Month: May 2015

Oak Hill Academy Stories (#5): Ben Powell ’05 – TV Reporter

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Some students have so much personality that you know their story is going to be interesting.  Ben Powell was that kind of student at Oak Hill Academy, making his mark as the student body president and official “hype” man of the Warriors basketball program before graduating in 2005.  As he has been an on-air news reporter the past 5 years in North Carolina, he has been fairly easy to follow.  I was very excited to learn recently that his talents have brought him to WFMY News 2, in nearby Greensboro, NC.  Imagine how proud we are to see our guy, Ben, on an almost nightly basis now!

Ben Powell reporting

Ben received his Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies from UNC-Wilmington and hit the ground running.  Starting off as a production assistant at WECT-TV 6 in Wilmington, NC, Ben quickly worked his way up to Weekend Anchor.  He earned several awards for broadcast excellence from the Radio Television Digital News Association during his time there.  He is now the Multi-Media Journalist for News 2.

I recently caught up with Ben to discuss his time at Oak Hill Academy and the impact he feels that has had on his life.

What have been the lasting benefits of Oak Hill Academy?

Looking back, I know I developed several character traits there.  Character, integrity, discipline and respect – just to name a few.  I was pretty direction-less when I arrived in 8th grade.  Being part of a close-knit community allowed me to grow.

Now that you have some perspective, what makes OHA special?

It’s special because the teachers there really care about you.  Everyone from Administrators to dorm parents really want you to succeed.  All a student needs is the effort because you have the resources and support – and you leave with a huge reward…your dignity (and a meaningful diploma!)

635576065809585426-ben-powell-wfmyBen Powell behind the scenes

Would you recommend Oak Hill Academy to prospective families with a student like you were?

I would definitely recommend this experience.  Although it is a huge lifestyle change and it does take some getting used to things like Saturday school and cell phone restrictions, in the end it is so worth it.  You’ll never forget the things you learn about yourself and the relationships you form there.

From your bio, I see that you’ve done some pretty cool things in reporting, from interviews with convicted killers to A-list celebrities.  What’s the coolest thing you’ve done in the job?

My job once took me to the red carpet premiere of “Safe Haven” a major film based on the romance novel by Nicholas Sparks.  It was filmed in our backyard in Wilmington.  It was really cool to be in Tinsel Town interviewing all the stars.  But the most rewarding thing about my job is telling the stories that create change in the community.  I love getting feedback from someone who thanks me for telling their story and raising awareness about the issues that face our society.  I feel like I’m helping the community one story at a time.

Now the tough question:  Do you miss performing at the halftime of Gold Team games?  You had some serious dance moves.

(Laughs) Well, despite attending school with Carmelo Anthony, Josh Smith, Rajon, Ty Lawson, Kevin Durant and all the other big name players, I think there is no doubt who the real star of the show was.  It’s been 10 years, but I think I still have some gas in the tank.  I think I’ll visit “The Hill” soon and shake off the cobwebs!

ben powellben powell dancing 2

Ben, we believe you.  We’ve got the footage to prove it.

Oh, and some things never change:


Valuable out-of-classroom experiences: Health Science Shadowing Program at Oak Hill Academy

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Health Science Shadowing Program

Oak Hill Academy strives to give students opportunities to embrace something more than just a typical classroom setting. Our College Guidance department has created many opportunities for students to research Colleges and Universities during their Junior and Senior years. Increasingly Colleges and Universities want students to show “demonstrated interest” in their selected field of study.

This year, Oak Hill Academy, in Partnership with Dr. Anne Branwell-Grayson,  and Twin County Regional Hospital in Galax, Virginia, have created a shadowing program for Oak Hill Academy  students interested in the diverse field of Health Science. This outstanding program offers students the opportunity to shadow in a variety of different hospital departments. This year students shadowed in the Pharmacy, pathology labs, laparoscopic and open surgery theaters, nursing and hospital administration.

Our inaugural team consisted of seniors all committed to Colleges and Universities with a focus in the Health Sciences. Destiny (Virginia Commonwealth University) with a focus in Orthopedic Surgery, Oluchi (Virginia Commonwealth University) with a focus in Pharmacy, Michelle (Berea College) Undecided Health Science, Adrian (United States Navy) with a focus in Field Medicine and Cardiology,  and Sean (Radford University) with a focus in Business and Medicine.

These students are the first wave of what will continue to be a very important and essential program for rising juniors and seniors. As the program grows we hope to increase the opportunities for students who are interested in every aspect of the Health Sciences.  To learn more about this, and other unique opportunities at Oak Hill Academy, please contact Mike Rodgers, Director of Admission at or (276) 579-2619.

Warrior Weekend Activity – Zip lining at Hawk’s Nest

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There are frequent off-campus trips and on-campus activities available on the typical weekend at Oak Hill Academy.  Still, the students really look forward to the three “Warrior Weekends” spread throughout the school year.  On these weekends, the students are presented with an extraordinary menu of small, out-of-the ordinary, off campus trip options.  This past Warrior Weekend, for example, the highlights included a dinner-theatre trip, Virginia Tech lacrosse game, laser tag, and a zip lining trip to a nearby adventure center in the Boone, NC mountains.


Although the weather threatened to turn against us, the group had a blast (check out those clouds coming in!).  The windy conditions provided a challenge to complete the runs without getting stuck, but our adventurous spirit carried us that day!  The day was completed with a great meal at The Cookout restaurant.  A few of the group had last seen the Hawk’s Nest covered in snow as it is also the site of our frequent snowboarding trips in the winter – all less than an hour’s drive away!