Performing Arts Boarding School

New Course Offerings at Oak Hill Academy: Music Department

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You’ve read in past blogs that the Arts Department at Oak Hill Academy provides great opportunities for discovery and mastery of the various arts for our students.  With the addition of the new outdoor theatre on campus, there is an excitement building among the faculty involved in music performance and drama.  We are pleased to announce two new courses in our music department that represent an acknowledgement of both our place in the local community of southwestern Virginia and the growing trend of students wanting to continue their love of music beyond  Oak Hill Academy.

Music Boarding School VA
Oak Hill Academy Boarding School Music Program

The new Appalachian String Band class is an extension of the highly successful Advanced Guitar Class that has been offered to our students.  This course will now include instruction and incorporation of upright bass, banjo, dulcimer and autoharp to compliment our guitarists.  I had the pleasure of tagging along with this class last year as they sat in with the weekly local musician’s jam at the Grayson County Courthouse.  What a unique opportunity for our students!  Our music teacher, Ms. Jean Callison, is very well-plugged into the rich, local music scene.  There is no better place in America to study Old Time Music than where  Oak Hill Academy is located here in the Grayson Highlands of the Blue Ridge Mountains!


I’m equally excited by the addition of the Music Lab course.  This will expose our music students to mixing, arranging, and other production techniques.  We often have students who pursue music study in college and have the need to produce demos for other reasons as well.  This class is designed to meet that need by allowing students to work on performance and recording of modern music.  Instruments will include electric guitar, electric bass, keyboards and drums among others.



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.

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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 #2 – Tiora Hackley ’08

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Tiora Hackley spent 4 years at Oak Hill Academy, graduating in 2008.  Her contagious personality and the personal growth she showed during that time have made her one of the most fondly remembered students to come through in many years.  Tiora has been very busy and productive since graduating from Oak Hill Academy.  After attending Norfolk State University and, later, Virginia State University on a basketball scholarship, the Virginia Beach native has gone on to some very prestigious internships and putting her BFA degree to good use while working in the graphic design industry and starting the Teekie Apparel brand ( I recently spent some time catching up with “Teekie” and discussed the impact of the Oak Hill experience on her life.


Tiora is shown here presenting her Post-Baccalaureate Project at MICA

What are you doing now in the business world?

Right now, I am finishing my graduate work at the Maryland Institue of Art (MICA) and plan to graduate the post-baccalaureate program in graphic design in May.  I’ve got some business opportunities with my apparel brand and am applying to some great companies.  I can’t wait for my next move!

What has been your path since graduating Oak Hill Academy in 2008?

I was a student athlete (women’s basketball) at Norfolk State and transferred to Virginia State University for my last two years.  I graduated VSU with a BFA in Graphic Design, did a lot of work for the VSU athletic department as a media specialist and started my own clothing line, Teekie Apparel, all in 2013.  I was also able to secure a graphic design freelance assignment with the Under Armour Retail Design Team in 2014.  I also extended the Teekie brand by working as a stylist consultant for a WNBA player, Monica Wright of the Minnesota Lynx.  This year, I made the tough decision to go back to school to invest in my career and currently attend MICA.

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This is one of the many marketing pieces Tiora created for VSU. She tells the story of how cool it was to run into one of her former Oak Hill classmates, Kevin Durant, during one of her work assignments.

What did you discover about yourself at Oak Hill?

At Oak Hill Academy, especially by my senior year, I realized that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to.  At Oak Hill, I developed confidence and was able to focus on my future.  I had a lot of support from teachers like Rev. Turnmire and Mrs. Bonham who taught me that good things come from hard work.  I feel that I was pushed to the highest potential and was guided in all areas of life – not just academics.  The spiritual opportunities at Oak Hill also has a lasting impact and I always do my best to attend church and be thankful to God to this day.  Because of this support, it became very important to me to leave a good impression on my peers and teachers.  It wasn’t always like that – I grew up a lot at Oak Hill Academy.

Did Oak Hill Academy help foster your passion for graphic design and art?

Most definitely.  I was involved with a lot of 21st century skills through Ms. Sargeant’s classes.  I also enjoyed the art classes which rounded out my experience.  I remember the many projects I was given the responsibility for such as the senior night video presentation, which I think was a big hit!

We are very proud of the ambitious, energetic young woman Tiora has become.  During her time here, Teekie became “our kid” and we have lots of great memories of her.  I must also point out that Tiora became the first 1000 point scorer in Oak Hill Lady Warriors history and is considered a pioneer of the program.  Please contact Mr. Rodgers, Director of Admission for application information or to discuss our school.  We want to part of your success story too! to visit Tiora’s graphic design site.

Discovering new talents at Oak Hill Academy – Guitar Class

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Watching kids discover a new talent or renew a passion for an old talent is one of the coolest things about working at Oak Hill Academy.  The Arts programs here provide the important opportunities to make that happen.  Our music department offers guitar classes for beginners through advanced. Our percussion classes inspire some kids to express themselves through drum (as the music room is located next to my office, I’m happy to say they are getting pretty good!), traditional band instruments and a strong chorus round out this program.  As with the visual arts and theatre program,  students discover talents and have opportunities to display those talents.  Over the years, we’ve also helped some students to realize their dreams of pursuing music in college programs.

In homeroom yesterday, we were treated to a performance of the classic, “Stand By Me” by members of Ms. Callison’s beginner guitar class.  Starting with Mason Higgs’ strong bass line and punctuated with the soulful stylings of Joe Hampton, the group did a tremendous job and started the day on a great note.   I’m always amazed to see different sides of our students.  The last time I had seen Joe (the night before), he was dunking on someone during Oak Hill Academy‘s record-setting final home basketball game of the season!

I look forward to discussing with prospective applicants the different opportunities offered at Oak Hill Academy outside of the academic classroom.  There is a lot going at Oak Hill!

l to r:  Mason Higgs, Jake Levinson, Reed Mingione, Ms. Callison, Joe Hampton and Brendan Cruz take the stage in homeroom.

beginning guitar