A senior tradition at Oak Hill Academy: breakfast at the President’s home on Sunday morning before the Baccalaureate service.
You might be unaware that there are two historically significant sites located just 30 minutes from our campus. Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church are two of the quaintest little country churches imaginable, and they are both located in Ashe County, North Carolina – just over the state line from our boarding school campus in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. One may never guess the stunning and artistically important works that these two churches house. Here exist some of the only examples of the historical painting technique known as “pure fresco” found outside Italy. You may remember studying the technique in a college art class – Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and works by Raphael are famous examples from the High Renaissance in Italy where the ancient technique (developed by the Egyptians!) was kept alive. Here in the United States, the only examples of this Italian technique are those by North Carolina artist, Ben Long. In the 1960s, Mr. Long studied fresco painting in Italy with the few remaining masters. Upon his return to the U.S., he approached many North Carolina churches to create a fresco. Not many people are familiar with the technique (more on this later) and he didn’t have any takers. Thankfully, two affiliated churches in our area took him up on the offer in the early 1970s. Many modern-day art historians consider these works of art “masterpieces,” for their quality and rarity. And we are fortunate to have them in our backyard!
Oak Hill Academy faculty member, Rev. Doug Turnmire, has been taking his “Bible as Literature” and “Survey of World Religions” classes to visit these churches for many years. Combining religious storytelling, imagery and unadulterated artistic wonder, the frescoes found in Ashe County always impress his students. I recently accompanied his classes on a visit, and the level of engagement and reverence from these students was memorable. They saw, first-hand and up close, examples of the pure fresco technique, usually not possible outside Europe, that put their class discussions into a new framework. The story of the Last Supper, the Passion of Christ, the Ascension of Christ, and the image of a pregnant Virgin Mary are all depicted in Long’s fresco works in these two tiny sanctuaries. As the students lingered before these murals, the discussion was lively and connections from class were made with the works in front of them.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the experience was seeing the way these works, created with such a complex process, have held up over the decades. In fact, the images have become more vibrant over time. Pure fresco is done within the wall itself. The artist introduces pigments directly into wet plaster and uses no man-made paint products, only natural minerals. Two interesting facts are obvious as one looks at the fresco murals. First, the artist can only complete a small part of the work at a time, racing the clock before the plaster dries – this is what separates a “pure” fresco from a standard mural. The “day lines” reveal this as each day’s section is slightly demarcated from the next day’s work. Second, the brilliance of the murals is surprising knowing that they are more than 40 years old. The natural minerals used for coloration actually become brighter as the plaster cures over time.
A pregnant Virgin Mary appears above. A local resident was used as the model for artist Ben Long.
(Photos courtesy of Sam Fryling, ’17)
The Last Supper is featured behind the altar at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at Glendale Springs in Ashe County, NC. The “day lines” are most visible in this work, and artist Ben Long makes a cameo appearance in the lower right corner. Photo taken from the Ashe County Frescoes Foundation website.
Meet Kristina, a junior from New York. She has been at Oak Hill for two summers and two full years. Kristina was nominated for Student of the Week honors with the following recommendation: “Kristina showed great moral courage–one of our core values–in the devotion she gave in homeroom recently. In addition, she is a hard worker in class, and always has a smile!”
Students are regularly nominated and voted on by the faculty and staff for making notable contributions to Oak Hill Academy campus life.
Each year, the congregation at Young’s Chapel Baptist Church, located on our campus, recognizes the Senior Class at the last Sunday service of the school year. The Seniors take the lead in running the worship service from music to the guest speaker. This year, we had a beautiful day to go along with the special occasion.
Godspeed, Oak Hill Academy Class of 2017!
Thank you for the video, Mr. Rodgers.
The happenings on campus at Oak Hill Academy in April were as diverse as our student population! As signs of Spring appeared, we got outside to bike, and to play soccer and tennis. Indoor pursuits included swimming and yoga.
In the classroom, we constructed robots and machines, and “deconstructed” bullfrogs, pigs and worms (oh, my!). Outside the classroom, we continued academic exploration with field trips for art (VCU); religion (churches of the frescoes); social issues (ASU); science (Linville Caverns); and drama (historic Barter Theatre). We took the ACT, prepped for the next SAT, and highlighted our Core Values projects. April is also the month that OHA is responsible for loading bags with food each week for the local Backpack Ministry.
We planned, practiced, and prepared for Parents’ Days, and all that goes with it–National Honor Society induction, Career Fair, College App presentation, Silent Auction, sports recognitions, the Student/Parent Banquet, and shows for artists, musicians, dancers, equestrians and thespians. As the month drew to a close, we ordered tuxes and flowers, painted our nails, and transformed the Dining Hall for the Spring Formal Dinner and Dance.
Thanks to the many students, staff and parents that made April 2017 one to remember!
And thanks to Mr. Rodgers, Ms. Bronson, Mr. Pease, Rev. Turnmire, Ms. Sargent and the yearbook staff for the great photos this month.
On April 12th, Oak Hill Academy hosted a show by John Greene, a magician, mentalist, and hypnotist. Mr. Greene took an academic approach to his performance, telling us at every step what he was doing and how. But even though he armed us with some knowledge and forewarning, what he did was still quite mysterious and entertaining! He started with some sleight-of-hand magic, then moved to some “mind reading.” Then came the hypnosis, which involved some 20 volunteers from our staff and students. Mr. Greene relaxed his participants, and eventually had a stage full of subjects who looked and responded like they were “under.” With his hypnotic voice, he put the crew through a series of amusing scenarios, leading their actions with his suggestions. The antics were increasingly absurd, and boisterously funny. Audience members and hypnosis participants left amazed, not sure what they just saw and experienced, but certain that it was a lot of fun! Thanks for a memorable evening, John Greene!
As you may have heard, this year’s Leadership Group launched the Oak Hill Academy Sustainability Initiative to cultivate a campus culture of responsible use of resources. The initial phase of introducing recycling efforts to dorm life have proven successful. As a follow up, the Leadership Group distributed water bottles to the student body to discourage our use of disposable water bottles that are prevalent on so many campuses. Thanks to our Athletic Department’s relationship with Gatorade, we were able to provide high-quality, branded bottles for our students to use throughout the day and as part of campus life. We appreciate Coach Smith and Gatorade for their generous support of this project! A special thanks also to the Leadership Group for continuing to shape our mindfulness about responsible use of resources at Oak Hill.
During music class recently, some students stay hydrated with the new bottles.
Each day, after school, our Alumni Campus Store opens and a lot of clubs and activities are happening. Our kids also have personal business like checking their mail, attending SAT prep class, and checking in with teachers. It’s a busy time. But it is also a friendly, social time. The conversation on the school store deck had turned to, of all things, the ice cream trucks of our childhood (I’m sure it had a lot to do with the weather turning decidedly warm and tons of ice cream being purchased from our store). Sensing an opportunity for our kids to show their personality and some light-heartedness, I grabbed my iPhone and started filming. Not everything we do at Oak Hill Academy is as serious as SAT prep class!
Congratulations to Mikun A., OHA’s newest Student of the Week!
Mikun was nominated with the following recommendation:
“Mikun possesses a mature attitude toward his studies; he challenges himself with each assignment and participates daily with insightful comments in class. He demonstrates responsibility by keeping up with grades while participating in several extra-curriculars such as soccer, leadership, debate, social issues forum, and the junior class project.”
For this honor, the Principal’s Office regularly solicits nominations from faculty and staff of students who have made notable contributions to Oak Hill Academy campus life.
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 Girls’ Resident Life
Mrs. Katherine Crede
Director of Boys’ Resident Life
Mr. Gary Crede
Director of Financial Affairs
Mrs. Rhonda Bowen
Student Expense Accounts
Mrs. Paula Phelps
Student Tuition Accounts
Mrs. Laura Phipps
Mrs. Regina Cooper
Director of Counseling
Mrs. Joy Groves
For additional contact info., visit the Faculty & Staff Directory.