Category Archives: Upper School

New US Club Aims to Uplift Teenagers

Club meets Friday mornings from 8 – 8:25 a.m. in US Room 4

By Amelia Chen

A couple of weeks ago, my friend, Soie Haberman, and I started the Women’s Club for Oak Hall’s Upper School as a way to empower women, spread awareness, and build confidence in teenage girls.

This idea blossomed from the Middle School club we, along with Laurel Gurley, had previously created to achieve the same goals. During our time having the club in Middle School, we neither had the time nor the resources to do all the things we wanted to do. The Upper School paved the way for us to achieve this. 

First, we knew we had to find a sponsor and we couldn’t think of anyone better than Ms. Palmer who teaches, among other classes, our AP Government and Politics class. She enthusiastically agreed, thrilled at the idea that it would be a heavily student-run club. From there, all we needed was the administration’s approval. We met with Mr. Brown, the Assistant Director of the Upper School, who supportively approved our club, giving us the ability to finally start.

Part of starting the club would include appointing officers and gaining members. Appointing officers wasn’t very difficult given the fact that many freshman girls already desired to be involved. Haberman and I already had decided because we started the club, I would be president and she would be vice president. Isabelle Watson, Mackenzie Rowe, and Kaitlyn Lee immediately asked to participate as officers. Because of their delightful enthusiasm and passion to be a part of this club we immediately agreed to appoint Watson as secretary, Rowe as social media coordinator, and Lee as treasurer. Gaining members was slightly more difficult but by spreading the word by mouth and social media we were able to start our club with 18 members including the officers.

The main purpose of this club would be to spread awareness of the issues of sexism and hopefully decrease the sexism that occurs around us. “I really want to change the atmosphere for Oak Hall, and I feel like this would be a good club for just changing how everybody gets along,” Haberman said.

Not only did we want to create this club to create a good environment for teen girls, but we also wanted to make this club inclusive. This wasn’t just exclusive to girls but also allowed boys to be part of it. We also want to help the women’s community around us by hopefully participating in drives and helping in any way we can.

Overall, we believe by making the effort to have this club, we can make a change not just in the school but in the greater Gainesville community. The best way to make a difference is taking action, not just standing by and doing nothing. We are hoping to do that with this club. We are thrilled to have more members join as the year goes by!

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! 

Student Spotlight: Asher Dobrin

By Tori Kitchens

Senior Arts Conservatory Program (ACP) member and student-athlete Asher Dobrin has been part of the Oak Hall community since the beginning of his academic career. As a lifer*, Dobrin has participated in several extra curriculars, including cross country, soccer, track and field, band, and numerous clubs. “For me, the most important thing and the definition of a student-athlete is probably just being able to incorporate those two parts of my life together, and I like to blend it together and relate my academics and my athletics. I think it makes it more enjoyable,” he said. 

Dobrin began running cross country going into his sixth-grade year. Many athletes do cross country to stay in shape for another sport, and his parents wanted him to run to prepare for soccer. As he kept practicing, Dobrin became of Oak Hall’s strongest runners, and achieved a personal best time of 16:24 for a 5K. Dobrin has been a part of the state runner-up team for the past three cross country seasons. “While this is more of an on-paper accomplishment, I think it’s representative of what I am really proud of the most, which is just being a part of one of the best groups of people I could ask for,” he noted. Out of 227 runners at the state finals this year, Dobrin placed 26.

Soccer has always been one of those sports Asher could always come back to. He began playing soccer around the age of three or four on a community league team and as he reached middle school, Dobrin joined GSA, a travel soccer team. “I’ve played my whole life and [I] am not very good, but it’s nostalgic and comforting,” Dobrin joked. 

Although no one in his immediate family played an instrument, Dobrin was always interested in learning about music and seemed to gravitate toward it. “I thought it was cool and all my friends did it, so now I’m in it,” he pointed out. He began band in sixth grade, but he did not find his instrument, the bass, until eighth grade. Going into his sophomore year, Dobrin made the decision to audition for ACP. “I really wanted to challenge myself, and I put a lot of time into music in 9thgrade,” Dobrin explained. As a senior, Dobrin can play upright bass, electric bass, cello, piano, ukulele, and some guitar, but he has always preferred playing the upright bass. “I also love to dabble around on any instruments I can get my hands on,” Dobrin stated.

Dobrin wants younger student-athletes and ACP students to understand that enjoying what they are doing and not getting too stressed out are the most important things. “Always make sure you’re obviously enjoying it, but you’re putting your full effort into things because if you put more effort into it, you’re going to enjoy it more because you’ll enjoy the outcome more,” Dobrin stated. 

Hoping to attend the University of Georgia or the University of Colorado, Dobrin would like to study music composition or environmental studies. In addition, Dobrin would like to either sign with or walk on to a Division I Cross Country and Track team. 

* A “lifer” is a student that has consecutively attended Oak Hall from Pre-K, Junior Kindergarten, or Kindergarten through senior year.


A – Z with Asher Dobrin

A – Advice you’d give your freshman-self? Do your homework.
B – Best pre-race meal? Apples.
C – Coach’s best words of advice? Run fast, turn left.
D – Favorite dessert? Ice cream.
E – Most entertaining class? Freshman year geometry with Mr. L.
F – Favorite high school moment? I don’t know yet. The lounge freshman year with the carpet!
G – Goals for your senior year? Get into college and get into musical school.
H – Hoping to attend what college? Either University of Georgia or University of Colorado.
I – Interesting thing you do outside of arts and athletics? I volunteer with conservationist agencies. 
J – Favorite joke? What’s — oh I forgot! What’s blue and not very heavy? Light blue. 
K – Key to maintaining homework? Prioritizing assignments. 
L – Least favorite music style to play? Jazz.
M – Music you listen to? Indie, funk, and rock.
N – Netflix or Hulu? Netflix. 
O – What other sport would you like to try? Volleyball. 
P – Preparations for a big meet or performance? I try to sleep, I drink a lot of water, and I eat sushi.
Q – Question you’d ask your future self? Am I still not sleeping enough?
R – Most relaxing part of your day? Going to bed.
S – What would your senior superlative be? Best hair. 
T – Favorite TV show? I don’t watch TV. 
U – Most underrated music genre? Anarbor funk. 
V – Favorite vacation spot? Anywhere with mountains. 
W – What does it mean to you to be an Eagle? A lot.
X – Have you ever had an x-ray? Yes, many. 
Y – What do you want your impact to younger athletes and musicians be? Have fun!
Z – What is your zodiac sign? Cancer. 

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. 

Student Spotlight: Sofia Guico

OHS senior hopes to inspire others through music, athletics and leadership

By Tori Kitchens

Having been inspired by upperclassmen throughout high school, senior Arts Conservatory Program (ACP) member and student-athlete Sofia Guico now has the opportunity to pay it forward to younger members of the Oak Hall community. Being a lifer*, Guico has been part of multiple extracurricular activities including band, golf, Chinese Club, Honor Council, and Environmental Club. “I think the most important thing that a student-athlete should consider and work on is having a healthy balance,” Guico explained. 

The senior has played violin for most of her life but did not join the Oak Hall music program until her eighth-grade year. Abbie Ringdahl (OHS class of 2018) convinced Guico to join the prestigious program. “She told me about all [of] these amazing opportunities I’d be given if I just kind of joined and talked to the music director, so I took a leap of faith,” Guico described. Once again, Guico was inspired by upperclassmen to join ACP going into the Upper School. “I just knew I wanted to be like them, so I tried to follow their path and do everything right,” she said.

Having played golf on and off for three years, Guico joined Oak Hall’s varsity girls golf team in sixth grade. As a senior, Guico is now the co-captain. She has enjoyed watching her teammates grow throughout her seven years in the program. “It’s really nice to see how we just kind of matured over the last couple [of] years,” Guico noted. 

Since freshman year, Guico has been a representative of Oak Hall’s Honor Council (the group elected by their peers that represents the voice of the community when it comes to issues of academic integrity). “I got to see what hearings were like [freshman year] and help enforce and instill the Honor Code throughout the student body,” Guico stated. She was elected the sophomore class representative and Vice Chair in her junior year. As a senior, Guico is now the Honor Council Chair. “I was inspired by past seniors [and] past upperclassmen to run for Chair, so I did because I think there’s a lot of cool things you can do with that,” Guico mentioned. 

She hopes younger students of OHS look up to her as she did to upperclassmen when she was younger and wants to ensure they feel welcomed and part of the OHS community. In addition, she wants them to pursue their passions while finding a healthy balance between activities and schoolwork. “While there are so many things you can pursue here, it’s so difficult to really find that perfect happy medium in everything,” Guico said. 

* A “lifer” is an OHS student that began their educational adventure in kindergarten or prior, and consecutively stay through graduation.


A to Z with Sofia Guico

A – Advice you’d give your freshman self? Do what you love and pursue all the passions that you have. 
B – Your best ACP moment? The one that I did online. I had to do all that basically by myself. 
C – Career goals? I don’t know. 
D – Favorite dessert? Ice cream. 
E – Most entertaining class? Band, obviously. 
F – Favorite high school moment? Today, being with you. 
G – Goals for your senior year? To sleep a lot more than I have in the past. 
H – Hoping to attend what college? It’s a surprise! 
I – Interesting thing you do outside of arts and athletics? I really like to meditate. 
J – Favorite joke? Knock knock. [Who’s there?] Me! Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
K – Keys to maintaining homework? Lock yourself in your room and don’t let your phone distract you. 
L – Least favorite music style to play? Jazz.
M – Music you listen to? Jazz.
N – Netflix or Hulu? Netflix. 
O – What other sport would you like to try? Water Polo. 
P – Preparations for a big match or performance? For a big match, I have to eat Chic-Fil-A. For a big performance, doing my makeup really well. 
Q – Question you’d ask your future self? Did you grow?
R – Most relaxing part of your day? My free period. 
S – What would your senior superlative be? Worst driver! 
T – Favorite TV show? Manifest.
U – Most underrated music genre? Lofi jazz. 
V – Favorite vacation spot? My bed.
W – What does it mean to you to be an Eagle? To be honorable and to love what you’re doing. 
X – Have you ever had an x-ray? No. 
Y – Your impact to younger athletes and musicians? Try to find that really good balance.
Z – What is your zodiac sign? Virgo.