A jk through 12 independent school in Charlotte, NC
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Meet Our Students
It's our mission as a school to develop fully the potential of every student. From scientists and singers to ambassadors and activists, Country Day students are ready to pursue their talents and their passions.
William '16 Successful Racer
William won NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East championship as a rookie, drives full-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Truck team in 2016, manages classes at both Country Day and Liberty University, and just earned his Eagle Scout award.
At 17, William has already reached his goal of competing in one of the top NASCAR series. He races full-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Truck team and is a rising star in NASCAR circles. He won the championship in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East in October 2015 and was named Rookie of the Year.
William, who began racing late-model and Legends cars in 2013 (and winning championships in every division he’s raced), realizes that many of his Country Day peers know a lot more about football or basketball than racing. To the uninitiated, he describes his career ascension this way: “Late-model racing is like the equivalent of high school play. The K&N series is like a development league, so you could compare it to college-level play or a baseball farm team. The truck series is one of the top three stages, along with Xfinity, then the Cup series.”
William’s typical week is a bit fuller than your average high school student. Racing is a year-round sport that requires frequent travel to tracks around the country Friday through Sunday for practice, qualifying rounds, and the race, along with media obligations.
All the while, he is completing his senior year at Country Day, where his favorite subjects are math, history, and psychology. “It becomes difficult, but I use my free periods to get ahead on my extra work or meet with teachers,” says William. “I always let my teachers know in advance when I am going to be out, and they have been supportive. I stay focused because I have to.”
Added to the load are online classes at Liberty University, William’s primary sponsor, where he will pursue a degree in business/marketing analytics starting next fall. He’ll enter college with five courses under his belt.
To say that Katherine has a wide range of interests is certainly an understatement. She is a passionate chemistry student who is an officer of the Latin Club and is just as comfortable reciting her poetry during the fall play as she is sharing her power tools and dance moves during Spirit Week. In addition, Katherine served as Student Government treasurer for three years and leads SWAG (Super Women’s Affinity Group), a group of 20–30 students who host monthly forums to talk about feminism.
“I think Country Day offers students boundless opportunities to really succeed in what they’re interested in,” Katherine raves. “All it takes is finding what you love and having the drive to pursue it.” Katherine’s passion for chemistry helped her land a job working in a graduate lab at UNC Charlotte during the summer, where she teamed up with other young scientists to create a new anticancer compound. “I examined how ruthenium-based drugs can tackle a wide range of cancers,” Katherine explains. “Prostate and lung cancers are the most common targets of these molecules.”
When Katherine was a rising high school junior, she thought the graduate lab environment was sink or swim. “I swam I guess, because I made a brand new chemical compound that might be able to fight cancer!” Remarkably, Katherine’s compound from the recrystallization of a solution she had almost discarded and her results were conclusive after she conducted follow-up tests. “UNC Charlotte is going to continue the research and hand it over to the biology labs to perform further tests,” she says.
Katherine credits the exceptional faculty at Country Day for helping to ignite her passion for learning. “My teachers have opened so many doors for me by introducing me to opportunities—like working in the lab, writing for the play, and teaching Latin in Boston. These opportunities have let my passions grow and thrive. Without their positive encouragement, I know I wouldn't have accomplished nearly as much in so little time.”
Morgan was only seven when her beloved grandfather was diagnosed with colon cancer. She wanted to show her “Poppy” how much she supported him and donated 12” of her hair to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss. Morgan got such a thrill from her experience and decided to dream even bigger.
“After Poppy died a few years ago, I wanted to make a bigger difference. I didn’t want other families to go through the pain of losing a loved one to colon cancer like I did. In fifth grade, I wrote my “Spotlight Project” on raising awareness for colon cancer and created a little foundation called “Morgan’s Gift of Hope.” My teachers taught me how to conduct research and how to write a good speech, while my mom helped me build my own Web site (morgansgiftofhope.weebly.com).
My goal is to raise $1,000 for colon cancer research at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center (where Poppy had his treatment) and I’ve raised more than half so far. I want my gift to bring hope to other families who are dealing with cancer the way mine did. I may be a kid, but I know that cancer must end and “Morgan’s Gift of Hope” will help with this fight against cancer.
When Johns Hopkins heard about my work—and that I was only 11—they were so impressed and invited me to Baltimore for a tour of the Kimmel Center!
I love Country Day because of my caring friends and teachers. They helped me through the hard time of losing my grandfather. I’ll never forget how all of my third grade classmates made cards for me after Poppy died. The cards meant so much to me that I hung all of them around my bedroom! It goes to show that all of us can make a difference and make the world a better place!”
When Julia began Country Day in ninth grade, she was pleasantly surprised to discover just how many different clubs and organizations she could join. Julia’s desire to see equity and justice throughout the world led her to join the school’s Diversity Awareness Forum (DAF) and Black Student Union (BSU) clubs, where she began taking on leadership roles from the start.
Brian Wise, Country Day’s Director of Diversity Planning, was so impressed with Julia’s initiative that he invited her to go to Indianapolis with several upperclassmen to attend the National Association of Independent Schools Student Diversity Leadership Conference, a multicultural gathering of high school leaders focused on building community.
Julia is a champion for the less-visible and less-acknowledged in our society. As a student facilitator at Upper School faculty meetings and at the Middle School ACT Diversity Conference, Julia has educated many in the Country Day community about “micro-aggression,” a term used to describe the everyday indignities that minorities experience which are committed unintentionally by the majority.
Julia also loves planning activities for Inclusion Day, a day in Upper School spent examining social issues related to race, religion, gender, and privilege. “I’m so thankful Country Day has opened my eyes to these opportunities. I love putting myself out there in the world and trying my hand at new things,” says Julia.
“We are working really hard with the administration for a more inclusive Country Day,” she says. “I like how forward-thinking the school is and how we are evolving. Still, there is work to be done.”
Julia credits Country Day with setting a passion for academic excellence within her, particularly within the humanities. She thinks she may be interested in pursuing a career in human rights or social justice after she graduates.
“Country Day has exposed me to a whole new world of possibilities. The standards that my teachers set are so high, and I know they are preparing all of us well for college.”
At school, I have many opportunities to explore global topics, including studying about Ebola in science, blogging about current events in Ukraine for World Geography, and learning about the Holocaust in English. I believe the best way to truly learn about a country and its culture is to spend time visiting that country and interacting with its people.
My family hosted an exchange student my age named Mara from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Not only did this give me a chance to practice my Spanish, but it also gave her a chance to learn about Halloween.
When it was my turn to go to Cabo San Lucas, I discovered family life to be very similar to ours and I was thrilled to learn that they eat their big meal right after school! Mara and I continue to stay in touch, and I was devastated to hear how much damage Hurricane Odile did to her community.
Last spring, I traveled to Europe to participate in a Model UN program in Paris, called "Paths to Peace." To be selected, I had to research the kidnappings of school girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram. To help prepare for my trip, I learned about the various cities we visited and developed my parliamentary procedure skills. I really loved learning about European history and customs.
I am very thankful that Country Day provides me with opportunities to become a better global citizen."
Below are excerpts from the speech Jackson delivered to more than 500 people at the Fourth Grade Moving Up ceremony.
Hello, my name is Jackson and I am in fourth grade. I have been a student at Country Day for five years. So you can imagine I've got a lot of stories to tell! When I was a new student in kindergarten, I was told to move my seat, to a different table. I was very shy and took this to be a very BAD thing. I shut down, refusing to move my seat feeling completely horrified. I thought I had done something wrong. There was no way I was moving my seat. My teachers gave me two options; I could move my seat or go to Dr. Dina's office (Lower School guidance counselor).
I chose Dr. Dina. She taught me how to handle things and control my emotions.
When I came to Country Day, I wasn't very good with relationships and I was scared to try new things. I had always been somebody that would stay on the jungle gym watching the other kids play.
I was scared to play with people I didn't know. Scared of rejection. Not confident.
The soccer games always looked fun to me. But seeing as I was shy, I was too scared to play. My experience with Guidance helped me gain the confidence to leave the jungle gym and join the game. If it wasn't for the confidence I gained I would not be speaking to you here on this podium today. The confidence and skills I learned in Guidance will help me throughout my life.
Growing up can be really challenging. We experience many emotions. Some good, some bad, but sometimes we are not equipped to handle these emotions. Sometimes we just need somebody to talk with—to figure out what we are feeling. My five years in the Lower School have flown by. I appreciate the knowledge I have gained, the friendships I have made, and the support I have received from my teachers.
Irene '16 Positive Leader
Irene, a Chinese citizen, took full advantage of the extraordinary international opportunities available at our school by enrolling at Country Day as an exchange student for her junior and senior year. Irene’s fluency in English allowed her to pursue her passion for science. She helped organize the school’s Science Bowl competition and placed first in the Physics Olympiad competition. In the summer of 2015, Irene attended Stanford University’s Summer College to study organic chemistry and the history of democracy.
As she reflects on the American educational system, Irene is full of positive remarks. “It’s such a fascinating experience to live in different cultures and have friends from all different walks of life,” she says, “and Country Day has been so inclusive to its international students. The school offers great opportunities for everyone to learn about international relations.”
Feeling welcome in such a rigorous academic environment has given Irene the opportunity to flourish as a standout student. “In AP Biology, we’ve spent a lot of time studying bio-engineering,” she says. “I loved learning about how scientists can change the genetic makeup of different organisms to improve human’s health conditions. This is definitely something I want to study in the future.”
Irene also joined the school’s Speech and Debate Club and participated in several speech tournaments as a way to improve her English skills. She enjoyed the experience so much that she became a member of the inaugural Mock Trial group at Country Day.
Irene credits her school friends, teachers, and administrators with making Country Day’s international students feel welcome from the start. “My teachers and classmates helped me to smoothly transition to different study styles from what I’m used to in China. I think it would be really scary to be an exchange student in a completely new environment without this kind of terrific help and all these friendly Country Day faces! And everyone has been so kind in their corrections when I make a mistake.”
Irene knows her intense work ethic has been a perfect fit with a Country Day education. “In China, I really learned the spirit of working hard, and I’ve been able to bring that spirit to Country Day. My teachers are preparing me extremely well, and I’m so impressed with them that I plan to apply to several colleges throughout the United States.”
Michael and Peter '16 Leading by Example
Michael and Peter '16
As lifelong friends, Michael and Peter have always had similar interests in sports and the military. As tenth graders on the varsity lacrosse team, they uncovered a deep desire within themselves to help those serving in the military. The boys worked together to help start the school’s Military Appreciation Club (MAC). They dream of helping to organize a home makeover for a soldier who is financially-strapped or who was injured in combat.
During their Middle School years, Michael and Peter fondly remember swapping Navy Seal books and counting down the days until the next military movie came out. “Those stories stuck with us,” Michael says, “We’ve always been interested in knowing more about people willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.”
The growing interest among students in supporting the troops led Michael and Peter to help found MAC. “It took a lot of hard work and planning,” remembers Michael. “This year we led the freshman class during Community Service Day and organized the logistics to make more than 1,000 care packages for our troops. We sent the care packages to Camp Lejeune where our former football coach, Hill Hamrick ’09, was stationed.
“I want others to know that if they have an idea, the administration is happy to help them fuel their dreams,” says Peter. “Mr. Wall, the Assistant Dean of Students, spent tons of time and energy helping us with all the logistics for our project, like getting Bank of America on board to help us with donations for the care packages. Meanwhile, the teachers in Lower School and Middle School also supported us by getting hundreds of students to make cards for the troops to include in the care packages. It’s easy to follow your passion in such a supportive community!”
Michael and Peter have both learned how important it is to lead by example. They insist that it’s not what you do during your time at Country Day, but the legacy you leave behind that truly makes you a role model for the next generation of students.
Ted '17 Innovative Artist
Being a student in Sculpture I, II, and III has given Ted the opportunity to blend his passions for the arts and sciences in meaningful ways. His sculpture teacher describes Ted’s work in the studio as “innovative and amazing.” Ted credits his Country Day teachers with helping him learn how to manage his time wisely so he can juggle his demanding academic workload and give him the ability to pursue other passions in life. Ted joined the varsity golf team as a 10th grader and recently finished his Eagle Scout Project: building benches at Rama Road Elementary School, where he participates in Country Day’s partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“When I started taking Sculpture at the beginning of my freshman year, I didn’t know what to expect. I learned quickly how much fun Sculpture was at Country Day because we get to work with all kinds of materials: glass, clay, metal, wood, and even soapstone.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the freedom that comes in the art studio. For me, it’s like a recovery period during the day when I can take a bit of a break and be a more independent thinker. When my art teacher gave us the kinetic sculpture assignment, I used my background knowledge from science and Boy Scouts to wire a sculpture with motors. I created my own metal letter opener with a rope grip that I know I’ll have forever. I’ll never forget how much patience, precision, and sanding it took to engineer the perfect design.
That’s what’s been so neat about these sculpture classes—you get to step up, think on your own, and do something yourself. These are valuable skills that are going to help me succeed for the rest of my life.”