The Oak Hill campus is quiet as I take walks with my children in the afternoons – no squeaking of shoes or basketball noise coming from the gym, the campus store shuttered and quiet, and the dorms are empty. While I cherish these days of rest and time with family, I also look forward to the return of students and all the energy and life they bring to our campus.
The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas were filled with a flurry of events – tutoring at the local elementary school, trips to see “A Christmas Carol,” caroling around campus and to some families in the church, and plenty of basketball games. The weekend before break was our annual Christmas dinner and winter dance; for me the highlight was watching students in their formal dress linger in the dining hall after our meal, enjoying each other’s company.
One of the biggest highlights of this time of year is hearing about college acceptances. Regularly in our morning assemblies we hear announcements of students who have been admitted to colleges, and it reminds me of the value and purpose of Oak Hill – to transform young men’s and women’s lives, and put them on a path toward success. We call ourselves a structured boarding school, a coed, college preparatory school, a place where students can be challenged, grow, and have an opportunity to start fresh. While these are all just words, it is a blessing to see these words in action as our seniors start to plan their future.
As we enter January and a new semester, one of my goals is to focus more on relationships. We ask and expect a lot of our students, and believe they are capable of rising to the occasion and growing in this environment. We emphasize the little, simple things that shape our days and show what kind of people we are. We will emphasize being on time, tucking in shirts, pushing in chairs, being respectful and attentive, coming to class prepared, watching the words that come out of our mouths. I am convinced, though, that in order for our students to thrive they must know that they are surrounded by adults who care, who value and respect them, and who are going to support and encourage them on their journey. When we are in a small, nurturing community, when we know there are people we can trust, we are safe to take risks, to push ourselves, and to step out into new unknowns. For me, that is one of the unique values of Oak Hill – a healthy, authentic community where students can be supported in their academic and personal growth.
The next few months are often a long haul at Oak Hill, the weather can be cold and dark, but we look forward with anticipation – we look forward to new students arriving, to snowfall, a fresh academic semester, the thrill of basketball in Turner Gymnasium, theater and music productions, and the crisp, clear mountain scenery on all sides of campus. We who live and work here are proud to be at Oak Hill, and thankful for the opportunity to invest in this next generation.
May you have a blessed, refreshing holiday, and I look forward to seeing our campus full of students again soon!
Director of Student Affairs
Oak Hill Academy