I was a DA "Lifer," meaning I went to Durham Academy from Kindergarten through 12th grade. The education that I received at DA was excellent. Upon graduation, I was well-prepared to succeed academically at a top national university and later at a highly ranked graduate business school. Today, I run a successful non profit that I founded. My success in life is do in large part to the education that I received at DA during my formative years. Having an education from DA opens doors to the elite universities in the United States. If your academic goals include going to an Ivy league university or at worst attending a top 100 university, then Durham Academy is the right school for your children.
I am a 9th grade student here coming from 9 past years at Chapel Hill Carrboro Public Schools. Durham Academy has been an absolute dream come true. The staff, administration and students are the most kind, compassionate, thoughtful people. The teachers and headmasters find each child's passion and help them achieve this. Every child is recognized for what makes them special. The academics are incredible and the teachers truly want you to do your absolute best and will do what ever they can to help you achieve this. In recent years Durham Academy has made tremendous effort to make the student body very diverse and make every student feel welcome. I honestly believe there is not a better school in existence than Durham Academy and I am so grateful that I am able to attend here.
I was a student at Durham Academy from Pre-K-12 and found it extremely effective in setting me up for success at both a top 5 college and then law school. Of particular note I think is the quality of the school's integrated writing curriculum: I have always felt like I was far more prepared than peers from similar backgrounds in any academic and professional writing setting, all the way through graduate school, which I attribute in large part to DA. The teachers were excellent and vastly higher quality than any of the public or private schools in the state that I had friends at.
In full disclosure I can't really rate DA on my kids having attended since they were both declined. So my review is through that lens and only of the admissions staff. It would be best if your child could attend in kindergarten because after that your chances are very slim. I was pretty much assured that many aspects are looked at when considering students, it isn't. Basically you will score "in or out" based on your ISEE score. If your child is WELL above average and scores well on standardized tests I say go ahead and apply. If they are average or slightly above don't waste your time or get your kids hopes up. The school is great I'm sure but get in when ISEE testing doesn't matter like before 2nd grade. Oh and if the admissions staff tells you not to worry then worry.
Our daughter has attended DA since Pre-K, and will be in the 3rd grade this fall. The teachers are amazing - we have been blessed each year to be placed with the perfect match for our child - someone who is warm, loving and encourages her to open up and be the best that she can be, and who also challenges her academically. She entered DA as a shy child who has blossomed into the girl on the front row behind the mike at SongFest. The computer lab since K has caused her to be more familiar with a computer than I was in law school. She loves her school, her teachers, and her friends. This is a true community, and a family, not just a school. Yet, as a school, it is the best around by far! Academics are stressed, but so are the arts, sports, and especially character development. Parental involvement is greatly encouraged.
DA's outdoor campus makes it one of the most special school environments that I have ever seen. It is such a great place to not only learn, but to make friends, play sports, and just interact with all members of the DA community. Everyone is very accepting of new students and tries to get them involved with everyone. Not only are the teachers great and smart, but so are the students. There are very few students here that aren't above average or higher in terms of intellectual prowess. It's college placement of seniors speaks for itself. Overall, it is an incredible place to be.
As a DA alumni, my appreciation for my experience at Durham Academy grows more as tome goes on. DA provided me with the most academically challenging experience of my life. DA taught me how to think critically and understand my strongest learning modalities (and how to capitalize on them). I have since gone on to get a Bachelors and Masters degree, and never once did I feel as challenged in my post-secondary education as I did at DA. I am a teacher now, and looking back, with my insider's perspective on education, this school completely astounds me. The passion of the teachers, the focus on critical thinking, the development of writing skills, and the expeditionary learning are simply unparalleled. I still keep in touch with many of my wonderful teachers, who I am thankful to have as mentors still today!
I am a student at Durham Academy currently in the Middle School. I think it's a really good school. The teachers are nice and seem to really care about you. The campus is really creative and outdoorsy. The library and technology programs are excellent. And so are the academic programs. DA makes learning fun.
Everything is top of the line and the regular school environment is great as well as their athletics program. They are also top of the line when it comes to education too. Most of the kids who go here, go to Harvard, Yale, Duke, M.I.T, Dartmoth and other great schools.
Overall, my experience at this school has been average. I am one of several new students here at DA. The academics are rigorous, but not intriguing. I sometimes find myself bored, not out of the lack of rigor, but out of the lack of interest from the whole room, including the teacher. Now let me address the social issue. It is extremely hard for me to fit in. I find myself home all the time, not included in virtually everything. And the worst part of that is that I've signed up and I continue to participate in clubs during and after school. I also am in the sports program. What else can I do to fit in?! I keep trying, and I'm still not being accepted. Clearly, the social thing is not going to change. And that does not help my liking of the school any better.