There are more benefits to keeping the Middle School on a separate campus, where faculty can focus on a specific age group at a very transitional time in these students’ lives.
Recommitting to Academy Road By Jon Meredith, Middle School Director
It seems fitting to be talking about the future of the Middle School during our
50th anniversary on this campus. Academy Road represents more than just a collection of classroom buildings and athletic fields. It represents an emotional and historical connection for the school. It is, in a sense, Durham Academy’s first home because it’s the first place we built from the ground up. And Durham grew up around it. That’s one of the reasons why it was so important to figure out Academy Road’s future during our strategic planning discussions. We did a lot of soul-searching and a lot of research and took a good, long look around this island for early adolescence and realized that the Middle School is truly unique. And in the end, there were far more benefits in recommitting to Academy Road than there were advantages to moving mostly for the sake of convenience. It’s not that we didn’t want to move, it’s that we wanted to stay. And with DA 2030, we have the chance to write a whole new chapter in the Middle School’s story. Durham Academy moved from Duke Street to Academy Road in 1966, and many people may not know that Academy Road housed all DA students (pre-k to grade 10) until 1973, when the Upper School was
completed on Ridge Road. It continued to house the Preschool, Lower School and Middle School until 2002, when DA built the current Preschool/Lower School on Ridge Road. Academy Road has been solely a middle school for just the last 14 years. The campus was designed for a very different purpose, but it has evolved to serve our specific students’ needs. “This is Durham Academy, this is where everything kind of started,” says eighth-grader Abby Hulka, who is also daughter of a DA alumnus. “So if you move it, you lose that — you take that away.” “If we moved, it wouldn’t be the same because we’d leave behind all of these dedications like the one to Mrs. Saffo,” says sixth-grader Cohen French. “When you mean something you only do it once and you don’t repeat. I’m glad we’re staying to keep the history of where it all started.” When you talk to faculty, several of whom have been here long enough to witness Academy Road’s evolution, they’ll tell you the best part about having a separate campus is being able to focus on a very specific age group at a very transitional time in children’s lives. “It’s a time when some kids need a push to become more independent, less reliant DUR HAM ACADEMY
on their parents and more confident in their abilities to make decisions,” seventh-grade science teacher Barb Kanoy says. “They all need time to play out their tween years and learn from mistakes before the stakes become higher. Middle School teachers understand how to help these kids develop boundaries within which they can learn to be comfortable.” You can look around and literally see the developmental leaps our students make academically, socially, emotionally and physically in four short years. We’re so lucky to have a faculty that loves working with this age group! There’s a lot to be said about the learning experience that comes from having a separate Middle School campus. Programmatically, it allows us to structure the school day entirely around our students — everything from a rotating subject schedule, to multiple advisory periods each day, to intramural and interscholastic sports, to extracurricular clubs and activities. We can do what we want, when we want, with a lot of flexibility. “I love how close we are to restaurants and museums,” sixth-grader Nicole Romach says. “We can just decide to take the mini continued on the next page
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Published on Jul 8, 2016