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Here’s Oak Hill Academy’s “Student of the Week”!

Meet Tom B., a sophomore from Georgia. He is our newest “Student of the Week,” and the last of the 2017-18 school year. Tom is finishing his first semester at Oak Hill Academy, and was recommended for this honor with the following: “Tom enters class focused and ready.  He attends to classwork promptly and works to the best of his ability daily.  He is sure of who he is and conducts himself according to those values.”

Congratulations, Tom!

Students are regularly nominated and chosen by the faculty and staff for making notable contributions to Oak Hill Academy campus life.

Allergies vs. Cold: What have I got?!

Spring is a beautiful time of year in Mouth of Wilson, VA.  We have lush vegetation here in the Blue Ridge and it is just beginning to reveal itself. Trees are budding and getting their leaves, the grass is being mowed, and flowers are starting to bloom.  As beautiful as it is, it can also have the undesirable effect of causing seasonal allergies. For some of our students, this is a new problem.  They might never have been exposed to this environment before, so allergies are a foreign idea. For others of our students, allergies are an old enemy that wreaks havoc for them every spring and fall.  Many students are currently complaining of sore throats, congestion, and sneezing. It can be difficult to tell if these symptoms are being caused by allergies or the common cold. How can you tell the difference?  It can be difficult, but here are some assessments I use.

The first question I ask is, “Do you have a fever or body aches?”  An allergy does not cause a fever or body aches. The second question is “How long have you had these symptoms?” Colds usually are self-limiting and last only about 7-10 days.  If the symptoms have lasted longer, without worsening or improving, they are usually caused by allergies. The last thing I look for is if there are any patterns related to these symptoms.  “Do you get these symptoms the same time every year?” If so, the patient probably has seasonal allergies. After I have determined the cause of the symptoms, then I can plan how to treat them.

Despite what the name suggests, a person can catch a “cold” at any time of the year.  It is estimated that adults catch colds 2-3 times per year and children even more because their immune systems have not been exposed to as many cold viruses.  A cold is caused by a viral infection and is not “curable.” Antibiotics are not effective in the treatment of colds. Treatment includes addressing symptoms for short-term relief and supporting the body’s natural immune response to help fight the virus off faster. Cough suppressants, analgesics and decongestants can help make you more comfortable if you are suffering from a cold. Getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids and maintaining overall good health can help your body’s immune system fight off cold viruses.  If a complication develops, such as a sinus infection or an ear infection, only then should treatment with antibiotics be considered.

There are several treatment options for allergies, and the choice depends upon the severity of the symptoms.  For my students, I often suggest trying Zyrtec or Allegra first. These are the most effective over-the-counter antihistamine treatments I have found. Of course, if a person can avoid the allergen itself as much as possible, that is very helpful as well. If these strategies are ineffective, it is time to see an allergy specialist or an ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat doctor) for prescription treatment.

If students at Oak Hill are feeling ill, they should see one of our campus nurses.  We are typically in the nurse’s office from 7:00 am to 9:30 pm. We are available in the dining hall during all meals. We also administer medications at that time.  A nurse also visits all of the dormitories for nighttime med call before lights out. After lights out, students should see their Resident Managers for any medical issues. There is a nurse on call for all illnesses and emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Here’s to good health, and thanks for reading!

Betsy Anderson, RN, BSN
Oak Hill Academy Nurse

OHA Spring Soccer on a Roll

Oak Hill Academy’s Spring Soccer team hosted the Rural Retreat Indians from neighboring Wythe County Tuesday. On a beautiful cloudless day made for soccer, Coach Josh Doan’s deep Warrior team came out on top. The two teams will meet again when the Warriors travel to Rural Retreat next week for a match April 24.

A Good Night’s Sleep…It’s Elusive

Do you know that feeling you have when you wake up refreshed? You went to sleep at a decent hour, you slept all night without waking, and now you are awake and feel ready to start the day. Did you feel that way when you woke up this morning? No, neither did I. That is the inspiration for this blog topic: The ever-elusive Good Night of Sleep. As adults we know there are a million things getting in the way of our sleep–work stress, family issues, anxiety about responsibilities, health concerns, etc. But, those are adult problems, right? Nothing for teenagers to worry about…right? Unfortunately, many adolescents are sleep-deprived. Problems sleeping is one of the top 3 complaints I hear from my students on a daily basis.

According to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “teenagers 13-18 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health.” Getting enough good quality sleep leads to better health and educational outcomes such as improved attention, behavior, learning, memory retention, emotional regulation, and mental and physical health. Insufficient sleep increases risk of accidental injuries, obesity, diabetes and depression. In teenagers it has also been associated with increased risk of suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates that 70 percent of high school students are not getting the recommended hours of sleep. Studies have estimated that 11 percent of adolescents have a history of insomnia and children with neurodevelopmental diagnoses such as ADHD have a particularly high risk for sleep disturbances (because of the nature of the disorder and the medications used to treat it).

Although sleep disturbances can turn into a chronic problem, many of them are transient in nature and can be the result of a stressful life event. When a transient sleep disturbance occurs, it is important to address it so that it does not become a chronic issue. The majority of sleep disturbances in adolescents are likely to have behavioral origins and can be successfully addressed with good sleep habits. Once these routines are established, they can benefit an adolescent for a lifetime. This is the time in their lives when their brains are maturing during sleep processes. When your teen experiences sleep disturbances it is important to commit to a consistent sleep plan.

Healthy Sleep Habits (as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation) include the following:
• Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning, even on weekends and during school breaks.
• Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and relaxing, neither too hot nor too cold.
• Make sure your bed is comfortable and use it only for sleeping, not other activities.
• Avoid large meals a few hours before bedtime.
• Exercise regularly.
• Avoid caffeine after noon.
• Avoid screen time several hours before bedtime.
• Use relaxation tools, such as meditation or progressive muscle relaxation.

At Oak Hill Academy we do several things to encourage a good night’s sleep for our boarding students. “Quiet Time” starts promptly at 8:30 each evening. During this time students are given an opportunity to be in a quiet, relaxed environment. This encourages their bodies to release melatonin, a natural hormone produced by the brain’s pineal gland that promotes the onset and duration of sleep. We also have a regular lights-out time of 10:30 pm, as well as a regular wake-up time. This keeps our students on a consistent schedule and promotes natural sleep/wake cycles. A few years ago we adjusted our start time for the school day to be 45 minutes later. This change was implemented in response to data and recommendations from several sleep researchers, including the American Thoracic Society. Organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, and the American Medical Association support later school start times. Structuring the school day and associated activities to be compatible with the natural circadian rhythms of an adolescent’s brain helps achieve quality sleep, the benefits of which are far-reaching.

But what if you can’t sleep? It is hard to conquer the world if you don’t feel well-rested, right? Many people use over-the-counter melatonin or antihistamines to help fall asleep. But pharmacologic intervention should be considered only if a healthy sleep routine is committed to and followed consistently without improvement, or if there is another health issue interfering with sleep. One of the dangerous results of taking medication without professional guidance is that it could cause rebound insomnia when the medication is stopped, producing a chronic issue.

A change in behaviors surrounding sleep is often as effective as using over-the-counter medications–especially if the sleep disturbance is transient in nature. It is important to point out that no hypnotics or other medications have been approved for use by the FDA for sleep problems in people under the age of 16 years. If a sleep medication is prescribed at this age, it should be done with careful monitoring and consideration of benefits versus risk.

We are so close to the end of the school year, when students leave us for the summer. While students are at home, they sometimes do not adhere to a normal schedule and this can throw off their natural patterns of sleep and wakefulness. When they return to school in the fall, they might have difficulty being able to sleep for the first few weeks. Encouraging your teen to stick to a normal sleep schedule during school breaks can go a long way to help prevent this from occurring.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid. When you rest, your sleep will be peaceful.
Proverbs 3:24

Now, go forth and conquer the world – but first, sleep!
Betsy Anderson, RN BSN
Oak Hill Academy Nurse


Contact Information

Oak Hill Academy
2635 Oak Hill Rd.
Mouth of Wilson, Virginia 24363

Phone Number  276-579-2619

Administrative Office Fax Number  276-579-4722

Academic Office Fax Number  276-579-2618

Ms. Cyndie Richardson

Director of Student Affairs
Mr. Aaron Butt

Director of Girls’ Resident Life
Mrs. Katherine Crede

Director of Boys’ Resident Life
Mr. Gary Crede

Director of Financial Affairs
Mrs. Rhonda Bowen

Student Expense Accounts
Mrs. Paula Phelps

Student Tuition Accounts
Mrs. Laura Phipps

Transportation Coordinator
Mrs. Regina Cooper

Director of Counseling
Mrs. Joy Groves

Academy Nurse
Mrs. Betsy Anders
Mrs. Anita Perkins

For additional contact info., visit the Faculty & Staff Directory.