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Some students have so much personality that you know their story is going to be interesting.  Ben Powell was that kind of student at Oak Hill Academy, making his mark as the student body president and official “hype” man of the Warriors basketball program before graduating in 2005.  As he has been an on-air news reporter the past 5 years in North Carolina, he has been fairly easy to follow.  I was very excited to learn recently that his talents have brought him to WFMY News 2, in nearby Greensboro, NC.  Imagine how proud we are to see our guy, Ben, on an almost nightly basis now!

Ben Powell reporting

Ben received his Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies from UNC-Wilmington and hit the ground running.  Starting off as a production assistant at WECT-TV 6 in Wilmington, NC, Ben quickly worked his way up to Weekend Anchor.  He earned several awards for broadcast excellence from the Radio Television Digital News Association during his time there.  He is now the Multi-Media Journalist for News 2.

I recently caught up with Ben to discuss his time at OHA and the impact he feels that has had on his life.

What have been the lasting benefits of your time at Oak Hill Academy?

Looking back, I know I developed several character traits there.  Character, integrity, discipline and respect – just to name a few.  I was pretty direction-less when I arrived in 8th grade.  Being part of a close-knit community allowed me to grow.

Now that you have some perspective, what makes OHA special?

It’s special because the teachers there really care about you.  Everyone from Administrators to dorm parents really want you to succeed.  All a student needs is the effort because you have the resources and support – and you leave with a huge reward…your dignity (and a meaningful diploma!)

635576065809585426-ben-powell-wfmyBen Powell behind the scenes

Would you recommend Oak Hill Academy to prospective families with a student like you were?

I would definitely recommend this experience.  Although it is a huge lifestyle change and it does take some getting used to things like Saturday school and cell phone restrictions, in the end it is so worth it.  You’ll never forget the things you learn about yourself and the relationships you form there.

From your bio, I see that you’ve done some pretty cool things in reporting, from interviews with convicted killers to A-list celebrities.  What’s the coolest thing you’ve done in the job?

My job once took me to the red carpet premiere of “Safe Haven” a major film based on the romance novel by Nicholas Sparks.  It was filmed in our backyard in Wilmington.  It was really cool to be in Tinsel Town interviewing all the stars.  But the most rewarding thing about my job is telling the stories that create change in the community.  I love getting feedback from someone who thanks me for telling their story and raising awareness about the issues that face our society.  I feel like I’m helping the community one story at a time.

Now the tough question:  Do you miss performing at the halftime of Gold Team games?  You had some serious dance moves.

(Laughs) Well, despite attending school with Carmelo Anthony, Josh Smith, Rajon, Ty Lawson, Kevin Durant and all the other big name players, I think there is no doubt who the real star of the show was.  It’s been 10 years, but I think I still have some gas in the tank.  I think I’ll visit “The Hill” soon and shake off the cobwebs!

ben powellben powell dancing 2

Ben, we believe you.  We’ve got the footage to prove it.

Oh, and some things never change:

ben