2019 Maggy Awards: Lifestyle

Principal Nolan Bryant, right, is full of praise for the top-notch teachers at Cary High School including Jerry Dotson, who teaches graphic design when he’s not coaching track or cross country. “Coach Dotson is an example of all the wonderful teachers at the school,” says Bryant. “I walk past his room at lunch, and there will be 50, 60 kids in his classroom, hanging out, working, studying, being together. That’s what is special about Cary High – the teachers at the school understand the importance of building relationships with kids.”

Best Public School

Peak Charter Academy

Cary High School
Green Hope High School

Best Private School

Cary Academy

Cardinal Gibbons High School
Resurrection Lutheran School

Best Active Adult Community


Carolina Preserve

Best Nonprofit

Dorcas Ministries

The Carying Place
The Triangle Aphasia Project Unlimited

Best Preschool

Primrose Schools

Kiddie Academy
TIE: St. Michael’s Preschool / Preschool for the Arts (Academy for the Performing Arts)

Best Golf Course

Prestonwood Country Club

MacGregor Downs Country Club
Lochmere Golf Club

Best Tennis Facility

Cary Tennis Park

Prestonwood Country Club
MacGregor Downs Country Club

Best Interior Design Firm

Southern Studio Interior Design

Lauren Burns Interiors
Design Works Studios

Best Music Venue

Koka Booth Amphitheatre

Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek
Red Hat Amphitheater

Best Local Event or Festival

Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival

Peak City Pigfest
Beericana Craft Beer & Music Festival

Best Elementary School Principal

Steve Pond, Peak Charter Academy

Raleigh Bame, Laurel Park Elementary School
Winston Pierce, Farmington Woods Magnet Elementary School

Best Middle School Principal

Rick Williams, Davis Drive Middle School

H. Trent Evans, Reedy Creek Magnet Middle School
Tom Kolb, Resurrection Lutheran School

Best High School Principal

Nolan Bryant, Cary High School

Matt Wight, Apex Friendship High School
Karen Summers, Green Hope High School

Best High School Coach

Jerry Dotson, Cary High School

Brian Miller, Holly Springs High School
TIE: Adam Sanders, Apex Friendship High School / Roy Cooper, Apex High School / Paul Scruggs, Panther Creek High School

Best Place for Outdoor Recreation

Fred G. Bond Metro Park

William B. Umstead State Park
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

Best Fitness Club


Hustle Fitness Studio
Excel Body Fitness

Best Yoga or Pilates Studio

Cary Flow Yoga

Republic of Yoga
Core Power Yoga

Best Kids’ Program

Cary Dance Productions

Academy for the Performing Arts
Code Ninjas

Best TV Station



Best TV Personality

Greg Fishel, WRAL-TV

Don Schwenneker, ABC 11 (WTVD-TV)
Elizabeth Gardner, WRAL-TV

Best Radio Station

G105 (WDCG-FM), 105.1

WUNC-FM, 91.5
WQDR-FM, 94.7

Best Local Radio Personality

Bob Dumas, G105 (WDCG-FM)

Erica DeLong, G105 (WDCG-FM)
Mike Wheless, WQDR-FM

Best Local Hotel or Resort

The Umstead Hotel and Spa

The Mayton Inn
Embassy Suites Cary

Jerry Dotson, Cary High School

Best High School Coach

Jerry Dotson has been at Cary High since 1989, teaching a variety of subjects but always coaching track and cross country.

“With running, I make analogies with life,” he said. “You’ll have good days, and you’ll have bad days. Some days you just have to get through it. Sometimes you’ve got to be self-motivated, because you’ve got to get out of bed and go to work.”

He coaches the sport year-round, and admits that running in August and September is challenging. This past summer, weeks of 90-degree days resulted in an innovative solution from the boys on the cross country team.

“These boys adapted. We got up and met at 4 in the morning to do workouts,” said Dotson, who recalled practicing in the dark before school. “They initiated it. I was fine with it, whatever they wanted to do.”

That dedication paid off in November when Cary High won the 2018 4A Boys Cross Country State Championship and senior Anton Idhammar won the individual title.

“It’s kept me young,” said Dotson. “I’ve been fortunate — fortunate to have a lot of really good kids.”


Nolan Bryant, Cary High School

Best High School Principal

Nolan Bryant has been principal of Cary High since 2013, and has gained the reputation of allowing students to have a voice in their school and their community.

“The students have challenged me to be a better school leader, to help create an environment where kids can advocate in a respectful way,” he said. “(Recently) kids have been able to step up and have a really powerful voice and let their thoughts be known. That’s really pushed me, because when you go to school to be a principal, you don’t think you’re going to be trying to find a way to manage and support a student walk-out.”

Following the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14, 2018, Cary High students left school to protest gun violence in schools.

“I was very proud of the way our school community responded to that. They chose to participate, and it was a worthy cause to participate in,” said Bryant.

“It gave me chills. I was almost brought to tears. My kids at Cary High make me proud every day.”


Dorcas Ministries

Best Nonprofit

Dorcas Ministries volunteer Betsey Edgeworth sorts clothing at the Dorcas Thrift Shop on High House Road in Cary. The shop is staffed by a team of more than 400 volunteers.

For decades, Dorcas Ministries has provided crisis relief to Western Wake residents. Among its many services are job training, financial assistance, a food bank, health care and an affordable thrift shop. More than 21,000 people received help in 2017, according to the most recent annual report.

The nonprofit has been picked Best Nonprofit since 2015, and that’s not the only way the community has shown its love of Dorcas.

To celebrate its 50th Anniversary, the nonprofit asked volunteers to create 50 quilts, which would eventually be auctioned off to raise money for the nonprofit. The project resulted in 61 donated quilts – and a handmade stuffed dog.

“We’ve been blown away by the community support with this project,” said Ellen Frazier, marketing and volunteer manager. “It has been a good reminder for us just how much the community supports what we do.”

More accolades: The Dorcas Thrift Shop also won for Best Resale Shopping.


Peak Charter Academy Principal Steve Pond

Best Public School, Best Elementary Principal

“We’re five quarters in and it’s been really exciting – a strong first year,” says Steve Pond, principal of Peak Charter Academy in Apex.

Only open since August 2017, Peak Charter Academy earned high marks from fans of its college readiness curriculum and its dedication to social and emotional growth for students.

The public school in Apex has nearly 700 students from kindergarten to eighth grade, most living within 10 miles of the school. But because of its proximity to Research Triangle Park, Peak also draws students from six counties beyond Wake.

The school’s principal, Steve Pond, also went to the front of the class. A veteran educator, he says he enjoys the K-8 model and the flexibility of working at a charter school.

“We strive to build a culture of love, whether that’s a love of learning or a love for each other. Whether it’s a student, a parent or a staff member, we want to make sure our community members, our Pirates feel safe, respected, cared for and appreciated,” Pond said. “It’s been a great opportunity to build what we feel is a thriving culture.”

Like all members of the National Heritage Academy network of schools, Peak Charter is guided by four themes: Parent Partnerships, Academic Excellence, Student Responsibility and Moral Focus.

Peak Cares events model the moral focus ideal, says Pond. Among the monthly service initiatives, students have partnered with the Ronald McDonald House in Durham, written military appreciation cards to send to veterans, and donated more than $2,000 to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief efforts.

“We felt it was a strong push from faculty and staff to be able to teach our scholars to look outward rather than inward,” he said. “Our students can see the difference they’re making.”


Fred G. Bond Metro Park

Best Place for Outdoor Recreation

With miles of paved walkways, Cary’s Fred G. Bond Metro Park is a favorite with area dog-walkers.

With all its killer attractions, it only takes .007 of a second to understand why this oasis of green space is a favorite for picnics, bird-watching, dog-walking and other outdoor fun. Here are more stats about Bond Park:

16,000+ — Attendees at the annual Spring Daze arts and crafts festival

7,163 — Annual boat rentals. Pedal boats, kayaks and canoes are among the 48 available watercraft.

350 — Summer camp participants

310 — Acres in the park, making it one of the largest municipal parks in Wake County.

80+ — Private groups that use the Challenge Ropes Course for teambuilding or recreation.

7 — Annual community events, including the Kite Festival, Easter Egg Hunt and Old Fashioned Independence Day.

5 — Miles of internal trails. There are also connection points to the White Oak Greenway, Black Creek Greenway, Oxxford Hunt Greenway and the future Crabtree Creek Greenway.


Cary Tennis Park

Best Tennis Facility

Acing this new category, the Cary Tennis Park has something for everyone, including adult classes, leagues, junior clinics, tournaments and lessons. As one of the largest tennis facilities in the South, the tennis park is surrounded by beautiful trees and scenic bridges. And several covered courts mean that players can stay fit with year-round matches.

Avid players can check outdoor court conditions before leaving the house thanks to PlaySight, cameras that livestream the action on 13 courts. The cameras also provide real-time footage of matches and practices.



Best TV Station

Home to Maggy-winning meteorologists Greg Fishel and Elizabeth Gardner, WRAL is where readers go for the latest news and weather. And for breaking news, folks head to wral.com, which recently won Best News Website in the 2018 Associated Press/Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas awards.


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