Category Archives: News

Hurricane Ian UPDATE – Sept. 28

Sept. 28

Oak Hall School is closing today at 12:30 p.m. All after school activities are cancelled, along with any after school student care. The campus will reopen on Monday, Oct. 3.

As of the 11 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Ian exploded into a high Category 4 hurricane overnight. Winds are currently sustained at 155 mph as the pressure has dropped to 937mb. Alachua County remains under a Tropical Storm Warning, a River Flood Warning, a Flood Watch, and a Tropical Storm Watch.

Sept. 27 – Second Update

Per the 5 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Ian is now a strong Category 3 storm as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico with sustained winds of 120 mph as the pressure continues to drop, now at 952 mb. Alachua County continues to be under a Hurricane Watch, Tropical Storm Warning, Tropical Storm Watch, and a Flood Warning. The Flood Warning is in effect until 2 a.m. Saturday. Ian is moving North at 10 mph and one of the larger concerning threats is the amount of rain that will saturate the state.

National Hurricane Center update – Sept. 27, 5 p.m.

Sept. 27

According to an email sent to faculty, staff, students and parents, Oak Hall Campus will be closed beginning at 12:30 Wednesday afternoon due to Hurricane Ian. Per the email:

Dear Families,

In preparation for the impact of Hurricane Ian, we will have an early dismissal tomorrow, Wednesday, September 28th. Our campus will be closed on Thursday, September 29th & Friday, September 30th. Classes will resume on Monday, October 3rd

Dismissal times for Wednesday, September 28th are as follows:

  • ECLC: 11:45 a.m.
  • Lower School: 12:00 p.m.
  • Middle & Upper School: 12:30 p.m.

There will be no Extended Day Programming on Wednesday. Students must leave campus at their divisional dismissal time. All afterschool activities (sports, clubs, etc.) will be canceled for Wednesday. 

Please note that any absences on Wednesday will be excused as we support our families in doing what’s best for their households. Updates, such as changes in dismissal times, will be communicated via our Emergency Notification System (email, text, phone call).

Take care and stay safe.

As of the 8 a.m. advisory, Ian is a Category 3 storm with sustained winds at 125 mph. It is moving North at 12 mph. Alachua County is currently under a Hurricane Watch, Tropical Storm Warning, Flood Warning, and a Tropical Storm Watch.

Sept. 26

The West Coast of Florida is bracing for the impacts of Hurricane Ian. As of the 11 a.m. advisory the storm has a maximum sustained winds of 80 mph which currently makes it a Category 1 storm. So far, no tropical storm/hurricane watches or warnings have been declared for Alachua County. As for Oak Hall, administrators are keeping an eye on Ian and consulting with County Emergency Management. In an email to faculty and staff, Director of Operations Jeff Malloy made it clear that safety is the school’s number one priority. The school, however, might not close if Alachua County schools do. “Please keep in mind that our facilities are not used for the purpose of shelters.  That said, we do not need to close for the same reason or duration that public schools close,” Malloy noted. If Oak Hall needs to close because of the storm, faculty, staff, students, and parents will be notified three ways: by text, by email, and by a phone call via the school’s Emergency Notifications System.

FOBs Bring Added Safety to Middle, Upper School

By Elizabeth Birkner

For the first time in Oak Hall School history, every building has an electronic locking system, thus amplifying the safety within campus. It was decided that, beginning this school year, all students in the Middle and Upper School would use FOBs to access exterior doors around campus. Each student must have their student ID badge on them at all times, as this is how the unlocking system for the doors is possible since the “key” to unlock the door is within the badge. The FOBs system was implemented with the Middle and Upper School students in mind, as those students need to have access to different buildings for classes throughout the school day.

Jeff Malloy, Oak Hall’s Director of Operations, noted that numerous buildings on campus were equipped with electronic locks over the summer. “For the safety of everyone on the campus, this summer 22 access control systems were added throughout the campus including the Upper School. This allows for all exterior doors to buildings on campus to be secure during the school day,” he said. Not only were electronic locks added to the Upper School, but also “the Student Engagement Center, the rest of the Oxborough Gym, the Cofrin Gallery and Theater, as well as the art buildings,” Malloy noted.

When using the FOBs, the student holds their fob up to the scanner, and is then granted access to the building they want to enter. This ensures that only Oak Hall attendees can access specific buildings, which secures the safety of the school. “Change is always difficult, but this is change for the right reason…safety,” Malloy said.

Eagles Bring Home Top Honors at Thespian Festival

Troupe 6405 earned four “Top Honors” awards, two “Superior” awards, and numerous “Excellent” awards

By Tori Kitchens

On Dec. 4, the Upper School’s theater department traveled to Lake Minneola High School to compete in the District 12 Thespian Festival and returned home with great success. This festival occurred for the first time since 2019, so the Eagles were very excited to return to competition. “It has been so long since I have been around a large group of people all doing what they love to do, and I felt all day that everyone was just as excited as me to be back in person for live theater events,” said Lower School Music Teacher and accompanist Erin Cushing.

After months of preparation, Oak Hall’s Thespians, Troupe 6405, brought 201 events to the festival: five monologues, five solo musical pieces, four duet acting pieces, two duet musical pieces, two ensemble acting pieces, one small group musical piece, one student choreography, and one student directed. “What surprised me the most was that our acts uniquely represented us with our humor and silliness, and I think other troupes were slightly more somber than usual, so it was nice to see that we were just able to sit back and enjoy it,” noted Upper School Theater Co-Director Dr. Dominique Clance.

The Eagles competed from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. After the final event, the troupe learned that it received a Top Honor: the highest score in their event room. Senior Jennifer Berthy and sophomore Katelyn Berthy got “Top Honors for Duet Musical”, “Single Man Drought” from I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

The Berthy sisters, however, weren’t the only “Top Honors” winners from OHS. Senior Peyton Nembhard won “Top Honors for Student Choreography” to a piece from the musical Kinky Boots. This was Oak Hall’s first entry in this category since the troupe’s inception. Seniors Julia Curtis and Kaylee Rowe, and sophomore Annika Quanbeck received “Top Honors Ensemble Acting” for their piece titled, “Barbies.” Finally, the troupe’s small group musical, “Haus of Holbein” from the musical Six, received Top Honors. The actors in this piece were Katelyn Berthy, Quanbeck, Rowe, Nembhard, junior Christina Sarantos, and freshman Lilia AitSahlia. “I am so proud of them!  We haven’t had any Top Honors/Critic’s Choice in several years, and their hard work paid off,” said Upper School Theater Director, Brooke Molitor. 

Oak Hall Troupe 6405

Winning “Top Honors” gives the actors an opportunity to perform their pieces at the event’s closing ceremony. Oak Hall won the most top scores out of any troupe. “Not one, not two, not three, but four Top Honors!” Molitor emphasized. “This district has some of the most competitive schools and as another director emailed me, our students “totally dominated” the festival.” This was the best that Oak Hall’s troupe had done at the district level since 2016. 

In addition to the four “Top Honors” recipients, there were two more “Superior” scores, which is the highest score level. Sarantos and fellow junior Bailey Thorp received superior on their duet musical, “The Actuary Song” from I Love You Because, and Jennifer Berthy and Rowe received superior for their duet acting title “Stepsisters”. The remaining 14 events received the next best score, “Excellent”.

Troupe 6405 will travel to Tampa in March to compete at the State Thespian Festival. “This is the largest Thespian Festival in the country, and it is a very busy few days filled with shows, masterclasses, workshops, and the competition,” Molitor explained. “Students will start rehearsing again after Winter Break and implementing the constructive feedback from the judges.”

Congratulations Eagles! 

International Games Day Returns to the Hall

By Aiden Wacksman

For the first time in two years, Upper School (US) students will be able to participate in International Games Day (IGD) at Oak Hall. It will take place throughout the day Nov. 19 in the MS/US Learning Commons. 

IGD is defined as “an initiative run by volunteers from around the world to reconnect communities through their libraries” by the American Library Association. At Oak Hall, students can enjoy games ranging from cornhole to Super Smash Bros. Throughout the day, US teachers can bring their classes to the Learning Commons to participate.

The idea to start IGD at Oak Hall came several years ago and was brought up by Media Specialist Evelyn Smith. She read about IGD online and presented the idea to the US division head at the time. 

Smith received permission to host IGD at Oak Hall. Many of the games were donated or loaned by teachers and students in the event’s first year. “We still have games and puzzles that were donated that first year,” Smith said. The first IGD at Oak Hall was a success, and it became a tradition at Oak Hall. It normally takes place on the last school day before Fall break.

“It’s a fitting time of the year to play games together just as people are about to enjoy the week with their families.
Evelyn Smith – Media Specialist


For the first time, however, IGD at Oak Hall did not take place in 2020 due to COVID-19. Due to social distancing protocols, the MS/US Learning Commons was used as a classroom three times per day, which would make hosting IGD virtually impossible. Thus, the event was canceled for the year. 

Smith met with current US Division Head John Perlette and Re-Entry Committee Chair Jeffery Malloy at the end of the 2020-21 school year, and IGD at Oak Hall was approved for the 2021-22 school year.

Students such as seniors Jasmine Ferris and Ryland Kane are looking forward to the return of IGD. “I missed not being able to [beat] my friends in ‘Monopoly’ last year,” Ferris exclaimed. Meanwhile, Kane is excited to play “Mario Kart” at this year’s IGD. “I like that [students] get the chance to have some fun,” he said. 

This year, IGD will feature new games such as cornhole, “Go,” and “Wingspan”. Smith believes that IGD at Oak Hall allows students to have fun and engage in friendly competition. “It’s refreshing for students and teachers to come to [IGD] and just play,” she stated. Her favorite thing about IGD is when alumni tell her that the event was one of their favorites at Oak Hall. 

Students, do you need volunteer hours? Ms. Smith needs volunteers for International Games Day! Email her at esmith@oakhall.org or talk to her in the library if you are interested. 

Eagles Begin Play for Postseason Glory

By Tori Kitchens

Swimming and Diving
Oak Hall’s swimming and diving team took to the pool yesterday for its district meet. Seven boys and 14-16 girls participated at the district competition. The athletes competed against Community Christian, Florida High, Maclay, North Bay Haven, St. Francis, PK Yonge, Rocky Bayou Christian, and Pensacola Catholic. Last season, the girls achieved a third-place finish in the district, while the boys placed fifth.

Having several goals this season, head coach Quinn Bohan’s main goal is not to win a title, but for each athlete to grow and have fun. “The mission of our team is to help our athletes fulfill their athletic goals while here at Oak Hall,” he emphasized. 

Volleyball
Oak Hall’s volleyball team began its postseason run on Tuesday at Countryside Christian. As the district’s No. 1 seed, Oak Hall received a bye Monday night and defeated No. 4 seed Countryside Christian. Having beaten Countryside Christian in three sets at their gym, Coach Perry McDonald is confident in his team’s success. “Our hope is that we can win our District Championship because, if we do, we’re going to be able to come through and bring our fans at Oak Hall some really fun playoff volleyball,” he said. 

The volleyball team has not been able to bring home a district title since 2010. The Lady Eagles have a tough task at hand, as most members don’t have much experience in postseason play. “This team is poised to do what no other team in the past probably eight to 10 years has done,” McDonald shared. 

McDonald has high hopes for his team. Besides bringing Oak Hall another district championship, his main goal is to give the girls of the team experience in the post season to grow from in the upcoming years. “We’re very lucky to have three phenomenal seniors – Cate Cannon, Sophia Aulisio, and Emi Scorpio – that are really doing a sensational job on the court guiding this team and helping them be successful,” McDonald noted. 

Golf
Both the boys and girls golf teams at Oak Hall have its district tournament at Ocala National Golf Club on Oct. 25 at 9 a.m. This tournament is an all-day 18-hole match that will be hosted by Trenton High School. 

Oak Hall’s boys’ golf team is hoping to place in the top three in order to advance to the regional tournament. The competitors include St. Francis, Eastside, and Trenton to name a few. Boys’ captains Lucas Katz (OHS class of 2024) and Tanmay Chandra (OHS class of 2025) both have a similar goal in mind: a back-to-back district win for the first time since 2011. “We have the best win record, I believe, in close to 15 years, so it’s looking good,” Katz shared.

On the girls’ side, the Lady Eagles must place as one of the top two teams to qualify for regionals, which shouldn’t be difficult considering the team is looking to win its third district championship in a row. Although members of the team have been strong at the district level, none of the athletes have advanced to regional competition before. Senior co-captain Amanda Malnik is hoping the team plays its best in the postseason. “We need to work on our short game and putting in particular as a team,” Malnik noted. 

Cross Country
Oak Hall’s cross country programs are hoping to bring home another district win at Alligator Lake in Lake City on Oct. 26. The girls are set to begin competition at 9 a.m. and the boys at 9:40 a.m. All teams are eligible to compete with up to 10 runners at districts. The top eight teams will qualify to the regional competition. “If we do our own jobs, we worry about ourselves, it’ll take care of itself,” Coach Edwin McTureous said. 

McTureous is confident that he will see multiple Oak Hall runners place in the top 10 in both the girls’ and boys’ competitions. Senior Lauren Jones and junior Caden Montini are currently the top runners for Oak Hall, but McTureous expects that many other of the teams’ runners have a shot at an individual district title. “If one [opponent] has an off-day, I think we have several boys that [have] a chance to win,” McTureous noted. 

Football
After a tough season plagued by injuries, Oak Hall’s football program is getting prepared to begin its playoff run on Oct. 29. Out of 24 teams, the Sunshine State Athletic Conference (SSAC) ranks the top eight teams to continue into the playoffs. “We are guaranteed two games, so if for some reason we lost the first round, we would still be able to play in a consolation game the next week, but then that would be it,” Head Coach RJ Fuhr explained. 

Most of the Eagles’ injured players are set to return before the playoffs. Senior quarterback Georgi El-Semarani re-injured his ankle in his first game back during the regular season. Although El-Semarani does not have a set return date, he is hoping to play in the final regular season game against St. Francis. “[I am] aiming to try and be back fully by playoffs,” he said. Junior Eliah Bacchus is the only player that will not return for the playoffs, as he injured his femur. 

The team’s experience at the State Championship game last year at Bryant Stadium in Lakeland gave the Eagles a beneficial experience that is being utilized during the postseason this year.