Valued Voices
Exciting Choices

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Mike Connors

Students eager to get a head start on the coming school year returned to campus in July, for study skills classes that followed stringent safety protocols.

Norfolk Academy offered three week-long classes as part of its Summer at the Academy, two for Lower School students and one for Middle School. In all, 55 students attended. 

The classes represented the first since March in which students were back in classrooms; Gov. Ralph Northam closed Virginia's schools for the spring in an effort to control the spread of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

For students' safety, the summer program included a number of health requirements. Temperatures were taken when cars drove up, and if anyone registered 100.4° F or greater, everyone in the vehicle needed to leave campus. Students wore masks unless eating lunch or taking occasional mask breaks (a practice medical experts recommend). Desks were set up 6 feet apart. Hand-washing took place before students entered the classroom, after breaks, and before and after lunch. Students used their own water bottle, activity binder, and Chromebook, and each area the group used received a thorough cleaning and sanitizing every day.

Even with all those measures, Olive '28 enjoyed her week of Lower School classes. She liked brushing up on math, social studies, and English - and seeing her friends on campus for the first time in more than four months.

“It has been really fun," Olive said. “It's nice to see their faces and say hello." 

The classes helped students explore their own unique learning styles, while teaching a variety of study strategies, and skills like organization, communication, time management, test preparation, stress management, and how to create an effective study environment. Younger children also received keyboarding instruction.

Teacher-coach Rich Peccie led the Middle School class, while sixth grade instructor Phil Call taught both Lower School sessions. Mr. Call said he learned valuable lessons that he'll apply once the school year begins.

Among those lessons: Young children should be reminded regularly about proper mask wearing and hygiene protocols. He also learned how loudly he needs to speak while wearing a mask, and how to engage children who might be shy with a mask on. Over the course of his two weeks teaching, he figured out how to work his way around the room while still keeping a safe social distance, and make eye contact to help quieter students become more comfortable.

“It has been really good to see kids again and be teaching in the classroom," Mr. Call said.

Anita Pozin, Director of Summer and Auxiliary Programs, said she also learned valuable lessons from the July classes. She communicated regularly with parents, sending letters reminding them about safety guidelines and facility upgrades Norfolk Academy has made.

The study skills classes ran from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. daily, and included lunch time, outdoor breaks, and parent drop-offs and pick-ups. In that way, they provided a sense of what a typical school day will look like.

Students were encouraged to ask school nurses questions early on, so they could grow accustomed to protocols. They also spent time practicing safety measures. As an example, they extended their "airplane arms" to gain a feel for 6 feet of distance.

“The kids have adapted quickly," Mrs. Pozin said.

With everyone wearing masks and keeping social distances, the classes were not the same as before the pandemic, Olive noted. Still, her week left her excited for the school year.

“It's a lot different," she said. “But good."

To learn more about our safety protocols, building upgrades, and expectations for the 2020-21 school year, please visit our Reopening Plan.   



  • COVID-19
  • Summer at the Academy
  • Athletic News
Mike Connors

Norfolk Academy sadly lost a legend this week, as Dave Trickler, who served 22 years as Director of Athletics and 35 years as a highly successful coach, passed away.

Coach Trickler led our varsity basketball program from 1966 until 2001. Under his guidance, the Bulldogs won two state championships, in 1985 and 1992, and 573 games overall. That victory total ranks him toward the top of the list among all Hampton Roads coaches.

He also coached football and baseball, and was Director of Athletics from 1979 until 2001. In addition to those duties, he taught world history for a time, served for many years as Field Day Chairman, and was Chairman of the Board of the Norfolk Academy Sports Camp.

Headmaster Dennis Manning joined the Norfolk Academy family the same year Coach Trickler retired. However, Mr. Manning had come to know and admire Coach in the 1980s, when he was teaching English and coaching basketball at Woodberry Forest School. 

Though Coach Trickler had more experience, he treated Mr. Manning as a professional colleague and friend when they competed against each other. He showed extraordinary warmth, quick wit, genuine humanity and humility, and clear devotion to his players and teams. Though Mr. Manning dreaded the long bus ride to Norfolk, he was always reminded the trip was well worth it when Coach Trickler was there to greet the team enthusiastically.

“He was the consummate gentleman and exemplary ambassador for the school and the athletic program," Mr. Manning said.

Tommy Hudgins '72 was in Middle School when Coach Trickler arrived at Academy. Mr. Hudgins became a teacher-coach in 1976, learning from him as an assistant in both basketball and baseball. He is now NA's Middle School Director.

Coach Trickler was successful because he had an ability to connect with student-athletes and was incredibly thorough, Mr. Hudgins said. He planned every minute of practices, making sure players were prepared for every situation that might arise in a game. 

Coach also never removed players from a game after a mistake, Mr. Hudgins said. He'd wait until they did something positive, so they could exit on a high note. That boosted confidence.

“He was a remarkable guy," Mr. Hudgins said. “Beloved by everyone."

Eric Acra '84 played basketball for Coach Trickler as a student, and joined his staff after returning to NA as a teacher-coach in 1991. Despite his lofty victory total, Coach never fixated on the final score, Mr. Acra said. He worried about making players better.  

“Let the scoreboard take care of itself," Mr. Acra said.   

Now NA's head varsity basketball coach, Mr. Acra models his program around those lessons he learned. One of his annual awards, given to a student-athlete who shows unselfish play, is named after Coach Trickler.

A 1997 Virginian-Pilot article on Coach Trickler noted that he was an all-state point guard at Prince George High School in Virginia, where he also played quarterback in football and shortstop in baseball. From there, he went on to become a two-sport standout at Hampden-Sydney College. 

Despite standing just 5-foot-6, he excelled in basketball. A four-year starting point guard, he played in all 91 games of his collegiate career, recording 336 assists. In baseball, he was an All-Mason Dixon Conference selection as a senior.

A 1965 Hampden-Sydney graduate, he was inducted into the college's Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999.  

“It's a great day to be a Bulldog" was a favorite Coach Trickler phrase, one that remains popular on campus today. “Poise and effort" was another favorite mantra, and former players said he had a way of always getting them to give 100 percent.

Griff Aldrich '92 played for one of Coach Trickler's state championship teams. Now the head men's basketball coach at Longwood University, he celebrated his old coach's winning resume. But he highlighted his care and compassion.

“Most important to me: I knew he loved me," Coach Aldrich said on social media. “Few men have impacted my life the way he has."   

After graduating college, Mr. Trickler coached briefly at a school in Charlottesville before finding a home at Norfolk Academy. He lived on campus for many years. He had three children, Stefanie '85, Brian '89, and Tyler; Stefanie and Brian were student-athletes for Academy.    

Coach Trickler's popularity stemmed from his gregarious personality. For years, he was given the stage during orientation meetings that kick off the school year. Without notes, he'd make eye contact as he announced the names and positions of every faculty and staff member, including new hires. To add humor, he'd pretend to forget names of those who were his close friends.

That warmth extended to student-athletes and parents. If ever they were frustrated about playing time or something else, he had the innate ability to calm the situation down.

“He was a master communicator," said Chad Byler, Academy's current Director of Athletics. “He had a knack for bringing people together."

When Mr. Byler joined Academy's athletics staff in 1992, Coach Trickler was the first person to welcome him. Coach quickly became a cherished friend and mentor.

Mr. Byler, who coaches junior varsity basketball, took notes on how Coach Trickler guided teams during practices and games. But he also took notes on how he impacted the entire school community, by leading chapels, organizing Field Day, and doing so much more.

“He was one of the Norfolk Academy giants," Mr. Byler said.   



  • Athletics
  • Basketball
Mike Connors

Even before our 2019-20 school year ended, we established a Reopening Task Force, comprising, among others, top medical and health experts, to help us chart the best course for 2020-21. That year begins Wednesday, August 26.

On August 4, we sent our Reopening Plan to families. We are offering a flexible plan with in-person and elective distance learning options, knowing we will need to remain nimble to respond to changing conditions. 

We continue to have confidence in our ability to manage on-campus instruction in a healthy and safe manner. We have taken extensive safety measures to protect students and staff. These measures, detailed in the plan and Headmaster Dennis Manning's latest letter to families, include an expanded health clinic, daily temperature checks, and upgrades to our buildings. In addition, masks will be required, students will be spaced apart at a safe social distance, and we are adjusting schedules to reduce student travel during each day.

However, realizing that an online model will still be best for some families, we have also upgraded our Distance Learning. We are installing quality cameras and audio in many classrooms, which will allow teachers to provide simultaneous instruction to students in the classroom and those who may need to engage from home.

We recognize that local circumstances, including state or local regulations, may restrict our ability to bring students on campus during certain periods in the weeks and months ahead. With that in mind, we intend to notify families by August 12 about specific plans for our August 26 opening of school.

  • Start dates for fall athletics practices are still being determined. On July 21, our athletics program began offering hour-long fitness sessions on campus for ninth through 12th graders. Enrollment is limited so we can follow appropriate social distancing and safety guidelines, and advance registration is required. Please see Athletics Director Chad Byler's email for more details.  
  • Unfortunately, the pandemic caused us to cancel all six weeks of on-campus Summer at the Academy events. We were able to hold a few educational learning programs on campus in late July, following social distancing and safety guidelines, for Norfolk Academy students only. 

We will continue to send updates through emails, our social media channels, and this page, to keep you apprised of developments as conditions evolve. 

Please also visit our Distance Learning page, to learn more about that model, which we enhanced this summer.

  • Athletic News
Mike Connors

Dozens of our student-athletes have returned to campus in recent weeks for summer conditioning that follows strict health and safety protocols.

Teacher-coaches have led two sessions on each Tuesday and Thursday since July 21. Among the safety measures: Student-athletes must register online at least one day in advance; conduct a thorough self screening and state they have no COVID-19 symptoms; have their temperatures checked before they can exit cars - they can be no greater than 100.3 degrees; and clean and wash their hands before walking onto the football field. They have assigned parking spots and markers on the Wynne-Darden Stadium field, stay 15 feet apart at all times, and wear masks before and after workouts and during breaks. (Medical experts say it's not necessary to wear a mask while exercising strenuously outdoors if you're at a safe social distance.)

The hour-long sessions have typically had about 25 student-athletes. They range from grades 9 through 12, and compete in fall, winter, and spring sports. At least three or four teacher-coaches usually lead them, and Norfolk Academy trainers are also on hand. Known as “Speed School," the workouts involve a mixture of plyometrics, speed, agility, and circuit and metabolic conditioning to enhance cardio and overall fitness.

As an example, the 9:15 a.m. workout on July 30 involved quick feet and speed running, and concluded with several repetitions of burpees, lunges, and plyometric push-ups. That line-up left many dripping sweat. Still, those who finished first had the energy to encourage their peers to finish strong.

One student-athlete enjoying that workout was Keon Tavakoli '21, who plays football in the fall. He said he feels fortunate to be back on campus, bonding with teammates during the workouts, even if from a distance. 

“Pretty brutal," Keon said of the workout. “But it's definitely worth it."

Steve Monninger, NA's Director of Fitness, Strength, and Conditioning and Varsity Football Coach, is helping lead the workouts. He was so excited on July 21 that he was on the field setting up by 6:30 a.m., 90 minutes before the first session began.

Coach Monninger has been pleased with the effort of the student-athletes. Hundreds have kept themselves in shape throughout the summer by completing a weekly at-home conditioning program the NA athletics department offered. 

“I think the kids have done an awesome job," Coach Monninger said.

As with any coach, Mr. Monninger is thrilled to be teaching in-person again, after more than four months of helping students via Zoom and other technology; Gov. Ralph Northam ordered school campuses across Virginia closed for the spring in an effort to stop the spread of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Coach Monninger was excited to see the safety measures the athletics department put in place and the number of coaches on hand to help.

The workouts will continue into at least early August. 

“It has been a great community builder," said Chad Byler, Director of Athletics. “The kids are enjoying it."

To learn about our plans for the 2020-21 school year, please visit our COVID-19 updates page. To learn about our athletics staff, facilities, many team accomplishments, and more, please visit our athletics department pages.  




  • Athletics
  • School Year 2020-21
Class of 2020
Mike Connors

Students in our Class of 2020 will continue their education at outstanding institutions of higher learning across the nation and beyond.

Every student in the class was accepted into at least one four-year institution. The class will branch out to almost 50 different schools, a diverse list that includes military institutions, Ivy League universities, and flagships across Virginia and North Carolina, just to name a few.

To learn more about this special group, who continued to thrive despite finishing the final months of their senior year away from campus because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, please visit our tribute page

Here is the complete list of colleges and universities:

American University
Auburn University
Babson College
Boston University
Brown University
Canisius College
Christopher Newport University
Clemson University
Dartmouth College
Davidson College
Durham University (England)
East Carolina University
Eckerd College
Flagler College-St Augustine
George Mason University
George Washington University
Georgetown University
Hampden-Sydney College
James Madison University
McGill University
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
Randolph-Macon College
Rockhurst University
Sewanee: The University of the South
Stanford University
The New School - All Divisions
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
United States Merchant Marine Academy
United States Military Academy
University of California, San Diego
University of Chicago
University of Mary Washington
University of Maryland-College Park
University of Pennsylvania
University of Richmond
University of South Carolina-Columbia
University of Virginia-Main Campus

Vassar College
Villanova University

Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Military Institute
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest University
Washington and Lee University
Washington University in St Louis
William and Mary
Wofford College
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Yale University


  • Class of 2020
  • Graduation