Press Release

Hopewell Academy Science Teacher Attends Prestigious Program at Princeton University

Cary, NC

August 31, 2006

          Alyson Downing, a local science teacher at Hopewell Academy, was one of only twenty-five teachers in the world selected to attend a special institute at Princeton University for learning how to implement molecular biology in her own classroom.  This joint program was offered through a partnership between the Molecular Biology Department at Princeton University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute ( 

          The summer institute designed for teachers is intended to give them the hands-on experiences and tools to make an impact in their own schools and classrooms.  Teachers at the institute were able to extract mystery DNA from soil samples, test foods to see if they were genetically modified, and even solved a simulated crime using DNA fingerprinting and forensic science.  During the workshop, teachers spent as much time in the laboratory or working on lab-related projects as Princeton undergraduates spend in a typical yearlong lab course.  A highlight of the institute was the opportunity to interact with leading researchers at Princeton University.  Each day during lunchtime seminars, teachers were exposed to cutting edge research in the field of molecular biology and interacted with Princeton Professors and a Nobel Laureate.  Professor Ted Cox, the director of the program,  stated, “We hope that we can help our teachers inspire some of their students not only in the field of science but to understand that they can use their scientific knowledge to see the world of opportunities that they have available to them.” 

          Downing's teaching will be supported throughout the school year by Princeton.  Even though the cost of equipment and experiments can be prohibitive for a school, the experiments are supplied at no cost to the teachers or school.  Dr. Ann Sliski, the outreach director, is also available for assistance during the school year to ensure that the teachers have all the tools they need to inspire their students. 

          Downing also recently obtained a fully funded grant to develop a fuel cell program at the high school level.  The Students Fueling the Future Grant will include student competitions in fuel cell model car designs for race and hill climb challenges, web site design, science notebooks, oral presentations, and design innovation challenges.  The grant includes teacher training, on-site training, and materials.  The First National High School Fuel Cell Championship Event will be held in Raleigh, NC on December 8-9, 2006.  Downing is looking forward to a highly competitive team even though this is Hopewell’s first year.  “One of our new students has competed at the Middle School level and he brings a great deal of expertise to our program,” said Downing.

          Hopewell Academy is a new school using a small classroom setting for its students.  “Often very bright students do not flourish in traditional schools.  Hopewell follows each student closely with an academic mentor and an innovative approach to education.  Many gifted learners are bored in a regular classroom and Hopewell provides an outlet for these students to immerse themselves in the curriculum.  By expanding on the State of North Carolina Standard curriculum and degree requirements, Hopewell provides each student with a strong academic foundation on which to begin college,” said Cecilia Gabriel, head of Hopewell.  Hopewell educates students in Grades 4 to 12. 

          Hopewell Academy is located off Cary Parkway at 1001 Sheldon Drive in Cary, North Carolina.  The location is ideal for students in Cary and Apex as well as other parts of Wake, Chatham and Durham counties.  Hopewell began its second year on August 24, 2006.  Hopewell is actively enrolling for this year and next year.  Space remains in several grades for this year.  An Open House for prospective parents is scheduled for Sunday, September 17, at 2 pm.  Family tours are also available by appointment.  For applications or additional information, call the Director of Admissions at 919-607-6339 or view their website at

          Media inquiries:  Contact Anita Blomme at 919-673-9591

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