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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.

One School Musical Preview: “Seussical the Musical”

By Elizabeth Birkner

For the last five years, with the exception of the 2020-21 school year, Oak Hall students have performed in the One School Musical. Next month, around 100 third graders through seniors are performing Seussical the Musical, a musical based off Dr. Seuss’s literary creations. Theater teacher Brooke Molitor and music teacher Erin Cushing work together to decide which musical will be performed. “Every January, Ms. Molitor and I start with a huge list of musicals and start narrowing them down,” Cushing said. When deciding which musical to produce, the two teachers take into consideration how large the cast should be, what type of technical equipment they would need, and what instruments need to be used for the orchestra pit, among other things. 

Unlike previous One School Musical’s like Matilda and James and the Giant Peach, Seussical is a play that strays away from the usual set design of musicals with its bright colors and cartoony theme, much like the drawings in a Dr. Seuss book. The musical includes famous Dr. Seuss characters like Horton, the Cat in the Hat, Gertrude, Yertle the Turtle, and the Whos of Who-ville.

Students participating in Seussical say this play is an amazing experience that brings the school together as one and inspires them to share and showcase their love for the performing arts. “There is a big social aspect with everyone being in a group of people and it can be fun to talk with the cast [with parts similar to yours],” said eighth grader, Soie Haberman. She also elaborated on how working with different grades is one of her favorite parts of participating in the musical. “[The musical] gives students of all ages and abilities the opportunity to be leaders or learn from others,” Cushing noted.

Seussical performances will be held Oct. 13 and 14 at 7 p.m., and Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. All performances are in the Edith D. Cofrin Theater on Oak Hall’s campus. Reserved seating is $10 per ticket through Oct. 10 and can be purchased by clicking here! After Oct. 10, general admission tickets will be available at the door for $5 via credit card only (no cash).

Alumni Update: Anita Coleman C/O 1990

By Bailey Thorp

In 1987, junior Anita Webster (née Coleman) decided to enroll at Oak Hall School (OHS) after previously attending Southside Baptist Christian Academy. One of the main reasons for the change was to further challenge herself academically. During her time at OHS, she was a member of the cheerleading squad, theatre class, and yearbook. Her favorite senior traditions were engraving her name in the stone near the softball fields and being able to leave campus for lunch. She graduated in 1990 alongside around 20 other classmates. 

Going into her first year of college, Webster notes that she had an amazing foundation due to the education she received and study habits that she learned at OHS. She went on to attend Florida State University for her freshman year of college and then transferred to the University of Florida, where she majored in journalism. She wrote for The Alligator and later graduated with her Bachelors in Journalism and Communications. While tutoring for UF, she fell in love with teaching and became an English and Journalism Professor at Santa Fe College. She then went on to receive her masters in English at Georgia Southern University. 

When asked what has changed since her time on Oak Hall’s campus, Webster notes that the buildings are getting larger, and that the campus has expanded greatly. Although the campus has grown since 1990, Webster emphasized how the feeling of community still exists. There is still the “Oak Hall Family” that was present in her years at Oak Hall. This “family” was her support system during her three years at OHS and continued to aid and support her even after she graduated.

Her favorite teachers were Eileen McCarthy-Smith, her adviser and English teacher, and Michael Beistle, her theatre, history, and English teacher. Webster recalls an instance of this never-ending support from faculty during her time in graduate school. When she was overwhelmed with the amount of work that she had to complete for her thesis, she ran into McCarthy-Smith. Her former teacher encouraged Webster and gave her a book that broke down the writing process into simpler terms. “I could not have survived the thesis without [McCarthy’s] support,” she said. 

This idea of a constant support system and feeling of family that has lasted decades shows just how accurate the Oak Hall mission statement is. The school truly is supportive and welcoming, which was a selling point for Webster. For her, this encouragement in the conservation of the arts is what convinced her to send her daughter Arabella, a talented visual artist, to school at Oak Hall. When looking for schools to enroll her daughter in, Webster was wary of the public school system. “I knew that the Alachua County School system was really not valuing the arts,” she said. She then looked at Oak Hall and was sold on the Arts Conservatory Program and the amount of space and effort dedicated to the arts.  

Even though she graduated more than 30 years ago, and the campus has grown, the warmth of the community hasn’t changed. “Even though there have been different policies that have come and gone, that same visceral feeling of community has stayed the same,” Webster noted.

OHS Football Continues Impressive Season

By Ryan McKinney

This week marks the halfway point of the Oak Hall Eagles football season as the team continues to steam roll opponents. The Eagles have played in four games so far and have been unstoppable as the team is undefeated. 

The first game, aptly named the Kickoff Classic, came against a much larger P.K Yonge team. On the first play of the game P.K.’s running back broke loose for 20-plus yards. The Eagles got a sack on the very next play thanks to sophomore Tommy Weber, who also made his football debut in this game. “That was the perfect timing to jump the line and I just got to the quarterback as fast as possible,” Weber said. Oak Hall added a few touchdowns to pull out the close win. 

The next game was at home against Saint Joseph Academy and was delayed for a few hours due to thunderstorms. Once the game actually began, the only important play came from sophomore Briggs Copeland. While on offense, he broke free and gained speed passing everybody on the field and got the big rushing touchdown to give Oak Hall the win. 

Sophomore Briggs Copeland, #24, waits for the snap

The next home game, against Bishop Snyder, was supposedly going to be the toughest matchup for the Eagles this year. This was not the case, as Oak Hall scored touchdowns left and right including touchdown catches from senior Neil Ruth and junior Carter Dykes, and touchdown rushes from sophomore Dakota Brower and junior Abram Jerkins. Ruth’s touchdown was such an amazing catch that it won WCJB’s “All Area Play of the Week”. Overall, Oak Hall handled business against Bishop Snyder and won 49-12. 

The most recent game was away against Seven Rivers where our Eagles had a field day in the Warriors stadium. The most highlighted player in this game, in my opinion, is Copeland as he had nine carries for 109 yards, averaging 12 yards per carry. These stats are amazing, but along with the aforementioned stats, he also capped off his performance with four rushing touchdowns, including one for 49 yards. Overall, the Eagles played great and got the away win 48-21. There isn’t a hidden secret to the Eagles’s success, however. It all comes down to fundamentals and coaching. “Our coaches really know what they’re doing,” mentioned Copeland.

The Eagles face five more teams in the regular season, including four road games and one home game. The final home game on Oct. 21 is not only the Homecoming game, the game where we recognize our football and cheerleading seniors, but it’s also against rival St. Francis. 

Go Eagles!

Photo by Evelyn Baker-Moore for the Aerie

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.