Tag Archives: seniors

College Applications at an All-Time High Despite COVID

By Lucas Walters

As college applications have come in over the past few months, seniors at Oak Hall are experiencing new challenges involving many aspects of the process. Despite this, Director of College Counseling at Oak Hall, Myronee Simpson says that universities both in state and out have seen record turn out when it comes to their applicant pools.

“The last couple weeks many colleges have been releasing decisions and usually they’ve been accompanying those releases with press releases about ‘here’s how many applicants we received’. Like just today, they haven’t released yet but Brown University sent an email I’m assuming to college counselors basically outlining kind of what their pool looked like this year. You know the fact that they had a record application pool this year, the largest in their history.”

In addition, Simpson says that many thought applicant pools would be smaller due to the lack of in-person learning across the country.

“You know you would have thought that there might be a decline in applicants because a lot of high school students have not been in traditional learning for over a year. You have some school districts around the country where students have not seen the inside of a high school classroom since March of last year. So, you might have thought for that reason that you might not have as many students applying to schools but in the case of a lot of these more selective schools, they actually grew their applicant pool.”

Simpson says that while applicant pools have increased, the amount of those applications that are submitted without standardized testing has also dramatically increased.

“In terms of testing, a lot of cancelations of standardized testing last spring, continuing this fall. So that prompted a lot of colleges to change their testing policies to test optional. So, you have a lot of students that have – In some cases close to half of a school’s applicant pool, the applicants did not submit testing.”

The in state versus out of state split also seems to be defying expectations, although a majority of Oak Hall seniors have not made their decision yet.

“Right now, in a class of let’s say 59 students only 14 of them have said, ‘Yes I am going to be attending here’. So that’s not a lot of – Out of the 59 that’s not a lot of people. Having said that, out of that 14, seven have said they’re attending out of state, seven have said they’re attending in state. So, it’s about a 50-50 split right now.”

(The interview with Ms. Simpson took place in March, prior to many seniors choosing which college they will attend.)

Simpson says that we may see geographic distance play more of a role as students begin to make their decisions.

“Maybe the thought process was to go a little bit further, but students might be thinking you know geographically, ‘I might decide I want to be closer to home versus then initially I thought.’ So that might be something that factors in.”

In addition, Simpson commented on the lack of availability of in-person tours and accepted student programming.

“Normally, pre-COVID time, April would be a very popular month for accepted students to go to one of these two things: either accepted student programs that were big open houses basically, at colleges for accepted students, or do individual tours and visits, again for accepted students. A lot of colleges aren’t offering that. If they’re doing accepted student programming it’s likely gonna be online.”

Simpson elaborates on this, saying that there is a mindset change between touring schools initially, and touring schools after being accepted.

“When you visit the first time a prospective student, you’re applying not knowing whether or not the school will be an option. When you visit after you’ve been accepted, at that point you know that the choice is yours to decide whether or not you want to go to this school. So the mindset when you visit a school that you plan to apply to versus a school that you visit when you’ve been admitted is very different.”

For the Talon, I’m Lucas Walters.

Seniors look forward to modified “grad bash” experience

By Jenna Poppell

“Grad Bash” is a road trip that seniors take to Orlando for thrill, amusement, and relaxation as they explore the parks of Universal Studios. Senior Class Sponsor and Director of Operations Jeff Malloy has worked tremendously hard to give seniors a normal final year. It has been a tradition for Universal to open up its parks to the seniors attending Florida high schools for a day of fun. Both this year and last year, however, the park canceled Grad Bash due to COVID-19. Instead, they have offered local schools a chance to go on selected dates to limit the amount of exposure. Oak Hall chose May 19 as the day for class fun. The seniors will depart from school at 7 a.m. and arrive at 9 a.m., and will leave the parks around 8 p.m. The trip will be complimented by a light breakfast and goodie bag provided by the Oak Hall Alumni Association. 

Universal has set strict guidelines related to COVID-19 in order to ensure our safety:

  • Face Coverings will be required throughout the day 
  • Temperature checks are required upon arrival
  • Hand sanitizer required prior to boarding ride vehicles 
  • Social distancing and 6 feet distance from your party and others
  • Stand on floor marking while in line

In addition, Universal Studios has a strict dress code policy for this event: 

  • No clothing bearing the name of Oak Hall School, any collegiate or professional team, or zip and area codes may be worn.
  • No backpacks or large purses (only the size of a hand purse)
  • Tank tops, undershirts, sleeveless tops (less than 3 inches in the straps)
  • Nylon basketball shorts
  • Clothing with excessive holes or shredding 
  • Clothing that exposes excessive portions of skin that may be viewed as inappropriate

While slightly modified from years previous, I think we are all happy for the opportunity to spend time with our class and participate in such a popular event. “I am very excited to continue this tradition albeit with some COVID alterations,” Malloy said.

Senior Spotlight: Matthew Leber

In an effort to make this year special for Oak Hall’s senior athletes, we created A-Z questions for them to answer. We hope you enjoy!

Matthew Leber is a member of Oak Hall’s boys varsity baseball team!

By Mia Currie

A: Advice you’d give your freshman-self? Enjoy everything, since there are only four years of high school. Enjoy freshman year before it gets hard in junior and senior year.
B: Best pre-game meal? I’d probably have to go with Chick-Fil-A or Five Guys.
C: Coach’s best words of advice? Keep your head up even when you fail. Just keep your head up and focus on the next game if you don’t do well in one game.
D: Favorite dessert? Ice cream.
E: Most entertaining practice? Music.
F: Favorite high school athletic moment? Beating St. Francis in the district semi-final game.
G: Goals for your senior season? Probably to win the district and see what happens from there.
H: Hoping to attend (which college)? UF.
I: Interesting thing about you away from baseball? I’ve played violin my whole life and I also can draw.
J: Favorite joke? I don’t have one off the top of my head!
K: Keys to keeping up with homework? Time management I think would have to be an important part to keep up with homework.
L: Least favorite practice drill? Probably running/conditioning.
M: Music you listen to? Hip hop or classic rock.
N: Netflix or Hulu? Definitely Netflix.
O: Outside hobbies other than your sport? I love listening to music and traveling.
P: How do you prepare for a big game include? I try to stay focused and keep calm because you don’t want to get nervous.
Q: Question you would ask your future self? Where I’ll end up in 10 years, what I’ll be doing as a job.
R: Most relaxing part of your day? Probably just after I get home, after practice.
S: What would your senior superlative be? Baseball player. 
T: Favorite TV show? Stranger Things.
U: Most underrated pet? Iguana.
V: Favorite vacation spot? I’m going to go with the mountains.
W: What does it mean to you to be an Eagle? Being a lifer at Oak Hall definitely has a big part of my life, so I’d definitely say being a lifer.
X: Have you ever had to get an X-Ray? Yes, after I fractured my nose.
Y: How do you hope to impact the younger team members on your team? I think just being a good leader, teaching them all the new things there are to learn about baseball.
Z: Favorite zoo animal? A giraffe.

Senior Project Still A Go for This School Year

By Jenna Poppell

The senior project offers seniors the opportunity for experiential education beyond the normal classroom walls in an area of their interest. “It is an extension of Oak Hall’s philosophy and commitment to developing a strong sense of social responsibility in each of its students,” said Jeff Malloy, Director of Operations for Oak Hall and the senior class advisor. The project is required for graduating seniors and is an opportunity for students to create, plan, and execute a 40-hour educational project of their own design. In general, the senior project must be a structured learning experience in an area acceptable to the school. The project should reflect the student’s personality and interests. Last year, seniors were unable to participate due to the pandemic. 

“Because of COVID-19, we may be in a position where some “hybrid” projects are done both in-person and virtually,” said Malloy. “If a ‘in person’ project is not an option in the students desired field, the student may opt for a Career Exploration Project,” he continued.

At the moment, Oak Hall is planning on having the students complete the project in May. Decisions on student proposals will be made by spring break. 

Senior Spotlight: Akhila Nataraj

Oak Hall’s Arts Conservatory Program (ACP) allows students to expand their creativity in their given study (art, music, or theater). In an effort to make this year special for Oak Hall’s senior ACP students, we created A-Z questions for them to answer. We hope you enjoy!

By August Ewert-Harpold

A – What is some advice you would give your freshman self?
I would tell her to enjoy high school and not just focus on getting into college but enjoy the friendships that you’re able to make.
B – What was your best ACP moment?
My best ACP moment probably is in tenth grade when I did a 17-person ensemble, and just at the end when we all ended the last note, I looked at all 17 people and I just felt a lot of pride for what I had done.
C – What are your career goals?
I want to go to med school, so I want to enter the medical field while still practicing music and keeping that part of myself. 
D – What is your favorite dessert? 
 Probably like a lava cake or something with a nice dollop of ice cream.
E – What was your most entertaining rehearsal?
Probably in ninth grade. It was my first time accompanying someone on an ACP recital and it was just a bunch of seniors, and I was like a shy, timid, little ninth-grader and the entire rehearsal I finally saw who they really were and it was just them cursing and making joke. I had no idea what to expect but it was really fun!
F – What are your future plans for your craft?
In regard to music I would just like to develop my theory skills and start working on more compositions. 
G – What are your goals for senior year?
My goal for senior year is to have a really good basketball season and have a very successful ACP recital. 
H – Which college are you hoping to attend?
I’m applying to a couple, but my main goal right now is to try to get into the UF Honors program.
I – What is something Interesting about you that is not related to your music?
I have a 25-year-old sister (who turns 26 today) and I also have a nine-year-old brother, so I have a very stretched out family. 
J – What is your favorite joke?
I’m always a fan for a very cheesy pickup line but I think my favorite joke is when someone complains that it is too hot outside I say, “It’s because I’m there.”
K – What are some of your keys for maintaining the homework load?
Don’t procrastinate and its ok to allocate time for yourself but make sure you’re not just doing that.
L – What is your least favorite style of music?
I’ve got to say country, I’m just not a fan! 
M – What is your favorite style of music/what type of music do you listen to?
Anything but country? I’ll listen to Pop, or Contemporary, or I’ll dabbel with classical music. You know I’m a big fan of Kpop, so I’ll stand by BTS.
N – Do you prefer Netflix or Hulu?
The only thing I’ll watch on Hulu is Brooklyn 99 but right now I’m really binging Grey’s [Anatomy] on Netflix, so I think I’ve got to go with Netflix.  
O – What is one of your outside hobbies besides your music?
I really like arts and crafts, I really like sewing and crocheting and knitting, and I have a very big yarn collection that I am very proud of. 
P – What are your preparations for a big concert?
Don’t finish your arrangement the week before. 
Q – What is a question you would ask your future self?
My future self? How did you manage to stop procrastinating and start focusing on your studies? 
R – What is the most relaxing part of your day?
Probably the 10 minutes after my shower when my hair is drying, and I use that as time to go on my phone. It’s very therapeutic. 
S – What would your senior superlative be?
Most likely to spend their college tuition on food.
T – What is your favorite TV show?
The Amazing Race.
U – What do you think is the most underrated pet?
I will take this to my grave, cats are better than dogs, you can’t fight me on this.
V – What is your favorite vacation spot?
I mean I’m all about that staycation life, but probably like just going to the beach and relaxing, I guess.
W – What does it mean to you to be an Eagle?
Being an Eagle means taking advantage of all of the opportunities presented to you and giving your 100 percent.
X – Have you ever had any X-rays?
No but I have lots of scars from mosquito bites. 
Y – What do you believe your impact is on younger musicians?
Be confident in your craft and don’t be afraid to make mistakes because everyone has been there before.
Z – What is your favorite zoo animal?
Probably a panda!