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Community Flex Day Yoga on the quad

Middle School

Parents explore the student experience during Community Flex Day

March 29, 2021

On Sunday, March 28, dozens of Cary Academy parents and employees got a taste of Flex Day — a new addition to CA’s schedule introduced in August 2020. Flex Day is a designated day each week when students are free to explore ideas, interests, and activities beyond the classroom.

This year, instead of hosting the annual Taste and Toast celebration, the Cary Academy PTAA held the first-ever Community Flex Day. More than fifteen activities were offered across campus and beyond. Following the same COVID protocols as our students, it gave CA’s community a much-needed opportunity to connect face-to-face (and/or virtually) in safe, small groups.

The day-long event started with a virtual coffee with Head of School Dr. Mike Ehrhardt. Despite the rain, which postponed some outdoor activities, things kicked into high gear with the annual CA 5K. Parents got moving with yoga on the quad and workouts with Coach Hux. Minds were fed with virtual conversations about history and culture hosted by parents and faculty, poetry analysis, a hands-on (and finger-licking) lecture on the sociocultural history of barbecue, and an exploration of how data affects our decisions. Service opportunities were had, timely, resonant poetry was explored, math classrooms were escaped from, and much, much more.

Thank you to everyone who planned, hosted, learned, had fun, and explored as we modeled the student experience of Flex Day.

Written by Dan Smith, Digital Content Producer and Social Media Manager

History

National History Day successes

Magazine of CA

The Right Fit

Alumni News

Trey Murphy ’18 to transfer to UVa

Michelle Icard

Middle School

Parenting expert Michelle Icard to host parent book club chat in January

December 3, 2020

CA Parents: get answers to some of your most pressing parenting questions.

Nationally-recognized speaker and author, Michelle Icard, will offer her insight and expertise as she answers questions on raising a middle school child in today’s world in a parent “Book Club” discussion hosted by Middle School Counselor Kelly Wiebe on January 13, 2021. You’ll have the opportunity to submit questions to Michelle in advance and she will answer them anonymously. Or, ask live during the chat, Or, just come to listen and learn!

Registration is now open.

Icard’s insightful words have guided thousands of students, parents, and teachers through the maze that is middle school. Inspirational, empathetic, funny, and sincere, Icard blends research with stories of her own middle school missteps as a trail blazed for middle school success.

Publisher’s Weekly recognized her book, Middle School Makeover: Improving The Way You and Your Child Experience The Middle School Years (Bibliomotion, 2014) as outstanding in its genre.

Icard is a member of the TODAY Show parenting team and NBC’s Education Nation. She is a contributor to the Washington Post OnParenting section and Your Teen Magazine. In addition, her work has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, Redbook, Time, People Magazine, and A Mighty Girl.

Icard’s social leadership programs, Athena’s Path & Hero’s Pursuit, have been implemented at schools across the country and her summer camp curriculum is offered at over 15 camps each summer. Her parenting website MichelleInTheMiddle.com is a one-stop resource for smart, savvy parent advice.

Written by Dan Smith, Digital Content Producer and Social Media Manager

CA Curious

Reflections on AsEA

CA Curious

Nurturing the roots of service

CA Curious

Mission Critical

PTAA Parents during Senior orientation

CA Curious

Change, resilience, and kindness

September 10, 2020

Welcome to academic year 2020/2021—an admittedly not-so-typical year.

Under the best conditions, this is a busy time of year for the PTAA. Typically, we would be arranging face-to-face events to welcome parents and students to campus, hosting welcome dinners, and handing out popsicles as a treat after the handshake ceremony. Our goal? To set the foundation for our collective year, to connect with each other, to build our community, and to support each other—our fellow parents, students, faculty, and staff.

While COVID has undoubtedly brought many changes—requiring significant modifications of our behavior for our safety and the safety of our community—it has not altered our mandate. In fact, I would argue that the PTAA’s inclusive community-building efforts are now more important than ever. The pandemic has showed us how very much we need each other.

This year our entry will look a little bit different. Rest assured, however, we will collectively rise to the occasion and, together, figure out how to navigate and thrive in this new reality.

After all, we’ve already proven that we can.

Last May, as our seniors were faced with missing out on traditional events–Prom, Graduation, and Baccalaureate—the CA community rallied. Leadership, employees, and volunteers worked together tirelessly to figure out innovative ways to celebrate and honor, not only our seniors, but our milestone classes.  Videos were assembled, congratulations signs were secretly delivered, yearbooks, roses, certificates, and swag were placed in car trunks during celebration parades as teachers, employees, and administration cheered on the students from socially-distanced positions. Air high fives and the obligatory mic drop signified the beginning of summer with the anticipation that school would begin in August.  

Was it easy? No, it wasn’t.

Navigating a pandemic safely while trying to connect a community is not easy, but it can be done, and done well (and with fun and–dare I say it–joy). Just as we did last spring, we’re leaning into the remarkable resilience and creativity of our community to find new ways to interact and connect.

Flexibility has been our operating system these last few months. And the requisite outside-of-the box thinking that COVID has necessitated has unearthed a silver-lining: there are now more ways than ever to participate in the CA community and to do it on your own terms, in ways big and small, that feel safe and doable for you and your family.

Will you join one of CA’s parent affinity groups to share your perspectives and experiences and lend support to each other? Or participate in a virtual book club, unpacking a text and discussing themes that are particularly relevant to our community and times?  Perhaps you’ll Zoom in for a Town Hall to stay abreast of how our community is adapting or submit questions for our new “Keeping Chargers Connected” bi-monthly discussion series (stay tuned for more details on that front). Maybe you’ll tap into a personal passion and volunteer to lead a Health and Wellness sub-committee or propose an altogether new initiative.

Not finding something that speaks to you? Suggest something; we’re all ears. In fact, our two most recent committee offerings—CA Connected and Environmental Sustainability—were proposed by passionate parents that saw a community need that aligned with their interests.

The bottom line? It requires all of us to uphold our community. This year, I invite you to tune in. Be present. Jump in as you are able. Change, inspiration, resilience, and a thankful community await.  Together, we can do more than weather this not-so-normal year—we can thrive.

Written by Kim Eheman, PTAA President

CA Curious

Taking a Risk: Leadership and Volleyball Camp, 2021

Middle School

Parenting expert Michelle Icard to host parent book club chat in January

6th

CA Science Olympiad Success!

Students make "Planet B" banner

Community Conversations

Green iniatives on campus

April 20, 2020

As Jared Carson learned at CA, when it comes to sustainability, it’s often the little things we do as individuals that add up to the biggest community impacts. At CA, our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint and increase our sustainable practices come from every corner of campus.

The newly formed Middle School Green Club is looking at ways to reduce campus waste. They aim to reduce printing by at least 25 percent through an information campaign that advocates utilizing smaller fonts, double-sided printing, and electronic distribution of materials.

The Sustainability Committee of the Upper School’s Delta Service Club has worked with Upper School science department chair Heidi Maloy to revitalize the garden behind the Center for Math and Science; volunteered with NC State to help realize their goal of a zero waste football gameday; screened the documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power for interested students; and spun plastic yarn from plastic bags to create sleeping pads for distribution to local non-profits that support people experiencing homelessness.

The CA SEEDS Club has been working to increase the amount that we compost and reduce trash and recyclable use. The club has created new signage and re-thought the arrangement of waste bins in the Dining Hall to reduce bottlenecks and promote better waste practices. From the beginning of the school year to February, CA has diverted 20,287 pounds of food waste to the compost pile, avoiding 2,368 pounds of methane production (nearly as much as 400 cars produce in a week).

Students design the "Planet B" banner

Sustainable dishes and utensils are already in use in the Dining Hall, but their use is becoming more widespread throughout campus. The new café features paper straws and compostable cups. And all CA employees have been provided reusable tumblers in order to enjoy their beverage of choice with a minimal environmental impact.

For the first time, Taste and Toast utilized 100 percent reusable drinkware and dishes. And Ubuntu’s International Café used compostable materials, diverting more than 2,700 plates, 1,700 utensils, and 325 gallons of waste from the landfill. For future events, the PTAA has stocked 40 reusable table covers that will reduce the use of single-use plastic tablecloths for events of all sizes.

When we return to campus, a joint effort between the PTAA’s new Green Committee and CA’s Business Office will encourage parents to turn off their car engines while waiting to pick-up or drop-off students during carline.

Finally, our Business Office has worked with Wake County’s Habitat (Re)Store and the Public Schools of Robeson County to provide furniture from classrooms and the Dining Hall for reuse, rather than disposal.

Written by Dan Smith, Digital Content Producer and Social Media Manager

Community

Campaign for Cary Academy

Upper School

Putting their game face on

CA Curious

Together towards understanding

Family service day

Events

CA turns out to support Wrenn House on Family Service Day

December 10, 2019

More than 50 members of the CA community turned-out to support Wrenn House during the PTAA’s Family Service Day, on December 7. Volunteers accomplished many tasks, including spreading mulch, creating stone pathways, planting more than 30 plants and shrubs in planters and beds, raking over 80 bags of leaves and yard debris, cooking several meals, and stocking the Wrenn House freezer with additional meals. Thank you to all that made this day a success.

Written by

CA Curious

Art is essential

Magazine of CA

Spotlight On: Poetry and Hip-Hop Showcase

Athletics

Senior Nights: Varsity Baseball

Dining Hall at Cary Academy

CA Curious

We are because you are

October 31, 2019

I will admit that volunteering was not on the forefront of my mind when my first child entered Middle School. We had plenty of other things to navigate. We had to learn how to use the tablet. We had sports. We had a 20-minute commute (each way, uphill, in the snow). So many other things seemed to occupy nearly every second of my free time – I couldn’t fathom how adding to the list would prove doable (or, frankly, valuable) for my family.

However, not wanting to fall short on a commitment, I reluctantly (at first) started to dip my toes into volunteering at CA. I attended a coffee here, donated a short hour of my time there.

Almost immediately, I made a happy discovery. Far from being arduous or further complicating our lives, connecting with other parents at CA in these small ways actually made my family life… easier.

Further gratifying, I could see how even the smallest contribution of my time and talent had a real, tangible, and positive impact on the day-to-day lives of CA students, and on the larger community. Soon, my family and I started to feel connected to a larger whole, to develop a sense that we’re all in this together.

Fast forward a couple of years and, those initially small connections? They’ve developed into a meaningful support system on which my family and I will be able to draw for years to come. It’s been such a powerful experience that I’ve been inspired to pay it forward by deepening my engagement and joining the leadership team of Parent Teacher Administration Alliance (PTAA).

I’m not alone in my experience. Ask nearly anyone about what makes the CA experience so special and you will inevitably hear: “our community.”

At CA, our community extends beyond our students, staff, administrators, faculty, and alumni to include all CA parents — each an automatic member of the PTAA — all bound together by a commitment to our kids and to CA’s vision of educational excellence. In ways big and small – as leaders, educators, caregivers, cheerleaders, chauffeurs, volunteers, and constituents – the PTAA is a core component of the magic behind CA’s tight-knit community.

That powerful sense of community connection lies at the heart of the South African concept of ubuntu. Loosely translated as “I am because you are,” it suggests that each of us are shaped by the connections that we have with one another, that our sense of identity and our experiences are inextricably linked. That, as members of the same community, we are constantly impacting each other’s lives, both intentionally and unintentionally.

So, with ubuntu in mind: who is the PTAA? Quite simply: we are what you make us.

So, who, dare I ask, are you?

We’ve established that you are a CA community member, but you and I both know that you are so much more. You have made decisions to participate in a career, to have children, and to be a part of other partnerships–whether it’s public service, an athletic team, a religious affiliation, etc.. Without question, you have elicited change, impacted lives, inspired, and cultivated those around you.

Maybe you haven’t thought about your accomplishments, maybe you have. But, have you thought about it in this context: What have you shared and how have you impacted the community that will yield our future doctors, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, and civil servants?

If so, what comes to mind? What does meaningful impact look like to you? And, how do you attain it?

I’m certain that you’ve heard the saying, “volunteerism starts at home.” Over the last five years as a CA parent, I have heard this saying over and over again and it is undeniably true. As leaders, parents, caregivers, and constituents, we have to ask ourselves: how are we modeling this sentiment? There is no simple answer to this question, but I can tell you that even a small effort in our community can have a huge impact, both personally and communally.

Perhaps you are a busy dad with only thirty minutes to volunteer by serving pizza to Middle Schoolers during your lunch break, or a working mom that can only spare an occasional hour or two for a CA service project on the weekend. Maybe you’re a professional with valuable advice to share during Discovery Term, or an impassioned advocate for a cause that you would like to see us address as a community. Possibly you’re an overwhelmed parent that is looking to foster connection with others going through the same. Or maybe you’re just looking to amplify the joy, the fun in our community.

As a community that practices inclusion, appreciation, and gratitude, the PTAA welcomes all of our members – all of your energy and your ideas. There are ample opportunities – big and small (after all, many hands make light work) – to meaningfully engage and connect, to come together to help shape who we are as a community, to support, encourage, and inspire each other, our students, and the larger CA community to be the very best it can be.

After all, we are because you are.

Written by Kimberly Eheman, PTAA Vice President

6th

CA Science Olympiad Success!

Faculty Reflections

Teaching with tech

Athletics

Sports Round-up: Fall ’22 Season

Magazine of CA

Partners in Innovation

August 13, 2019

Innovation has no sense of time. Inspiration springs forth without concern for the calendar. So, how do we respond to those innovative opportunities that arise in the middle of the academic year—opportunities to foster new initiatives, explore fresh ideas, and implement cutting-edge technologies?

Enter CA’s Parent Teacher Administration Alliance (PTAA).

The PTAA Grants Program helps to seed innovation by supporting small projects, equipment, and activities that enrich and enhance student interests within and beyond the classroom. This past academic year alone, the PTAA provided more than $23,000 in grants for eight student and faculty initiatives.

Middle School math teacher Leslie Williams received funding to purchase a larger capacity and finer-detailed Ultimaker 3D printer that can print in dual color. The new printer, which is available to all Middle School students and faculty is part of a larger effort to ensure that every Middle School student is well-versed in Computer Aided Design (CAD). This past year, the printer was utilized by seventh-grade math students for their Change the World engineering challenge, in addition to other projects.

To learn and teach critical life-saving skills, a grant sought by Parker Perkins (’20) and Upper School science and math teacher Delia Follet will enable the CA Search and Rescue Team to fully establish their presence on campus through the purchase of key equipment and materials.

Helping to interweave art into projects across campus, Upper School art teacher Caycee Lee secured funding to construct and outfit a mobile art cart to support and augment humanities projects.

A farsighted PTAA grant will provide a clear vision for CA Athletics for years to come. Working in conjunction with Athletics Administrative Assistant Rebecca Watkins to identify needs, the Communications Department received funding for new lenses and camera equipment that will be on long-term loan to the Athletics Department.

THIS PAST ACADEMIC YEAR ALONE, THE PTAA PROVIDED MORE THAN $23,000 IN GRANTS FOR EIGHT STUDENT AND FACULTY INITIATIVES.

Last March, many parents and students attended Duke University Professor Wilkie Wilson’s talk, “Healthy Brain: Understanding the Effects of Alcohol, Vaping, and Drugs on the Teen Brain.” The presentation, made possible with funding provided to Upper School Learning Specialist Laura Werner, was so impactful that several students consulted with Dr. Wilson for their capstone senior projects or other research they were pursuing.

How do you take a hands-on approach to diving into microscopic subjects? PTAA funding will allow Upper School biology teacher Marissa Scoville’s students to explore DNA and protein molecules through cutting-edge physical models that will allow for abstract ideas to be more accessible, thereby enriching and enhancing the learning experience.

Students explore DNAHow do you take a hands-on approach to diving into microscopic subjects? PTAA funding will allow Upper School biology teacher Marissa Scoville’s students to explore DNA and protein molecules through cutting-edge physical models that will allow for abstract ideas to be more accessible, thereby enriching and enhancing the learning experience.

Eleventh-grade English students will have their voices heard, thanks to the purchase of audio production equipment to explore podcasting in the classroom. The process of recording audio, both personally and through interviews, is an ideal blend of the humanities and technology, invoking expressive storytelling and analytical expression as an alternative to traditional essay writing. According to grantee Jamie Roszel, the format promotes the creative synthesis of ideas and provokes civil discourse and discussion, while also giving students more agency over their educational outcomes.

Starting this summer, members of CA’s U.S. Association of Young Physicists’ Tournament (USAYPT) team, Will Aarons (’20), Cameron Fisher (’19), Paul Ibrahim (’21), Aidan Sher (’20), and Abraham Weinstein (’19), and other Upper School physics students will reach for the stars through a new computer-guided telescope. Under the guidance of science teachers Matt Greenwolfe and Charlotte Kelly, and internal substitute Dick Mentock, they’ll use the telescope to collect data for USAYPT astronomy problems, produce spectacular astronomical photographs for the classrooms, and observe the heavens with a clarity and precision of which CA’s 20-year-old existing telescope was incapable.

Written by Mandy Dailey, Director of Communications

CA Curious

Finding connection through virtual dialogue

Faculty Reflections

Founding vision

Remembering Robert Ingram

Parents at Cary Academy

CA Curious

Parents support the cultivation of our learning community

April 4, 2019

Current parents Adeola Lawal and Jacqui Jett serve as ambassadors at a Admissions event.

We’re still elbow-deep in the number-crunching and report-drafting that comes at this point in the Admissions Cycle! We are certainly celebrating another unprecedented season, with a 6% increase in our total applications – 359 for the 19-20 school year and counting.

And what is the key to the continued growth in interest in CA? Quite simply, our reputation and the word-of-mouth recommendations that parents offer within their various communities are invaluable (the “wonder buses” help, too).

The CA Admissions Team of four would be swamped without the incredible support from parent volunteers whose outreach and hospitality efforts are unparalleled. In fact, since this time last year, Cary Academy parents have

  • conducted 100 campus tours;
  • helped facilitate 6 Tour and Information Sessions that welcomed over 400 visitors to our campus;
  • packaged 500 give-away bags; and
  • conducted countless ambassador phone calls (and/or coached their Charger through their own ambassador call).

We offer our sincerest thanks to all of our parent volunteers, especially the New Parent Committee of the PTAA and their leaders for 2018-19: Suzanne Bright, Jacqui Jett, and Melissa Matton.

In my blog post this past September, I offered that “the admissions office is coordinating our outreach efforts to cultivate more touch-points with African-American and Latino families, from visiting more local elementary and middle schools to partnering with educational foundations who specifically support underrepresented populations.”

While the admissions team achieved all the goals noted above, the most powerful partnership grew from within our own community.

Cary Academy’s Parents of African-American Students (PAAS) affinity group offered their partnership and support with phenomenal outcomes—from increasing the presence of families of color at admissions events, to hosting a recruitment event off-campus at the home of Peter and Annette Greene, to serving as outreach ambassadors for families within the admissions process.

The PAAS efforts to support admissions were invaluable and speak tremendously to the power of modeling the mission of Cary Academy to our students—we strive collaboratively together toward excellence. Our sincerest thanks go out as well to Annette Greene, president of PAAS, and all of the PAAS parents who joined in this impactful work.

Of course, the admissions cycle for the 2020-21 school year is right around the corner, and we look forward to continued partnership in the years ahead, both with these current groups as well as with other constituencies on campus.

Written by Heather Clarkson, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid

Changes ahead: 2022-23 academic calendar

Upper School

Putting their game face on

CA Curious

Universal yums

Cary Academy CMS

CA Curious

From Hammers & Hats to Taste & Toast

January 24, 2019

This past fall, as I was getting settled into my role (after I’d found where Charger Corner was, but before I’d figured out what time US lunch was on Wednesdays), Dr. Ehrhardt stopped in to share an idea. He said, “Let’s have the Taste and Toast be the first thing we do in the new building!” As I looked across the US parking lot and saw the columns secured in place with the brick in the background, I agreed. 

Last Friday, in anticipation of the Taste and Toast this coming weekend, I found myself over in the new building. I donned my hard hat, closed-toed shoes, and protective eyewear. “Nine days to go!” Dr. Ehrhardt announced as we walked in. As if on cue, the miter saw revved up, carefully cutting boards to go inside the ceiling, covering up electrical wiring. I nodded reassuringly. 

“Here is where we’ll hang the new athletic banners,” he said, pointing to a wall, partially finished, partially covered in plaster. “And refreshments will be served in the MakerSpace, right where that scissor lift is.” Through the dust cloud and past the extension cords, I saw the outline of said scissor lift. I’ll be honest, refreshments did not come to mind. 

“I hope the speakers are working by then!” he shouted over the noise of the nail gun. “What?!” I yelled back. “The speakers!” he yelled, just as the nail gun stopped. The entire construction crew knows how much he’s hoping the speakers work. 

Miter saws, lifts, and nail guns aside, the Town of Cary has given its blessing for the building to open for occupation this coming Sunday. The environmental lab and greenhouse may not have plants yet. The labs may not have chemicals yet. The MakerSpace may not have its fields yet. But the CMS, the Center for Math and Science, the new building, is done. It is ready to be explored, to be occupied, and to be enveloped into our community. The hallways are waiting for the feel of footsteps. The conference rooms are waiting for students to learn independently. The labs are waiting for thirsty discoverers. And the doors are waiting to be opened. 

So, come out on Sunday and let’s raise a toast to so much more than a new building – a new way to learn, a new way to foster curiosity, a new place to collaborate, and a new way to educate our community. 

To register for the event, click here.

No hard hat necessary (but maybe wear your closed-toed shoes…) 

Written by Ali Page, Director of Development

Spring art performances schedule

Upper School

A Strong Start to an Inaugural Season

A strong season for speech and debate