Alumni of The Oaks: Extended Content
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Kids and Race
When I first came to The Oaks, for the first time I was in a class with an equal number of black students as white. My upbringing had been in this tiny little bubble and it popped immediately. It was new and different, and I thought, ‘Okay, we’re gonna rise to this challenge of experiencing something different here.’
In high school, the social dynamics between students of different races was not the same and that was hard coming from The Oaks. My friend who did not go to The Oaks but was friends with all The Oaks kids, told me once that Oaks kids treat race differently. She said that we see race differently, in that we see it and we love it and we accept it without making it a thing.
It’s not being colorblind; it’s this middle ground of loving, accepting and celebrating diversity which was the coolest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. That wouldn’t have happened to me if I didn’t come here and had that bubble popped when I was nine.
Students Rise to the Challenge
I loved learning what I did here and I’m still using that now in college! It shows how much we were pushed to go above and beyond as kids. My roommate is an English major, and she’s reading books that I read in 7th and 8th grade. I read Romeo and Juliet as a 4th grader, MacBeth as a 5th grader, and Paradise Lost as an 8th grader. You don’t do that at other schools!
I was telling my History and Literature of Theatre class about my 7th grade logic class because we were talking about things that I had already learned from Mr. Granholm! It’s crazy that I still remember insights from that class and I’m able to discuss them in a college class. People hear these stories and they say, ‘I can’t believe you learned what logical fallacies were when you were 13.’ – and sometimes I can’t either!
The Power of Relationships
In 5th grade – I don’t remember why – but I was sent to the hallway because something was going on in class that I wasn’t prepared for. It was a big assignment, worth a lot of points, and I was just weeping in the hallway. Then Mr. Brenner [family friend] was there for a board meeting, and I don’t remember why he walked up to our hallway – I’m sure it was a God thing – but he saw me crying. Mr. Brenner just sat with me for a while until my teacher came out. I remember being really devastated about this, and then Mr. Brenner was just there and it helped.
I truly don’t think I’d be the person I am today if I didn’t have the relationships I had at The Oaks. I came back for graduation a few years ago, and I don’t remember how, but I ended up in a room with a bunch of people from my class who were also there. Someone started playing piano and we all just started singing. I know that if I called any of them right now, they would be there for me in a second.
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A special tradition for 5th grade students, the Patriotic Speech Festival is an opportunity to research and perform a memorized speech from a great American patriot.