I first met Chase when he entered my first period class as a mid-semester enrollment. “The new kid.” He was not thrilled (an understatement) about the big change a new school meant and, although respectful, he was not quick to engage.
But, as is so often the case at Oak Hill Academy, the “new” kid quickly began to be accepted by his peers and settle in socially. The academic settling in was not so instantaneous. Chase had been told in his old school to lower his goals. He had struggled to find engagement in the classroom. His self-image had eroded. In short, he was feeling quite “beat up,” despite great support from his family. His Mom was at her wit’s end to provide an opportunity for Chase to realize his potential when she contacted Oak Hill Academy.
Flash forward a few months and Chase had begun to take pride in staying on top of his work; he found ways to engage socially and in extracurricular activities, and was showing more confidence in the classroom. I will always remember the day, in class, when he offered to be the manager for the Lady Warrior basketball team which I was then coaching. I knew two things at that point: 1. He had committed to coming back the next year and was even looking forward to it–a huge step from when he had arrived–and 2. I would be spending a lot of time on the bus and on the road with this kid!
From this relationship, I learned a lot about Chase’s evolving goals for himself. I watched as he went from a kid who had been told to lower his expectations for college, who had correspondingly shied away from responsibility and structure, to a young man who began exploring future plans that included applying to The Citadel, a very prestigious and selective college institution. To make it at The Citadel, tremendous discipline and perseverance is required. It is not for everybody. This represented the change from a kid who ran from responsibility to a young man who was now running toward it! He was not choosing the easy path.
I’ve kept in touch with Chase as he goes through his journey at The Citadel–knowing where he came from and taking immense pride as he passed each milestone there. He’s told me many times that the relationships (I’m happy to be included here) that he made with teachers and peers at Oak Hill Academy was his turning point. He came to believe in himself because others around him did so first.
–Mike Rodgers, Director of Admission
Recently, Chase’s Mom shared this with us:
We just spent the most glorious weekend at The Citadel watching Chase get his ring. Looking at the picture below, I bet if Coach Smith knew he had that kind of verticality, he may have signed him up!
As usual when we have these milestones in life, we reflect on times when things were not as good/easy. Then, we always come back to OHA and the positive effect that had on his trajectory and life. He graduates in May, so it will be interesting to see where life takes him next. For now, we are relishing this moment, and realize it wouldn’t have been possible without you folks. Please know the difference you are making in these young people’s lives every day.
That’s Chase in middle, getting some serious air!