A glimpse into Residential Life:
Greetings from our “family-like bubble” here at Oak Hill Academy! We are well into “Phase 3” here on campus, and the past week has felt much more like a normal September. The weather has cooled, basketball tryouts are in progress, and students congregate at the campus store after class to grab a snack and talk.
As the Director of Student Affairs, I would like to speak specifically to the residential life side of campus. Coming to Oak Hill is quite an adjustment for many of our students, and as Dr. Groves prophesied, there will be bumps along the way. Our students are away from home, away from family and friends, in an unfamiliar environment, and surrounded by mountains for miles in every direction. We ask them to relinquish their cell phones, limit technology, and be in their dorms by 8:30 at night. We expect them to be on time to class in the mornings, and dressed a certain way. We ask them to speak respectfully, and work out conflicts with their roommates. (And this list doesn’t even include mask-wearing, social distancing, limiting physical contact, sanitizing and disinfecting, and all the other new expectations during the era of COVID-19).
We believe that all of these things are good and healthy opportunities for our students. I am at Oak Hill because I believe in our mission; I believe in our staff and our 141 years of experience guiding and supporting adolescents on their journey to adulthood. For me, it is finding that balance between challenging and encouraging our students that is so critical. We work to build relationships and community in the context of structure and high expectations.
We want you to know that we acknowledge the sacrifice you all have made to enroll your child at Oak Hill, especially in the midst of a global pandemic, and we take that responsibility very seriously. If you have concerns or questions, please let us know. We also ask that you trust us, be patient, and have confidence in the fact that we have been doing this a long time. I am proud of our school, and proud of the opportunities we offer our students.
Of course, life at Oak Hill is not all hard and full of structure. It has been a joy to once again hear the constant sounds from the weight room and gym, to take students fishing at the lake, and to walk in the dorms to see students sketching artwork or playing the ukulele. New friendships are forming, and I see students stepping out of their comfort zones and trying new things.
Our theme this year is “Together.” Last Wednesday we had our first “Warrior Wednesday” activities. The dorms closed, and students signed up for a variety of activities, including flag football, fishing, jewelry-making, walking, corn hole, tennis, board games, recycling, and running. It was refreshing to me to walk around and see groups of teenagers having fun being active together, enjoying our beautiful campus and beautiful weather. Oak Hill is a special place, a challenging place, and our mission is for it to be a place of new beginnings and new opportunities – together in a supportive community.
I will be sending periodic updates about residential life on “The Hill,” and I encourage you to follow me on Instagram (@ohastudentlife) where we regularly post pictures and videos of students and life at Oak Hill Academy. Welcome to the beginning of a great year!
Mr. Aaron Butt
Director of Student Affairs
Oak Hill Academy