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One of the most provocative questions I can ask a prospective student on a campus tour is, “Are you artistic?”  Nearly always, the reaction is either an enthusiastic “yes!” or an emphatic “no,” with very little middle ground.  Knowing that we are heading to tour the art studio either way, I’ve learned to never wholly predict a student’s experience here based on their interests coming in.  Boarding school students are something of a captive audience, with friend groups that introduce new activities to each other and an environment that allows easy access to new experiences–so being at Oak Hill Academy can be an awesome time of discovery, and I know that these applicants can’t imagine how much their definitions of themselves will grow during their tenure here.  We are going to the art studio regardless of their answers, and I’m smiling inside.

CiCi works on the hallway mural that will greet students as they enter the art studio

Oak Hill Academy’s art program is an integral part of the culture of growth that is at the heart of our school’s mission.  If a student comes in with a passion for art, our program is broad enough to introduce new media and techniques.  Some of our advanced classes include water color and oil painting, graphic design, and an array of three-dimensional work like ceramics, diorama building and sculpting.  For those getting introduced to their artistic side, beginning classes include basics like drawing and sketching, and allow students to look at art and the world around them with new eyes.  The philosophy that our art teacher, Dennis Wymer, embraces is that we all possess an artist’s eye, and the journey of discovery is the real curriculum.

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There are a ton of performing opportunities at Oak Hill Academy from formal audiences to open mic nights

In addition to the visual arts, I’ve written and posted extensively about our unique music curriculum that both introduces students to playing music and develops existing talents through a very hands-on, collaborative approach.  You won’t find students holed up working on scales here.  Instead, our beginning through advanced classes work out pieces of music together–often contemporary hits that you would hear on the radio.  Through this process many of our musicians become multi-instrumentalists as they are exposed to genres from Appalachian Old Time and Classic Rock to EDM (electronic dance music), broadening their appreciation for music. (Just today, I heard a Miley Cyrus song coming from first period and a Bob Marley classic coming from third period.)

Bello prepares to play a zombie in last year’s play “Ten Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse”

Our theatre program provides a great opportunity for discovery as well.  Known for being extremely accessible and democratic in their development (students work out details of original plays through improv moments in rehearsal), our productions are full of students who didn’t anticipate that theatre would be a part of their Oak Hill experience.  The transforming power of the theatre department is displayed each year, as shy students step out of their shells on stage, as crew members find their places back stage, and unlikely friendships are forged through long hours of rehearsal.  I’m always amazed to see a student known for basketball or equestrian or soccer or mathematical abilities expand their identity by stealing a scene in one of the school plays.

To discover more about the opportunities at Oak Hill Academy, please contact the Admission Department at info@oak-hill.net or speak to our Director of Admission, Mike Rodgers, at 276 579-2619.  We are now in full swing with considerations for summer session and the upcoming school year.  It’s a great time to visit campus!