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CA Curious

From hallways to homes: Re-imagining community-building at CA

May 7, 2020

Spring in your Cary Academy Development office is typically the best time of year. From Funfest to the Cary Academy 5K, from our first alumni reunion weekend to Give to Gallop to the Scholars’ Golf Classic, the many opportunities for us to connect with all of you left us reeling with excitement. 

And, just like that: no events, gatherings, or fundraising initiatives. Quickly, our team had to re-imagine how to best maintain and foster those vital connections with our community far away from our beloved campus. 

Development, by definition, is the facilitation of relationships to secure the future of an institution. Over the last 23 years, that facilitation and community-building has taken place in hallways (especially near our infamous chocolate jar), the Dining Hall, Berger Hall, the track, the Center for Math and Science, and numerous other places across our campus and in the community. Today, it takes place in our living rooms, sometimes in pajamas, and perhaps with a child (or cat) curled up in our laps. But wherever or however it takes place, our school has not wavered in our commitment to remain connected with families like yours who trust us to prepare your child for a future of limitless potential.   

And that is what our team has focused on these last few weeks. The emails, phone calls, Zoom invites – they are our way of letting you know that even if you can’t gather in our hallway right now or exchange pleasantries in the carpool line, we are still here. And we want to hear from you.  

Our community has come so far since March, and we continue to move forward together. That doesn’t mean this is easy, though.  

As a Charger, we know that working in silos isn’t normal. For our students and alumni, “normal” looks like interactive learning experiences that transfer classroom knowledge into a nearby nature park, city planning office, or art museum. For our parents and grandparents, “normal” is the opportunity to visit campus for open dialogue, hot coffee, and Chef Sam’s pastries. For our faculty and staff, “normal” is stopping by offices to say “hello” or collective problem-solving.  

Knowing none of this is “normal,” the Development team, alongside incredible partners, has been able to foster opportunities for connection, camaraderie, and community despite our current constraints. We hope these opportunities provide relief, laugher, warmth, and partnership. We know they provide those to us. 

  • Instead of seeing you in our hallways in the afternoons, maybe you’ve been able to drop in for a Wednesday Zoom lunch.  
  • Rather than catch up about T2 break stories out on the baseball field, we caught up on the phone or over an email.  
  • Teacher Appreciation Week celebrations shifted from on-campus to mailboxes, as most employees had tears in our eyes when we read the thank-you cards written from the PTAA (another good reason not to wear make-up).  
  • Saving our cheers for 2021’s Give to Gallop, we chose instead to rally together on #GivingTuesdayNow as a community and secure the funding to ensure CA can meet the needs of our students and teachers in the weeks and months to come.  
  • There aren’t MS dance chaperoning duties this year, but we still had to have the big talk about the 7th to 8th grade transition.   
  • Senior week festivities came in the form of surprise morning signs coupled with CA swag as well as “Zooming” in CA alumni to chat about the transition to college and how to be prepared.  
  • High-fives were reserved for close family at this year’s virtual Cary Academy 5K. But we could still capture our moments of glory, one Instagram or Facebook photo at a time.  

Whatever the specific distance guidelines, we will use the tools necessary to maintain the close connections of our Charger family, past and present. You are what matters. Right now, it may be harder for us to show that on a daily basis, but please know that you remain our priority.  

And remember, this will end. We will, once again, be able to partake in the events, celebrations, and a “normal” routine that brings us joy and closer together. And when that happens, our team will be there waiting, ready to greet you.  

Written by Ali Page and Katie Todd, Director of Development and CA Fund Director

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