Month: December 2014

Oak Hill Academy Boarding School – The Dining Hall is the Thermostat of the Campus

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For a great overview of our Dining Service Partner, Meriwether-Godsey, visit

It is a well-worn piece of advice, but if you want to “take the temperature” of a school, visit the dining hall.  The dining hall at Oak Hill Academy is one of my favorite stops during campus tours.  Besides, one of the first questions I get from prospective students is about the food.  Below are my top 5 reasons that I think the dining hall at our school rocks:

5.  Nobody sits alone.  This is a fact that I took for granted until I began giving tours several years ago.  I often hear the comments from families trailing me as we go through the dining hall and comparing it to the experiences they have in their current schools.  I’m proud of the fact that there are no “clique” tables and if someone is sitting alone, it wont last long.  There is no pecking order and grade level doesn’t matter when you see yourself as part of a family – our kids can comfortably sit at a different table each day.

cafeteria pic 2

4.  The food is really good.  Oak Hill’s partner in the dining service is Meriwether-Godsey.  Oak Hill Academy is not in the dining business but our friends at M-G certainly are!  With contracts with several small boarding schools and colleges, business institutions and a restaurant at the Botanical Gardens in Richmond and at our State Capitol,  M-G has the experience to deliver fine food in a personal manner.  Professionally planned menus with an eye toward nutritional balance and quality ingredients means that we don’t have the same meal twice in a two-week period (unless it is requested by the students!).  Choices abound and the restaurant quality salad bar and deli bar enhances this fact.

cafeteria pic 9                scott

3. The atmosphere is casual yet nice.  Recent physical improvements include brand new lighting and flooring (much quieter!), first-class equipment, and a new paint scheme.  The dining hall itself is an impressive, roomy structure with a very high, wood beam ceiling.  It is a great place for our day to day meals and formal enough for our occasional special meals.  I can’t wait to show it to you!

cafeteria pic 11              cafeteria pic 7

2.  It is convenient and all-you-can-eat.  The serving line, salad bar, deli bar, hot and cold drink options, waffle-makers and speciality soups makes for a very efficient dining experience.  Again, choice is key.  Whether you are stopping in for a quick bite or settling into a substantial sit-down meal, our dining hall has what you need.  At breakfast, lunch and dinner there is a generous window of time when the dining hall is open and this accommodates our students’ and faculty’s busy schedules.  Also, if nutrition is a priority, there are many intentionally healthful options available at each meal.  Special dietary needs are also taken into account with vegetarian and gluten-free options available at each meal.  Did I mention it is all-you-can-eat?

1. It’s where our friends are.  Without a doubt, the dining hall is the heart of the school community.  The students leisurely dine and socialize during this time.  With many of our faculty and staff living on campus with their families, it really takes on the feel of the community.  As busy as life can be for the students and faculty, the dining hall gives us all a much appreciated chance to catch up with each other.

cafeteria pic 10         cafeteria pic    faculty

Oak Hill Academy – Food for Thought in Homeroom

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Homeroom, held daily in the Chapel, is an important part of the fabric of campus life at Oak Hill Academy.  I’ve addressed this in earlier blogs, but one of the most powerful and memorable things about daily life here is the morning devotion in homeroom each day.  Often, the most relatable messages come on Fridays when individual members of the senior class take turns giving the devotion in front of the school and their peers.

I’m often asked by parents what the subject of these devotions are and the answer is that it varies.  Sometimes it is a concept that is directly related to a Bible verse, but just as often it is a topic that relates directly to life for teenagers in the 21st century.  A recent devotion by Cheyene, a senior who has attended Oak Hill Academy for two years, provides a great example.  Her topic is food for thought for the students at Oak Hill who are adjusting to campus life with a cell phone policy that places a lot of limits on its use and reflects an attitude that Cheyene has developed during her time here.  Her message was timely and articulate and I’d like to share a transcript of her devotion, delivered last week:

“As an Oak Hill student I don’t get intertwined with social media like any other teenager. When I go home to get all my electronic distractions back, it saddens me to be the only one not on her phone at the dinner table. The only one looking up and not down at a little screen during a time when the family is meant to converse. 

      I’ve also noticed within the world outside of oak hill that many spend hours without making eye contact. The funny thing is I still remember being a kid, age 7, running around with my friends playing with ninja turtles yet nowadays I never see any kids playing outside like kids used to. Parenting in this modern day means not being able to entertain your child without an ipad. The question of how anyone meets their significant other hardly has a unique story.

      Making our lives look so interesting to people who we consider to be our “friends” has become an obsession. Young girls are constantly comparing themselves to girls on social media only creating insecurities and low self-esteem to grow to the point of no self-respect.  We all have this unspoken agreement that it is crazy to actually speak to a stranger in public. Instead of dancing and enjoying the live music at a concert I see everyone standing still in fear that dancing would blur their video.  We avoid what is real about our lives. Our pimples, our warts, our messy hair, our no hair, our crooked smile, our wrinkles, and the rest of the things that make us want to hide. These things we call insecurities and flaws are what makes us unique and human. We all have made this façade that our lives are perfect and we have to share with everyone online. We have hundreds of friends online yet claim we are so lonely. We share with all these people we call “friends” yet we are unable to share what matters most face to face.

      Now is the time to stop missing life. Stop missing the look she gives you when she says she loves you. Look up. See the seasons change and the way the sun rises and sets.  Behold the smile of a child. Look up. Feel the warmth of a hand holds yours so tightly.Spend time with the ones you might lose tomorrow. Look up.  We all need to learn to be human again and not robots.”

Oak Hill Academy Boarding School

Oak Hill Academy – “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”

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I want to return to a topic I’ve discussed before – The Growth Mindset.  Boarding school is not easy.  This includes the idea with which many parents will wrestle: the concept of having their child outside the home for the first time – a sometimes daunting prospect that I can relate to with three of my own in college.  With this in mind, a successful placement for a student at Oak Hill Academy must involve recognition that the growth they are seeking occurs mostly outside of a comfort zone.

Boarding Schools

Please take some time to check out all of the exciting and engaging aspects of life at Oak Hill Academy highlighted throughout our website.  There is an abundance of opportunity here to become a part of a diverse community, try new things and, in general, have a lot of fun!  However, I believe a lot of the real growth of our students occurs in the quieter moments of challenge – evening study hours, 8th period tutorials working shoulder to shoulder with a teacher who is demanding more than a student may be wanting to give, Saturday classes and a technology/social media policy with boundaries to name a few – there is plenty of opportunity for students to bump up against the structure provided at Oak Hill Academy.  These are the aspects that, for our students, leads to academic stamina, a developed sense of persistence and a sense of earned accomplishment known as “the turning point.”

Through the admission process, we are seeking students who recognize this as an opportunity. Our “wheelhouse” is in working with students who are seeking a way to move from good intentions to execution.  Candidly, I often have to work with parents to help move an applicant in this direction.  I’m confident to do this because, to highlight one of our core beliefs, once a child gets a taste of success, they will want more.  Please contact me in the Admission Office to begin a move in this direction for your child.