Category Archives: Lower School

Student Spotlight: Carson Holley

OHS fifth grader is making strides in the music industry

By Sofia Santelices

Most kids at a young age don’t have ambition for a particular future occupation. Carson Holley, however, is not like most kids. At the tender age of six, Holley decided as soon as she took her first step onto a stage that performing was more than just a passion. “It was really after playing the role of Molly in the musical Annie at the Gainesville Community Playhouse that I decided I was always going to do this no matter what,” she said. Her first performances included singing the National Anthem at professional baseball games. With her first two singles released at the end of last year, Holley, now 11, is living her dream.

Holley is multilingual when it comes to her music, having the talent to sing in English, Spanish, German, Italian, and French. She is also currently working under three agencies: Legacy Talent Group for acting; and IBA Music and Goin’ Native Records as a recording artist. “I’m also a Membership Candidate for Actor’s Equity Association,” Holley said. In addition, she is also commissioned by local companies and hired around Gainesville to perform her talents.

Recently, Holley spent two months completing all aspects of her new single, Que Late. She spent six to eight hours recording the single, and around 12 hours recording the music video. Holley emphasizes the importance of self-expression through her new single. “I really want my music to stand for being true to who you are,” she noted. Her next single is said to be released in the spring. 

Even though Holley is young, she understands the realities of her choices, and how her musical style could develop in the future. “Even though I will grow and change as an artist, and one day I may not think [Que Late] is as good as my work is in the future, [but] I wouldn’t change anything about it,” she mentioned. 

As for her role models, she pulls her influencers from a hodgepodge of individuals. “I don’t think it’s possible to have a number one inspiration,” she said. “I have so many influences and mentors and inspirations out there from people I know in real life to celebrities,” she continued. Currently, her two favorite songs are her recently released singles, Que Late and This Christmas. 

For her work locally, Holley played Matilda in the Oak Hall production of Matilda this past fall, and as Scout in the Star Center Theatre performance, To Kill A Mockingbird. “Matilda has always been a dream role for me so I absolutely loved her,” she said. In the future, Holley hopes to one day collaborate with Shakira, Dove Cameron, and Kristen Chenoweth. “One of my celebrity inspirations right now is Kristen Chenoweth because she has managed to do it all – Broadway, singing, television,” Holley mentioned. “Everyone says I’ll eventually have to pick one and I always say, ‘But she didn’t!’.”

LS Continues Tradition of Holiday Singalong

By Jenna Poppell

As Middle and Upper School students prepare for midterms, the fun is just beginning at the Lower School! On Dec. 20 at 9 a.m., Lower School students are performing their annual holiday singalong. Grades include pre-kindergarten all the way up to fifth!

Amanda Ferwerda, one of the Lower School music teachers, explained that some classes have been practicing music for the singalong for weeks. “We have a wide variety of Christmas, Winter, and Hanukkah songs,” she said. It is expected the singalong will last 45 minutes to one hour. Unlike in previous years, no instruments will be played, with the exception of piano played by the other Lower School music teacher, Erin Cushing. 

“After the singalong, most of the students will play outside, while the room parents [set up] for the holiday parties,” explained Michelle Mills, Director of the Lower School. Students do not need to bring a lunch/snack because dismissal is at 11:45 a.m. and there will be plenty of food at the holiday parties. 

“There really isn’t time for academics on this day, so many of our students do not bring their backpack,” Mills noted. “For most of the students, Friday will be a pajama day, with the exception of the fifth grade, who has ugly sweater day,” she continued. 

“Wizard of Oz” Comes to OHS

By Madison Gaston

It’s no surprise that Oak Hall has a wide range of talent among its students. On Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. and Dec. 12 at 7 p.m., Oak Hall’s fourth graders are performing the renowned play, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, in the Lower School multi-purpose room (PJ Manson Center). The play, directed by Lower School music teacher Erin Cushing, will be performed by the fourth graders’ music class. The students, however, are not graded for their participation, but rather encouraged to build confidence to perform for an audience of teachers and peers.

Many students of the fourth grade class have been chosen to play major roles in the play:

Dorothy: Charlotte Curtis 
Wicked Witch: Reagan Barr
Tin Man: McNeil Ezzell
Scarecrow: Maxwell McAfee
Wizard of Oz: Kyan Kosboth
Glinda: Lilah Raulerson
Aunt Em: Rania Mian
Uncle Henry: Chase Angerhofer
Professor Marvel: Will Staples 
Mayor: Kevin Reeves 
Coroner: Shaikhah Alzamel

“I feel honored to have been chosen for the role,” said fourth grader Reagan B., who is portraying the Wicked Witch. “I am excited and scared, but I look forward to playing such an interesting and fun character!” she continued. Although the students have put many demanding hours into practicing for the play, it will be rewarding for them to learn about acting and receive encouragement from parents, teachers, and friends.

Fourth grade teacher, Jackson Rogers, notes the play gives shy students the opportunity to come out of their shells, and that outgoing students are afforded time to refine their communication skills. “Furthermore, it introduces students to develop an appreciation for the arts. We love our musicals,” he said.

Second Grade Garden, Nutritious and Delicious

By Sofia Santelices

For the past two years, Oak Hall second graders were given the responsibility of planting and maintaining a garden, located next to the Lower School playground. Currently in its third year, the second grade garden is initiating its wintertime vegetation after harvesting sweet potatoes in October. Some of the greenery being planted over the winter months include mint, various herbs, and beans that can sustain the lower temperatures.

In previous projects, students have planted kale, turnips, squash, Mexican sunflowers, as well as a milk wheat plant to attract butterflies. “It’s pretty and I like flowers and I like the plants there. And sometimes me and my friend… we would pick up the potatoes from the flower beds,” said second grader Sofia R. The types of plants are adjusted each year in order to determine which type is most suitable to endure cooler conditions. Second graders are given the opportunity to eat the plants they’ve grown once the harvesting process is completed.

Sweet potatoes and its leaves were harvested by the second graders in October

This experience is an interactive process for second graders to enjoy. “I like that it gives kids an opportunity to be in nature and not restricted on the playground… It’s a very interactive thing,” said third grader Salem F. Salem participated in the garden last year, and truly enjoyed the knowledge he gained. During recess, certain students, known as “The Garden Helpers”, are assigned the task of tending to the garden.

Currently, only second grade has a garden, but other grades are welcome to visit and admire it. A previous teacher constructed the garden, and asked Lower School science teacher Ginny Switt to assist. Now, Switt carries on the custom of supervising this hands-on educational lesson. 

Childhood Obesity On The Rise

Over the next few weeks, “The Talon” will be releasing a series of stories regarding depression, anxiety, obesity, nutrition, sleeping habits, and time management. Sources were given the option to remain anonymous, as the topics are incredibly personal. Please be advised, some of the published stories may be disturbing to some readers.

By Jasmine Chen

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five children and adolescents are affected from obesity. Childhood obesity, referring to a medical condition in which a child is significantly overweight for his or her age and height, has increased throughout the past few years in the United States. Unlike many other medical conditions, it is self-diagnosable and self-treatable. However, it can lead to serious consequences if continued into adulthood. Therefore, it is very important to know how to prevent childhood obesity from occurring, and how to implement solutions if it has already happened.

Over the past few years, childhood obesity has increased throughout the United States. To reduce childhood obesity rates, education comes first. The causes of childhood obesity include “poor nutrition, inactivity, video games” among other things, according to Eric Ringdahl, Oak Hall physical education teacher and varsity girls basketball coach. “[A] lot of kids that are obese from the time when they are small, run a greater risk of getting diabetes…Self-esteem drops because they do get excluded from certain activities, certain running activities, certain games at school. They can get made fun of, even bullied,” Ringdahl said.

Besides having effects on a child’s mental health, childhood obesity also leads to a high risk of various diseases. “[If] it continues into adulthood…health factors are high blood pressure, cholesterol, risk of cardiovascular disease, and we are also seeing an increase in child onset diabetes, also gastric reflux…usually from being overweight because your stomach’s bigger than normal, and some kids have breathing problems, then there’s excess weight on your joints,” Oak Hall Lower School Nurse, Mary O’Meara, explained. 

To prevent childhood obesity, it is important that we “limit the screen time that goes into children’s days, increase more PE time in schools, and introduce more healthy behaviors in the home,” O’Meara suggested. On the other hand, “controlling portion size” is also a significant factor. Eating too much is one of the main causes of gaining too much weight. In addition, what children eat every day plays a major role as well. Having healthy meals reduces the risk of being overweight. To help children who are already dealing with obesity to get rid of this medical condition, it is important to let them know that exercising is the key to staying in shape. “Kids at that point don’t want to exercise because they are heavy,” O’Meara said. However, if they continue to avoid exercising, obesity can get worse over time.