The Magazine of Cary Academy | Winter 2020

Page 1

The Magazine of Cary Academy WINTER 2020

Games and gadgets: giving students the tech tools to shine Page 4



The heart of the team Page 12

Laying down the laws of physics

Page 14


Hello Cary Academy Friends! Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, we are bringing you this issue of ?, The Magazine of Cary Academy electronically. While we want to do our part by making sure print and mail resources can be dedicated to health needs at the moment, we had just too much good stuff happening not to share. So… welcome to a special electronic edition of a print magazine. In this issue, we are delighted to share some wonderful stories of impact. We hope you’ll enjoy reading about Cindy Laughlin, who has been a steady and uplifting presence in the Middle School since our founding. In addition, you can learn how Jared Carson ‘08 parlayed a passion for the environment sparked at Cary Academy into a career in environmental technology. A Q&A with Middle School mathematics teacher Leslie Williams shows how current generations of CA students are being introduced to the latest technologies. Please also check out the inspiring story of how a new Upper School physics team went from start-up status just a few years ago to national champions at this year’s USA Young Physicists Tournament. As this issue will hit your electronic in-boxes during a spring of “virtual schooling,” I also wanted to add a special thanks to everybody who is working so hard to keep the learning happening at Cary Academy.

This goes for: • S tudents, who are so positive and resilient—an inspiration to all of us on how to handle challenging times. •P arents, who are supporting their students and their families through an unprecedented moment. • S taff members, who are providing support and expertise to keep the organization humming, both from school and from home. •F aculty, who are literally having to re-tool on the fly to provide robust and meaningful learning opportunities to our students. •A nd, of course, the various governmental, medical, safety, logistics, dining, farming, technical, and manufacturing folks who are on the front lines and keeping things going so that we can weather this crisis. Thank you, all!

Mike Ehrhardt, Head of School

The Magazine of Cary Academy WINTER 2020

In this issue



Innovation is an education buzzword synonymous with technology. With daily life at Cary Academy already infused with technology, how do teachers in the Middle School leverage EdTech to find ways of letting every student shine?



Teaching With Tech


Death Rays and Grains of Sand: the Sweet Science of a Physics Fight

Does your day start with a smile? For every single Middle School student since CA opened its doors in 1997, Cindy Laughlin has greeted them with a kind smile and the spirit to overcome any challenge.


Let CA’s reigning United Stated Association for Young Physicists Tournament team show you the path to victory.

is published three times a year by Cary Academy.

CARY ACADEMY 1500 N. Harrison Avenue Cary, North Carolina 27513 (919) 677-3873

Campus News 2

Snapshots 9

At the Heart of the Middle School

Alumni News 20

Every day brings something unique and exciting. Back cover

Selling a Brighter Future What road leads to tomorrow? One Cary Academy alum is leading businesses along the path to a greener, more sustainable future—one small step at a time.

Campus News

Cary Academy teams have a standout second trimester CA’s Speech and Debate team took home its fifth-straight Dogwood Speech and Debate League title. As a result of their performance, 20 team members will represent the Dogwood League at the National Catholic Forensic League Grand Nationals in May. The Model United Nations team returned from the UNC Model United Nations Conference with several gavels and awards, including the Best Small Delegation Award—a first for CA. Now in its third year, the Ethics Bowl team won the 2020 North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl, earning the selection

SWIMMING CHAMPS On the heels of earning their eleventhstraight TISAC Championship, CA’s varsity girls’ swim team won the NCISAA State Championship for the fourth consecutive year. The varsity boys capped off a successful year as state runners-up in a close-fought battle, a week after earning their sixthstraight TISAC Championship. An astounding 47 Chargers qualified to compete in the State finals, with 31 earning points in the final meet. Go Chargers!

YOUTH FORUM SWITZERLAND Six Upper School students represented Cary Academy at the 2020 Youth Forum Switzerland, hosted by the International School of Zug and Luzern. Students met with peers from around the world to discuss ways they can take action and assume the lead on a variety of global issues, empowering the next generation of leaders and changemakers. Topics discussed included moving schools and whole communities to

on 15 of 18 ballots. The team will next compete at the National High School Ethics Bowl this spring. Middle School Robotics’ Blue Team earned first place for mechanical design during the FIRST LEGO League’s Regional Qualifier, earning them a spot at the FLL State Championship. The junior varsity robotics teams capped off the second trimester by hosting the first FIRST Tech Challenge robotics tournament to be held at CA. Last, but certainly not least, varsity robotics earned their first-ever FIRST Robotics Competition tournament as T2 drew to a close.

zero waste, gender inequity, digital privacy, and teen mental health. The first contingent from the U.S. to attend YFS, the CA group came away with a desire to combat global climate change with local efforts, including possibly hosting a similar conference at CA in the coming years. They continue to meet weekly to develop goals and specific plans.

CONRAD CHALLENGE One of CA’s four Startup Challenge Club teams has advanced to the final round of the international Conrad Challenge. As finalists, Nexkap founders Mila Patel ’21, Natasha Sachar ’22, Sonia Shah ’22, and Ella Gupta ’23 would have had the opportunity to travel to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida in April to pitch their product and business plan to judges at the Conrad Innovation Summit. As a result of SARS-CoV-2, the Summit has now gone virtual and has been delayed until May. An entrant in the Re-Purposed Farmlands and Tobacco Crops category, Nexkap is



The Magazine of Cary Academy

pitching a naturally anti-inflammatory tobaccobased skin-care cream. In addition, Boxide founders Jay Sagrolikar ’21, Vibhav Nandagiri ’21, Kathryn Chao ’21, Paul Ibrahim ’21, and Ritvik Nalamothu ’21 were named alternate finalists in the Health & Nutrition category for their invention and business plan which would expand access to on-site surgical equipment sterilization in remote parts of the world. Both teams will be applying for patents and developing out prototypes as next steps.

RENOVATED ADMINISTRATION BUILDING, LIBRARY REOPEN Following a sneak-preview during the PTAA’s Taste and Toast celebration of CA’s commitment to service, the Administration building was officially reopened to students. The dramatically renovated library now features bright, airy, glass-enclosed study spaces; common-area lounges; redesigned offices and teaching spaces for Information Services, as well as a new café and campus store.

SERVICE FRONT AND CENTER FOR CA COMMUNITY DURING T2 Cheered-on by ‘Big Baby,’ more than 100 CA families donated hundreds of diapers, feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, and adult incontinence items, making generosity go viral on GivingTuesday. Our community’s generosity continued to shine as the Middle and Upper School Giving Trees collected gifts for children in need via the Wake County Guardian ad Litem and Johnston County Department of Social Services. Dozens of students and parents supported at-risk youth served by Wrenn House & Safe Place with landscaping, cooking, and cleaning during our Family Service Day. The new DELTA Service Club carried the enthusiasm from their first trimester into T2 with an explosion of community work­—brightening the days of elderly members of our local community; hosting voter registration drives; collecting donations for all manners of causes; harvesting food for those in need; volunteering with Habitat for Humanity; addressing issues of women’s rights and wellbeing; and delivering candygrams, just to name a few projects.


Though innovation and technology are often used interchangeably when talking about education, at CA, educational technology— EdTech, for short—is one of many tools that our faculty use to create personalized learning opportunities that are flexible and relevant.


Technology allows me to tailor the way I teach to the different ways my students learn. And it gives me some much-needed flexibility in their assessment, a different approach to see if and how they are mastering the material. I’m always amazed to see those kids— the ones who are a little bit quiet—come out of their shells when they are designing in TinkerCad, learning in Minecraft, or exploring with augmented reality. EdTech allows them to tap into their tech interests and skills to really show off what they can do— what they are learning—in ways that play to their strengths. It allows them to show me that they’ve attained mastery of a subject in a way that would likely be overlooked if I were to just say, ‘tell me the answer out of the book,’ ‘do a problem on the board,’ or ‘write out the essay.’ In CA-speak, it empowers them to “own their learning” in transformative ways.

In the Middle School, Technology Facilitator Chair and math teacher Leslie Williams works hand-in-hand with Information Services to help lead the charge to bring innovative tools to our Middle School classrooms—teaching students and colleagues alike. Be it Minecraft, augmented or virtual reality (AR/VR), or computer-aided design and 3D printing, this technology lends itself to deeper learning and retention, while encouraging students to develop crucial skills that they will use throughout their lives. We recently had an opportunity to sit down with Ms. Williams to talk about the role and impact of EdTech at CA.



The Magazine of Cary Academy


In my classroom, I like to use gaming. It engages kids and gives them instant positive reinforcement. Each time they demonstrate mastery of a topic, they earn virtual currency that they can use to buy prizes. All of this gets them very excited about learning. Many of us use actual video games catered to education in their classrooms— Minecraft and Prodigy are fantastic examples. With Minecraft for education, kids build entire worlds from books they are reading; it lets them visualize geometry and even study chemistry. Prodigy allows students to review and learn math in a collaborative gaming environment much like Pokemon, which is familiar to students. WHAT SORT OF SKILLS ARE YOU PROMOTING VIA EDTECH IN THE CLASSROOM?

I think EdTech gives us more robust, immersive ways to increase student mastery and nurture crucial soft skills. As a math teacher, I can use it to hone spatial skills in a way that working geometry problems on paper or the board simply can’t. Take, for example, our implementation of TinkerCad. In sixth grade, students learn about spatial thinking and the ins and outs of using TinkerCAD; in seventh grade, they use these skills to solve problems by creating virtual objects that they then print. That’s a real-world application of mathematical concepts— and it leads to a deeper understanding. EdTech also allows us to incorporate design-thinking into the classroom in meaningful ways. Students design products to solve real-world challenges, print them, test them, refine them, and try again. They have to keep working toward a better solution, rather than simply completing a project and moving onto the

EDTECH LEADERSHIP CLUB Thanks to a newly-formed club, students that are interested in technology will soon have an opportunity to step up as tech leaders within the Middle School. The EdTech Leadership Club (ETL) will provide additional leadership and technology training to students interested in EdTech. Working at their own pace, club members will be tasked with mastering all the EdTech that CA has to offer and sharing that expertise back out to the community. As they master skills, students will earn micro-credentials that can be proudly displayed on student-designed wrist bands, necklaces, etc.. These signal to the community what tools club members can support, what skills they carry in their “virtual backpack.” “As we so often to do at CA, with the ETL, we’re putting kids in the driver’s seat,” explains Williams. “The students will be responsible for learning all these different pieces of software and hardware­—truly playing to learn. Once credentialed, they will take those skills to the classroom, assisting with the deployment of technology and offering tech support services to their peers and teachers alike.” By empowering students, Williams thinks the entire Middle School EdTech program will be strengthened, even expanded. “While I have a basic understanding of each software tool in their toolkit—I may not be an expert in all the finer intricacies of each of them. The kids, however, they live and breathe these new technologies. They become true experts—and they can also get their friends excited and engaged. By supporting their passions and empowering them as leaders, we increase the number of students that we can reach, the number of projects that we can support in the classroom.” One of Williams’ priorities with the ETL is to ensure that its member composition reflects that of CA’s diverse student body. She hopes the club might spark interests in those students that might not typically consider themselves suited for STEM-related fields or those students, particularly girls, who often feel social pressure in Middle School to do things other than spend time on STEM activities. At the end of the day, Williams’ goal with the ETL is to create savvy tech users— perhaps even tomorrow’s tech leaders—that are well-prepared to succeed in today’s technology-driven world. As she notes enthusiastically, “this sort of flexible learning gives those kids that might not otherwise have the opportunity in a more traditional setting, to step-up and thrive as leaders. It gives them meaningful opportunities to hone their leadership, technology, and communication skills to the benefit of our entire community.”


The Magazine of Cary Academy


The eighth-grade science classes use VR and AR to study human anatomy; both allow students to move around inside the body, study the different parts of the heart, and even simulate surgery.

next without really learning whether it worked or not. And that nurtures crucial skills like risk-taking, resilience, and perseverance. These lessons are echoed not only in my classroom but throughout the Middle School. Beyond improving spatial and designthinking skills, our students are also developing an important digital literacy: the ability to use a CAD program. And that will serve them in the Upper School and beyond. It’s a win on multiple fronts.

to virtual content when viewed through an app—to augment, rather than replace, the real world. I’m really excited. The students will build a map of the world in the story and then utilize triggers on the map to pull up additional materials that they develop. It might be pictures they create to tell parts of the story, narrative videos, or even locations and scenes that they recreate in storytelling platforms like Minecraft and Animaker. There’s also a new tool called a MERGEcube that I’m particularly excited about. It is a six-sided QR code that allows you to interact with a virtual object in 3D space. These virtual objects could be anything from a model of the human heart to the Apollo Lunar Module. Because the cube has orientation—that is, each side of the cube has a unique QR code, so the app knows which way is up— students can move the modeled object in the real world, just as if they were holding the real thing. They can interact with the virtual model through their phone.


We’ve been using virtual reality in the Middle School for some time now, across the curriculum and disciplines, and we’re widening its use. In the sixth grade, social studies teachers Katie Levinthal and Matthew Ripley-Moffitt use VR to help students explore the Indian subcontinent in their world history classes. That’s one of the most common uses of VR—going somewhere that’s difficult to visit. Lucy Dawson and Alicia Morris use it similarly, for the seventh grade’s world history of empires. They visit places like Machu Picchu, France, Spain, and England. The eighth-grade science classes use VR and AR to study human anatomy; both allow students to move around inside the body, study the different parts of the heart, and even simulate surgery. All of this allows us to take textbook information and make it come to life in a way that’s exciting, fun, and memorable for the kids. WHAT IS SOMETHING ON THE HORIZON THAT EXCITES YOU?

All of this enables our students to become hands-on with something that either doesn’t exist or that we wouldn’t otherwise have access to in the real world. It allows them to brainstorm, to think creatively, and creates opportunities for them to use storytelling to show us what they know.

I’m currently working with language arts teachers Katie Taylor and Katie Levinthal to use augmented reality (AR) to teach the sixth grade’s new book, The Wizard of Earthsea. AR uses “triggers”—real-world objects, images, or QR codes that serve as links



The Magazine of Cary Academy

EDTECH PROJECTS IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL EdTech takes many forms at Cary Academy. So many, in fact, that it’s practically impossible to catalog them all. Below, you’ll find a few highlights of how Middle School faculty, with the support of Leslie Williams, have incorporated technology into the classroom. For more examples, visit

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE WITH DESIGN THINKING Augustus Lavalette (’25), winner of the inaugural Middle School Designer of Distinction award, used TinkerCAD to design a tool that can be used to disable the hydraulic arm of students’ chairs so that they can be set at a certain height. This tool, which Lavalette developed and 3D printed through an iterative process, is especially useful for smaller Middle School students that don’t yet have enough weight to force the seats down. Prompted by a challenge issued by Ms. Williams, Lavalette demonstrated perseverance, design thinking, dedication, and independent work throughout the process.

MIDDLE SCHOOL MEETS MINECRAFT The single best-selling video game of all time is also a powerfully versatile learning tool. Using Minecraft’s sandbox mode, seventh-grade social studies students have recreated lost cities of ancient empires, as part of exploring different empires in world history. Seventh-grade math students have used a program similar to Minecraft in conjunction with MergeCubes to visualize complex geometry and calculate volume. As a book report alternative, seventh-grade language arts used Minecraft as an option for students to build a world representative of books they read. Spanish students have built houses and crafted detailed walkthrough videos to demonstrate their mastery of domestic vocabulary.



Eighth-grade science students used zSpace virtual reality systems to explore the inside of the heart and simulated surgery, placing a stent to repair a blocked blood vessel. Members of the Advances in Medical Technology Program performed simulated open-heart surgery using computer models, which provide not only anatomical information but insight into medical treatments of heart disease.

MS visual arts students built online digital art portfolios to showcase their work. Guided by arts teacher Alyssa Armstrong, they designed websites to share their biographies, artist statements, and finished and inprocess works, learning how to curate and organize visual materials in the process.


The Magazine of Cary Academy


A THREE-COURSE LITERARY MEAL Working in groups, seventh-grade language arts students were asked to devise a ‘literary meal’ inspired by assigned literature. Using different tools, students crafted: one appetizer (building the setting in Minecraft), one main dish (exploring the theme of the book through collage, video, or animation), and one dessert (crafting a propaganda poster for the book’s protagonist/antagonist using Canva). In the process, students learned to effectively summarize and communicate complex narrative themes in a memorable fashion.

FISH TALES FROM THE DIGITAL AQUARIUM Eighth-grade science students used PowerPoint to make beautiful and informative interactive displays for an aquarium after researching one of the six invertebrate marine phyla. Students focused on clearly and effectively communicating the unique characteristics of their chosen phylum and exploring their animals’ interactions with humans.



Seventh-grade language arts students worked with video production teacher Steven O’Neill to adapt poetry from text to video. Using Final Cut Pro editing software, camera equipment, and CA’s video production studio resources, students were challenged to consider the meaning of the text and the power of visual storytelling. Under Mr. O’Neill’s direction, they learned how composition, editing, and visual design affect the viewer’s experience and reaction.

Seventh-grade world history students took a virtual field trip to three different empires: 14th century France, 16th century England, and 15th century Spain. They investigated rulers, government, exploration, military, and culture during the Black Plague, the Tudor dynasty, and the Age of Discovery. Utilizing augmented reality, they observed and interacted with “artifacts” of the Spanish Armada—like ships, canons, and swords.



The Magazine of Cary Academy

Students, faculty, family, and alumni felt the Charger spirit as Spirit Week culminated in CA’s biggest HOMECOMING ever. Old friends reunited, swimmers swam on dry land, cheerleaders flew through the air, wrestlers… wrestled, and revelers danced through the night into winter break.

Snapshots Middle and Upper School dance students found the rhythm and moved the audience during a WINTER DANCE PERFORMANCE that had a little something for everyone, from The Nutcracker to throwback 90’s K-Pop.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY was a time to reflect on the lessons of our past and chart a path for a more hopeful future with an inspiring talk by Pierce Freelon, as well as performances by Jeghetto and our very own dance teacher Jasmine Powell.

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat—but mostly laughter—filled the FC as US faculty and students competed in WACKY OLYMPICS.

The entire CA community shared love for our school and for each other, through chocolate, kindness, and expressions of gratitude during February’s WEEK OF LOVE.

The cast and crew of UNFORGETTING put on an amazingly creative and innovative Middle School production using projection mapping to embrace the power of story and the complex beauty of humanity.

The CA community shared their culture, stories, inner selves, and family cuisines during the annual UBUNTU CELEBRATION AND INTERNATIONAL CAFÉ.

AT THE HEART OF THE MIDDLE SCHOOL HOW DO YOU START YOUR DAY? SINCE CA OPENED ITS DOORS IN 1997, THE SCHOOL DAY STARTS FOR MOST MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS AND FACULTY WITH A WAVE AND A WARM SMILE FROM CINDY LAUGHLIN, THE MIDDLE SCHOOL’S SENIOR ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT. Though she’s been described as the heart of the Middle School, Laughlin sees herself in a different role: “I’m sort of like the grandmother,” she laughs. A longtime resident of Cary who had spent years volunteering in education throughout Wake County, Laughlin felt drawn to the promise that Cary Academy represented. “Watching the Goodnights’ and Salls’—CA’s co-founders—innovative involvement in education, I was ready for the next step.” For Laughlin, being at CA is as exciting today as it was in 1997. “I thrive on the energy that comes from the children, from the collaboration. People come here because they want to be here. Every member of the community gives something of themselves.” As CA’s very first day of school began, the first incarnation of the now-cherished handshake ceremony took place in front of the Middle School—a fitting location, as the Middle School was the very heart of Cary Academy. “Much of CA’s program was located in the building; it housed Middle School classes, arts, and the library for the whole school. We even had lunches delivered and

ate in the classrooms because the Dining Hall wasn’t completed until a few weeks later, in the fall of 1997.” In many ways, Laughlin has watched CA grow up, much the same way that she’s watched class after class of Middle School students mature before her eyes. “I have the best seat in the house. I get to watch everybody come in on their first day in sixth grade, when everything is new and the students have a sense of wonder. From my desk, I watch all year long as they grow up.



The Magazine of Cary Academy

she is talking with a sixth-grader, a faculty member, a parent, a board member, or the Staples delivery person, everyone walks away feeling valued,” offers Jenkins. “She is always professional, completely reliable, steadfastly honest, and is a master at multitasking amid constant interruptions in the busy office. And she loves being around and working on behalf of young people.” Even before each Middle Schooler first walks past the front office, Laughlin has already been hands-on, working hard to craft their schedule. Laughlin—who has a degree in accounting-says that, while there are software options that could produce student schedules at the touch of a button, such solutions don’t really address the challenge of ensuring that each Middle School student has the opportunities they need to succeed. “Nobody is a square peg, here. That’s the vibe of the Middle School—kids are not afraid to be themselves. Everybody has a place where they fit. And we work hard as a team to help them find it. If you come to the Middle School, you’ll develop a strong foundation that can help you be successful wherever you go.” Laughlin’s biggest thrills, smiles, and happy tears come from seeing what former Middle School students have accomplished, how they have built on those foundations that she helped lay.

Cindy Laughlin (right) with Head of Middle School Marti Jenkins, in 1998.

If you’ve done it right, when they come back—whether it’s as students in the Upper School or after we’ve sent them out into the world—they look at you, talk to you, and say ‘hi,’ first.” Laughlin is awed by the growing community of alumni and the physical expansion of campus since opening day, including the construction of the Administration building, Berger Hall, and the Center for Math and Science. However, it is the changes to the Middle School experience—including the shift away from textbooks toward more individualized learning, the Charger Trails program, the change from a static schedule to one that shifts classes across days, and the increased geographic and socioeconomic diversity—that impress her most. “Our founders were not afraid of change. Their vision lets us face new challenges to better help our students.” One thing that has not changed is Laughlin’s role working alongside Head of Middle School Marti Jenkins. Laughlin likes to joke that she and Jenkins have been working together for so long that are practically “a couple.” Indeed, it’s a deep relationship that Jenkins says benefits the entire Middle School. “We have been working together so long that we have an innate understanding of what we need from each other to do the best job of moving the Middle School forward on a daily basis.” She credits Laughlin as a critical member of the Middle School team for her role in helping to build a cohesive community and helping students to find their “right-fit” path through CA. “Cindy is an outstanding listener. She has an amazing way of connecting to various constituents in our community. Whether

“Knowing that they can and want to come back and share what they’ve learned—what they’ve accomplished—and that I’ve been part of helping them find that success brings a tear to my eye.” If there is one thing Laughlin hopes students have learned from her, it’s the importance of kindness. As front line support for students, faculty, and parents, Laughlin understands that how she reacts to the challenges faced by those who come to her for help can profoundly impact their day—maybe even their lives. Whether it’s bringing a student her forgotten contacts or guiding a parent to their child’s classroom, small acts of kindness can have a big impact. “That one moment of kindness—even something small, just asking ‘how are you’ or asking about their day—could be something they never forget.” As for what Laughlin, herself, has learned from students: “as silly as this may sound, they have taught me how to be a grandparent. I feel like I’m a grandmother to a lot of these children. They don’t give me assignments or homework; they give me respect. Being around kids all the time, I’ve developed the patience and appreciation that you need in order to be a wonderful grandmother. I just became a grandmother, and I can’t wait for my grandson to be a little older, so I can show him how silly I’ve learned to be.”


The Magazine of Cary Academy


Death rays & grains of sand: The sweet science of a physics fight UPPER SCHOOL PHYSICS TEACHER DR. MATT GREENWOLFE HAS A LOT OF FAITH IN HIS PHYSICS STUDENTS.

Even so, when he founded Cary Academy’s U.S. Association for Young Physicists Tournament (USAYPT) team five years ago, the idea of winning a USAYPT Championship seemed a farflung dream. But after years of hard work, perseverance, and teamwork, he and his team of talented students can count it as a dream finally realized. In early February, 12 members of CA’s USAYPT team*—Will Aarons ’20, Anna Cheng ’20, Colin Frazer ’22, Paul Ibrahim ’21, Myla James ’21, Owen Kadis ’23, Andrew Lake ’22, Matthew Modi ’20, Obinna Modilim ’22, Jay Sagrolikar ’21, Brian Wei ’22, and Colin Zhu ’20--traveled to the annual tournament in Exeter, New Hampshire. Led by Greenwolfe and fellow faculty members Charlotte Kelly, Dr. Robert Coven, and Dick Mentock, with assistance from Rachel Atay, and Betsy MacDonald, they were crowned USAPYT champions.



The Magazine of Cary Academy

Greenwolfe is still smiling. “When the second-place team was announced, we all erupted. I had a physical, whole-body reaction, and a huge grin on my face. After trying for so many years to keep improving, we had done it.” The U.S. Invitational Young Physicists Tournament is a prestigious international physics research competition and science debate tournament. Over the course of the year, competing schools research solutions to four complex physics problems, coming together to debate their solutions in front of a jury of professional physicists. For 2020, the USAYPT problems involved measuring the length of one Astronomical Unit (the distance between the Earth and the sun), investigating Archimedes’ Death Ray, designing stable arrangements of spherical magnets, and exploring the physics of the apparent weight of an hourglass.

“For the students who fully commit themselves, the amount of physics learning that takes place through this program can dwarf what is learned in class,” offers Greenwolfe. “Plus, they get the experience of undertaking a legitimate research project--with all its ups and downs and frustrations--for a whole year. We have to learn from each setback, each surprising result. We have to persist—and that’s just what we did.” Tournament competition consists of rounds called “physics fights.” A student from the reporting team presents a summary of their research into one of the tournament problems. Next, a student from the opposing team is charged with helping the audience understand the strengths and weaknesses of the report by means of a series of discussion questions. After this conversation is complete, jury members question the presenting students directly. USAYPT teams are judged as much on their ability to ask and answer questions in the physics fight, as the quality of their research and initial presentations. After facing reigning champions Phillips Exeter Academy, perennial powerhouse Phillips Andover Academy, and a team from the Republic of Georgia, CA stood in third place after the first day of the tournament, securing a spot in the finals. When the dust settled at the end of the second day, CA stood atop the standings of the six finalist teams—besting Phillips Exeter and the Nueva School for the championship--on the strength of their original research, presentations, and questions. In addition to top-notch mathematical physics, Greenwolfe credits his team’s hard work, teamwork, and deep engagement with the problems as contributing to their success. Rather than relying on simulations developed by professionals or online data sets, the team worked hard all year to gather their own data. They tested it against their theories and their own simulations, discussing and debating it amongst themselves every step of the way.

Ultimately, those efforts resulted in a deeper conceptual understanding of the problems and left them well-prepared for tournament debate. “We could reason and answer unexpected questions without going back to a reference or equation,” explains Greenwolfe.

Greenwolfe is proud, too, that the core values of CA—respect, integrity, and compassion— featured prominently as secrets to his team’s success. “We were professional in our questioning of other teams; we were always respectful, persistent in trying to have a deep conversation about the physics. We never intentionally tried to expose flaws or embarrass the other team,” he offers. And now that they’ve reached the pinnacle, what comes next? The team is already gearing up for next year’s tournament, which CA will host at North Carolina State University. And they’re already pondering next year’s problems and are ready to get to work.

*In addition to the 12 members of the traveling team, fellow team members Russell Burns ’21, Ryan Chen ’21, Felipe Chiavegatto ’20, Harrison Coman ’23, Dane Fekete ’20, Allen He ’21, Sedef Iz ’22, Grace Jaeger-Sandruck ’22, Marvin Koonce ’21, Max Li ’23, Sophia Liu ’22, Scott Matton ’20, Rin Mauney ’22, Ashleigh Smith ’22, Eric Wang ’20, Oliver Wang ’22, Leah Wiebe ’23, Eric Xing ’20, and Han Zhang ’21 also made contributions to the problem-solving efforts.


The Magazine of Cary Academy


Alumni Spotlight

SELLING A BRIGHTER FUTURE A sustainable energy advocate, Jared Carson (’08) is in the future-selling business—one major corporation, one bank of electric vehicle charging stations at a time. Currently, Carson works for sustainable energy giant Enel, in their Enel X e-Mobility division. There, as an account executive, he helps corporations think broadly about their ecological footprint with an aim of helping them to future-proof their operations. Carson’s commitment to environmental sustainability is a passion that he traces back to his time at Cary Academy. More specifically, he credits Upper School science teacher Heidi Maloy’s Advanced Environmental Studies class as inspiring his future career path. “I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but that class connected the dots for me between the actions we take as individuals and the ecological world around us. It made me


The Magazine of Cary Academy

understand that small impacts matter—they add up. It made tangible the many impacts the built environment has on the world,” muses Carson. “It was definitely a launching point to my career.” His CA launch would ultimately set him on a trajectory that would result, first, in a degree from North Carolina State University in Environmental Technology and Management, and later, a graduate certificate from the University of Boulder in Renewable Energy. After graduation, Carson jumped into his job search, only to discover a remarkably volatile industry. “Clean energy was still in its early days; the industry was emerging and disruptive,” he explains. “Even with IPOs, companies’ corporate strategies weren’t baked. I had to change jobs multiple times. And after every leap I made, shortly thereafter, the team I had been on was dissolved.”

utility in Europe. Enel-X is their North American-based venture arm, focusing on retail sustainability solutions for consumers. “Enel-X is focused on distributed-energy solutions on the retail side of the electric meter,” explains Carson. And just what are distributed-energy solutions? Carson says they are disruptive innovations—including solar arrays, battery storage, and electric vehicle charging stations—that have shifted how electricity is both generated and delivered. Together, they point to a more sustainable energy future. “Energy was once mostly produced at large power plants, using unsustainable sources such as coal and nuclear,” explains Carson. “Electricity had to travel great distances across the grid before arriving at the point of consumption.” And that translated to unsustainable, polluting, inefficient, and expensive energy. Increasingly, however, more sustainable, green, distributed solutions are allowing for the decentralization of energy generation, spreading it across the grid. “Like, solar panels on a roof,” Carson offers as an example, “they generate electricity close to where it is consumed.” And that proximity is important. It’s both greener and more efficient. Thanks to a reduction of electricity loss that would otherwise occur during long distance

In 2019, after weathering a few years of uncertainty, his perseverance and resilience—hallmark qualities of a CA graduate—were rewarded. He landed a position with Enel—a solid company that offers a good mix of innovative and emerging clean energy technologies alongside a strong balance sheet. Leveraging primarily wind and solar power, Enel is one of the largest sources of renewable energy in the world and a major electric


The Magazine of Cary Academy


travel across the grid, as well as decreased infrastructure and upkeep costs, distributed solutions help to lower energy costs. The result? Smaller sustainable solutions that are increasingly scalable to new markets and affordable to new audiences.

He does so through a mix of storytelling, education, and salesmanship, crafting pitches that paint a compelling vision of the future, that offer connection to municipal programs to offset costs, and which relate green solutions to topics that are relevant to the

“I see distributed electrification and solutions like electric vehicle charging stations, solar arrays, and battery storage, as integral to a low-carbon future, to an energyresilient future. I’m excited by the tremendous opportunity for growth across the segment,” offers Carson.

target companies. That picture is getting a bit easier to paint thanks to some exciting new entrants to the electric automotive market. “In the near future, there are innovative electric cars coming into the market from major automotive makers—from Ford, Chevy, Audi. It isn’t just Tesla anymore. And it isn’t just confined to California and the Northeast,” explains Carson. “Electric vehicles are on the cusp of turning mainstream.” It’s an exciting time, with every pitch, every sale representing one of those small impacts that, together, add up to something transformative: a reframed conversation around energy use and the opportunity to carve out a better, more sustainable future. And that’s Carson’s true motivation. “I don’t see a future scenario where we aren’t talking about electric vehicles. And that means we have to retrain people in thinking about how they get electricity and power” offers Carson. “We can’t continue to sustain conventional models of providing energy for the billions of people on the planet. We must become more innovative, more sustainable. Candidly? It’s just the right thing to do.”

Within Enel X’s e-Mobility division, Carson’s personal focus is on sustainable transportation. He’s responsible for lead generation and account management among Fortune 1,000 companies for Enel’s electric vehicle charging stations. It’s an exciting, future-oriented position that is not without its challenges. “As much as vehicle charging stations are innovative—they aren’t always the most intuitive solution. People don’t get out of bed thinking about them, about why they might be important for the future,” he continues. “Where some of my clients are located, they may not even have electric vehicles on the road yet. Regardless, my role is to convince them that they need to plan for them, that they should take action now.”



The Magazine of Cary Academy

GREEN INITIATIVES ON CAMPUS 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).

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 ultilized 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.


The Magazine of Cary Academy


Alumni News

2005 In April, Julianne Gonski got engaged to be married to Philippe Dixon. Whitney Hill has been slated to serve as the Executive Vice President of the Junior League of Charlotte (JLC). Whitney will begin her term in June of 2020 and spend one year serving as the EVP-Elect before her EVP year from 2021-2022. As the EVP, Whitney will preside over the JLC’s Management Team, ensure the alignment of the JLC’s work with its mission and strategic plan, serve as the link to the JLC’s Board of Directors, and oversee the day-to-day operations and management of the JLC.

After graduating with honors from Emory University with a degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology in 2014, Tiffany Petrisko went on to obtain her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from West Virginia University, graduating December 2019. While at WVU, Tiffany received the Outstanding Merit Fellowship, as well as numerous travel grants. She published two first-author publications in peer-reviewed journals and has two additional manuscripts in preparation. She is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California, Irvine, in the laboratory of Dr. Andrea Tenner, where she focuses on the role of the innate immune system in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Credit: John Hopkins University Athletics


2011, 2012


Connor Roebuck (’12) and Ian Fincham (’11) were married on October 17, 2019. Connor has changed her last name to Fincham.

In November 2019, Carly Lupton-Smith was named Centennial Conference Women’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year by Johns Hopkins



The Magazine of Cary Academy

University Athletics. The ScholarAthlete of the Year is awarded in each sport to a member of the junior or senior class with the highest cumulative GPA on the All-Centennial Team.

Alumni News


CALLING ALL ALUMNI: PITCH YOUR IDEA FOR 2020 CA TEDX Next September, Cary Academy will host its third student-run TEDx event featuring our students, faculty and staff, and alumni. The theme of the 2020 CA TEDx is innovation. If you are an alum with a great idea to present, we’d love to include you. You can fill out a speaker interest form at

In December, several faculty and staff visited Seattle for a CASE Conference and had dinner with Lauren Moore ‘12, Adrienne Bell-Koch ‘13, and Andrew Huff ‘09 at Vons 1000 Spirits.

ALUMNI REUNION WEEKEND COMING FALL 2020 COVID-19 put a little bit of a hitch in our Charger giddy-up and we had to postpone our Alumni Reunion Weekend. We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone to campus in the fall. Stay tuned for details.

In December, while Head of School Mike Ehrhardt and Head of Upper School Robin Follet were in Washington, DC for a Speech and Debate tournament, they visited with alumni at Duke’s Grocery. Thanks to all who came to our happy hour! Cannon Duke ‘13, Lia Follet ‘14, Grant Goettel ‘14, Andrew Hamrick ‘14, Myra Jo ‘13, Calvin Krishen ‘01, Kelsey Lee ‘10, Matt Lee ‘12, Tom Marty ‘07, Gabrielle McArdle ‘14, Haleigh Morgus ‘12, Daniella Ochoa ‘13, Hursch Patel ‘15, Michelle (LeFort) Powers ‘07, Jay Ramger ‘15, Courtney Singer ‘01, Meagan Singer ‘02, Sarah Woronoff ‘10


The Magazine of Cary Academy


1500 N. Harrison Ave. | Cary, NC 27513

Winter Wonderland No, that’s not a misty-eyed, nostalgia-fueled vision. Right about the time it looked absolutely certain that winter would pass without any wintry weather, a surprise snowfall blanketed campus. The world is full of surprises; you never know what wonders tomorrow will bring.

In accordance with our mission and the law, Cary Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, national and ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or age.

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.