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Be Careful–Your Words are Powerful

Each morning, our small boarding school’s campus community assembles for announcements, a prayer, and a “good word” from various faculty, staff, and students as they share devotions. Wednesday devotions often come from our Director of Student Affairs, who shared the following last Wednesday.


“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

In my humble opinion, that familiar saying is an absolute lie. Words can pierce down to our hearts and do more long-term damage than sticks or stones ever could. I have said things, even to people I love, which have sunk in deep…words that I will always regret: “Son, why did you do that? What’s wrong with you? …“Whatever, I don’t care, I’m done. I’m going to sleep.”

I also have had words said to me, even by people who love me, that have sunk in deep…words that I will never forget: “I hope you never have a job that’s stressful.” …“You don’t have what it takes.”

I’m sure you can think of words that have sunk down deep in you and left scars. Let me give you a simile about words that I think is more accurate than the sticks and stones thing:

“Words are like bullets in a gun – you pull that trigger and there’s no taking it back.”

The wounds can heal, but there’s always some level of scar left behind.

Words have power. They have not only the power to hurt, but the power to change people’s lives, and to sink down deep in a good way, giving us direction, encouragement, and love.

Sometimes the words are small, and simple: “Can you help me?” …“I really trust your advice.” …“What would I do without you?” …“You did a great job.” I’m sure you can think of words said to you that have sunk down deep and brightened your day, or even changed your life.

With that much power, our words should be chosen carefully – just like shooting a bullet.

And here’s the second facet about being mindful of our words: We need to admit when we mess up; when we say things that are hurtful! Sometimes we have to try to clean another’s wound from that bullet, and do our best to fix the damage.

At Oak Hill, we will hold you accountable for your words, and we will hold ourselves accountable for ours. The people we respect are usually also people of their word – people who use words carefully, and use them in positive ways.

I hear people using words casually, carelessly, and without thought. Instead, be intentional about your words. Be someone who means what they say, and uses their words to empathize, uplift, support.

There’s a verse in the Bible that I think of when it comes to words, and to be honest, it’s kind of scary to me: “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” What comes out of our mouths is a reflection of what is inside our hearts. What do we say when we get angry; when we are frustrated? It’s so easy to say cheap, sharp, biting words – sometimes in our defense, we even call it “fun” or “entertainment.” Is it really “entertainment” to cut others down with our words?

I wonder – can people see what is in my heart by the words I use? I hope so, and I hope my words come from a heart full of love, kindness, gentleness and patience – not sarcasm, anger, criticism and hurt.

Look for opportunities to use words to heal, to encourage, and to show kindness. Sticks and stones can do temporary damage, but the tongue – our words – that is what really matters. Use this powerful tool carefully and thoughtfully, and others will see what is truly in our hearts.

Aaron Butt
Director of Student Affairs
Oak Hill Academy

Get the latest OHA news by “Word of Mouth.” The year’s first issue is out!

From the Word of Mouth staff and sponsor, Ms. Mikki Haas:

Welcome to the Word of Mouth, our student newspaper, now in its 14th season!

The newspaper staff hopes that you enjoy their hard work.

Featured in this issue are the newest members of the Faculty and Staff, as well as fall sports.

A new component of the newspaper this year is a special space dedicated to contributions from Mrs. Jess Fisher’s English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. We are pleased to present a unique piece by ESL student and talented artist, Zhiwen (Wendy) Hu.

We hope that you enjoy the news from ‘The Hill.’

Oak Hill’s fall magazine is out: The Arrow

In this issue, read and see how our small boarding school started its 141st year! This issue also profiles our new faculty and staff, and honors those who have retired. There is a blurb about our upcoming Homecoming, and a report on last summer’s Alumni Weekend. The outlook for this season’s Gold Basketball Team is featured, along with the “State of the Academy” giving report. As always, there are scores of fun photos of OHA community scenes and activities. Enjoy!

Join OHA on Reddit and “Ask Me Anything!”


Oak Hill Academy is hosting an AMA, which stands for “Ask Me Anything” on the subreddit /r/IAmA. In our post we will be responding to your questions. We’d love to have you participate in our AMA. Our panelists for this AMA are Dr. Michael Groves, our President; Steve Smith, our Athletic Director; Todd Giszack, our Principal; Katherine Giszack, our Admissions Director; and Aaron Butt, our Director of Student Affairs.


Reddit is an American social news aggregation, web content rating and discussion website. Essentially, any person is able to create what is called a SubReddit, which is sort of like a discussion board. Some of the most active subreddits include: /r/gaming, /r/movies, /r/music, /r/funny, and so on. In fact, there are over 1.2
million subreddits. Reddit has been self-titlted, “The front page of the Internet,” and probably has earned it.

We’d love to see any questions you may have, and we will work to answer them!


Please go to where you can sign up for an account by clicking the “Sign Up” button in the top-right corner. After creating an account, visit our post at and place a comment under our initial post. We’ll answer ASAP!

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

Mr. Todd Giszack

Director of Student Affairs
Mr. Aaron Butt

Dean of Girls
Mrs. Shaquera Clawson

Dean of Boys
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, MA, LPC, NCC

Academy Nurse
Ms. Betsy Anderson
Mrs. Anita Perkins

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