A new class has been added to the English Department at Oak Hill Academy in response to the identifiable needs of our students as they enter college: Critical Reading for College. This course is designed to assist students in improving their skills in critical reading specifically as it applies to types of reading they will be doing as college freshman and as applicants for college. A special emphasis will be placed on the redesigned “Evidence Based Reading and Writing” section of the SAT.
The relationship between writing skills and improved reading skills is the basis of this class. Students will review a variety of writing conventions – persuasive, research, comparative, and editorial to name a few. Due to the heavy volume of reading and writing, especially in introductory level college classes, we’ve identified this as point of emphasis in preparing our students for college. This new class represents a response to information we’ve received through a continued contact with our alumni base and feedback they’ve provided as to the most practical preparation we can offer to our students as they become college freshman. The goal with this class is continue to grow our student’s preparedness with an increased understanding of sentence structure, flow, and transitioning elements in the kind of writing (and by extension, reading) they will encounter most in college.
I spend a lot of time on the phone with prospective families “painting a picture” of campus life here at Oak Hill Academy. I recently created a slideshow to use on my upcoming trip to the Latin School Fair organized by The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), of which we are a long-standing member. I’m so excited to be meeting families from Mexico City, Moterrey, Panama City and Bogota in upcoming weeks. I’ll be sure to take some interesting footage to share on a future blog! I’m really looking forward to meeting the newestOak Hill Academy Warriors in their homelands.
I’ve decided to go ahead and share that slideshow with you here, from the admission desk, so you can see the excitement, diversity and beauty of campus and, most of all, “who” we are! Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at Oak Hill Academy to learn more. Enjoy and stay tuned.
Click Here for the slideshow: Presentation1
Also please take some time to view our YouTube Channel.
And our latest Video of our Homecoming Dance 2015!
Here are some brief interviews with a few students returning to campus after our recent Christmas break. Stay tuned for more Oak Hill Academy on-campus videos!
Currently conducting tours and accepting applications for limited spaces for 2015 Spring Semester, which starts Jan. 5 for new students.
Also considering applications for Fall 2015!
I want to address a frequently discussed topic that is particularly appropriate today, the start of our 10-day Thanksgiving Break. Parents often want to know if they can visit their child and how often. The short answer is, yes, parents are encouraged to visit campus especially whenever their student is directly participating in an athletic event, drama or music presentation, or special recognition event. With a Saturday school schedule that often sees classes in session until noon, parents sometimes come up to spend the afternoon on campus or for short, off-campus trips with their child.
The reality is, however, that our breaks and open weekends are so frequent, that parents typically just wait for one of the natural breaks to occur. Our three major breaks each year, where campus closes are Thanksgiving (this year, November 21-December 1), Christmas (December 19-January 5) and Spring Break (March 6-23). Interspersed, are 5 long, open weekends where we do not have Saturday class scheduled and students are allowed to return home or visit classmates homes with parental permission. (Please see the academics page on our website for a full year calendar with details) Essentially, there is not longer than a four or five week stretch without an opportunity for our students to have a break off campus. Of course, with our student body representing 14 countries and over 20 States, many of our students stay on campus through the open weekends. We plan a lot of activities, on and off campus, for those that stay.
As I have three of my own children in college as we speak, it has occurred to me that this feels very much like the college schedule. Students are busy with demands and commitments for stretches of time, but there is always some welcome rest and reconnection to friends and family right around the corner. It is obvious from the feedback from students that the pace of our schedule is great preparation for college and develops our students’ academic stamina and work ethic in a real-world way. By the time a break begins, like today, our students overwhelmingly feel a hard-earned sense of accomplishment and have sprinted into holiday season.
Speaking of the holiday season, the Admission Office at Oak Hill Academy will be open throughout and I am happy to speak by phone or by email. Wishing you all the best for a healthy and contented Thanksgiving with your families!
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.