fbpx
Ashleigh Smith

Upper School

Billboards showcase CA student’s award-winning artwork statewide

October 21, 2021

When you’re traveling in NC this fall, be sure to look up. Billboards featuring artwork by Cary Academy senior Ashleigh Smith (’22) are going up across the state as part of the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC)’s “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest.

Smith’s art, a digital painting of a cyclist enjoying a mountain bike ride through a wooded trail in Cary, won the high school division of the contest, which aims to educate the public about steps to improve air quality through youth engagement. Smith first learned of the contest via CA’s SEEDS club and an announcement from Head of Upper School Robin Follet. A photo of her brother inspired the piece, which she initially created before the pandemic.

Ashleigh Smith

“Artwork is so powerful, and I wanted to work together with young artists to spread the message about ways we can keep our air clean,” explained contest director Heather Brutz, who serves as Finance & Operations Manager of the Clean Transportation Program at NCCETC.

 Smith, who paints with both traditional media and digital formats, beamed when asked about the experience of seeing her work high above North Carolina’s highways and byways. “Apparently, more people have seen it than even I expected. People are going to see this and hopefully be impacted by the artwork, and maybe, as a result, they’ll get out and ride their bicycles more often.”

“This is one of those pieces where, two years later, I’m still really proud of this piece. My art style is always changing and evolving; I’m always getting better and trying new techniques. I make art for the sake of creation. I’m always proud when something I’ve created can help convey an important message to a wider audience,” says Smith.


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

Alumni News

Creating Simple, Low-Cost Ventilator Solutions in Sydney

CA Curious

If at first you don’t succeed…

Community

Smithsonian honors founding Board Member

Bella Nesbeth

Upper School

CA senior to serve as a Performing Arts Ambassador

October 21, 2021

The Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) selected Cary Academy senior Bella Nesbeth (’22) as one of thirty Performing Arts Ambassadors for 2021-2022.

The thirty high school student ambassadors, hailing from across central North Carolina, are given exclusive, unique opportunities to view, interact with, and work in support of DPAC performances – everything from Broadway musicals like Hamilton and The Band’s Visit, to musicians like Jason Mraz, Watchhouse, and John Fogerty, to speakers such as Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stacey Abrams.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to the chance to see shows like Hamilton and RENT, but I’m really excited to hear Stacey Abrams speak,” beams Nesbeth. “When I applied for this, I thought it would be a great opportunity to broaden my experiences – I love the theatre, but you have to pick and choose what you can afford to spend time and money on to attend; this not only gives me the chance – but actually requires me to broaden my experiences.”

As part of the program, Nesbeth and the other ambassadors write reflections on the opportunities and experiences they are gaining through the DPAC program.

Already, Nesbeth has stepped outside her comfort zone to view The Band’s Visit, a musical about confronting the stereotypes and assumptions we make about each other. “It wouldn’t normally be the sort of show I’d choose to see, but I’m so glad I did. I am passionate about bridging connections across differences and the performance showed me another way to do that.”

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

CA Curious

Where PomPoms Meet Professional Development

Athletics

Charger athlete a smash at national table tennis championships

CA Curious

Time Well Spent

Corinne Laurey

Upper School

Student’s voice earns national recognition

October 21, 2021

Congratulations to Corinne Laurey (’25) for earning a National Gold Medal for voice from the  Royal Conservatory of Music! Laurey participated in the competition, held virtually over the summer.

“I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, but I really got serious in 6th grade. Music allows me to express myself and be in the moment,” beams Laurey.

“It’s really an honor to receive this Gold Medal,” shared Laurey, who plays piano in addition to vocal performances. “Music runs in my family – my mom participated in the RCM competitions when she was a child.”

The award will be presented to Laurey and the other U.S. and Canadian honorees in January 2022.

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

Magazine of CA

Personal Best

Upper School

CA Senior helps hurricane-devastated community

Community

Leslie Williams offers “technical” help for protecting people

Isabella Xu ('25)

Athletics

Charger earns a spot on national table tennis team

August 19, 2021

Congratulations to Isabella Xu (‘25) for making the 2021 girls’ U17 U.S. national table tennis team! USA Table Tennis, the sport’s governing body named Xu to the eight-member team following the 2021 US National Team Youth Trials, held in Milpitas, California and Pleasantville, New York.

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

CA Curious

Pride and Promise

Middle School

CA welcomes new Director of Facilities

Community

Cary Academy hosts COVID-19 vaccination clinic for Triangle-area educators and other front-line workers

Sydney Ross '23

Athletics

Charger student-athlete earns national recognition

August 3, 2021

Congratulations to Sydney Ross (’23) for being named to the 2021 USA Volleyball AAU Academic All-American team! The award recognizes high school student-athletes for their excellence in the classroom as well as the volleyball court. Ross is the only Triangle-area student-athlete named to the team for 2021.

In addition, Ross received the Junior Volleyball Association AthLeader award. For 2021, Ross is one of 22 players from across the country to receive this prestigious award, which recognizes the top JVA member club players in the nation for outstanding achievement outside of the volleyball court. 

Ross’s mother, Donna, credits her time at CA with enabling her to reach such national heights, “Sydney’s experience with CA’s Leadership During Crisis Program, along with her facilitator role set her apart from other scholar athletes.”

Go Chargers!

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

CA Curious

Nurturing the roots of service

6th

Sixth-grader shares vaccination experience, hopes with national audience

Athletics

Senior Nights: Varsity Girls’ Soccer

Rachel Wang ’25

Athletics

Charger athlete a smash at national table tennis championships

July 13, 2021

Congratulations to rising-9th grader Rachel Wang ’25 for reaching the semifinal round of the 2021 U.S. National Table Tennis Championships in the girls’ singles U15 division! Playing in Las Vegas last week, Rachel finished in the top 8 of all players in her age group, nationally. #GoChargers!

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

Community Conversations

Follow the leaders: Spotlight on Leadership In Crisis Program

CA Curious

Chutes and Ladders

Athletics

Senior Nights: Varsity Baseball

Ella Gupta 23

Upper School

Sophomore writes the book on financial literacy for her generation, literally

June 3, 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic revealed significant economic disparities across the American economic landscape, Ella Gupta ’23 realized that there wasn’t anyone guiding her generation on how to save and spend wisely. So, she decided to write the guide herself.

“I was shocked by the wealth disparities for people of color, and I saw a lack of financial literacy, in general, for young people in our society. It’s not a topic commonly found in school curriculums,” shares Gupta. “So, I decided to write the book I felt was missing. There are tons of financial guides on the market for millennials, but not for Gen Z.”

Over the past year, while balancing virtual and in person learning, Gupta — whose personal financial passion began at age 10 with a business selling rainbow loom bracelets — was also hard at work on Gen Z Money $ense: A Personal Finance and Investing Guide, now available at major bookstores, from New Degree Press.

“Being at CA definitely bolstered my sense of independence and my eagerness to take on a topic I’m curious about. I was fortunate to grow up in a house where finances were never a taboo topic; my parents and grandparents always made a point of involving me in financial decisions.”  

As she set out to write her book, Gupta interviewed financial industry professionals and economic communicators, from CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin to JJ Kinahan, Chief Market Strategist at TD Ameritrade, and Metropolitan Capital Advisors co-founder Karen Finerman. Gupta is currently working with Tim Ranzetta at Next Gen Personal Finance to distribute the book to educators across the country in the hopes of bolstering financial education for young people. 

The book features unique topics that are very relevant today, including investing apps, cryptocurrencies, Environmental Social Governance investing, automation, mobile banking.

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

Latest News

Responding to Crisis Through Giving on May 5

Alumni News

Trey Murphy III (’18) picked by the Pelicans in NBA Draft

Alumni Spotlight

Healthy Curiosity

Bella Nesbeth ’22

Art

CA Junior’s one-act plays earn accolades

May 6, 2021

Congratulations to Bella Nesbeth ’22 on being selected as a featured playwright for Burning Coal Theatre Company’s KidsWrite Festival, streaming on stage May 28-29, 2021.

Nesbeth’s one-act play, Queen of the Night tells the story of singer Whitney Houston’s early career.

Later in the summer, Burning Coal will produce a second of Nesbeth’s plays, A Tale of Two Stops, which explores the duality of the American experience, divided along racial lines. Similar events on a single night take very different paths for two families – one Black and one white – in a play inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

Inspired to write the play after seeing Burning Coal’s call for submissions on Twitter, A Tale of Two Stops is Nesbeth’s first serious foray into writing for the stage. “I really enjoy Broadway musicals, but I don’t consider myself a singer or an actress. So, I thought, ‘why don’t I try and write my own play?’” One Tuesday evening, in order to give her sister, Cici some privacy while she prepared for the SAT in their shared bedroom, Bella sat down and wrote the play in a single four-hour session.

“I kept thinking about how, in police brutality cases, people always seem to say, ‘well, if they were white, this wouldn’t have happened.’ So, I wanted to explore the exact same situation, but with characters of two different races,” explains Nesbeth.

Nesbeth is currently working with directors Eric Kildow and Amy Lloyd to adapt A Tale of Two Stops for production. It and other KidsWrite plays written by Triangle area 6th-12th grade students will be presented via streaming, free of charge, on Friday and Saturday, May 28 and 29, 2021 at 7:00pm on Burning Coal’s website.


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

Magazine of CA

Charging ahead.

Athletics

Varsity boys’ track and field takes TISAC championship

Alumni News

Feeding Frontline Workers, One Shirt at a Time

Ellie McMahon '21

Community

Senior’s passion for literacy, community, earns Gold Award

April 15, 2021

Congratulations to Ellie McMahon ’21 for earning the Girl Scouts of America’s prestigious Gold Award. The Gold Award is the highest accolade conferred by the Girl Scouts, awarded to fewer than seven percent of Girl Scouts after completing a minimum of 80 hours of service on projects that make a sustainable change in their communities and around the world.

McMahon—who serves as the leader of DELTA Service Club’s Children’s and Education Committee—is a strong proponent of early childhood literacy having learned of its immeasurable impact.  Associated with the development of critical thinking skills and with fostering a lifelong love of learning, early childhood literacy often translates to a profoundly better quality of life. Despite its importance, however, youth in lower-income communities often lack easy access to books and reading opportunities.

“As a kid, I read so much; it was so critical to who I have become. There are people who just don’t have the same chance I had to read but would if they could. I wanted to share with these underserved communities something that was so important to me growing up. The impact of reading grows so much over time, so starting early is really important,” beams McMahon.

When it came time to choose the way her Gold Award project would support the community, it seemed only natural to focus on literacy. McMahon devised a program to collect books from the community to provide reading materials and reading opportunities for children served by Learning Together and WAKE Up and Read, two Triangle-area organizations that provide high-quality, equitable, and inclusive educational opportunities for young children and adolescents.

Beginning in November 2019, McMahon organized a series of donation drives asking for gently-used books for preschool-aged readers. That first book drive collected more than 300 books from the Cary Academy community. Had things gone according to plan, McMahon would have visited the students at Learning Together in the early part of 2020 to distribute books and read with the children, but the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic dashed such hopes. Not wanting to let the children down, Ellie quickly rethought her project to ensure that the children would still benefit from reading with her, but from a safe distance.

Ellie McMahon '21 with books during the book drive

“I was only about halfway through the project when the pandemic hit. At first, I didn’t know what to do – I hadn’t completed any of the goals I set out to do. So, I ended up making a YouTube channel where I would read the books. In addition to Learning Together, I shared the channel with a bunch of other daycares and preschools so that even though they’re dealing with COVID, they can have this resource,” McMahon shares.

Admitting that adapting to COVID was the most challenging part of the project, McMahon credits the challenge of adapting to the pandemic with helping her broaden her outreach. When Cary Academy shifted to virtual learning, McMahon began reaching out to her neighbors via NextDoor, asking her local community to set books on their doorsteps for her to pick up. “I was surprised at how helpful people were. People are so willing to donate their time and their resources to you. My neighbors not only donated so many books, but they would also write a little note on the top of the box, ‘I hope that everything goes well; let me know if you need anything else,’ I thought that was sweet. I’ve collected nearly 700 books to this point; seeing this huge audience come together in support of this project was cool.”

McMahon’s hard work has made a difference. Kathy Peterson, Former Executive Director of Learning Together, was effusive in her praise, not only for her effort but her ability to recruit others to engage in service: “Ellie has been wonderful. Her multiple book drives have helped not only our kids but their siblings as well. She also recruited a group of friends to help with wrapping for our Holiday Hopes. They were a huge help — we had fewer volunteers due to COVID. When we had items for two families come in late, Ellie and her friends stepped in, and we were able to distribute everything on schedule.”

After McMahon graduates this spring, her project will live on, as part of DELTA Service Club’s commitment to the community, under the guidance of Service Learning Director Maggie Grant and the Center for Community Engagement. As an alum, McMahon plans to mentor the next group of DELTA leaders in serving young people across the Triangle, which Ms. Grant credits to both McMahon’s character and the values instilled by her time in Girl Scouts: “Ellie is committed to making a difference, especially in the lives of children in our community. She embodies Girl Scout values by her willingness to always lend a hand, and I am confident she will continue to make Cary Academy, as well as the Girl Scouts, proud as she moves into her next chapter.”

Congratulations, Ellie!

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

CA Curious

Breaking the People Pleasing Cycle

Community

Finding Camaraderie, Collaboration in Mask Making

CA Curious

Emotional Nutrition