2020 Maggy Awards: Lifestyle

Alice Beatson and Taylor Sobha

Best public school

Peak Charter Academy

Green Hope High School
Triangle Math and Science Academy

Best private school

Cary Academy

Grace Christian School
Resurrection Lutheran School

Best active adult community


Carolina Preserve at Amberly

Best nonprofit

Dorcas Ministries

The Carying Place
Triangle YMCA

Best preschool

Primrose Schools

St. Michael Preschool
Resurrection Lutheran School

Best golf course

Prestonwood Country Club

MacGregor Downs Country Club
Lochmere Golf Club

Best interior design firm

Lauren Burns Interiors

Southern Studio Interior Designs
Aura Interiors

Best music venue

Koka Booth Amphitheatre

Red Hat Amphitheater
Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek

Best local event or festival

Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival

Peak City Peakfest
Spring Daze Arts & Crafts Festival

Best elementary school principal

Steven Pond, Peak Charter Academy

Winston Pierce, Farmington Woods Magnet Elementary School
Rebecca Draper, Cardinal Charter Academy

Best middle school principal

H. Trent Evans, Reedy Creek Magnet Middle School

Rick Williams, Alston Ridge Middle School
Thomas Kolb, Resurrection Lutheran School

Best high school principal

Karen Summers, Green Level High School

Nolan Bryant, Cary High School
Matt Wight, Apex Friendship High School

Best high school coach

Roy Cooper, Apex High School

Brian Miller, Holly Springs High School
Scott Walton, Cary High School

Best place for outdoor recreation

Fred G. Bond Metro Park

William B. Umstead State Park
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

Best place for a friends’ night out

Whole Brain Escape

Rudy’s Pub & Grill
TIE: Ruckus Pizza, Pasta & Spirits / Bond Brothers Beer Company

Best fitness club


Rex Wellness Center
Hustle Fitness Studio

Best yoga studio

Republic of Yoga

Cary Flow Yoga
Omni Yoga

Best kids’ program

Cary Dance Productions

Code Ninjas
Premier School of Dance

Best track-out or summer camp

Code Ninjas

TIE: Pura Vida Studio / Town of Cary

Best local TV personality

Don “Big Weather” Schwenneker, ABC-11

Debra Morgan, WRAL
Elizabeth Gardner, WRAL

Best local radio personality

Camille Kauer, WDNC-AM

Erica DeLong, G105

Best North Carolina hotel or resort

The Umstead Hotel and Spa

Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville
The Mayton Inn

Code Ninjas

Best Track-Out or Summer Camp, Honorable Mention for Best Kids’ Program

At Code Ninjas, children aged 7 to 14 learn how to build their own video games, and along the way, they sharpen their math, logic and problem-solving skills. Because each activity is pressure-free and focused on fun, it’s no wonder the Morrisville business is popular with kids and their parents.

Alice Beatson and her husband Chris opened the child-centered coding studio in May 2018, offering after-school and weekend sessions, and a variety of day, track-out and summer camps. This year, campers can build robots, program a drone or design their own app.

“It’s humbling to know that a new business can make such an impact on the community in a positive way, with the kids,” said Beatson. “When the parents come to pick them up, they literally do not want to leave. And we have kids that are standing at the door before we open, because they are so excited to come back in for camp.”

An environment of collaboration, encouragement and teamwork promotes learning, she says. And a team of instructors, led by center director Taylor Sobha, is there to coach the kids along the way.

“Working with the kids is the whole reason that we do it, making those relationships and seeing them grow,” Sobha said. “We’ve heard a lot of stories from parents about how their kid has changed, not just at Code Ninjas, but in school and making more friends and being more confident in themselves.”


Karen Summers, Green Level High School

Best High School Principal

Karen Summers left Green Hope High School, which had been established in the 1920s, for Green Level High School, which welcomed its first students last August. From hiring 80 staff members to creating a master course schedule from scratch, the experience has been challenging, yet rewarding, she says.

It’s been gratifying to see the students, who came from middle school or another high school, come together and become Green Level Gators.

“The identity piece of this school has been a journey. We’re looking at building a sense of community,” she said. “If I look at the beginning of the year, at how many kids would walk in with Panther Creek shirts on, or a Mills Park Middle shirt on, it’s definitely fewer today than in August or September. We’re getting there.”

Throughout the process, Summers and her team have been focused on fostering relationships with students and to create a place where kids feel connected, with each other and to the world.

“This generation, they really are seeking to make the world a better place,” she said. “This generation is going to really go places and make a difference. I really feel like it’s limitless.”


Roy Cooper, Apex High School

Best High School Coach

Roy Cooper is beloved by more than Maggy voters, having been named Coach of the Year in 2018 by The North Carolina High School Athletic Association. He was inducted into the Apex High School Hall of Fame in 2017.

Cooper has been at Apex High School since 1984, when he was hired as a teacher and athletic director. A year later, he became head coach of the cross country and track and field teams. In 36 years at Apex High, he has coached the Cougars to 51 conference championships.


Camille Kauer, WDNC-AM

Best Local Radio Personality

Since June, Camille Kauer has been on the E-Spot every Thursday morning at 8:15 a.m. “E” stands for entertainment, and in the segment, the enthusiastic Kauer asks celebrity guests about their work, how they got started and for any advice they care to share.

The radio gig is one facet of the multi-talented Kauer, who is also an actress and model. She landed on the E-Spot after cornering her former workout partner and Sports Shop creator Erroll Reese, and asking him to take a chance on her.

“I was at a meeting; he was there on the panel, and that’s when I approached him. ‘Hey, what about me — having me on?’”

Reese, who co-hosts the sports talk show on The Buzz radio station with Kevin “Kmac” McClendon, agreed to bring her on as a guest.

“I bring in a friend, a movie producer, who is doing this huge entertainment event here in North Carolina,” said Kauer. “And from then on out, he was like, ‘Everybody really liked the show. I got so many phone calls about, who’s Camille? Who’s Camille?’”

She’s been a regular on the show ever since.

Camille Kauer

If you’d like to find out “Who’s Camille?,” Kauer’s interviews can be found on YouTube, her Facebook page and in the Thursday episodes of “The Best of the Sports Shop with Reese & Kmac” podcast.


Whole Brain Escape

Best Place for a Friends’ Night Out

Heather Chandler

Heather Chandler and her husband, Rafael, are the masterminds behind Whole Brain Escape in Apex. With decades of experience in the video game industry, they turned their attention to real-life adventure games and opened their escape-room business in January 2019.

To crack a room’s code and escape, teams must work together to solve puzzles and riddles using clues, strategy and cooperation. Visitors can choose from four puzzling adventures: an ‘80s room, a supervillain room, a mysterious Indiana Jones-inspired room and a Mad Scientist room that’s groovy psychedelic.

“We really try to focus on creating rooms that are fun for families, friends and co-workers that have a high escape rate,” said Heather Chandler. “We want people to be able to come and get through the room and have a good time. Not everybody escapes, but we certainly tried to design experiences that are good for beginner escape- room people.”

The business is also a great way for families and friends to leave their devices behind and connect face-to-face.

“The escape room is a great activity for people of all ages to enjoy. We frequently have families come in with their middle-schoolers or their high-schoolers. They bring their grandparents,” she said. “It’s really a great way to bring all generations of people together.”


Lauren Burns Interiors

Best Interior Design firm

Although Lauren Burns is familiar to Maggy voters, garnering four Honorable Mentions since she opened her business in 2011, this is her first win for Best Interior Design Firm. She likes using a mix of old and new pieces in a client’s home, in order to create timeless and comfortable spaces.

Lauren Burns

What is your creative philosophy?

Your home should tell the story of who you are; it should be a collection of what you love. I design spaces reflective of the people who live there and create cohesive personal havens that exude a comfortable, livable sense of luxury. To accomplish this, I believe every detail of a space should be well-thought-out with a masterful mix of the old and the new.

How about your personal style?

I love to source a great vintage or antique piece and pair it with a new design element, with clean lines and a modern feel. I personally like to have a neutral palette, layering textures in a space and then adding pops of unexpected color to create a timeless yet versatile space.

Can you describe a favorite piece of furniture in your house?

My favorite piece of furniture is a vintage Lucite and brass side table that I found at High Point recently. I use it as a side table currently, but it can double as a nightstand or a great corner piece in the future.



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