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Paul Wilson and Sydney Beverly
Esther Diskin

Norfolk Academy students learned about the enduring motivational energy in Dr. Martin Luther King's message through an array of presentations and activities leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, which is a day off from school.

Paul Wilson, principal at Brighton Elementary School in Portsmouth who was Portsmouth's citywide Teacher of the Year in 2015, delivered a galvanizing and emotional chapel to the Upper School on Friday. The chapel was organized by the UNITID Club, and Wilson was introduced by the club's president, Sydney Beverly '20. Wilson worked for more than a decade as associate director of the Breakthrough Program at Norfolk Academy.

Wilson's message focused on the optimism of Dr. King, fusing it to the poetry of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes. Wilson read an untitled poem by Hughes, which begins with the line, “What happens to a dream deferred?"

He also highlighted excerpts from King's “I Have a Dream" Speech, delivered during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. Wilson noted that, even in his speeches, King always insisted on a brighter day ahead. When King notes in one line of the speech, “America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds," he immediately follows that with a hopeful statement: “But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt."

“A dream deferred is not a dream denied," Wilson said emphatically. He spoke about his challenges to reach his own dreams of becoming a teacher, mentor, and school leader.

Wilson has earned regional accolades for his own brand of optimism tied to action. Last year, in his first year as principal at Brighton Elementary, he vowed that the school would achieve accreditation, a distinction that it had not earned since 2013. Many were skeptical at his boldness. However, through a combination of innovation, unstinting effort, and unified commitment, the school did just that--boosting its student enrollment and parent involvement in the PTA along the way.

“What is in front of you does not have to be your reality," Wilson told the students. “We have to change the narrative." Wilson received loud and extended applause, and many students stopped to shake his hand as they left the Johnson Theater.

Middle School chapel on Friday, led by students in the CARE Club, also focused on King's positive message and the power of nonviolent protests in bringing about change. Students watched a video about his life, then answered questions.

Lower School students have also spent time this month learning about Dr. King and his legacy. Among their activities, first graders discussed his “I Have A Dream" speech and came up with their own dreams of how to make our world better. Sixth graders study the Civil Rights Movement as part of the social studies curriculum, and they partner with second graders on a civil rights activity day. 

Bulldog Bytes, the Lower School's weekly student-led video newscast, included an educational video about the life of Dr. King and encouragement to use the holiday as a day of volunteer service to the community. 

  • Athletic News
Mike Connors

More than two dozen Norfolk Academy student-athletes earned all-state honors for their play during the fall season.

Football winners were announced shortly before holiday break. Running back Jacob Saffold '20 was named first-team VISAA. Making second-team were three fellow seniors: Wide receiver Ben Locke, defensive back Elijah Quamiley, and linebacker Jasper Doyle. Six players were honorable mentions: Quarterback Drew Duffy '20, defensive back Nate Dickinson '20, defensive lineman Nick Cowan '20, offensive lineman Max Pollio '21, tight end Stinson Moss '22, and Doyle for his kicking.

Making all-state in cross country were Benjamin Summers '20, Harrison Summers '21, Franklin Reid '21, Maddie Brooks '21, and Bella Burr '23.    

Sailing: Henry Allgeier '23, Jennifer Permenter '21, and Rebecca Schill '23 made all-VISA skipper; Ali Zaidi '20 made all-VISA crew. 

Field hockey: Kate Ruffin '21 and Haley Holland '21 made first-team; Olivia Galiotos '22 made second-team.

Tennis: Olivia Danielson '21 made first-team; Emma Hugo '22 made second-team.

Volleyball: Ella Deans '21 made second-team.

Boys soccer: Aidan Dowd ‘20 made first-team.

And this impressive list does not include the numerous student-athletes who earned all-TCIS conference honors. 

Congratulations to all these Bulldogs!


  • Athletic
  • Fine Arts News
Mike Connors

Three Middle School students recently performed their way to District Band honors.

District Band is a highly selective event in which students from across Virginia Beach and Norfolk audition for placement into either Symphonic or Concert Band. All together, about 70 students tried out for spots.

All of the NA students who auditioned earned placements. Mitchell Moore '23 made Symphonic Band. Concert Band qualifiers were Meghan Savage '23 and James Savage '23.

The District Band concert is at 1 p.m. on February 1, at Cox High School in Virginia Beach.

This continues a run of success for our school musicians. Earlier in the school year, seven students earned district chorus honors. Also, senior Katie Post made Senior Regional Orchestra

Congratulations to these stellar musicians! 

Areen Syed
Mike Connors

Areen Syed '24 won Norfolk Academy's 2020 Spelling Bee on Tuesday.

Her final word, which she needed to take the title: Symptomatic.

Areen edged out 10 other students: Luke Buchanan '26; Chloe Levy '26; Nethan Liyanage '26; Sydney Petersen '26; Emily Salib '26; Cooper Stuart '26; Ellie Burnette '25; Ann Gray Golpira '24; Zoe Jones; and Khushi Raval '24.

Together, the group answered 111 words correctly.

With the win, Areen gets to compete in a WHRO bee in February.

Congratulations, Areen!

LS concert
  • Fine Arts News
Mike Connors

Lower School musicians put on quite a show in their Holiday Concert on Friday morning.

About 100 students performed as the band, orchestra, and choir all took turns on stage. They first played for parents, followed by an encore presentation for fellow classmates.

The fourth grade band kicked things off with Hot Cross Buns, Merrily We Roll Along, and Good King Wenceslas. Fifth and sixth grade band players then shined with a wide assortment of holiday songs. Both groups were under the direction of Mrs. Kecia Yeates.  

Next, the orchestra went on, directed by Mr. Jeff Danielson. Those students played seven songs, including Jingle Bells, Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah, and March from the Nutcracker

Orchestra performers have been busy. They put on a show for Upper School students Thursday, and last week played for shoppers at Norfolk's MacArthur Center. 

The choir rounded out Friday's show, directed by Mrs. Rebecca Peterson with Mrs. Crystal Villanova as accompanist. They did three songs, including A Candle for Peace

The Lower School show capped weeks of holiday performances. Students from Middle School and Upper School took the stage earlier in December.

The performance also led students into a well-deserved holiday break. Classes won't resume again until January 6, 2020.

Happy holidays, everyone!