Oak Hill Blog

Boarding School Vs Military School

How Oak Hill Academy’s Educational Philosophy Wins Hearts and Minds

There are many types of boarding schools in America, and for the discerning family it’s important to distinguish among them to ensure the best possible fit between a school and a prospective student. Typically, things like structure, discipline, leadership development, and accountability are among the most sought-after value propositions families look for in boarding schools, and it’s easy to assume that if you seek these elements, military high schools  should be your first stop.  But such is not the case, and Oak Hill Academy supplies these important benefits, and more, without resorting to military (or militant) protocols. 

As a 24-hour environment, Oak Hill Academy offers students an unambiguous, predictable, and adult-supervised daily schedule. We begin the day together at morning assembly, then we all go to class. We move through our standard day then head out to athletic practice or after school activities, which are plentiful and well-communicated to students. We eat dinner as a family, always at 6:00 pm, followed by study hall at 8:30 pm and lights-out at 10:30 pm. All of this routine, structure, and predictability of schedule benefits our students and allows them to settle into the OHA routine without requiring military drill and ceremony, rigid uniform compliance, and white glove inspections.

Oak Hill students are valued as individuals, and our staff celebrates the unique achievements of each. Unlike a demerit based one-size-fits-all approach to student growth and leadership common at military boarding schools, our community recognizes young people as works-in-progress and walks with them as they acquire the soft skills necessary for success as young adults. And as they grow, we ask more of them- eventually inviting them to mentor and serve their peers, rather than command them.  There are no appointments, no titles or ranks, no medals.  And above all, no direct supervisory or disciplinary authority over their classmates. Rather, our leaders distinguish themselves by serving others. You’ll find them assembling meals at the food bank, reading to kids at the local elementary school, tutoring their classmates during study hall, or collecting recyclables around campus.

Accountability must be an intrinsic value that allows us to reflect on our own outcomes and thus to grow, to improve, and to succeed. Often at military school, the term is a top-down concept that can carry negative connotations. But accountability is closely related to self-discipline, and here we spend much time reminding students that the journey is their own, that we each control  our own outcomes, and that growth should be a lifelong trend. Self-discipline is the flip side of accountability, and helps create young adults that value learning, that seek to grow, and that are bent on increasingly contributing to their communities. And as part of our mission to cultivate personal growth, how wonderful it is when structure, discipline, and accountability originate internally, rather than having to be applied from the outside. Oak Hill Academy wins hearts and minds of students, and equips them to be productive young adults.

Interested in learning more about our educational philosophy? Get in touch. We’d love to learn more about your family and your student.

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