Month: April 2014

Homeroom in the Chapel

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During admission calls, I am frequently asked to describe the typical day on “The Hill.” Here, I would like to focus on the way we start each school day. And when I say “we,” I want to emphasize that “we” (students, faculty and staff) start the day in a way that contributes to the incredible feeling of community that is a defining feature of campus life at Oak Hill Academy.

A hot breakfast is served in our campus dining hall beginning at 6:30 a.m.; the serving line is open until 7:40. Our students, faculty, staff and many of their family members enjoy a quiet meal and social time together. While breakfast is not mandatory, and students can arrive any time during this window, the vast majority of our students look forward to this pleasant start to the day. It is also very practical to attend breakfast–this ensures that one will not be tardy to homeroom!

Our homeroom assembly is held in our campus chapel directly across from the dining hall. Seating is assigned, with students grouped by grade level. Attendance is taken. It is the first opportunity of the day to be on time, as the homeroom bell sounds at 7:50 a.m. sharp.

All of our faculty and students begin the day in prayer together with various members of the school community taking turns offering the prayer. A short, daily devotion is then delivered–typically by our campus minister or by a faculty member or a school administrator. This is our opportunity to share a lesson and another side of our personalities with the students! The message may or may not relate directly to a piece of scripture and it always encourages a positive aspect of character. It sometimes challenges the students to look at an aspect of character in a new way.

Of special note is a Friday homeroom tradition: the senior students take turns giving the devotion. Some of the most profound, resonating messages are delivered by our students as they share an encouraging story from their lives or their experiences at Oak Hill Academy. As I look back over the years, many of these student devotions are among the most memorable.

Of course, since we’re all together during homeroom, we also take some time to handle administrative tasks with announcements and reminders of all the various activities that are scheduled for that day. If you ever want to get an appreciation for the scope of activities, clubs and projects our students are involved in, homeroom is the place to get it! We also take time to recognize achievements at this time such as college acceptances or how the track team did at the meet the day before.

There is a palpable shift in alertness and energy as the students file out of homeroom toward the academic building for first period (8:05 a.m.). The topic of the devotion that morning frequently comes up in our students’ and teachers’ conversations the rest of the day. The sense of community established in homeroom is one of the most lasting memories our students will have from their time on “The Hill.”