer code program. 

Crystal Bozeman, Middle School learning specialist, and Katie Taylor, Middle School language arts teacher, received a collaborative grant to create a “Leaders in Literacy” program to support Middle School students in developing their literacy skills, especially reading and writing. The new program focuses on teaching the science of reading and writing and strategies that will work across texts, emphasizing hands-on activities that give students active and engaging ways to build their literacy skills.

Kara Caccuitto, Upper School English teacher, received grant funding to develop a new English elective for juniors and seniors on Magical Realism. The majority of anchor texts in the new course are of Latin American origin, giving students a chance to explore the art, history, and culture of this part of the world.  Students also have ample opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of the characteristics of magical realism through a variety of creative self-expression activities, including producing a podcast, compiling an electronic cookbook, and developing a poetry or song anthology.

Sam Krieg, Upper School Spanish teacher, received a grant to develop a new Spanish elective focused on Spanish for business use. The course provides opportunities for students to communicate with professionals from throughout the Spanish-speaking world representing a range of commercial endeavors, including hospitality, banking, agriculture, and education. Students also have the chance to learn about, and reflect on, the (in)equalities of business relationships at different levels and to explore the essential roles of immigrants in different commercial contexts.

Kristi Ramey, Upper School math teacher, received grant funding to create a new model for Calculus 1 that expands access to the course content by creating both a regular and an advanced pathway within the same class. Kristi’s work focused on creating appropriately differentiated assignments and assessments to meet the needs of both groups of students, as well as appropriate supplemental materials for those students opting to pursue the AP exam.

Erick Crepsac, Middle School math teacher, was selected to participate in the Teachers Across Borders Program in Southern Africa (TAB-SA). Erick was part of a team of American math and science teachers who traveled to South Africa during the summer to conduct curriculum-specific workshops with their South African colleagues from rural schools, sharing methodology, techniques, and pedagogy in STEM content areas.

Written by Martina Greene, Dean of Faculty

CA Curious

Introducing: The Hub

Magazine of CA

Beyond Numbers

CA Curious

Pride and Promise

CA Curious

Game On!

August 17, 2023

Welcome, everybody, to the 2023-2024 school year.

Don’t get me wrong; I love summer. I love the change of pace in the offices at Cary Academy, and the opportunity for time to both disconnect and reflect, away from the bang-bang pace of the school year. And, while I wish my physiology let me sleep in, I do enjoy the extra cup of coffee and “slower start” to a summer day.

So, while I think summer is great—and I hope that all of you found time for rest and reflection, too—I am thrilled to start the school year and welcome to campus our 789 Chargers.

Yesterday definitely brought the energy. It was great to see so many people reconnecting, swapping stories, and welcoming our 130 new students into the fold. For the past several weeks, our employees have been working together to prepare for this year – and there is always a markedly positive uplift when we welcome the students back to campus. Practice is over. Game on!

Collectively, we are focused this year on strengthening our sense of community as part of the Charger Family. Last year, we were overjoyed to see the tremendous turnout at our joint CA/PTAA community events—parents and students alike. We felt how nice it was to be “getting back to normal” and joining face-to-face in fellowship.

At the same time, we recognize that much has changed – including “normal.” This year we will continue to re-establish what it means to “do school”—as an employee, as a parent, and as a student. During yesterday’s Upper School Convocation, I was pleased to hear these same themes echoed by this year’s student leaders – a sign, if you will, that we are all rowing in the same direction in the desire to make the charger community a source of pride and positive energy.

I look forward to seeing many of you during the first PTAA Coffee of the school year at 9am on Thursday, September 7, on the second floor of the Library (A203). At that time, I will share a bit more about what we are working on this year and how these plans fit into the larger strategic goals of the school.

In the meantime, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to two important new members of the Cary Academy team – our Campus Safety Director, Cedric Herring, and Campus Safety Officer, Malika Lucas. Both joined us in the early summer and will be a visible, supportive presence during school days.

Mr. Herring was most recently a police officer at the US Department of Veterans Affairs but has had a varied and distinguished law enforcement career, including as a Sergeant in the NC State Highway Patrol, Deputy Sheriff in the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, and Cary PD Officer. Prior to his police work, Mr. Herring served as a Specialist in the US Army and did a 13-month tour of duty in Kuwait as part of Operation Desert Storm. An avid sports fan, particularly baseball, you can be sure to catch him on CA’s sidelines this year.

Ms. Lucas has served as a Wake County Deputy Sheriff and School Resource Officer in Wake County Public Schools. Outside of police work, Ms. Lucas has served in operational management roles that have given her the problem-solving and public-facing skills needed to be successful at Cary Academy.

Students will see both Mr. Herring and Ms. Lucas throughout the school day, interacting in the hallways and across the campus. The security office remains in the lobby of the CMS building, and our security phone numbers are unchanged (and are posted in our handbooks and on various doors around campus). In the evenings and on weekends, other members of the Cary Academy Office of Campus Safety will be on duty and available to support students, parents, and visitors. All our safety officers will be easily recognizable by their blue shirts and warm smiles.

Please join me in welcoming Mr. Herring and Ms. Lucas, and Game On for 2023-2024!

Written by Dr. Mike Ehrhardt, Head of School


Finding Camaraderie, Collaboration in Mask Making

Spring art performances schedule

Faculty Reflections

Teaching with tech

CA Curious

Coming Home

May 11, 2023

The air is warm. The days are long. And everyone is looking forward to those peaceful days of summer. What better time to think about . . . November?

I know, I know. No one is thinking about next fall. However, the months fly by; before we know it, it will be upon us. So, please pull up a pumpkin spice latte and indulge me briefly.

For 21 years, Cary Academy has hosted a vendor market in the fall. Whether it was the pre-COVID Holiday Shoppe, the COVID-years Virtual Shoppe and Spring Shoppe, or this past year’s Main Street Market, these markets offered a welcome opportunity for the CA community to come together socially and in support of the school. And, well, who didn’t like to shop in the convenience of our own gym?

Over the years, we’ve enjoyed building community partnerships with entrepreneurs and local businesses. And we’ve made countless fun memories together—all while supporting CA.

Unfortunately, the smaller crowds, fewer vendors, and decreased sales of recent years reflect a shifting reality. Life just . . . looks different now.

 Online shopping has increased. (Shopping in the gym is fun. Shopping in your pajamas, snug in your bed? Priceless). Crowded, enclosed spaces are often a source of stress rather than comfort. And an increasingly jam-packed fall season makes it hard for vendors and families alike to carve out the time to participate.

Quite simply: the years have brought changes that undermine the community-building and fundraising objectives we set out for our markets all those many years ago.

What to do?

As a learning community, we are constantly listening, learning, and evaluating. And it seems clear that this new reality calls for a revised approach. It begs the question: How can we better and more inclusively build community and highlight the talents of our students and faculty?

As we so often do at CA, we’re thinking outside of the box and leaning into one of our mission superpowers—collaboration—to look for answers.

Over the past few months, my team and I have worked with Glen Matthews, Arts Department Chair, and the entire art department, to re-imagine this fall’s community-building event. I think we’ve landed on something special and unique that effectively re-centers our focus where it belongs—on our students and families.

I am delighted to announce that, this fall, CA will experience our first-ever immersive Dinner Theater. Over the course of a multi-night performance the first week in October, guests will be treated to student performances and visual artworks inspired by our theme of home.

A true community event, alumni who missed out on their opportunities to shine on the CA stage due to COVID restrictions will be invited back to perform. Local businesses with whom we have built partnerships will have access to sponsorship opportunities, and our families can come out to support our Charger artists.

At CA, we pride ourselves on creating learning opportunities for our students that are personalized, relevant, and flexible. And, in many ways, this new approach mirrors a similar aim. Rather than a one-size-fits-all annual event, each year, we will look to our community, students, and parents to consider the best way to bring us together each year.

For this year, as we come together around the arts, we invite everyone home.

Written by Ali Page, Director of Development

CA Curious

Mission Critical

CA Curious

Teaching beyond a single story


Acclaimed scholar guides students through the lessons of Martin Luther King’s final years

CA Curious

Building Bridges: How One Conference Creates Community at CA and Beyond

March 16, 2023

“You can make what you’re passionate about become a reality […] You can always have a role!”

These rousing words, uttered by keynote speaker Dr. Ya Liu, could not have been truer to the Building Bridges Across Communities conference story. The first of its kind in Cary Academy history, the conference brought together Asian-identifying students and faculty from across multiple Triangle schools in a day of fellowship, fun, and future-oriented enthusiasm. 

It all began one year ago after Leya Tseng Jones, Isa Oon, and I returned from the Asian Educators Alliance (AsEA)conference in California. Invigorated and inspired by the work of Asian diaspora educators from across the country, we immediately began plans to bring a similar necessary experience to our community through connections at other local schools. As Leya explained,  “Collaborating and building strong working partnerships with our counterparts at Durham Academy and Ravenscroft was so rewarding; witnessing the initiative, organization, and collaboration of our student leaders with their counterparts was truly inspiring. Each group took the lead on one component of our morning and thoughtfully managed every detail. I couldn’t be more impressed with what they accomplished together over just a few Zoom meetings of face-to-face time.” 

From the beginning, it was clear to this union, known as the Asian American Alliance, that the conference should not only be student-focused, but student-led. Three student leaders and members of the Upper School Asian American Pacific Islander Affinity Group, senior EJ Jo, junior Eric Xie, and junior Angela Zhang, each took a large role in organizing with other student leaders as well as fellow affinity group students. When asked about how close the first vision was to the final result, the answers were positive. 

“Initially, we wanted to invite a keynote and have a few sessions for discussion,” Angela said. “The result was just that; it was very similar to what we originally thought.” Eric added, “Our turnout was great, especially on such short notice, and every participant definitely seemed to want to be there and actively participated in the group activities and asked insightful questions to our keynote speaker, Dr. Liu. Looking back, there’s very little I would change, if anything at all.”

On Wednesday, March 8, Cary Academy students were joined by members of Durham Academy, Ravenscroft, St. Mary’s School, and the Montessori School of Raleigh. First on the agenda was the keynote address by Dr. Ya Liu, highlighting the connection between the personal and the political.

“I didn’t intend to be a leader,” Dr. Liu told the audience after outlining her impressive experience in community organizing. “It’s precisely because of the work I did. You may think, ‘I’m just a middle schooler, I’m just a high schooler, what can I do?’ […] A lot of these experiences will become part of who you are.” Dr. Liu went on to encourage students to seek out resources from beyond their schools and to “find the friends who will support you. Find the teachers who will support you.” 

Following the speaker, all participants were separated into randomized groups to experience a spectrum activity in which members were asked to discuss the intersections of their identity and what effects this had on their relationship with themselves and others. Students then attended one of several student-only workshops while adults exchanged encouragement and visions for the future in a different affinity group. 

“In both discussion sessions, I heard from many students about their experiences with their ethnicity and race,” Angela recalled of the student portion. “Even though I had never met these students before, it seemed that we had experienced the variation of a common struggle: our adolescent urge to be ‘white.’ So it surprised me how isolated everyone felt compared to how everyone was going through the same thing. Therefore, my biggest takeaway is that we were and are never alone.”

On the adult side, Leya observed that “There are so few Asian-identifying faculty/staff in our schools. We – the adults – need to find time to gather, even if virtually, to connect and support each other. Our brief time together was affirming and empowering.” 

When I looked around the Discovery Studio at the fellowship lunch, it was clear that every person present felt fulfilled and connected. In a world where being Asian American can often lead to so much stress and pressure from many sources, the beauty of Asian diasporic joy becomes not only a delight but a necessity. Looking forward, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we all intend to keep building this reality we’re so passionate about.

Written by Lauren Bullock, Language Arts and World Cultures Teacher


Charger swimmers close out the 2021 season as State Champions, Runners-Up

CA Curious

Middle School Reflections

CA Curious

Charger Corner-Turning the Lights Back On

CA Curious

Beyond the numbers

February 9, 2023

CA’s website proudly proclaims that we “cultivate bold lifelong learners and world changers.” It is a bold statement, for sure, and one that we aim to deliver through our innovative and relentless commitment to the pursuit of discovery, innovation, excellence, and collaboration.  

But what does that look like in practice?  

Perhaps one of the most impactful venues where students are empowered to pursue their interests—often to impressive, change-making results—is our student-led clubs program. A protected part of the Upper and Middle School weekly schedules, clubs are an essential aspect of the student experience, offering a chance to try new things, take risks, pursue passions, share experiences, try on leadership roles, and even create positive change in our local community.  

Don’t take it from me, though.  

I’m going to turn it over to junior Tanya Sachdev, founder of the Students Together Assisting Refugees (STAR) club, to share her club’s origins, goals, and the ways in which our community can come together to support local refugees in our community (spoiler alert: STAR has an informative, engaging and awareness-generating event ahead). 

From Tanya Sachdev, ’24: 

Numbers. We hear them every time we turn on the news. They define our perception of the word “Refugee”: 89.3 million forcibly displaced people, 28 million total refugees in our world (UNHCR). To some, these may just be statistics, but for others, these numbers are their world. The Global Refugee Crisis has become a humanitarian crisis impacting millions of people in our world. Through war, persecution, and natural disasters, the crisis continually expands. 

I learned about the importance of these numbers when I was driving to school in August of 2021. NPR was turned on in the background, sharing about the Afghan Refugee Crisis. As I listened, I was shocked about how little I knew about the word “refugee”. Through researching the Afghan Refugee Crisis, I was perturbed by headlines stating the extent of this crisis. Stories of young children scaling the Hindu Kush mountains or braving the Aegean Sea to escape into freedom headlined my screen. While I was purchasing a new backpack for the school year, thousands of Afghans were packing their backpacks with their most valued possessions for a long journey to find safety; their worlds were changing forever.  

To learn more, I began volunteering at local organizations such as Refugee Hope Partners and CWS Durham. Through tutoring students like “Malia”, a Syrian refugee, or “KK”, a refugee from Botswana, I began to learn their stories and identity beyond the label of “refugee”. I wanted to be able to use my opportunity to give back to the refugee community. As a result, STAR (Students Together Assisting Refugees) Club began in December of 2021. Through Cary Academy’s emphasis on student-led clubs, I was able to create STAR during the middle of the year. With Cary Academy’s support, STAR was able to raise donations, money, and most importantly, awareness. 

After all, STAR began with a sole goal: awareness. Labels such as IDPs, asylum-seekers, and refugees continually pervade news stations with audiences confounded by the differences between the terms. Numbers appear in the form of statistics such as 50% of world refugees are children or nearly 100 million displaced people (UNHCR). The refugee crisis, however, is more than a crisis of numbers and labels. It is a crisis of human suffering. Refugees face unbelievable hardships on their journey to freedom. From being denied basic rights such as education or healthcare to facing violence, abuse, and exploitation, refugees withstand constant adversity. Raising awareness has become a key component to helping local and global refugee organizations.  

One month into the inception of STAR Club at Cary Academy, the Russia-Ukrainian war caused the “fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II” (UNHCR) with nearly 2.9 million refugees fleeing Ukraine. From Syria to Afghanistan to Ukraine, the Global Refugee Crisis remains continuous and unrelenting. As a society, now more than ever, awareness and action have become imperative to support refugees.  

As a result, STAR Club is hosting its first Dinner with a Documentary event on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, from 6 PM-8 PM in the Discovery Studio. The free event will begin by watching “Refugee” by Alexander J Farrell, a true story following a Syrian family separated by the borders of Europe. Their harrowing and emotional journey will be followed by a panel discussion with invited experts. Panelists include representatives from refugee organizations, law students, and even a brief virtual appearance from Congresswoman Ross. The event will be complemented by an authentic Mediterranean dinner spread, complete with desserts and drinks. Be prepared to be moved to tears, to be angry, and for your perception of refugees to be forever changed. 

Please sign up for this unique event as soon as possible- spots are limited. https://www.signupgenius.com/go/8050c4faaa823a75-star#/ 

Written by Mandy Dailey, Director of Communications


Sports Round-up: Fall ’22 Season

CA Curious

Computer Science for Social Justice

Upper School

Cary Academy students honored as Catalysts for Change