World Language

2024 NC German Day Results

March 7, 2024

On February 28, 2024, 50 CA German students traveled to UNC Chapel to participate in the annual NC German Day Competition, sponsored by the NC Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German. Approximately 400 students from 13 schools around the state participated. Check below for CA’s results for both the MS and US! Way to go, Chargers!

2D Art, Honorable Mention: Sophia Cui, ‘28

Photography, 3rd place: Fiona Fitzsimons, ‘26

Digital Editing, 2nd place: Izzy Bottorf, ‘27

Karaoke, Honorable Mention: Nova Leuchtmann, ’25, Sebastian deSouza, ’25, & Zelin Ye, ’25.

Cooking Show Level A, First place: Alaina Jacobson, ‘26

Cooking Show Level B, First place: Annabel Maidorn, ‘25

Cooking Show Level B, Third place: Maddie Kovacs, ‘26 & Keira Sabapathypilla, ‘26

Song with Dance Level A, First place: 6th grade Novice German team Bill Yang, ’30, Rowen Wang, ’30, Penelope Zimmerman, ’30, Patrick Malinzak, ’30, & Thomas Greene, ‘30.

Song with Accompaniment Level B, 2nd place: Augustus Lavalette, ’26, Wells Lin, ’26, & Zack Staffhorst ’26

Song with Accompaniment Level B, 3rd place: Sebastian deSouza, Nova Leuchtmann, & Zelin Ye

Culture Bowl Level A, 2nd place: Jonas McMullin, ’27, Etienne Van Tonder, ’26, & Max Leuchtmann, ‘27

Poetry Recitation Level 1, 3rd place: Jacob Kovacs, ‘29

Poetry Recitation Level 2, 1st place: Mira Greenwolfe, ‘27

Poetry Recitation Level 2, Honorable Mention: Alaina Jacobson, ‘27

Extemporaneous Speaking, Heritage level, 2nd place: Sebastian deSouza

Skits Level 1-2, 1st place: Kaylin Dinker, ’29, Lucy Heinz, ’29, Mallen Jayasooriya, ’29, Isabella Kantor, ’29,  Jacob Kovacs, Olivia Morales, ’29, & Andrew Sillers, ’29.

Skits Level 1-2, Honorable Mention: Benjamin Baumgartner, ’28, Kara Dittrich, ’28, Emerson Herr, ’28, & Brandon Wang, ’28.

Skits Level 3, Honorable Mention: Izzy Bottorff, Tess Perkinson, ’27, Nick Brown, ’27, & Sidd Jones, ’27.

Written by Jack Swingle, Digital Content Specialist

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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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Teaching beyond a single story

February 18, 2021

Too often—whether in the news or media representation in movies and television and beyond—Africa is presented in monolithic, flattened, and exoticized terms. These racist and otherwise damaging narratives flatten and stereotype the African experience, failing to reflect the rich history and diverse peoples and cultures represented on the continent.  

At CA one of our primary goals in world history is to upset such narratives, to instill in our students a mindset of genuine, respectful, and ethical curiosity about other cultures and empathy for other people. Through rich opportunities for in-depth exploration and discovery, we aim to broaden our students’ perspectives and encourage them to develop a more nuanced and intricate understanding of the countries, peoples, and cultures of the African continent.  

To that end, earlier this month, we were thrilled to invite our seventh graders to campus for our first-ever annual Celebrate Africa Day. An immersive experience designed to supplement the world history curriculum and study of the African continent, this very special community event was an opportunity for students to move beyond a single story of Africa and its people. 

The morning kicked off with great energy and fun, courtesy of dance teacher Jasmine Powell, who led students and advisors in an incredible Zoom dance activity.  

Within their advisory groups, students got on their feet to experience Ethiopian “Eskita” celebratory dance, Malian West African “Lengin” rite of passage dance, and Nigerian “Sango/Yemaya” religious dance, among others. Ms. Powell—who has an extensive background in African dance—explained the movements in detail, sharing her vast knowledge about the hidden meanings and purposes of the many dances. It was an energizing and fascinating start to the day. 

From there, students rotated in small groups to hear from six different CA family members who each hail from different African countries.  

Samson Berhan from Eritrea (father of Bemnet Samson ’26), Chi Ugwa from Nigeria (mother of Ike Ugwa ‘25), Monsio Love Joof from Liberia (aunt of Sam and James Joof ‘24), Memezie Kiadii from Liberia (mother to Tori Kiadii ‘25), Adeola Lawal from Nigeria (mother of Oyinlola Lawal ‘20), and Seif Oduor from Kenya (father of Kai Oduor ’26) shared beautiful artifacts from their home countries, as well as aspects of their culture, languages, and experiences. Students learned about Igbo, Yoruba, and Luhya tribal ethnicities and phrases in Kiswahili and Tigrinya.  

Perhaps the most powerful aspects of the presentations were the personal stories about childhood, tight-knit familial communities, and artisanal skills and craftsmanship. We are so lucky to have such incredible diversity within our community and extend a special thanks to all those that were willing to share of themselves, their experiences, and their knowledge so that our students could have such a rich learning experience.  

One of the rotations featured a National Geographic Giant Map of Africa, on loan to us from West Forsyth High School teacher Debra Troxell in Winston-Salem. Using a map that spanned half a basketball court, students actively explored the geography of the continent.  

In teams, students “tiptoed to Tanzania,” “flew a plane from Cairo to Cape Town,” and dove head-first into the Indian Ocean. In conjunction with their study of Great African Civilizations, students walked the path of the hajj across the Sahara Desert like Mansa Musa, sailed their dhow along the Swahili Coast, and made a powerful posture like Queen Nzinga in modern-day Angola. Not only did students learn more about the countries, cities, and bodies of water in Africa, but they got a chance to more fully appreciate the tremendous size of the continent, as well as the boundless diversity of landforms, climates, rivers, and historical attractions.  

The morning ended on a communal and celebratory note with lunch catered by Goorsha, a Durham-based Ethiopian restaurant owned by CA parent Fasil Tesfaye (father of Abben Fasil ’25). Students and teachers got to taste the wonderful cuisine of the horn of Africa, including authentic Injira (Ethiopian flatbread made with teff grains), Zilzil Alecha (beef with garlic, onions, and ginger), and Fosolia (carrots and green beans in a rich tomato sauce). The food was delicious—and very graciously paid for through a generous PTAA grant! It was so wonderful to see the students eating together on the field and patio while sharing reflections on the morning’s events.  

To put the day’s events into context, seventh graders have been studying the African continent since early December. We began with the immense size of Africa and the incredible linguistic, topographical, and cultural diversity that the continent contains. We also addressed the way Africa is often portrayed in the media and “the danger of a single story,” a phrase coined by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We discuss the ways Africa gets flattened into a monolith, both its people and its places, and how we must do the work to seek out many, many more stories to add texture and variety to this singular and problematic narrative.  

Students then launched into an annual research project where they chose a Great African Civilization or ruler of their choice. These ranged from the powerful ancient Egyptian and Nubian empires, to the Almoravid’s who conquered the Iberian Peninsula, to the advanced artistic society of the Nok, and many, many more.  

Ultimately, the students’ final assessment will include the preparation of a persuasive presentation targeted at the North Carolina Board of Education for why their topic, and Africa in general, should be studied more thoroughly in middle school curricula, as the continent is a woefully undertaught region of the world.  

After immersing ourselves in the flourishing and vibrant African civilizations of the 11th,12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, the class then spent several weeks studying the very difficult and sensitive topics of the Atlantic Slave Trade and European Imperialism and Colonization.  

We purposefully root this study in the in-depth exploration of such powerful and thriving civilizations as the Mali, Songhay, Great Zimbabwe, and Kingdom of Benin to recognize and honor the humanity of those that would ultimately be violently enslaved and colonized—these were not solely victims, but peoples with long, rich histories, communities, and flourishing cultures that are all too often erased in the face of violent history.    

To further personalize these historical events, students read a collection of personal narratives and examine primary source artifacts. In doing so, we aim to amplify the empathy our students feel for the human beings taken from their homes or exploited in their own civilizations. 

Our goal is that seventh graders not only learn the facts and figures of the Atlantic Slave Trade and colonization but feel the immense emotional and psychological weight and lasting consequences of this historical period. Throughout this unit students read about resistance to the slave trade and the many brave individuals and groups who fought against this oppression in covert and overt ways.  

At the end of the trimester, we will end our study of the continent on a high note, with the independence movements in countries such as Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. To demonstrate their learning, students will write their own original parables, describing in metaphorical terms how the people and countries of Africa have faced tremendous exploitation and cruelty but have fought with great dignity, perseverance, and success to regain independence and splendor.  

We will return to the course-long theme of oppression followed by resistance and positive change and we will continue to inculcate within our students a sense of hope and empowerment to make the world a better place. While the study of world history can at times be difficult and full of despair, we believe it is important to also focus on the incredible collective movements that brought about real progress and our students’ ability to effect change in the world.  

In broader terms, our hope is to center a part of the world that is often taught peripherally, if taught at all. Our scope and sequence in world history are meant to clearly send the message that Black lives matter and that Black history matters.  

What better way to punctuate this message to our young learners than by devoting a whole day to the continent—by listening to personal stories of our CA family members, by exploring the vast and diverse landscape, by communing together over a homemade batch of Injira, and adding more and more stories to their narrative of an amazing continent.    

Written by Lucy Dawson and Alicia Morris, MS language arts and social studies teacher and MS social studies teacher

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Ready… Set… Exchange!

February 14, 2019

Groundhog Day has come and gone, and while I don’t put much stock in the furry critter’s weather predictions, his appearance each year is a sure sign that another round of exchanges will soon be underway.

As we get ready for the 17th season of the world language exchange program at Cary Academy, it’s hard to imagine our school without this signature sophomore experience.  Yet when I tell colleagues at other schools that we send our entire 10th grade class abroad each year as a regular part of our world language curriculum, the response is always one of amazement.

It is without question quite a feat to plan and implement a program involving over 100 students each year traveling to five different countries on three different continents.  The program would not be possible without the extraordinary efforts of the world language teachers who coordinate the exchanges and the faculty and staff members who serve as trip chaperones.  The willingness of these educators to take responsibility for the safety and well-being of large groups of students while thousands of miles away from home definitely merits a wow response.

No less remarkable is the fact that Cary Academy has over 100 families each year who are willing to open their homes and their hearts to an international visitor and be part of a cross-cultural learning experience.  This is not always an easy thing to do, particularly in the midst of a busy school year, not to mention the ups and downs that can come with placing strangers together for an extended period of time.    The readiness of CA parents to embrace this opportunity in a shared commitment to the mission and vision of the school is a huge part of the wow factor of our exchanges, as well.

Cary Academy will be welcoming a total of 95 visiting students to campus this April.  Two groups from Argentina and a group from France will be in Cary over roughly the first half of the month, and a group from Germany will arrive toward the end of April and stay through the first few days of May.  During their time in Cary, our guests will visit classes with their CA partners and participate in a program of local fieldtrips and other learning activities.   We were also expecting to host a group from China in February, but sadly, the group was unable to secure the necessary travel visas.   We now hope that those 15 students will be able to visit their CA partners next February instead.  In the meantime, 110 Cary Academy students will travel to Argentina, China, France or Germany from late May to mid-June, where they will enjoy a homestay and school experience of their own.

Local groundhog Sir Walter Wally saw his shadow on February 2nd, and soon another 200+ students and families from all over the world will be connecting, sharing and learning from one another, all under the auspices of our world language exchange program.

Wow indeed!

For more information about the world language exchange program at Cary Academy, we invite you to visit the program homepage on the school website.


Written by Martina Greene, Dean of Faculty

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