Entering a new school in second grade was nerve-wracking — an experience that I’m sure a lot of new students can relate to. How long would I last here? Who would I make friends with? Little did I know that, at Oak Knoll, these questions would be the least of my worries and I’d actually be preparing myself for some amazing memories. As I now write this as a graduating senior, I want to share some of the lessons I learned along the way. Here are some of my biggest takeaways from the best 10 years of my life.
There’s no doubt that Oak Knoll is an academically enriching place. However, we’re also home to artists, athletes, business owners, and more. In fact, many students even take on more than one of these roles! With its wide range of extracurricular opportunities, OKS does a great job of striking the perfect balance between working hard and playing hard. While maintaining good grades is of course important, we’re always encouraged to pursue our other interests and passions. And the same goes for classes themselves! Our founder, Cornelia Connelly, believed in educating the whole child, which means there’s not only an emphasis on learning math and English but subjects like art and theology, as well. Fostering balance in your life is an intrinsic Oak Knoll skill — one that I hope to take with me to college!
Service, Service, Service
Along with faith and wisdom, service is one of the main pillars of our school. Helping others is something that is ingrained into OKS students starting at a young age. I fondly remember my time spent in the Lower School coloring lunch bags for Bridges, a local organization we work with that delivers food to the homeless in Newark and NYC. Even then, Oak Knoll taught us that we are never too young to make a difference. Now, Service Day, a schoolwide day of no classes that is devoted to serving others, is a favorite OKS tradition of mine, and I often find myself seeking service opportunities outside of school, as well. It’s not only a great way to connect with one’s faith but an even better way to give back to the community.
The Value of Relationships
My time at OKS has been defined by fun traditions, a great education, and, most importantly, the people. Whether it be friends, teachers, or faculty, the network and sense of community that the school creates is incredibly strong. I met one friendly girl on my first ever day at Oak Knoll; over 10 years later, she remains my best friend. The other day I ran into my fourth-grade language arts teacher (shoutout Mrs. Carter!). She not only remembered who I was but reminded me about a story I wrote in her class eight years ago and expressed her enthusiasm when I told her of my college plans. The fact of the matter is, it’s the people who make Oak Knoll so special. The relationships I’ve built here are ones that I know will last a lifetime, and I’m forever grateful for that.