Eve ’24: What sparks your curiosity? Oak Knoll wants to hear about it.

I joined the Oak Knoll community in my first year of high school, and since, I have found myself as the Academic Council president, co-president of our Green team, co-founder of the Paddle Tennis club, co-editor of the French newsletter, and Varsity Volleyball captain. However, it is not these titles that I personally thank Oak Knoll for – it is what has been fostered in between — the intellectually curious, positive, enthusiastic, reflective, funny individual I and others have come to understand myself as (though my brother would disagree with the funny part). In more ways than I may even know, Oak Knoll has encouraged, supported, and helped mold these different characteristics of mine ever since I was welcomed with open arms in ninth grade. Thus, four years later, it only seems right to convey this with you, prospective students, and to convey what has made me graciously grateful for this school and the young woman I have become. 

Take a minute to think about what makes you come alive. What sparks your curiosity? What incites you with warmth and familiarity? What makes your heart jump a beat and fill you with excitement and willingness? Whatever this may be, Oak Knoll wants to hear about it. They want to know what drives you and what you care about. They want to help you achieve it, and they want to be there when you do. Whether you are artistically inclined, love the adrenaline of being on the field, enjoy helping others and analyzing the broader world, or have no idea and are just going with the flow, Oak Knoll provides an unparalleled network of community, faculty, and resources that support every version of you, at all times of the day. Initiatives like our peer tutor system, writing center, motivational speaker visits, advisory groups, student support board, the ability to fundraise for a nonprofit through our student-led fundraising HOPE committee, and more infuse the school with real, genuine support for every student. And this support is palpable. I cannot forget the sound of applause from my peers after I presented the misconceptions of climate change during a homeroom or even the laughter from my history teacher after my friends and I performed a rap about the Great Depression to Notorious BIG’s song Hypnotize. Moments like these – rich in care and encouragement – have allowed me to develop an appreciative, understanding, and positive relationship with myself, which has propelled me to take risks and try new things, regardless of the result. Oak Knoll’s most genuine intention is to fill their girls with this appreciation for themselves and a constant knowing that they are heard, supported, and valued.

Oak Knoll instills this incentive through a brilliant balance of honoring tradition and implementing new, student-driven ideas. A prime example of the latter is the recent implementation of the House System at Oak Knoll. Like the houses in Harry Potter, we have four different houses that Lower and Upper School students and faculty have been sorted into. Each house reflects different parts of the school’s founder, Cornelia Connelly’s, life: there is Mayfield, Towanda, Rosemont, and, currently at first place, the most amazing, daring, audacious, beautiful, witty team, Sussex (I’m in Sussex by the way). Each house has its own colors, chants, core values, merch, etc., and works to earn the most points, which can be achieved in House competitions at school, like competitive relay races and Kahoot games, or supporting Oak Knoll athletics and attending games on your own time. The overflowing spirit this house system has covered our school community with is incomparable – I can attest to it by losing my voice on multiple accounts and outwardly hollering at the mere mention of Sussex. It’s not all competition, though; I’m told that our houses will work together to decorate campus for Christmas. This system is one of the many ways that Oak Knoll demonstrates the school’s ability and willingness to come together as one and its priority to do so.   

Now, I want to end things off with a piece of advice for you, prospective students. I remember when I was in your exact position, making desperate pros and cons lists for the two different high schools I was interested in attending. I was preoccupied with the older students who went there, the reputation of the schools, the other nitty gritty things one school had and another didn’t, where my friends were going, and so on. I was worried that I would make the wrong choice if I went to one school over another and that I wouldn’t like the person I’d become. I desperately wanted to know where to go, what decision would be best, and where I’d flourish the most. But it is impossible to know such a thing – which is why I want to leave you with a piece of advice I wish somebody had told me when I was in your position:

  1. Pay attention to the feeling.
  2. Be cognizant of the feeling you experience when walking through the halls and entering a classroom.
  3. Be aware of what it feels like to interact with current students and faculty of the school – watch how their eyes light up at the mention of it.
  4. Accept whatever emotions these different encounters may bring up – turn them around in your head, sit with them, and see what type of reactions they produce.

Only you know yourself best, and you will be with yourself for the rest of your life – so trust that you are making the right decision and that you will be your number one supporter wherever you go.

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