blewis - Posted Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 2:30:00 PM
blewis - Posted Monday, Feb 10, 2020 12:11:04 PM
There is quite a bit of buzz surrounding The Oakridge School's Fine Arts Department. Upper School students are diligently preparing for the 2020 spring musical, "James and the Giant Peach." They're also eagerly anticipating their visit to the Big Apple, where they will grace the stage at Carnegie Hall, one of the most famous concert halls in the world.
"James and the Giant Peach" is one of Roald Dahl's most heartwarmingly quirky stories. It tells the tale of James, a boy orphaned and living with mean-spirited aunts. He finds himself on a fantastical journey with magically grown insects inside a larger-than-life peach. As they make their way from England to New York's Empire State Building, James and the band of misfit bugs tackle each misfortune and embrace each success, ultimately becoming a family.
The adventurous musical features a wickedly tuneful score from the creative team of "The Greatest Showman" and "Dear Evan Hansen."
Performances are Feb. 20-22 in the Fine Arts Performance Hall and will offer something special this year: a meet and greet with the cast and crew after the final show. When purchasing tickets at www.theoakridgeschool.org/page.cfm?p=11734, patrons should choose "Child Ticket with Meet and Greet" for the Saturday matinee, then stay following the show. There will be snacks and an art activity at no additional cost.
"It's really going to be memorable," said Upper School Drama Teacher Brad DeBorde. "In addition to the Meet and Greet, our student performers are getting an opportunity to learn from Oakridge alumna Lauren Wheat '13. "Lauren graduated from Baylor University in 2017 and works professionally in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as a scenic designer and painter. We hired her to be the scenic designer for this production and our students have really enjoyed working with and learning from her." (Wheat was featured on pg. 27 of the summer 2019 Outlook magazine).
Just a few short weeks after "James and the Giant Peach" wraps, Upper School choir students will take a magical trip to New York City. They'll get to do some sightseeing, but one of the most incredible opportunities the Oakridge students will get is the chance to perform at Carnegie Hall.
"I don't think any of the students fully understand the magnitude of the opportunity, until they step onto the stage at Carnegie Hall, and they see this iconic, world-renowned concert space," said Director of Choirs Andrew Stewart. "It just kind of floors you at first."
Oakridge works with a company that arranges visits for many different groups throughout the year.
"They bring in five to six high school choirs and we sing with them all," Stewart added. "So, there's this large collective choir, which is kind of fun to be a part of to start with, then you're getting to be in Carnegie Hall, which is pretty spectacular." Stewart said though there is a lot of time spent rehearsing during the trip, there is time to be a tourist.
"We see some Broadway shows and it's just astounding," he added. "It's five days away with your friends and a big chance for the students to bond and gather their collective identity among each other. They're getting to do something important, together, in a really cool place."
Though Stewart has been leading Oakridge students on a trip to New York for many years, the experience never grows old.
"It's just first class all the way around, and it's historic," Stewart reflected. "They hold the choirs in these green rooms that are about six or seven floors up from where the concert hall stage is. Even as you're walking down the stage, you feel the gravity of the situation-- that you're performing on a stage where the Beatles performed, and Luciano Pavarotti performed, and where all of these incredible icons throughout history have performed. So, it's pretty special.
From a personal standpoint - I love seeing the excitement on the faces of the kids from the first time we step off the bus in Times Square to the first time they see Carnegie Hall – and just knowing that they're having an incredible time singing, something that we all love."
blewis - Posted Tuesday, Jan 28, 2020 9:04:00 PM
Oakridge parent Nathaniel Jones, father of Aaron '24, Sydney '28, and William '29, received a life-saving gift in January, a kidney from Dr. Sarah Schecter, head of Lower School at The Oakridge School. The story, first reported by Teresa Woodard of WFAA-TV/ABC 8 in Dallas (featured below), captured the attention of ABC's World News Tonight with David Muir.
Some lessons aren't really taught. They're modeled.
"Be generous, be kind, be brave – all of those things," said Sarah Schecter, Head of Lower School at The Oakridge School in Arlington. "That's a big part of what we do here - talking to our kids about character."
When we first met Sarah, she was about to prove that she is everything she preaches.
"I know it's the right thing to do but, am I still scared? Yes," she said. "I'm usually a very thinking kind of person, but on this – it's just something I'm determined to do."
We sat down in her office six days before a major surgery – a surgery her doctors didn't order. Her heart did.
"You think of a thousand reasons why you shouldn't do it," she said. "But it just couldn't be avoided."
Sarah donated a kidney to a man she didn't know all that well. But three of her students do.
William Jones is in third grade. His big sister Sydney is in fourth and oldest brother Aaron is in eighth.
Their father Nate developed sudden renal failure in 2018.
"And to think they could lose their dad when they're just kids in school, I just want them to have their dad," she said.
The only sign anything was wrong with Nate was a change in his eyesight that quickly progressed. But he blamed being in his early 40's.
He set up an appointment with an eye doctor who immediately sent him to a retina specialist. That specialist told Nate he needed to see his primary doctor "yesterday."
"They tried to take my blood pressure and it wouldn't register," Nate said.
Nate recalls the doctor reacting like, "You're a walking time bomb. Like – buddy, you are in trouble."
He was frightened enough to go straight to the ER. The diagnosis was frightening: acute renal failure. A transplant was his only option.
"Transplant? How do you go from being healthy with no headaches, no nothing – and now you need a transplant?" he said.
That's why high blood pressure is called the silent killer.
"He just didn't have any symptoms," his wife Amenze said. "No symptoms at all."
Nate spent the next 18 months on dialysis – three days a week, four hours at a time. He woke up at 4 a.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Few people knew how dire the situation was because the Jones family kept it private.
Amenze mentioned the diagnosis to the kids' teachers and casually told Sarah Schecter about it in case any of the three seemed distracted in class.
They never dreamed Sarah would answer their silent prayers.
"Very shortly after she told me – like within days or maybe even hours – I felt a heavy burden. Of course, I didn't want to be the person to give a kidney – who wants to go into surgery and do something crazy like that?" Sarah said.
She felt like every Bible passage or sermon she would hear was about donating a kidney.
"Of course it wasn't, but that's what it felt like," Sarah said.
She ignored the tug at her heart for several months but finally gave in.
She told Amenze that she wanted to undergo testing to see if she could be a donor.
"No one was surprised that she would do something like this, and that just goes to show you the type of person she is," Amenze said.
Despite differences in their ages, genders and races, Sarah and Nate were a perfect match.
The transplant took place on Jan. 13 at UT Southwestern Medical Center. It was a success.
Cameras captured the tearful moment when they saw each other for the first time post-surgery.
Their embrace was tight and long.
"Bless you. Bless you. Bless you," Nate repeated through tears. "I never thought this day would come."
"How do I pay her back?" Nate asked. "I can't. I can't pay her back. It runs through my mind. What can you do to thank her for this? Words aren't enough."
"I mean, do I cut her grass every day? Do I paint her house? What do I do?" he asked.
"There's something bold for you to do. God will give it to you," Sarah told him. "You've got a good kidney now. Just go forward and do what you need to do."
The Jones family never asked anyone to give Nate a kidney.
But, The Oakridge School teaches that you don't have to be asked to answer.
blewis - Posted Monday, Jan 13, 2020 4:10:43 PM
Contemplate. The correct spelling of that word lifted seventh grade student Grace Hunter into the winner’s seat at this year’s Middle School Spelling Bee at Oakridge. Last year’s winner, sixth grade student Collin Scarborough, is runner-up.
The bee, which included 20 students from grades 4-8, went more than 20 rounds Friday, Jan. 10 in the Fine Arts Performance Hall. Grace now moves on to the regional competition.
Each year, 11 million students compete in spelling bees at the school level, learning important new words along the way. The top spellers advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Bee Week 2020 will take place the week of Memorial Day, May 24 through May 29, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. Visit spellingbee.com/ for more information.
blewis - Posted Wednesday, Dec 25, 2019 9:59:15 PM
Think about this for a minute: If someone asked you to name one quality that makes a person both happier and more successful than their counterpart, what factors have sparked a renewed interest in recess or "play time" for middle school students, or how grit is cultivated, what would you say? Where would you even begin?
In the winter 2019 issue of Outlook magazine, we ask our contributors to discuss emotional, physical, social, and many other types of health care and well-being as we move forward into 2020. We look at how Upper School students are making a difference in the community and how Oakridge alumni are making a difference around the world. We also look with anticipation to February 20-22, 2020, when the Owls will host season-opening baseball and softball tournaments on the Baylor Scott & White Orthopedic and Spine Hospital Baseball and Softball Complex.
The December 2019 issue of Outlook magazine is now online here, and available to current families by subscribing here.
blewis - Posted Tuesday, Oct 8, 2019 2:58:00 PM
More than 100 people took advantage of a flu shot clinic held Tuesday, October 1 at The Oakridge School. Nurse Kim Campbell-Martinez organized the event and called it the most successful the school has ever seen in its 20 years of hosting the annual clinic.
"For a number of reasons, people think 'I never get sick' or 'I tend to stay healthy, so I don't need it' and they forgo getting a flu shot," said Nurse Campbell-Martinez. "However, Oakridge administrators do all they can to promote overall health and wellness, and in this case, partnered with Kroger Pharmacy to vaccinate 125 students, teachers, and parents. That's the highest number of people that we have ever served."
The flu shots were free to those who had their insurance cards, with most major carriers accepted. Otherwise, attendees paid a $25 fee. The shots were available to children ages 7 and older. Students under 18 were required to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Oakridge parent Deme Cleveland took advantage of the flu shot clinic by getting a vaccination for herself, her son Zach ’22, and daughter Sammie ’24. “I loved the convenience of getting both kids their shots between sporting events and rehearsals," said Mrs. Cleveland. "The decision was made easier because I was able to get the shot also. It was very fast and the fact it was free made it even better.”
Science Teacher Elissa Eggleston also got her flu shot and commended Oakridge for partnering with retail and health care providers in the Arlington community to deliver the vaccinations. “My arm might get sore, but the shot is much better than the suffering involved when you contract the flu,” said Ms. Eggleston. “Besides, the Kroger pharmacist was very skilled when giving the shot; I hardly felt it.”
While seasonal flu viruses are detected year-round in the U.S., flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October.
Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May. The CDC table shows peak flu activity in the U.S. by month for the 1982-1983 through 2017-2018 flu seasons. The "peak month of flu activity" is the month with the highest percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza virus infection during that influenza season. During this 36-year period, flu activity most often peaked in February (15 seasons), followed by December (7 seasons), January (6 seasons) and March (6 seasons).
In addition to flu vaccinations, Oakridge makes available to every classroom hand sanitizer, boxes of tissue, and disinfecting wipes for cleaning counters, handles, computer keyboards, and other frequently touched surfaces where small droplets of flu can spread. Contact Nurse Kim Campbell-Martinez for more information about the flu shot clinic, other health care-related services, or for information about partnering with Oakridge for a healthier community at 817-451-4994 ext. 2714 or email@example.com.
blewis - Posted Wednesday, Oct 2, 2019 4:26:43 PM
At times it feels as though parents are being asked to help their children balance school, family time, extracurricular activities, and now, an ever-changing digital world. To partner with our Oakridge families, we invite you to join Michelle Vaughn and Ashley Read, the Director and Assistant Director of Technology and Modern Learning, on Wednesday, October 9 from 8:15 - 9:15 a.m. in the OPC Building for a discussion on "Navigating Our Digital World."
We will use Diana Graber’s book, “Raising Humans in a Digital World,” to guide four parent coffee chats this year. During these coffees, some topics will include:
As a member of the Oakridge family, you can order this book at 40-percent off by clicking on this link. The book is also available for purchase in both Audible and Kindle formats. You do not need the book to join us, and we look forward to welcoming all Preschool through Grade 12 parents.
blewis - Posted Tuesday, Sep 24, 2019 11:32:56 AM
Kind-hearted families and friends across North Texas opened their wallets and donated $198,088 to The Oakridge School for this year's North Texas Giving Day. The online event is the largest 18-hour giving extravaganza designed to benefit local nonprofits in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. North Texas Giving Day also served as the official campaign kickoff to Oakridge's 2019-2020 Annual Fund. This year's theme is "All in for Oakridge."
"We are thankful for the generosity of every single person who gave in support of Oakridge," said Head of School Jon Kellam. "No matter the size of the contribution, these gifts have a tangible impact in the lives of our students, faculty, and staff. Such philanthropic commitment confirms that we are all in for Oakridge."
Director of Development Lauren Matocha expressed her appreciation for Oakridge's supporters and acknowledged the school's 40-year long tradition of giving. "North Texas Giving Day aligns with our school's mission and helps us to provide an incomparable academic experience for our students in the Early Childhood Center, Lower, Middle, and Upper School. Because of our donors, we will be able to strengthen current initiatives and consider or create new ones."
Oakridge Regent Michael Heiskell and his wife, Anita, are this year's Annual Fund Chairs and admit they had only one response when asked to lead the 2019-2020 campaign. "Yes," Mr. and Mrs. Heiskell said. "Having three of our four children as Oakridge alums (Marin '96, James '01, Michael '18) and with our son Mason '20 in his senior year, we can attest to the excellent education and opportunities that Oakridge provides. Each of our children was energized to learn and take advantage of their college prep education. Since the school's inception, Oakridge continues its quest to provide exceptional experiences in academics, the arts, and athletics in a challenging and nurturing environment."
Visit the Annual Fund, Super Supper and Auction, and Owl Club Golf Classic links to learn more about how to make a gift and how the contributions are used. Supporters may also email Mrs. Matocha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Texas Giving Day is coordinated by the Communities Foundation of Texas. The main donation day was Sept. 19, 2019, but the annual event is actually 11 days of raising awareness for donations for nearly 3,000 nonprofit organizations across North Texas. Preliminary numbers posted on the North Texas Giving Day website show there were 169,464 donations totaling $50,192,976 as of Tuesday, Sept. 24. Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki and his wife, Jessica, served as this year's Honorary Chairs. Watch a video of their congratulatory message to donors who are making a huge difference to nonprofits and the many people they serve.