Month: October 2014
As our students settle into a new grading quarter and with Thanksgiving Break still a few weeks away, it has been great to see the excitement levels high on campus. From a social standpoint, I want to highlight two things contributing to this feel: We just had our first “Warrior Weekend” and a couple of home volleyball games!
“Warrior Weekend” happens at Oak Hill Academy periodically throughout the year and is basically an enhanced schedule of small group, off campus trips offered to our students. From feedback from the students, I know that the Ghost Train trip to Boone, NC got everyone in the Halloween mood, the trip to the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA provided culture and the mountain biking trip on the nearby Creeper Trail was exhilarating. These were just a few of the more than 15 trips our students had the opportunity to sign up for this past weekend.
Meanwhile, here on campus, the girls’ volleyball team provided some excitement of their own. The Turner Gymnasium is no stranger to large, spirited crowds during basketball season for any of our three boys’ basketball teams, but in recent years, the volleyball girls have been enjoying tremendous support. Most of their games happen at weekend tournaments and road games, so when a home game happens, it is a big deal on campus – face painting, prepared and impromptu chants all make for a great time for our entire student body!
There’s some really good momentum going on in campus life here on campus. And to think, The Harvest Festival (costume contest, carnival food and games and a haunted trail) is this weekend! Please view some great pictures from all of these events on our website’s Parents and Athletics pages. Things are happening on “The Hill.”
As a 1987 graduate of Oak Hill Academy, one of the greatest pleasures I have working here is taking walks down memory lane. My current office is located in our former library area and I get a kick out of thinking how I used to struggle against the idea of mandatory study hall before basketball practice in the very room I interview students who will soon have that same experience. As the song goes, “Time Marches On.” I also enjoy the memories of the little things from my time as a student here that get triggered as I walk around campus.
Many of faculty and staff members who were instrumental in providing the opportunities for these memories I now call friends and colleagues. Life is funny. I definitely remember many of the structures still in place – study hall, homeroom devotions, 8th period tutorials, service in Young’s Chapel Baptist Church here on campus, Socials on Saturday night… But it is the many, seemingly random, small memories that bring the most smiles to me. The time Ms. Hall (still works here but is now known as Mrs. Bowen) unexpectedly offered to take a group of us out to a Japanese steakhouse in Boone (my first encounter with an Hibachi Grill!), the time a group of friends decided to lip-synch to a Kurtis Blow rap song (a classic!) for the talent show, a small group outing to a local music festival where I was first exposed to this thing called “Bluegrass,” the list goes on…
So, yesterday when I passed a group of young men, undeterred by the recent heavy rains we’ve been having, coming from an ad-hoc game of ultimate Frisbee, I knew that they’d just made one of those little memories of Oak Hill that they’ll smile back on one day. You see, even though I spend a lot of time talking about the formally planned, intentionally structured aspects of student life at Oak Hill Academy, I know it is the little, unplanned memories that come from being a part of a close-knit student body, with generous, caring faculty that will probably prove to be the most impactful. You don’t plan for those here – they just happen.
Our college guidance department plays the unique role of assisting Oak Hill Academy students who come from all over the country (and the world!). Today, I would like to highlight two facts about Oak Hill Academy: 1. We have an extremely personal and effective college guidance department and 2. Our students go on to attend colleges and universities that are often far-flung because our students come from far-flung places.
With two fully dedicated college advisors, our average graduating class of 45 students gets very individualized attention. This process begins at Oak Hill Academy in the 10th grade as students begin to attend our college lab and research schools. By the time our students’ senior year begins, we have a firm idea of their targeted schools and we walk with them through the entire admission process. This includes managing deadlines, working on the college essays and all the way through to admissions interview coaching. All the while, communication with parents is emphasized so it truly is a team effort.
Part of the challenge to be met is to coordinate this search for colleges in many States and, in some cases, other countries. This year, our student body represents 24 States and 14 countries. We have several students from California and other points on the West Coast, many Northeastern States, and Southern States such as Florida, Alabama, North Carolina and, of course, Virginia. The colleges and universities targeted by our students are just as diverse.
Recently, our college guidance department coordinated a series of college visits for our students. This past Friday, students were able to choose a small group trip to the University of Virgina, Emory and Henry, Guilford College in North Carolina and Roanoke College in Virginia. The students benefitted from a wide variety of types of schools to visit and came back with a lot of insight. The feedback from the students was very positive and has added to the excitement on campus as our seniors head into the college application process. At Oak Hill Academy, we truly have a college-going culture and it is trips like this as well as the highly visible work of the guidance department that help create this environment. As you visit our campus, please take note of the ways this momentum is apparent.