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Charter Day
Mike Connors

Norfolk Academy entered into official existence on November 13, 1728.

As the school's birthday fell on a Saturday this year, students and teachers celebrated Charter Day early! On Wednesday afternoon, November 10, Upper School students headed to Wynne-Darden Stadium for friendly competition in advisee groups. Challenges included Kan Jam, water balloon toss, sprints around the track, and three-legged races. The grand finale was a Fight Song Palooza challenge with judging by volume of audience applause.

The day also included some staples of birthdays past, such as the awarding of the prestigious Charter Day Award, given annually by the Tunstall Student Council to a teacher of at least three years tenure who has earned the respect of colleagues and students through excellence in teaching and extracurricular activities, depth of knowledge in his or her field, and the ability to create a trusting environment for students. This year's award went to Upper School Chemistry Teacher John Craig, who also serves as co-director of the Medical Scholars Program, part of the Batten Leadership Program, and assists with the girls soccer program. The award was announced by TSC President Oliver Jones '22 at the Charter Day celebration at Wynne-Darden Stadium to enthusiastic cheers from students in the stands.

As usual, students also devoured cupcakes with blue and orange icing, celebrating Academy team colors.

Onward Bulldogs and Happy Birthday!

  • Charter Day
  • Athletic News
Mike Connors

NA-TV completed the fall 2021 season broadcasting 53 games, a single-season record for the student-led channel.

Those games started in the sweltering August heat and ran all the way through the VISAA field hockey state championship final November 13 in Richmond, where Norfolk Academy won the crown.   

NA-TV broadcasts varsity athletics contests throughout the school year with students handling announcing duties, camera work, halftime announcements, and technical aspects of the productions. The events are available to watch through the athletics pages on the Norfolk Academy website. A number of NA-TV students have gone on to participate in communications productions in college.

Captains Emma Fix '22, Sophia Thompson '22, and Averell Stith '22 led the fall broadcast team, along with co-captains Tal Zach '22 and Henry Martin '22. Ed Patterson, who teaches film in the Upper School, is the teacher-coach guiding the team. Robbie Adams serves as the primary play-by-play announcer, working with students who provide commentary.

This year's team did an outstanding job balancing many responsibilities, Mr. Patterson said. Students were involved not only in the record number of broadcasts but also challenging academic schedules and other extracurricular activities. Several were involved with the Fall Play and some were managing athletics teams.

The team broadcast more than 5,000 minutes of action in the fall season to 19 countries including Bolivia, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, India, the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Australia, and New Zealand. Viewers tuned in from 42 states in the United States, with more than 11,500 views from almost 4,100 different web addresses.

Along with the captains and co-captains, the fall team included these 17 members:

Reagan Bandy
Kendall Pagach
James Wilson
Foster Kimple
Brennan Stacy
James Lonergan
Michael Carofino
Srivarun Hathwar
Micah Baum
Eliza Blythe
Annabelle Flisk
Sarah Morolari
Gavin Wang
David Denson
Joe Bakkar
Dominic Villafranca
Taran Jeevan


Watch every NA-TV broadcast:


  • Athletics
  • NA-TV
Dr. Natasha Naujoks is Featured in Panels about Global Experiential Education
Esther Diskin

Dr. Natasha Naujoks, who serves as associate director of the Batten Leadership Program, recently participated in two virtual panel discussions about global and experiential education during the pandemic.

One panel was held by the Global Education Benchmark Group, a non-profit organization of K-12 schools that researches and establishes best practices in the field of global education.

The second webinar was organized by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), a nonprofit membership association that provides services to more than 1,900 schools and associations of schools in the United States and abroad. It was done in conjunction with Independent Schools Experiential Education Network (ISEEN). Dr. Naujoks was one of three panelists, which also included the director of global programming from the Blake School in Minnesota and the director of ISEEN.

In her presentation, Dr. Naujoks discussed Norfolk Academy's approach to experiential learning through the Batten Leadership Program, which encompasses the Fellows programs, the Medical Scholars Program, and Leadership Lab.

She also spoke about how the approach developed in the Batten Leadership Program has influenced the development of Maymester in the Upper School, which will launch this spring, after a postponement due to the pandemic. During Maymester, all rising sophomores and juniors will have two and a half weeks focused on a specific, interdisciplinary topic; each course includes hands-on experiences outside the classroom as a way of bringing depth and excitement to the learning.

“These are very intentionally tied to the United Nation's Sustainable Development goals," she noted. “Everybody will learn in different ways than they learn traditionally in the classroom."

Dr. Naujoks also shared her perspective on the power of global education to galvanize student growth and raise awareness of social justice and equity issues. “For me, the best global education experiences push students safely out of their comfort zones by exposing them to different perspectives," she said. 

Learn more about Norfolk Academy's Batten Leadership Program and the school's approach to experiential learning in the Lower School through programs like Engineering, Design, and Innovation.

  • Diversity
Mike Connors

Upper School students learned about the sacrifices that military service members and their families make during a powerful chapel on the day before Veterans Day.

Mr. Bernie McMahon, an Upper School History Teacher and retired Navy SEAL, led the chapel on November 10. He began with a history lesson, explaining that Veterans Day has roots in World War I. The average age of those who died in that war was 19, not much older than the students listening in Johnson Theater. After more than four years of battle, soldiers agreed to put down their weapons in the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month in 1918. 

Mr. McMahon then introduced a poem, “In Flanders Fields," written in 1915 by John McCrae. The poem commemorates the sacrifices of those who were fighting in the war. That poem opens, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow/ Between the crosses, row on row,/That mark our place..." To emphasize the significance, Norfolk Academy's Military Appreciation Club handed out poppies to students as they walked into the theater. Those poppies were in their hands as Mackenzie Savage '23 and Annamarie Russell '23 sang a rendition of the poem, accompanied on the piano by Music Teacher Cheney Doane. 

Following the performance, students listened attentively as Mr. McMahon spoke about experiences of some Academy faculty and staff who served in the military. Mr. McMahon did not reveal the names of these women and men, although he knows all of them as friends, but he told students about how one joined the Navy at age 17, learning “about being part of something larger." Another was a cook in Texas trying to figure out life before joining the Navy and finding “so much pride, wearing that uniform."

Another felt lost as a youngster, before seeing the USS Constitution and electing to join the Navy. That service imparted the value of hard work and dedication. Still another received a call at 1:30 a.m. from a son, announcing he was enlisting in the Marine Corps. Another was a mother who devoted herself to raising two young boys while her husband was deployed. Mr. McMahon's final story came from an Academy family member who had attended nine different schools in 13 years because of military travel. Rather than harp on the negatives of that experience, the person saw it as a “golden opportunity to meet new people."

The military community is a tight-knit group, Mr. McMahon said. They realize “they're part of something much larger."

Mr. McMahon, who directs the Upper School's community engagement programming, then issued two challenges to students, which involve reaching out through thought and action. The first should be easy to do: Take a moment on Veterans Day to pause and thank those who have served our nation. The second will take more effort: Seek out service members and let them tell their stories of sacrifice.

“You deserve that, but more importantly, they deserve that," Mr. McMahon said.

The chapel closed with another moving performance. Mr. McMahon explained that the song “Amazing Grace," is one that he often thinks about with profound sadness because of the many military funerals he has attended where the song is part of the service. However, he noted, “Amazing Grace" is actually a song of rejoicing. With that, Dance Master Elbert Watson, attired in army camouflage pants, performed a dance against a video backdrop of soldiers singing.

In honor of Veterans Day, Norfolk Academy will not hold classes on November 11.   

  • Athletic News
Mike Connors

Six Norfolk Academy seniors signed their commitments to play college athletics during a ceremony on November 10.

Across the nation, student-athletes traditionally are able to begin signing commitments to compete in college in November of their senior year. Schools hold ceremonies highlighting the athletic and academic accomplishments of these students. Academy's signees this fall: Trey Custudio, Olivia Galiotos, Marin McKee, Rachel Thetford, Clayton Whetstine, and Kayla Wilson.

Academy's ceremony in Burroughs Gymnasium highlighted not only the athletic feats of the six, but their academic successes and growth. The student-athletes spoke, thanking their families, teacher-coaches, Academy's College Counseling team, and so many more people who have helped them along the way. Marin, Clayton, and Kayla are all swimmers who learned from head coach Kristen Kirkman. Olivia and Rachel play field hockey for coach Mary Werkheiser. Trey wrestles for coach Chris Runzo.

Headmaster Dennis Manning, a coach earlier in his education career, noted that all six have positively influenced teammates and classmates through their work ethic and leadership. Each student-athlete continued to thrive even amid the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down seasons and forced alterations of regular training. 

“I think of what you've accomplished and where you are today, it's remarkable," Mr. Manning said. “Your persistence, your determination, courage, in light of what you faced the past nearly two years, makes me well up with pride."

Director of Athletics Chad Byler agreed with Mr. Manning about their persistence amid the worldwide pandemic.

“You have missed seasons. You had a difficult time visiting colleges and the recruiting process has never been so difficult," Mr. Byler said. “But you overcame all these obstacles and here you are today. We are very excited about what you have accomplished and what you will accomplish in the years to come." 

College Counselor Steve Monninger, who also is Director of Fitness, Strength, and Conditioning, and coach of the football team, reminded the student-athletes of the work they'll need to put in at the next level. 

“There will certainly be obstacles and adversity," Mr. Monninger said. “Our only advice to you is that you rely on the values of work ethic, grit, and mental toughness that you have already demonstrated at Norfolk Academy."

"We know you will continue to make us proud," Mr. Monninger added. 

Norfolk Academy will hold another signing ceremony in the spring to celebrate student-athletes who will make college decisions in the coming months. 

Congratulations to all these student-athletes!

Trey Custodio, Wrestling, Washington and Lee University

Olivia Galiotos, Field Hockey, Dartmouth College

Marin McKee, Swimming, University of Kentucky

Rachel Thetford, Field Hockey, Wake Forest University

Clayton Whetstine, Swimming, University of Georgia

Kayla Wilson, Swimming, Stanford University




To learn about Norfolk Academy's athletics program, including our teacher-coach model, please visit the athletics web page

  • Athletics
  • College Admissions