Valued Voices
Exciting Choices

Elbert Watson

The arrival of Norfolk Academy's yearbook, known as Horizons, is a moment of peak excitement throughout the school every spring.

One of the great traditions associated with the publication is its unveiling for the Upper School during an assembly in the Johnson Theater. Each year, the staff dedicates the volume to a faculty member with a written piece that salutes the teacher's contributions to school life. The dedication is read aloud in the theater, and the teacher is called to the front -- amid boisterous applause and often a standing ovation -- to receive the yearbook. 

Dance Master Elbert Watson, the faculty member saluted in this year's volume, has received many a standing ovation in his lifetime -- not only during his first career as a professional dancer, most notably as a principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater -- but also for many performances at Norfolk Academy and in the community, which he both choreographed and danced. Many of those have celebrated the music and achievements of black artists and activists, including Crispus Attucks, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King Jr., and Sam Cooke. He recently composed an original ballet for the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, entitled “I flutter my wings but I can't fly away."

Due to the pandemic, this year's dedication had to speak through the power of words, minus the applause; yearbooks were distributed last week to all students, as families drove to the Lower School curb to pick up and receive materials.

The eloquence of the dedication did its work, highlighting Mr. Watson's expansive scope of activity: a dance teacher for Lower School students; his work as a coach of the school's three-season Dance Team, featuring Middle and Upper School students; his choreography for the Winter Musical; his stretching classes for student athletes and for teachers; and his performances, both solo and with the Elbert Watson Dance Company, for Seminar Days, Martin Luther King Jr. Days, and Convocations.

As the dedication accurately put it: “He does not have the word 'no' in his vocabulary."

The closing of the dedication captured not just what Mr. Watson does but how he makes students feel: “All of Mr. Watson's students -- from dance to the musical -- laud his patience and compassion. He is not just their teacher, he is someone trustworthy and caring, proving to them time and time again he cares more than they could ever know. He truly gets to know his students, and he cares deeply for their well-being and success. Mr. Watson adds so much joy and passion to the Norfolk Academy community as evidenced by his perpetual smile, and we are richer for it."

The co-editors-in-chief of this year's Horizons were Sarah Haugh '20 and J.R. Herman '20. Their “Letter from the Editors" highlighted a new feature of this year's Horizons: It is the first yearbook that is entirely in color. (Congrats!) The cover also features a stylish feature: The zeroes of “2020" are designed as glasses that are cut through the cover, revealing a mosaic of tiny photos of the Class of 2020 in the lenses. (Bravo!)

Their letter offered an extended reflection on the Year of Belonging. “Each and every one of us has a different set of opinions and beliefs, and as in life, we may not always agree with one another," they wrote. “However, it is the essence of belonging in our school that allows these different experiences, opinions, ideas, and backgrounds of every member of the Norfolk Academy family to unite successfully."

Congratulations to the Horizons team and faculty advisor (and Upper School Spanish Teacher) Señora Mary Todd Glascock. The editors of Horizons and staff members are listed below:

  • Sarah Haugh '20, co-editor-in-chief
  • J.R. Herman '20, co-editor-in-chief
  • Kerri Thornton '20, senior editor
  • Lily Purdy '20, sports editor
  • Sydney Beverly '20, sports editor
  • Ella Davis '21, tributes and clubs editor
  • Kira Stewart '21, people editor
  • Charlotte Golpira '21, people editor

Staff: Jill Ghormley '22; C.J. Cason '22; Brooke Thornton '22; Emma Clark '22; David Alexander '22; Henry Clifford '22; Cate Ware '22; Anna Melley '21; Sophia Mirovski '21


Please learn more about our Theater and Dance programs.

Norfolk Academy's 2019-20 Yearbook is dedicated to Dance Master Elbert Watson.

Norfolk Academy's 2019-20 Yearbook is dedicated to Dance Master Elbert Watson.

Norfolk Academy's 2019-20 Yearbook is dedicated to Dance Master Elbert Watson.

Norfolk Academy's 2019-20 Yearbook is dedicated to Dance Master Elbert Watson.

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