Again and again, Bob Seeger’s song “Like a Rock” echoed during the NCAA Basketball Tournament commercials. Again and again, “Like a Rock … as strong as I can be.” Chevy trucks may have purchased the rights, but eventually the 30 second ad earned the mute button from me! I get it—your trucks are strong and steady, bounding over any obstacle in the way.
In terms of pure marketing, the image, the slogan, and the pairing with that song were all wildly successful. Years have passed since that commercial first aired, and I still picture a Chevrolet pickup when I hear the song.
As our students return to campus for the second semester of Oak Hill Academy’s 143rd academic year, that commercial once again sticks in my mind. I find myself reminding our faculty and staff community—again and again—that we are here to serve our students and that we have opportunity to do so in the most interesting and challenging of times.
Of course we are no pickup truck, but our school is called to help students scale the bumps in the path ahead. We are at the ready to travel alongside them as students begin to chart their own course toward independence. Hey, we’ll even give them a lift if they aren’t sure they can keep going and growing.
In a world that is increasingly tumultuous for everyone—particularly for adolescents—Oak Hill Academy is perched here in the Blue Ridge Mountains like a … well, I’ll go ahead and say it: We are like a rock. And we are as proud of our steady and enduring legacy as we are excited to welcome students back to The Hill in January 2022.
With several new faces among us, students are now in class (in person), relationships are being formed, and the healthy routines of life in a boarding school are already taking shape. Breaks from school are well-deserved and beneficial, and yet, there is something refreshing about the start of an academic session.
I am reminded that it is the steadiness, the “like a rock-ness” of Oak Hill, that allows our students to return to campus and take that deep breath of fresh mountain air, to settle comfortably into a sense of normalcy, to find a place that stands so solid that it becomes a reassuring home away from home for our students—especially given the unpredictability of the past two years.
With every opportunity I have, I will continue to remind our community—again and again—of the task at hand. Of course some may be tempted to hit the mute button and try to tune me out, but the message remains true. Like a rock, Oak Hill’s enduring presence remains intact. And that, my friends, is both reassuring and hopeful.
Michael D. Groves, Ph.D.