Today’s blog contributor is Director of Student Affairs, Aaron Butt, who illustrates Oak Hill Academy’s daily approach to our mission. Here is the December Update:
From the Director of Student Affairs:
The Oak Hill campus is quiet as I take walks with my children in the afternoons – everyone is at home for Christmas Break, and I hope you are enjoying a restful, peaceful time with friends and family. We have finished our first semester, weathered exam week, and grades are posted.
The three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas were filled with a flurry of events – we had our first significant snowfall of almost 7 inches, and students enjoyed a “snow-cial” on the hill sledding and drinking hot chocolate. Last weekend was the Christmas dinner and annual winter dance; for me the highlight was watching students in their formal dress linger in the dining hall after our meal, enjoying each other’s company. The past three weeks have also been full of basketball – students came out many nights to the Turner Gym to support our JV, Red, and Gold teams.
One of the biggest high points of this time of year is hearing about college acceptances. Regularly in our morning assemblies we hear announcements of students who have been admitted to colleges, and it reminds me of the value and purpose of Oak Hill – to transform young men’s and women’s lives, and put them on a path toward success. We call ourselves a structured boarding school; a coed, college preparatory school; a place where students can grow, be challenged, and have an opportunity to start fresh. But these are all just words, and it is a blessing to see these words in action as our seniors start to plan their futures.
As the Director of Student Affairs, one of the things I have been talking with students about is the connection between our structure and academic success. We limit cell phone usage. We require promptness, a standard of appearance, and politeness. We do not tolerate disrespect, and we prohibit certain behaviors. Why? Because we believe that there is a connection between these principles and these college acceptances. Students here are allowed to focus, encouraged to engage, and pushed to reach our high expectations. Academic success can happen elsewhere, but we believe this is a special place where learning and behavioral needs are acknowledged and addressed, and where students can build patterns that will aid them as they move on to college and beyond.
As we enter January and a new semester, my focus is going to be on the little things—the little, simple things we do each day which define us and show what kind of people we are. We will emphasize being on time, tucking in shirts, pushing in chairs, being respectful and attentive, coming to class prepared, watching the words that come out of our mouths. These things all seem small in themselves, but I am convinced that the small decisions we make today define and prepare us for our future.
May you have a blessed, refreshing holiday, and I look forward to seeing our campus full of students again soon!
Aaron Butt, Director of Student Affairs