Today’s blog is a guest post from the Director of Student Affairs, Mr. Aaron Butt. We are a structured boarding school, but we sure have our fun! Life gets uncomplicated for our students on The Hill, and our students are not too cool to carve pumpkins or dress up for Harvest Festival. As a coeducational boarding school, we create a lot of supervised on-campus activities, and our Resident Life staff does a terrific job. Autumn in Virginia means changing weather, eye-catching colors of leaves and a host of campus events before the really cold weather comes. This is the time of year that our boarding school solidifies the close-knit community feel that will see us through the winter. Here, Mr. Butt outlines what October at Oak Hill Academy has felt like:
We had our first snow flurries on “The Hill” this past weekend – Sunday, October 29th! The temperatures have taken a dip, yellow and orange leaves are quickly dropping from the trees, and Thanksgiving Break is less than 20 days away. Despite some torrential rain on Saturday, students gathered at Noonkester Park’s Mississippi Pavilion for our annual Harvest Festival. The heaters were running and a fire blazing as we ate brats and stew, then on to games, a costume contest, and a well-stocked cakewalk.
I feel we are finally “in the groove” here at Oak Hill after concluding our first academic quarter October 16th. We still stress the importance of little things – getting to class on time, keeping a clean room, using quiet time effectively, managing technology usage, engaging with others respectfully, clearing the table – all small things in and of themselves, but practices and routines that allow us to grow and develop into responsible, independent men and women who can build on this foundation and find our passions and callings.
As I have said many times, Oak Hill is not easy – it was never designed to be easy. We often ask our students to do things they don’t particularly want to do. It is harder to hide here; there are more opportunities for friction, conflict, disagreement, and impatience. But we grow through friction. We grow through disagreement and conflict. I believe we grow even through someone telling us to go back to the dorms on a 30-degree morning to change into the right school pants.
I woke up this morning sore from a student flag-football game yesterday, and didn’t particularly want to get out of bed. But I did, and I packed my kids’ school lunches, got them breakfast, helped them dress, and stood at the bus stop. Thirty minutes later I did the same with my other “kids” – monitored breakfast in the Dining Hall, checked school dress, and hustled them off to homeroom in Fletcher Chapel. One thing I love about Oak Hill is the consistency. We know what to expect, when to be structured and orderly, and when to untuck and relax.This evening I look forward to walking with my kids from dorm to dorm trick-or-treating as the students hand out candy.
We are a community. Sometimes we get frustrated with one another, sometimes we say the wrong things or can’t keep our mouths shut. Sometimes we think things aren’t fair, and sometimes we don’t really want to get up in the morning, clean our rooms, put on uniforms, and head out into the cold.
But Oak Hill is a community, and continues to be a turning point. Three-fourths of our students made either the “A” or “B” honor roll for the first quarter; 80% of our students had less than 5 missing assignments over the past 12 weeks. Rooms are (slowly) getting cleaner.
My goal for the next month is for our words to have meaning and value, and for each of us to look for opportunities to encourage one another.
Enjoy a well-deserved Thanksgiving Break with friends and family, and we’ll see you soon!