Upper School

STAR Dinner with Documentary success

March 7, 2024

STAR (Students Together Assisting Refugees) Club successfully held its annual Dinner with Documentary event last week. The event featured experts, including representatives from local refugee organizations, the Deputy Director of DEI for Governor Cooper, and a virtual appearance from Congresswoman Ross. The event offered insights on helping refugees in the community and information on the Global Refugee Crisis. Special thanks to Chef Gabe and his team for catering a delicious authentic dinner for the event. Thank you to everyone who attended and made this event possible! Stay on the look out for events from STAR to continue helping local refugees!

Written by Jack Swingle

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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

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Speech and Debate

Upper School

Speech and Debate on a virtual roll

October 12, 2020

CA’s speech and debate team is on a roll to start the year, unhampered by the move to virtual tournaments.

They made a mark at the second annual Duke University Speech and DebateTournament, held September 19-20 in a live, virtual format. Alex Lim ’22 took first place in Humorous Interpretation, Bryan Fang ’23 and Christina Polge ’22 placed fourth in JV Lincoln-Douglas and Oral Interpretation, respectively. In addition, twelve members of the team made it out of the initial rounds. The tournament hosted more than 650 entrants, representing more than 120 schools from 25 states.

At the Yale Invitational, October 2-3, Alex Lim again took first place in Humorous Interpretation, with Katherine He ’22 and Christina Polge reaching the semi-finals in Informative Speaking and Oral Interpretation, respectively. Jay Sagrolikar ’21 reached the quarter-finals in Varsity Congress.

During the first Dogwood Speech and Debate League tournament of the year, held online on October 10, CA dominated. Katherine He, Rohan Nangalia ’23, Folu Ogundipe ’22, and Christina Polge took the top spots in Informative Speaking, Novice Congress, Varsity Lincoln Douglas, and Oral Interpretation, respectively. In Novice Congress, Angelika Wang ’24 took third place with Nishant Pai ’23 taking fourth. Ritvik Nalamothu ’21 brought home fourth place in Varsity Congress. Casey Powell ’22 earned runner up in Varsity Lincoln Douglas, while Kareena Sheshadri ’23 and Andrew Lim ’24 took third and fourth, respectively, in Declamation. In Extemporaneous Speaking, Nitya Nalamothu ’23 and Julia Young ’22 earned silver and bronze. Nalamothu also took third in Impromptu Speaking. Sophia Liu ’22 was runner up in Informative Speaking and Sydney Tai ’22 secured third place in Program Oral Interpretation. In addition, 26 students reached the finals in their events and the CA team took the top spot in the Sweepstakes.

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


Campaign for Cary Academy


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Sanjana Earth Day Spirit Week

Middle School

Earth Day at Cary Academy

April 22, 2020

CA may be practicing social distancing through virtual learning, but even the coronavirus won’t stop the Chargers from celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In addition to the many green initiatives underway at CA and inspiring work by our alumni, students and faculty from the Middle School and Upper School are working harder than ever, today, to cherish and replenish our planet.

Unplug and get outside

Today, Middle School students will not have regular classes. Instead, they are participating in the MS Earth Day Celebration. And we’re inviting families to get in on the action. This morning, students received an online Celebrate Our Earth tic-tac-toe grid with a list of nine activities. You might use the iNaturalist phone app to become a citizen scientist. Or cook a vegetarian dinner to reduce your carbon footprint. Or become an “artist for the earth” by creating art from recyclables or items from nature, and much more.

Climate Action Bingo Contest

Do you want to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Week? Allie Chandler ’22, part of the NC Climate Action Team, wants you to know that there’s no better way than improving your personal climate footprint, supporting sustainable businesses and entering to win prizes. Check out the North Carolina Climate Action Team’s Earth Week BINGO Contest!

US Green Spirit Week in honor of Earth Day

CA SEEDS and Student Council are teaming up to show how Blue and Gold makes green! Every day next week, US students can earn Spirit Cup points for their grade by completing environmental challenges and sending in photos. The challenge kicks off Sunday, April 19 and continues through Saturday, April 25.

  • Sunday, April 19: Energy Footprint Day
    • Send SEEDS a picture of you washing your clothes with cold water and air drying them OR a picture of you air drying your hair instead of using a hairdryer 
    • Do both for x2 points 
  • Monday, April 20: Meatless Monday
    • Send SEEDS a picture of you eating vegetarian for lunch 
    • Eat vegetarian for dinner for x2 points 
  • Tuesday, April 21: Pot a Plant Day 
    • Send SEEDS a picture of you planting some seeds or potting a plant 
    • “Grow something for your future!”
  • Wednesday, April 22 (Earth Day): Sustainable Fashion Day 
    • Send SEEDS a picture of you wearing your oldest t-shirt, a hand-me-down, or a thrifted item 
    • Take a picture of yourself in nature for x2 points
    • Fill out survey: where do you shop? 
  • Thursday, April 23: Water Footprint Day  
    • Send SEEDS a picture of you turning off the water while brushing teeth or using soap while washing hands 
    • Collect the cold water from before your shower and use it to water your plants for x2 points! 
  • Friday, April 24: #Fridays for the Future 
    • Join one of the following organizations:
      • 350 Triangle
      • Zero-Hour
      • Sunrise Movement
      • Extinction Rebellion
      • Climate Reality
      • NC Climate Action Team
      • CCL (Citizen’s Climate Lobby)
    • Don’t forget to follow CA.SEEDS on Instagram!
  • Saturday, April 25: Spring Cleaning Day 
    • Send SEEDS a picture of your donation pile!

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

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Varsity robotics claims first tournament win in program history

March 2, 2020

During CA varsity robotics’ best performance in their seven-year history, the Chargers went 18-0 to claim their first-ever FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) tournament.

In the qualifying rounds, where 3-bot alliances are randomly created, CA’s robot charged off to a 12-0 record. It was not a breeze, though, as there were two matches that on paper looked like they would favor the opponent. However, CA’s extremely reliable bot consistently performed the scoring elements, including a climb at the end of the game where the bot does a robot version of a chin-up on a moveable beam. This proved to be crucial to the teams’ success because, in 18 matches, Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe (yes, that’s the robot’s name) successfully climbed 17 times. After match one, the win gave them the #3 rank, and they vacillated between 2nd and 3rd for a few matches. It wasn’t until their fifth victory that the team secured the #1 spot and never relinquished it — despite some heat from a fellow Cary team, Cortechs Robotics, who also went undefeated. The scoring system in FRC rewards winning alliances two ranking points per win, and an additional ranking point, if two robots are a able to climb and balance the moveable beam. The Chargers were able to secure that extra ranking point five times in the qualifying matches, while Cortechs’ alliances earned three ranking points only twice. That was the difference in the Chargers being ranked #1 with the Cortechs’ at #2.

At the end of the qualifying matches (where the alliances had been randomly assigned), there is an Alliance Selection process where the top 8 seeds get to choose who they want on their alliance for the rest of the tournament. As the number 1 seed, the Chargers got first choice and it was a no-brainer to go with the only other undefeated team, especially since their strategies were very complementary and had collaborated well in a qualifying match when they had the first successful balanced climb of the tournament and achieved (at the time) the highest score of the day. With Carrobotics (out of Chapel Hill) as the third bot to round out the alliance, they headed in the quarter-finals. In playoffs, alliances must win two matches to move on. If you’ve done the math, it only took two matches in each of the quarters, semis, and finals to be declared the winner of the Wake District FRC event. Win a win, comes a blue banner, and CA was finally able to bring home that elusive blue banner. They were also recognized as having the best autonomous program for consistency and reliability.

Please join me in congratulating the Chargers for their first-ever appearance on the #1 seed, highest seed they have ever captained, first-ever undefeated tournament, and first-ever tournament win. This puts them in an excellent position to play in the State Championship, as they currently have 78 district points. District points are awarded at the first two tournaments that teams attend, so it’s a cumulative process. However, with such a strong showing and an extremely reliable bot, the Chargers will likely qualify. Their next tournament is March 21-22 at Guilford HS, with the NC Championship on April 4-5 at Campbell University.

If you want to see more statistics or replays from the event, visit https://www.thebluealliance.com/team/5160/2020

Thank you to all the parents for their continued support, to the awesome kids, and to their other coaches Rachel Atay and Scott Allred.

Go Chargers!

Betsy MacDonald – US Design, Programming, and Robotics

Written by Betsy McDonald, US Design, Programming, and Robotics

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Students discuss grading systems

May 2, 2018

On Friday, April 13 the STEP (Shifting the Educational Paradigm) club hosted a conference at Cary Academy called "STEP Forward: Evaluating Student Success." The main focus of the conference was on the grading system's influence on students. 

To address these issues on a deeper level and foster collaboration among schools, STEP decided to host a conference consisting of various workshops led by teachers, parents, and students from various schools in The Triangle.  Additionally, the conference included a panel where the students and teachers were able to ask each other questions to learn about each other's perspective on issues related to student assessment. 

The conference, supported by a grant from the Cary Academy PTAA, welcomed over 40 participants.  The conference proved very successful in prompting deep insights into the problems surrounding evaluation and developing a framework with which to develop solutions.  Attendees said they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

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CA math team finishes top ranked in state

April 11, 2018

CA finished as the 6th place team in the Math League Press’s Math League contests in our 23-state region, and is the top-ranked school in NC.

There are six rounds of the contest between October and April.

Three students received individual recognition for their cumulative scores on the six contests:

Vincent Wang (’18) — 9th place in our region

Thomas Hoffmann (’18) — 21st place in our region

Chelsea Fang (’18) — 39th place in our region

Other students who placed among the Top 5 on at least one of the contests:

Abby Geigerman (’19), Rishi Goswami (’20), Paul Ibrahim (’21), Robert Schellenberger (’18), Viraj Shah (’19), Colin Zhu (’20)

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Varsity robotics in elimination rounds

March 21, 2018

At the FRC robotics competition at UNC Pembroke this past weekend, the CA team finished with a record of 8-4 and in sixth place (out of 36 teams) after preliminary competition. They lost in the quarterfinals playoff but are already contemplating adjustments to their robot for the second tournament of the year on March 30-31 in Winston-Salem. You can follow the team on Twitter @Robotics5160 or Instagram @chargers5160.

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It’s a wrap!

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