Month: April 2015

Oak Hill Academy Stories #4 Amy He class of 2015

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I first met Amy as a shy incoming 8th grader from China who had a large language barrier to overcome.  A short, memory-filled 5 years later, she is less than two weeks away from graduation at Oak Hill Academy.  We are all very proud of the engaged, confident young lady she has grown into before our eyes.  High Point University in North Carolina is next on the horizon for Amy.  She chose HPU from among several great scholarship offers from several good schools.  Amy is also a great example of the relationships built at Oak Hill Academy although it doesn’t take 5 years to do that.

amy spring 2013SONY DSC

Amy has acted in several play productions and has grown into leadership positions on campus such as student ambassador and Admission Department intern along with a long list of community service involvement.  She embraced the opportunity to become part of a close-knit school community, and along with long-term support of the ESL program, is now completely bi-lingual.  We now take the opportunity to check in with her before what is sure to be an emotional graduation time arrives.

As an international student, what were your first impressions of Oak Hill Academy when you arrived?  To be honest, I thought it was too much in the country.  I’m from the city and that took time to get used to.  I remember feeling everyone was friendly and I was glad the school is not too big.  I was worried that I might not fit in before I got here.

Multiples 2015amy piano

In what main ways have you grown at Oak Hill Academy?  I’m not scared to try new things and my confidence has grown a lot.  I’m a much better student than I thought I would become.

What are the most important relationships you’ve developed?  I have a bond with Mr. Henry Crede (Dean of Student Affairs) and he has become like a father to me.  I’ve felt support from a lot of faculty and staff and, especially, friends over the years if I’m having a tough time which happened more when I was younger.

amyamy baseball

What have become your favorite activities while at Oak Hill?  In Shanghai, I never really had the opportunity to ride horses – the equestrian program has become a big part of my life while at OHA.  I also love to dance.  (Oak Hill does not have an official dance program, although cheerleading has been a good outlet for Amy)  There have been many adults on campus who have gone above and beyond to help me continue to pursue dance.  I really appreciate that effort to take me off campus to attend weekly dance classes and competitions.  I did a devotion in home room the other day to express how much that has meant to me!

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Any advice to international students that will attend Oak Hill Academy?  Don’t be afraid to talk to other people.  Be brave.  Nobody here judges you while you are learning English.  The students and teachers understand.  You need to socialize with all other students to learn things outside of class.  Don’t be afraid to try new things, you never know what joy it will bring to you.

What have been the biggest obstacles to overcome during your time here?  Obviously learning English seemed like it was going to be hard, but it turned out to be really easy as I look back.  Saying goodbye when I graduate will be the biggest obstacle for me so I’m appreciating every memory I’m making at Oak Hill Academy.


“My Oak Hill Academy is…” The Theatre Program – Performing Arts Boarding School

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A short, student-produced film highlighting the Theatre Program at Oak Hill Academy Boarding School with footage from the Spring Play.  Part 4 of the “My Oak Hill Academy” series. Contact Oak Hill Academy at or Call (276) 579 2619.


Oak Hill Academy Stories #3 Alex Rodgers, Class of 2010

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Alex Rodgers attended Oak Hill Academy for three years and was a highly visible member of the Lady Warriors basketball team, served as an honor court member and was active in many other groups on campus.  She was fortunate to have quite a few college options with her combination of great grades, active campus involvement and basketball ability.  She eventually chose the opportunity of attending Princeton University, a decision she calls “the best decision I’ll probably make in my life.”  As she fast approaches graduation in a couple of weeks, we take the opportunity to catch up with her.

Alex action pictureAlex bench pic

What have been your biggest memories during your college experience as you look back?It would be obvious to talk about the tremendous success I’ve been able to be a part of with the women’s basketball team at Princeton (The Tigers finished the season 31-1 and made history with the highest national ranking and NCAA seeding ever for an Ivy League program and Alex’s senior class has amassed a record 98 wins), but I’m really going to remember most how I’ve grown.  Coming out of Oak Hill Academy where I had friends and interacted with people from so many backgrounds, I was prepared and had the confidence to take advantage of those kinds of opportunities here.  Oak Hill is where I first learned to step outside of my comfort zone and take leadership roles.  I’m glad I did!  Through the PU Religion Department, I’ve been able to participate in a human rights conference in Cuba, and through the PU Athletics department, I was able to spend significant time in Senegal and Paris. But lately what I feel like I’ll remember most is writing my senior thesis!

What was your favorite class at Oak Hill AcademyI’m graduating with a degree in Religious studies and I’m sure that was influenced by how much I enjoyed Reverend Turnmire’s Survey of World Religion course my Junior year at OHA.  That class did a lot in inspiring me to develop a world view and get a lot of college level writing experience.  I feel the same way about the World Cultures class I took with Mr. Hill.

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Alex and her teammate participated with her coach and a professor in a short film analyzing the physics of the three point shot.

What was the most valuable thing you learned from your Oak Hill Academy experience?  The power of relationships is easily the best lesson I learned at OHA and something that has continued through my college experience.  There is a special bond that you share with your classmates and teachers at Oak Hill Academy – it’s a special community.

Do you feel that boarding school prepared you for a better transition to college ?I think it did, yes. A lot of boarding school relied on routine, responsibility, and accountability.  Oak Hill gave me the tools to be able to establish all 3 principles on my own in college which is an even more intense and demanding environment.

What advice would you give a new student to prepare them for success at Oak Hill Academy?   Know that you can redefine yourself once getting to Oak Hill. If you commit to the process you will hone in on study skills, personal skills, and life skills. Growth in all of these areas will add to any and all of your future endeavors, whether you want to be a professional athlete, politician, business person, or whatever.

These sentiments were echoed by Courtney Banghart, Head Coach of the Princeton Women’s Basketball team: Alex came to Princeton as a confident learner. She had valuable time management skills and was accustomed to the independence of living away from home. She was used to learning alongside a range of students from diverse backgrounds. Also, Alex knew how to ask for help. She understood the power of relationships, something she surely learned in her time at boarding school, and began building connections in her first days at Princeton.

Oak Hill Academy Homeroom Devotion Today – a message of endurance

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One of my favorite aspects of the school day here at Oak Hill Academy is that we start every day in homeroom chapel with a positive, encouraging and sometimes, challenging message.  The senior class and other students often give the devotion.  Today’s devotion was particularly impactful.

Reed Mingione is a senior who has already received several great college acceptances.  He is also a state-level distance runner who knows a thing or two about endurance.  As our student body is coming down the stretch of the school year, he took the opportunity to talk about strength and endurance.  I’d like to share a transcript of it with you today.

Long, winding dirt roads, not a car in sight, searing hot sun rays, all at an altitude high enough to seriously endanger an asthmatic: for Kenya’s Kalenjin tribe, this is an everyday thing. And somehow, they have managed to win 40% of all international distance races since 1968. 17 Americans in the history of the world have run a marathon under 2 hours and 10 minutes. 32 Kenyans did it in one marathon last October. So, it’s not an argument, Kenyans are faster. But what is the difference between us, the people of Oak Hill Academy, and them, the world’s fastest runners?

     We all suffer from a disease, the disease of convenience. It’s the voice in your head that says “I deserve a day off” or “It’s not worth the effort.”  It doesn’t happen all of a sudden. It is a slow, progressive disease that lives inside of us and if we’re not fighting it, it’s consuming us. My old track coach was a Kenyan Olympic finalist, he told me once that in his country, the weakest kind of people were the ones that slept in. They were a prisoner to the disease. The only way to overcome it is to embrace the pain. The saying, “no pain no gain” is probably the truest saying in our language.

     This is how Kenya’s Kalenjin tribe is different. For them pain is a ceremony and a sign of maturity. Most of the Kalenjins still follow a tradition of crawling almost completely naked through a tunnel of stinging nettles on their 15th birthdays as a way to prove adulthood. The Olympic victory that would start Kenya’s reign was a record breaking 1500 meter race with Kalenjin runner Kip Keino. A world record time is hard enough, but Keino had an extremely painful gall bladder infection and was told by several doctors to not run in the Olympics. The amazing willpower of Kenya is not exclusive. It is the product of a culture that is not afraid of pain. That’s why they’re different and that’s why we need to follow Kenya’s lead. The most successful people are the ones that aren’t afraid to feel pain.

    On behalf of the faculty, staff and students of Oak Hill Academy, “Challenge accepted!”