Select Page

2 Oak Hill Academy Students Assist in NASA Research at CalTech This Summer

Alice and Mikun (back row) work with a team to analyze data collected by the Spitzer Space Telescope


Mr. Gary Duranko, a recent hire in the Oak Hill Academy Math and Science departments, chaperoned a recent exciting trip for two of our students, Alice and Mikun, to The California Institute of Technology this summer.  The Oak Hill Academy trio is now part of a team of teachers and students from around the United States that are doing groundbreaking research with a NASA astronomer using data collected by the Spitzer Space Telescope.  Seeking to identify trants arsitional stages in star or galaxy development, the world-renowned telescope is used to analyze large portions of the sky using infa-red wavelengths.

The team worked 8 hour days at the Spitzer Science Center on CalTech’s campus where the Institute’s engineers work with NASA.  The team got a complete overview of the research project, learned about the software programs in use, and toured the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that controls several NASA satellites and missions.  Being tourists in the area, they also briefly took in the sites along Hollywood Boulevard and ate at the Hard Rock Cafe!

Oak Hill Academy around the country!

The project will be ongoing and, while school is in session this year, Alice and Mikun (with Mr. Duranko’s support) will meet once weekly to look at data and pictures taken by Spitzer.  They will continue to categorize data in preparation for a presentation at the next American Astronomical Society meeting in January, 2018 just outside of Washington, D.C.  Oak Hill Academy is pleased to announce that our science curriculum will now include an Astronomy class and a newly founded Astronomy Club should prove very popular.  Our location, far from the light pollution found in more densely populated areas, should prove a huge advantage to our sky-watchers.

Oak Hill Academy ends summer session with 3 new alumni!

The 2017 summer session of Oak Hill Academy finished up this week with a picnic dinner at Mississippi Pavilion in Noonkester Park on Thursday, and final exams Friday. Following exams Friday morning, the OHA community gathered for the closing assembly, in which our 3 new graduates were recognized and awarded their diplomas. Congratulations and happy summer!

OHA Summer Students start Week Two

Firmly into the groove of summer academics, Oak Hill Academy students find time to relax, shoot some hoops, play soccer, and take advantage of our dramatic mountain scenery.

Thanks to our students for some downtime photos, and to Mr. Crede for the shots of the hike on nearby Mount Jefferson, NC.

Oak Hill Academy’s Summer Session is underway!

Oak Hill Academy welcomed new and returning summer students to campus on Monday, June 19th. As everyone got geared up to squeeze a year’s worth of learning into 5 weeks, the Residence Life staff helped kick things off with Tuesday’s “Summer Icebreaker,” which included water balloons, shaving cream…and the ensuing mayhem. Not to worry–the battle ended amicably with watermelon and ice cream. Here’s to a productive and fun summer!

Oak Hill Academy Religion Classes Visit “The Churches of the Frescoes”

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.

The Ascension of Christ (above) depicted in the sanctuary at St. Mary’s Episcopal in W. Jefferson, NC.

  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.



Announcing Oak Hill Academy’s last Student of the Week for the year!

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.

Congratulations, Kristina!

Senior Sunday at Oak Hill Academy 5.7.17

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.

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 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

Transportation Coordinator
Mrs. Regina Cooper

Director of Counseling
Mrs. Joy Groves

Academy Nurse
Mrs. Lynne Ham
Mrs. Betsy Anders

For additional contact info., visit the Faculty & Staff Directory.