What makes Oakcrest's Upper School program unique? Upper School Director Christine Nussio discusses how our Upper School stands out.
In the Upper School, Oakcrest students embark on a formative journey that will prepare them intellectually, morally, and spiritually for adulthood. At Oakcrest, our students develop love and respect for truth, and develop the virtues necessary for authentic interior freedom which enables them to know, desire, and choose well in life. Through our liberal arts curriculum, our students become lifelong learners with the moral courage and intellectual honesty to pursue wisdom and truth in all their endeavors.
In the first years of Upper School students develop good habits of discernment and reflection, fostering greater self-knowledge and allowing them to form stronger and more positive friendships. As they mature in their junior and senior years, Oakcrest students are challenged to turn their focus outward in service and leadership in the school and wider community. In their studies and culminating in the senior thesis, students learn to put the art of persuasion in the service of truth and to explain what they know with clarity and beauty.
Christine Nussio Upper School Director
Grade Level Experiences
Grade 9: Life as a Heroic Journey
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self- control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.”
—Second Letter of Peter 1:6-7
Virtues: Self-knowledge, sporting spirit, fortitude Theme: Heroism and Journey Grade Level Experiences: To kick off the year, the 9th grade will organize and compete in their own Greek Olympics — a semester-long exploration of the Greeks in History and English class. New and returning classmates alike will bond over challenges, both physical and mental, in a quest for Olympic glory. Nothing brings a group together like a shared opponent!
As their classroom studies progress, the 9th grade will shift their focus to the Middle Ages. This interdisciplinary exploration will culminate in a Medieval Banquet, including themed food and entertainment provided by the class.
Grade 10: A Lover of Beauty and Goodness
“Whatever things are true, whatever things have honor, whatever things are upright, whatever things are holy, whatever things are beautiful, whatever things are of value, if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, give thought to these things.” —Philippians 4:8
Virtues: Discernment, empathy, authenticity Theme: Beauty and Culture Grade Level Experiences: The 10th grade class will kick off the year with the Joy Challenge, a week-long challenge to do away with the many empty distractions that often fill our time. During this week, the class Deans and students are invited to spend those hours doing something enriching instead, something that helps foster genuine joy and community.
Building off experience of intentionally decreasing distractions, students will then participate in the Creating Beauty Project, designed to help them explore enriching ways to spend their time. This project will challenge them to take up a new hobby – one that involves doing and making – in order to try something new and create something beautiful. Each 10th grader will be given a $25 budget by the school to purchase supplies for this project. Ultimately, the 10th graders will host a 6th Grade Club and teach a 6th grader the new craft they’ve learned.
Grade 11: A Trustee of Humanity
“Whoever knows exactly why something is good or beautiful will not simply assume the attitudes of another. And then the exercise of this intellectual critique develops the ability to distinguish between spiritual truth and falsehood. Emotional reactions invoke action. Those who truly love their neighbor will not be unsympathetic and apathetic to their neighbor's need. Words should inspire action; otherwise, words are mere rhetoric camouflaging nothingness, concealing merely empty or illusory feelings and opinions."
Virtues: Constancy, gratitude, prudence Theme: Person and Woman Grade Level Experiences: The Junior Ring Ceremony is a milestone which marks the rise of the junior class as leaders in the school. Juniors are invited to purchase our beautiful crafted signet ring which features our school crest and motto, Virtus et Veritas.
The Thanksgiving Celebration is a well-loved tradition at Oakcrest hosted by the junior class. Juniors host their sister families for pie and cider. Working with the class Deans, the class will plan a lovely event which focuses on creativity and service to others.
Grade 12: A Noble Citizen Who Lives Virtue in Truth
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind…”
Virtues: Seeking good counsel, patriotism, courage Theme: Society and the Common Good Grade Level Experiences: For many years, the senior class has hosted the Christmas Party as a service to the student body. This festive event focuses on activities that are active and community-building.
The culmination of their Oakcrest education and the fruit of much labor, the seniors give their Thesis Presentations during a series of days at the end of the year. The senior thesis and oral presentation wonderfully demonstrate the grade’s virtues: seeking good counsel and courage. Through these presentations, the school community is able to share in their toil and triumph.