As a new feature to our Admissions Blog, I will be profiling some recent graduates and current Oak Hill Academy students in the coming weeks.
Kekoa Iskandar, Class 0f 2013
In the past several years, our Art Program has experienced serious growth and several benchmark successes. We have added an AP Art class, started a Creative Innovations club and have helped a few of our recent students prepare for, and navigate the art school admission process. Kekoa, now in his second year at Parsons New School of Design, represents one of our more interesting stories. His dream of entering the fashion design world presented a challenge to our art teacher. We do not have a formal class for this specific field. Instead, Ms. Luksic helped Kekoa, through our advanced art classes, develop an independent study program which enabled him to create the portfolio and academic transcript that opened the doors to the prestigious Parsons New School of Design. This was Kekoa’s dream school, and the campus in New York City, his dream location.
I believe Kekoa’s Oak Hill story illustrates a couple of keystones of our school. We are relational and personal in our approach to our students. His relationship with Ms. Luksic paved the way for the many personal hours she spent challenging him and helping him “tailor” (pun intended) his course work to highlight the skills necessary in fashion design. We are also very individual and offer a great deal of flexibility in developing a course of study that meets our students interests and future plans. By partnering with other departments on campus, Kekoa found opportunities to make the costumes for our Theatre productions and he was encouraged to display his work on campus. For example, some of his creations were even seen on some classmates at our spring formal dance!
I caught up with Kekoa recently to discuss his experience at Oak Hill Academy.
Why do you think you were so successful at OHA?
I think it was my individuality – I’m so different from everyone. I was the art kid, I brought a new perspective but I was able to immerse myself in the environment at Oak Hill Academy and that was encouraging.
You grew up living in Indonesia. Describe the diversity on our campus and how that feels to an international student.
There is so much diversity at OHA, we were all adjusting and accepting of each other. It helped knowing I wasn’t the only one adjusting. I would definitely recommend Oak Hill to other international students. The small environment allows you to really find yourself.
Describe the relationships you remember from Oak Hill.
Ms. Luksic (Art Teacher) will always and forever be the most insightful, reassuring and encouraging teacher I have ever had. She pushed me to a point where I could produce work I was truly proud of – I’m eternally grateful. She took the time to develop projects that pushed me in terms of fine art and illustration along with my fashion work. Also, Mrs. Groves (Guidance Department) was my guardian angel in the college acceptance process.
Do you feel your experience at a small boarding school like Oak Hill Academy prepared you for college?
I definitely felt prepared. My time at Oak Hill Academy, looking back, was quick and it was intense. I basically grew out of being the awkward art student to a more confident person. I developed high expectations for myself. I knew I wanted to pursue fashion and there I was able to set my mind and goals. I wouldn’t change a single thing about it.
Kekoa was commissioned to create the cover art for his nation’s most popular design magazine in 2013 for their series on Patterns in Design. It showcases his versatility as an artist.