Joy by Lana Kalfas '19

 

Personally, I feel that joy can coexist with imperfection. My experience at Durham Academy is a reflection of this belief. Like any other community, DA has its flaws. What brings me joy is all of the opportunities we have to improve ourselves and the community we’re a part of.

I am currently attending the School for Ethics and Global Leadership (SEGL) in Washington, D.C., with 23 other high school juniors from schools across the country. Many of my peers here attend college preparatory schools very similar to Durham Academy. However, in conversation with my friends here, I’ve realized a significant difference between Durham Academy and any other college prep school. Many of my friends are dreading returning to their home schools because they don’t believe that they will be able to change the problems in their home schools that they have pinpointed here at SEGL.

While I may not be chomping at the bit to leave the strong relationships I’ve made here and wonderful experiences I’ve had in D.C., I am excited to return to Durham Academy because I know that I have the ability to change it for the better. I have realized the power I have been given as a student of Durham Academy to correct its flaws. Which other college prep school holds meetings for their students to give input on administrative decisions? Which other college prep school creates a team of students to interview candidates for the position of upper school director? Which other college prep school recognizes the need for more racial or religious tolerance and makes affinity groups and diversity clubs part of daily school life?

I derive joy at Durham Academy from my power and ability to make a change and improve all of the shortcomings of our community. Furthermore, I experience joy on a day-to-day basis at DA because of the many opportunities for individual growth. I feel as though there are countless ways in which a Durham Academy student can discover a passion or narrow a gap, if they just look. When I think of joy at DA, I think of the Chinese New Year assembly, and the look of excitement in the eyes of those on stage who are zealous to teach the community about an important part of Chinese culture; I think of Mix-it-up Day workshops that often spark unknown passions; I think of Rachel Hopkins’ assembly about frogs, in which she pleaded to her classmates to “SAVE THE FROGS!”; I think of Hope Valley Tutoring, and hearing about the bonds my friends have made with their tutoring buddies; I think of GSA meetings in which LGBTQ+ students have shared their experiences at DA, some positive and reassuring, others startling and upsetting.

Behind each club, event, and assembly are students and faculty who want to better themselves and the community by pursuing a passion, learning something new, or sharing something important to them. I feel joyful as a member of the DA community because I know, even when I am unhappy about some aspect of the community, that I am surrounded by people with the intent to constantly reform and reshape the world we live in.

Durham Academy is an ever-malleable community teeming in opportunities for growth; because of this, I am joyful at Durham Academy.

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