The Oaks School '09
Princeton University '19
I came to The Oaks in 4th grade and it completely changed the way I viewed learning. I had always been a creative person—I loved to act and perform—but where my previous school stifled my creativity, The Oaks encouraged my creativity and nurtured it into a true force to be reckoned with. I was allowed to flourish amongst a community of people who always, no matter what, had my best interest at heart.
The Oaks is a place of non-judgment, of freedom, and of deep care. It was shocking to find myself in middle school, a new place, away from the inclusive community at The Oaks. There was more rigor, academically, and more hurdles, socially; however, I can honestly say that I never stopped believing in myself and the love I had for learning in the face of those new (scary) challenges. I attribute this unwavering faith in myself and in my education to the confidence The Oaks instilled in me as a student and, more importantly, as a free-thinking individual. When you grow up associating learning with The Oaks, it remains forever fun to pursue—through middle school, high school, college, and beyond.
At The Oaks, I learned that I, my person and my mind, were enough. I was enough and my capacity to achieve was my own, unique to me, and something that did not require structured limitations. The Oaks taught me to dream big and promised me that my dreams were worth it.
For this reason, I believe there is an undeniable, magic little something that connects all Oaks students, past and present. Camping, circus-ing, performing, painting, speaking in front of hundreds—we did that all at The Oaks. The memories you make at The Oaks are special, unlike any elementary school I know. The experience of attending The Oaks cannot be uprooted and placed in some other time, some other place, with some other people. Everything about The Oaks is rare, precious, and deserves to be protected. I cannot say it was perfect, but I also do not think I would be the person I am today without The Oaks. And I am proud to be that person, truly I am.
The Oaks School '10
I remember walking into Kindergarten on the first day of school, and seeing all new kids, new families, and new teachers. I refused to let go of my mom’s hand, and was too shy to talk to any of the other kids. But I also remembered that by the end of the day I was friends with everyone, and I knew that a family had begun to form. That’s what The Oaks is, a family. A family full of unique kids that aren’t afraid to be themselves, and inspiring teachers who make you want to learn.
At The Oaks I learned to ask questions, I learned about being considerate to others, and most importantly, I learned to believe and have confidence in myself. I remember being so scared to get up in front of everyone and sing on the day of our graduation. But everyone stood behind me and pushed me to be the best person I could be, and I did it. And that was a thing I feel no other school could have done for me. The Oaks not only gave me confidence, and a family, but also a voice.
Raphael Anderson Ayers
The Oaks School '07
Columbia College Chicago '17
"The Oaks is a home for dreamers." As clichè as that may sound, I will always dream big, and use my creativity to succeed in every tough endeavor, thanks to what I learned at The Oaks. I also learned that hard work does pay off in the long run. My advice to Oaks' graduates would be to do your homework each and every day, stay focused, stay poised and be patient. Things will eventually fall into place.
I've learned so much from being at The Oaks that I will cherish for a lifetime like the wonderful friendships and bonds I've had there. I will always remember the many wonderful moments in the assemblies, P.E., the Art & Music room, and after school, hanging out with my friends.
The Oaks School '04
Barnard College '14
At The Oaks I learned not only to speak publicly, write confidently, take risks, and ask questions, but I learned the value of community. I learned the significance of participating and problem solving in my own environment, and also that relying on and trusting the support of those around me can be a saving grace.
The Oaks taught me patience and the necessity of diverse perspectives to better understand my personal truths. The school taught me to listen carefully before speaking. As someone whose first instinct is to assert my opinions, the essential and respectful consideration of others' perspectives, whether in the Peace Corner or dinnertime debates, and reevaluating my own has been immeasurably important.