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OHA’s elementary curriculum lays the foundation for college

January 31, 2013

Oak Hill Academy Counselor Francis Dawkins says that when the state backed off raising the number of credits required for graduation in English, Math, Science and Social Studies, OHA did no such thing.
In fact, the West Point academy raised its standards to above the national average for credits required for graduation.
“Students need that in order to be successful in college,” Dawkins said on Thursday morning. “They need to be pushed because that’s what’s going to happen in college.”
In order for high school students to be able to adjust to these tighter standards, there had to be a good foundation for them to work upon.
Dawkins says that foundation, for those who have been educated at OHA their entire lives, is in the elementary program.
From Pre-K-eight grade, the tough curriculum is something the staff at OHA is proud to implement.
OHA requires 22.45 credit hours to graduate, 1.45 higher than the national average and 4.45 higher than the average school in the state of Mississippi.
Jane Rives, who has been at Oak Hill since the school first opened its doors in 1966 has seen many changes to the curriculum from the time she was in the classroom to today as an administrator.
“I think we have gotten better every year since we opened our doors,” Rives said. “We’ve really gotten stronger. We do have more to work with than we did in the early years, but we are strong.”
The pre-k curriculum is designed to prepare students for Kindergarten by having them know their ABC’s in order, recognize alphabet letters, recognize their names in print, their personal data like age, birthday, telephone number and address, as well as identifying colors.
The math readiness curriculum stresses number concepts, 1-20, as well as identifying shapes, sorting, classifying and patterning.
“It is important to get them organized,” Rives said. “It’s important that they know these things as well as how to sit still and pay attention in class.”
The Kindergarten philosophy revolves around helping each child develop “intellectually, socially and emotionally so that the child will be prepared for the first grade.”
From start to finish, OHA puts a lot of emphasis on reading and math.
The thriving music program in the elementary school helps in both of those categories.
The “Raider Rhythm” a group composed of third, fourth and fifth grade students performs throughout the city at different functions.
It also serves to satisfy community service, which OHA stresses.
“We like to be involved in our community,” Rives said.
The Parent Assembly, a parent organization at OHA has recently built a computer lab for the lower grades.
It holds 25 students at a time for classwork and projects.
“Technology is the wave of the future,” Rives said. “They have to learn and know how to use this technology.”
Cole Ketchum, a third grade student at OHA says that he has done a variety of productive things on the computers this year. Though some of it is designed to bring fun into the work, it’s all business.
“I have played cool math games on them,” Ketchum said. “We have worked on projects and used them to study for a test.”
This year, graduating seniors will need four English credits, four Math credits, four Science credits, four Social Studies credits, one Computer credit and five Electives to graduate.
As the standards get tighter at OHA, the elementary students of today will have to buckle down in order to be prepared for the next level.

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