The Arrow Summer 2019

President’s Paragraph

Dr. Michael D. Groves

It was unsightly. Ugly, in fact. An old utility pole on the corner of a busy intersection in Nashville, Tennessee. The Groves Family was walking back from the graduation ceremony at Vanderbilt Uni versity, celebrating our oldest son’s commence ment, and as we waited for the crosswalk signal, I couldn’t avert my eyes. The pole was covered with thousands of old staples, left behind when one flier had been removed and replaced with another. Ap parently, fliers and advertisements on a university campus may come and go, but the staples remain forever. And they multiply, do they ever. I wondered how long this old pole had been stand ing, how many years students and businesses had been posting fliers on its surface. Some staples were old, some were shiny and bright, some were of stainless steel, most were rusty, blending in to the dark-colored creosote, chameleon-like. This pole had absorbed a lot, but there it stood, ready for the next thwack of a high-powered staple gun. Ever so carefully (lest I need a tetanus shot), I ex tended my reach and gave the pole a sympathetic pat, uttering “hang in there, buddy, this year’s al most over.” A few weeks later I stood at the podium in historic Turner Gymnasium, presiding at our graduation as Oak Hill Academy turned the page (and the tassel, so to speak) on our 140 th year. I think often about our tremendous legacy here in the southwestern corner of rural Virginia ... 1878 to 2019, and we’re still standing. And, yes, over the years a number of folks have patted me on the back during a dif ficult stretch at school and told me to “hang in there.” Boarding school life is not exactly easy. Regulations and codes can feel burdensome, fiscal responsibility is ever present, and living with 150 adolescents, well, that’s challenging, too. Yet, after 140 years, Oak Hill Academy stands proud and true to our calling, year after year, ready for what comes our way. As I think back to that Spring day in Nashville, it occurs to me that, naturally, my eyes were drawn to the surface of the telephone pole—that’s why it served as a popular site for advertisements. Yet what is happening above the line of vision repre

sents the grander purpose of the pole. This non descript, staple-scarred utility pole is actually sup porting wires that transmit electricity and cables that provide information and communication, all of which is affecting and directing countless lives. The pole serves as so much more than a conve nient bulletin board. Although our campus is not covered with rusty staples (though we do host the unsightly “gum wall”) there is certainly much more going on at OHA than any eye-level glance can capture. A cursory Google search reveals that OHA is world famous for playing great basketball; and basketball is indeed one of the things we do well, yet what we truly do best is change lives—that’s our true calling, and it is often out of view. What is truly happening within the young women and men liv ing here in our community on “The Hill” is trans formational. Above and beyond the daily routines of boarding school life, our students are becoming people of character, learning to value others who may look different, taking responsibility for them selves, building relationships that last a lifetime. These unseen lessons are irrevocable, affecting and influencing our students for generations. So, here we are, with year 141 on the immediate horizon; know that OHA stands at the ready for another year. (So, bring on the stapler!)

Follow Dr. Groves on Twitter @DrGrovesOHA.

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