Cary Academy

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Coordinates: 35°49′11.83″N 78°46′09.03″W / 35.8199528°N 78.7691750°W / 35.8199528; -78.7691750

Cary Academy
Cary acamedy logo.png
1500 North Harrison Avenue
Cary, NC 27513
Type Private
Motto "A learning community dedicated to Discovery, Innovation, Collaboration, and Excellence"
Established 1996
Head of school Dr. Michael Ehrhardt
Grades 6-12
Number of students 746
Campus Suburban, 52 acres (210,000 m2)
Athletics conference TISAC, NCISAA
Mascot Charger (horse)
Accreditation SACS, SAIS
Yearbook The Legacy
Tuition $22,355
School colors blue and gold

Cary Academy is a private, coeducational, nonsectarian, college-preparatory secondary school in Cary, North Carolina established in 1996. The school places an emphasis on the use of technology in the classroom,[1][2] with tablet computers issued to all students.[3] In the 2012-2013 academic school year, Cary Academy had 746 students.


Cary Academy was founded by Ann and James Goodnight and Ginger and John Sall in 1996, though the first classes were not held until 1997. (Goodnight and Sall are co-founders of SAS Institute.)

Cary Academy is an independent, coeducational, college-preparatory day school for students in grades 6-12 located on a 65-acre campus in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill).

As a school established by the founders of SAS, the school has placed a heavy emphasis on the use of technology.[4] from 1997 until 2006, the school had desktop computers located in every classroom.[2]

In 2003, the Sports/Education Annex was completed, allowing more space for both athletics and Foreign Language classes.

In September 2004, the United States Department of Education named Cary Academy one of 255 public and private schools that had won its No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon award since the inception of the program.

Starting in the 2006-2007 school year, the school transferred from desktops to a Tablet PC program for all students.

Architecture for the school buildings is neoclassical, with ornate columns at entrances. It was modeled after the University of Virginia, and was designed by Cherry Huffman architects of Raleigh, North Carolina.[5]

In July 2011, Head of School Don Berger announced his stepping down after the 2011-12 school year.[6]


Middle school[edit]

The middle school curriculum includes required course sequences in science, math, social studies, English, foreign language, and PE.[7] In addition, students are also required to choose an elective in the arts.[8] Almost all classes meet each day; the exception is art classes in sixth grade, since sixth-graders choose one class to have three days a week and are rotated through the other arts on the other two days to expose them to different disciplines.

Math levels offered are Math 6 and Math 7 (more or less based on the standard North Carolina curriculum [8]), Transitional Math (i.e. Pre-Algebra), Algebra I, and Geometry. Students are initially placed into either Math 6 or Transitional Math, based on previous grades and entry test scores.[8] The math courses taken in middle school will also determine what courses the student will take in the Upper School. For example, a student that has taken Transitional Math in Eighth Grade will begin with Algebra in the Ninth Grade, whereas a student who has taken Algebra in Eighth Grade will begin with Geometry in the Upper School.

Foreign language classes are emphasized more than is generally the case in middle schools; levels from Novice to Intermediate-Low on the ACTFL scale are offered in Spanish, French, German, and Mandarin Chinese.[8]

Science, History (officially referred to as World Cultures in 6th grade), and English (officially referred to as Language Arts) consist of three-year integrated sequences, though English and social studies emphasize ancient civilizations in the sixth grade, Europe in the seventh, and the United States in the eighth.[8]

Upper school[edit]

The high school (referred to as the Upper School) offers an extensive range of required and elective courses.[9][10] These include many corresponding AP classes, for which college credit can be earned.[8] Most students take at least one or two of these in their junior and senior years, and some take as many as five each year; there are enough AP classes to offer an AP option in nearly every subject for juniors and seniors.

The Upper School operates on a double block daily schedule.[11] Two days of the week, only half the classes meet (the other half meeting on the other day), but they meet for twice as long. This feature is meant to accommodate longer in-class activities, as well as to reduce the time taken to move between classes.[citation needed]


Four years of English are required, including two years of World Literature (in 9th and 10th grade) and one of American Literature (in 11th Grade). As with other core subjects, there are also various elective English courses offered to 11th and 12th graders.[9]

Foreign languages[edit]

The foreign language program is, as with the Middle School, a particular emphasis, with comprehensive instruction offered from the novice to the most advanced level.[12] Students who began taking German, French, or Chinese in the Middle School continue through the Upper School, though all new Upper School students start with the appropriate level of their chosen language. In most cases 3 years of the same language are also required in the high school curriculum. The school organizes a two- to three-week exchange program with schools in countries with these native languages. The program usually takes place in the sophomore year, and approximately 90% of students participate.[citation needed]


Three years of history and/or social sciences are required, including two years of World History (in 9th and 10th grade) and one of American History (in 11th Grade).[9]


Three years of math are required, including Geometry (usually in 9th grade) and Algebra II (usually in 10th grade). Later, in junior and senior years, they choose from an array of other options ranging from Probability and Statistics to Advanced Topics in Calculus. The school does not offer multivariate calculus although a few students take advanced math courses at North Carolina State University.


Three years of science are required, including Biology (9th Grade), Chemistry (10th Grade), and Physics (11th Grade). Several year-long and single-term courses ranging from Anatomy and Physiology to AP Biology to Forensics are offered in addition to these requirements.[9]

Other courses[edit]

There are a few other requirements such as PE (which is generally waived for athletes participating in one or more varsity sports), an Emotional Health program for 10th Graders, and a World Arts program in 9th and 10th grade. A large range of elective courses are offered as well, though the majority of them are available exclusively to 11th and 12th graders.[12]


From its inception, Cary Academy has placed a heavy emphasis on technology.[2][3] From 1997 until 2006, Cary Academy featured desktop computers in every classroom, as per the "one-computer-per-student" policy in use at the time.[2] For the 2006-2007 school year, these were replaced with Tablet PCs (model HP Compaq tc4400) issued to every student. For the 2010-2011 school year, these were replaced with newer Lenovo ThinkPad X201s, using the Windows 7 operating system. This year (2014-2015), switching to Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 (sources disagree) on the ThinkPad Yoga.

The school issues these computers to students in their first year, and are collected and reissued when the student graduates or leaves Cary Academy. Students are not required to purchase these computers as they are included in the annual tuition. Various types of technology support for the computers are also included, with a computer "help desk" located in both the middle school and upper school.[3]

The Tablet PC program is one of the first of its kind in the country;[13] it was financed by school founder Dr. Jim Goodnight.[citation needed]

Nearly all classes make use of the tablet in some form.[3] Main uses include taking notes via the electronic stylus in Microsoft OneNote, using Microsoft Word to type papers, and viewing homework assignments and projects through the school's extensive internal network.[2]

All students, faculty, and staff receive Microsoft Outlook E-Mail accounts, which are used both for communication,[3] and for submitting assignments (which can be done from home as well as during school). Students can also check their current grades through a database, which is available through the school's website and can be accessed at any time.[2]

Extracurricular Activities[edit]


Cary Academy has an expansive athletic program, and is a member of the Triangle Independent Schools Athletic Conference (TISAC) and the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA). Cary Academy has seventeen different athletic teams participating in a diverse range of sports, which include:

Boys: Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Golf, Lacrosse, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Track and Field, Wrestling

Girls: Basketball, Cross Country, Cheerleading, Field Hockey, Golf, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Track and Field, Volleyball


In 2001, the Varsity Boys Basketball team won Cary Academy's first Conference (TISAC) Championship.

In 2005, the Varsity Girls Cross Country team won the State Championship, and the Varsity Girls Basketball team were runners-up.[14]

In 2008, 2009, 2014, and 2015 the Varsity Boys Tennis Team won State Championships.[14]

The Varsity Boys Cross Country Team won State Runner-up honors in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013.[14]

In 2009 and 2010, the Varsity Volleyball team was State Runner-up.[14]

In 2012, the Varsity Girls Track & Field and the Varsity Girls Cross Country teams won State Championships.[14]


Cary Academy has a diverse Arts Department. In the Middle School, arts offered are visual arts, band, orchestra, chorus, drama, and dance forms (formally modern dance until a teacher change for the 2015-16 school year, who began teaching a variety of dance styles).[15] The Upper School offers a much wider range of fine, performing and computer arts, and at least one arts credit (usually one full year of an arts class) is required to graduate.[15]

In addition to frequent Instrumental, Choral, Dance and Art shows, Cary Academy's Fine and Performing Arts department has produced the following productions since its beginning:

Speech and debate[edit]

Cary Academy features a Speech and Debate Team, participation in which is available to Upper School students. The school participates in competitions of the National Forensic League, the National Catholic Forensic League, and the Tarheel Forensic League. Main Speech and Debate events offered at Cary Academy include:

The Cary Academy Speech and Debate team was founded during the 1998-1999 school year. In the fourteen years since its inception, the team has grown to become the largest speech and debate program in the state of North Carolina. During that time the team has won a state championship (2004), multiple district championships (2003 & 2004), and qualified students to attend the National Speech and Debate Tournament for 12 consecutive years running. (The longest active streak of any school in its district.) In that time Cary Academy has had 59 national qualifiers, including qualifiers in all but two of the eleven events offered at the national tournament. Cary Academy students have earned awards for advancing to the elimination rounds of the National Tournament in 8 of the last 9 years, including twice placing in the top six in their respective events. Cary Academy students have also won individual championships at the national/regional level competitions hosted by Wake Forest University, the University of Florida, Columbia University, Princeton University, and Northwestern University. In 2007, the Cary Academy chapter of the National Forensic League received the Leading Chapter Award for the Tarheel East District, and in 2012 Cary Academy's NFL Chapter was the 129th largest in the entire nation, including both public and private schools.


  1. ^ "Investing in the Future". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Cary Academy Instructional Technology Outreach Program". 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Cary Academy: Technology". Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "Feature: SAS in School". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "Cherry Huffman Architects - Cary Academy". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "Head of School Stepping Down". Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "Cary Academy: Middle School". 
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Academic Information: College Credits". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Cary Academy Upper School Departments". 
  10. ^ "Cary Academy Academics". 
  11. ^ "Upper School Schedule" (PDF). 
  12. ^ a b "Cary Academy: Academics". 
  13. ^ " Cary Academy". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c d e "Athletics". Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "Cary Academy: Arts". 

External links[edit]