Select Page

OHA Red Team Basketball assists Sheriff’s Office in Special Olympics fundraiser

The “Battle of the Badges” is a basketball tournament fundraiser for Carroll County (VA) Special Olympics. Held at Carroll Co. Middle School in Hillsville, Virginia, on March 30th, this year’s event included several members of the Oak Hill Academy Red Team. They were called upon by Grayson County Sheriff Richard Vaughan to help his department’s team.

OHA participants this year included Owen Chen, Markus Malleschitz, Susheel Vishwa, Lioul Woldemariam, Brandon Dornevil, Delaney Heard, Lotanna Anene and Coach Michael Burns.

Gold Team to participate in national tournament

The Oak Hill Academy Gold Basketball Team again has been invited to participate in the national tournament in New York City sponsored by Geico.

From the tournament site: “The nation’s top-ranked high school basketball teams will return to New York City for a dynamic, season-ending tournament April 4-6, 2019.”

The tournament begins on Thursday, April 4th, with quarterfinal games on ESPNU; continues Friday, April 5th, with semifinals on ESPN2; and concludes Saturday, April 6th, with the championship game on ESPN. All games will be played at Christ the King High School in New York City.

In the quarterfinal round, the Warriors will face Wasatch Academy (UT) on Thursday, April 4th, at 6 pm. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

Oak Hill Academy won the national championship tournament in 2016. Go, Warriors!

Astronomy Club shoots for the stars at Triad Starfest 2019

by Mr. Gary Duranko, OHA Math & Science Teacher

The Oak Hill Academy Astronomy Club attended *Tri*Star* (Triad Starfest) 2019 at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, NC, on March 2. It was an all-day event centered on speakers, astronomy-related displays, an astrophotography competition, prize drawings, daytime and nighttime observing sessions, and a swap meet where amateurs could buy and sell equipment.

Artist’s rendering of Proxima Centauri superflare. (Image: © Roberto Molar Candanosa/Carnegie Institution for Science, NASA/SDO, NASA/JPL)

Our group attended the day’s first presentation, given by high school student Mike Puzio, about the NASA probe OSIRIS-REx and its arrival at asteroid Bennu. Some years ago, Puzio won a contest to name the asteroid, and as a result has become the “ambassador” for this probe, which will rendezvous with Bennu next year and return a sample to be analyzed in 2020.

Next we attended a talk about superflares occurring on Proxima Centauri (the star closest to the sun), and their effect on the exoplanet Proxima b, which orbits Proxima Centauri. When a star “superflares,” explosions send very powerful winds of hot plasma at all the planets in its solar system. This wind can destroy atmospheres and ultimately affect the possibility of life on these planets. We learned that chances are good that Proxima b’s atmosphere will be destroyed, which unfortunately means that probably no life exists on this planet.

OHA Astronomy Club members Delaney, Evan, Tyler, Stephanie and Lauren

After lunch at a local restaurant, we inquired about taking a tour of the Cline Observatory on campus, and were lucky to be shown around by Aaron Martin, the professor that founded the observatory and served as its director before his retirement from GTCC. He gave a wonderful private talk to our group. He also turned the dome and opened the shutter, much to our delight!

Finally, we attended a talk by Dr. Stella Kafka, the director of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). This organization oversees the collection of data submitted by amateurs about the brightness of variable stars. OHA intends to contribute to this organization’s data using our new observatory!

OHA participant Delaney Heard ’20 remarked that “this trip was a great experience for me. I was able to hear from another student similar to my age talk about an asteroid that he actually named, and I learned about Proxima b not being inhabitable because of superflares. I also enjoyed the tour of the observatory on the GTCC campus and learning from its founder.”

For information about what Mr. Duranko’s classes are up to, visit his Observatory Blog.

OHA Spirit Days: Spirit Dress & Feats of Strength

by Tobi Salami ’20, 21st Century Journalism class

On Wednesday, February 27th, the final segment of the Oak Hill Academy 2019 Spirit Days occurred. It featured Spirit Dress Day as well as the “Feats of Strength” competition. Students and faculty came to school wearing outfits consisting of the school’s colors: red, white, black and gold. “The whole school came out ready to support their class and show some school spirit. It was very exciting to see the enthusiasm of the student body,” stated Lauren Oberman ‘20.

The “Iron Lady” contest was conducted during Homeroom. The competitors were Kyra Souliere ’19, Jade Renaud ’20, Erin Bunn ’21 and Arthurline Mulbah ’22. Though it was a very tough competition, Jade won and put the junior class in the lead. She was followed by Kyra, who placed second, Erin, who came in third place and Arthurline who finished fourth. With the class scores very close, everyone anticipated the rest of the strength events to be held in the afternoon.

The junior class dominated the day’s competitions, winning events such as the Free Throw challenge, the Sack Race relay, the Tug of War, the Class Cheer and the singing of the OHA Alma Mater. Candace Drew ’22, in shock, commented, “The juniors really participated with a winning effort, and I am happy for them.”The sophomores were a close second, winning the Barefoot Clothing relay, in which competitors had to put on oversized clothing and  run across the gym, take off the clothes and hand them off to a teammate, who had to put them on before running their leg of the race. Breaking an earlier winning tradition (for the second year in a row), the seniors placed third, winning events like the Battle Ropes and the Jump Rope competition. Though the 8th/9th graders did not win any events, they competed strongly with their effort and good teamwork. The class of ’20, who won last year as sophomores, emerged victorious once again as juniors and won a day off from Saturday School!

Oak Hill Academy names new “Student of the Week”!

The Principal’s Office has announced that Tobi S. has been named “Student of the Week.”

In her third year at Oak Hill Academy, Tobi is a junior from Media, Pennsylvania. Tobi was nominated for Student of the Week honors with the observation that “She is a great leader! She is always helpful, and willing to jump in whenever needed.”

Another staff member pointed out that “Tobi has shown exemplary leadership in Hough Dorm, being a mentor to the younger students and a resource to her dorm parent. She’s a breath of fresh air!”

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

Congratulations to Tobi!

OHA Spirit Days: Wacky Day & Trivia Bowl

by Tobi Salami ’20, 21st Century Journalism

Mr. Pease and his cast of wacky characters.

The third in this year’s series of Spirit Days at Oak Hill Academy occurred on Wednesday, February 20th. It was “Wacky Tacky” dress down day as well as Trivia Bowl competition day. Students, faculty and staff came to school in their wackiest attire. Some showed up in mismatched clothes and shoes, and others came to school dressed in various funny get-ups. The Wacky Dress gave the school a very comic atmosphere, with people complimenting each other on their degree of wackiness.

The Trivia Bowl game this year was called “Brain Drain.” It featured questions on a wide range of topics including sports, pop culture and science. Three students and a faculty representative comprised each team. Teammates rubbed minds and came up with answers.

Twists were added to the game this year which the student body found very exciting, as they made the game more interesting. One twist was that each team had to choose a member to lose after six questions. Christen Reeves ’20 stated, “The twists to the game made me a lot more involved in cheering on my class because I wanted them to win regardless of the twists.” Another twist was a special lifeline for each team called “the Drain.” This allowed teams to throw one question down the drain, which meant that no one, even those who were right, got any points.

After an intense competition, the juniors and seniors were tied for first place. A tiebreaker followed which challenged each team to name as many OHA campus buildings as possible in one minute. Mr. Hill announced the results this morning during homeroom:  the juniors placed first and the seniors second. The sophomores earned third place, and 8th/9th graders came in fourth. Following the game, Will Heard ’20, a junior team member, said “Though some of the questions were challenging, with the help of my teammates, we came out successful.”

At this point in the Spirit Days challenge the sophomores are leading the pack with 38 points; the juniors are close behind at 37; the seniors have 34; 8th/9th grades have 31. There are still points up for grabs next week, so it’s still anybody’s game!

Elements of OHA Structure: Highlighting Cell Phone Use

The topic of cell phone use in admission conversations is nearly as pervasive as cell phones themselves! The importance and impact of cell phone and social media use by teens (and adults) cannot be overstated. In our continuing series about the structured boarding school environment offered by Oak Hill Academy, our Director of Student Affairs, Mr. Aaron Butt, explains our cell phone policy in detail, the ideas behind it, and what we are doing to promote appropriate phone use. 

Our students were born into a world defined by technology.  The oldest of our current students were seven years old when the first iPhone was released.  For most, cell phones have been a part of their lives since before they can remember.  Children, on average, receive smartphones at the age of 10.3 years.  Phones, and all they can do, are a reality of our students’ lives. 

As educators, parents, and cell phone users ourselves, we know that there are sizable dangers.  In fact, a recent New York Times article notes that even the Silicon Valley developers of smartphone technology are wary of what they are creating.  We know that a lot of our students have struggled with misuse of their phones: overuse, setting boundaries, and a whole host of other issues that can have negative effects on virtually every aspect of their development.  We also know that our job is to prepare them for the world beyond Oak Hill, where cell phones have become a ubiquitous and integral part of life.

So–what can we do as a small, structured college prep boarding school when it comes to encouraging healthy cell phone behavior?  First, we try to remain true to our values.  We are a school that values face-to-face interactions and dialogue.  We also try to foster personal growth by teaching time management, how to build routines, and how to set boundaries.  Second, we as a school must be willing to change, grow, and adapt along with our students.  How do we teach effective, appropriate technology usage?  How do we teach moderation?

Our current policy is based on four components:  the need to disconnect and invest; establishing pockets of appropriate use; tying access to responsibility and age; and education.

Disconnect and invest:

Our mission is for Oak Hill Academy to be a “turning point,” including a chance to start fresh.  All students begin the year without their phones for four weeks.  Everyone is in the same boat – new and returning students – and we believe this allows students to make deeper connections to their peers and to invest in our community right from the outset.

Pockets of appropriate use: 

We value the ability to unplug and put our phones away.  All students have their phones on the weekends, Friday through Sunday.  They collect their phones from the resident managers after class on Friday, and turn them in before bedtime that night.  On Saturday and Sunday they collect their phones in the morning, and again turn them in before bed.  Students never have their phones during our Quiet Time (study hall), and never have them overnight.

Tying access to responsibility and age:

Students who have proven that they are responsible, and have met certain academic and behavioral expectations, receive additional phone time.  The criteria are based on the number of behavioral infractions, academic performance, homework completion, getting to class on time, and other factors.  Seniors who have met the criteria will receive their phones on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from after school until Quiet Time.  Juniors and sophomores will receive them on Thursdays.  Eighth and ninth grade students follow the standard phone schedule, with no additional time, as it is developmentally appropriate for younger students to have less access.


We teach best practices in technology usage through our Resident Life curriculum, advisory curriculum, and other instruction.  We discuss positive usage, addiction, online bullying and inappropriate sharing, and how to use social media for good. We review case studies and work through various scenarios.  Last year, we invited an organization called The Social Institute to campus to lead student discussions and conduct staff professional development and parent seminars.

In short, Oak Hill Academy tries really hard to balance staying true to our mission with addressing the world’s current realities.  And one of the realities of today is that things are continually changing.  The above is our current policy, but we are constantly reevaluating and making adjustments.

What will remain true is that our students will always need routines, structures, boundaries, and accountability.  They will always need adults to model good behavior and good practices.  They will always need supportive parents, teachers, peers, coaches, resident managers– a team around them to challenge and encourage them.  Cell phones are part of our lives today, and while we don’t know what new issues are on the horizon, we’ll be here to guide our students through them.

Aaron Butt
OHA Director of Student Affairs

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

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.