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February 23, 2019

The Kilns Café

kiln  /kiln/
noun; pl. kilns
origin Latin culina (kitchen)
a furnace for making bricks and clay objects hard after they have been formed

The Kilns, also known as The C.S. Lewis House

The Kilns, Oxford, England

It may not seem like the likeliest hang out spot, but Oak Hill has quite a few parents who enjoy meeting up on campus.  Some like to sit quietly and wait while their children are attending after school activities. Rather than leaving parents in empty classrooms or in an empty spot in the halls, we now have a comfortable place for them to chat or wait, The Kilns Café.
But it's more than a place for parents, it's a place for students, also. Grab an after school snack or a drink. Play a game with friends. Or, sit and work on some homework while waiting for a ride home. It's great for families, too! Parents can share a treat before heading home, like a mini date, a chance to talk about the day.

We know that many of you may head over to Starbucks, but we invite you to see what The Kilns has to offer. You may be quite surprised by the offerings of our simple cafe. We serve coffee that is ground daily with locally roasted beans. Do you prefer tea? We have some of the finest teas; come in and not only see but smell the delicious teas we have. We may not have your favorite latte, but we make delicious milk steamers that are similar. Made fresh for you with steamed milk, they contain naturally flavored sugar syrups and are topped with coffee or tea. And the competition cannot beat the convenience as we are right here as you walk past us on your way out the door of the school.

If you aren't already sold on the idea, we want you to know that we have fresh baked goods, sweet and savory. And anyone is certain to enjoy an Italian soda, made with ice cold sparkling water and all natural syrups like strawberry and lavender. Our café is staffed by trained student volunteers with the help of teachers and parents. It's a great place to build community at our school.

This is all just the beginning. We have some very exciting plans that will be built upon The Kilns Café. We are preparing for a new phase of the school, one emphasizing the analogy of the potter and clay vessels. There is so much more to this story that has yet to be told.

"But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand."
Isaiah 64:8
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February 14, 2019

“Let’s start at the very beginning…”

A very good place to start, indeed! In an iconic scene from a classic musical, “Fraulein Maria” realizes quickly that singing a scale up and down is not the most engaging way to teach her 7 young charges how to sing.

“Let’s see if I can make it any easier,” she says. And she does! In the musical version, she creates a catchy tune on the spot that’s based on the 7 tones of the major diatonic scale. And to each degree of the scale, she adds a fun mnemonic device – “do, a deer, a female deer,” etc.

In equating “do re mi” with “A B C”, Fraulein Maria (or, rather, the creators of the song, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein) demonstrates a perceptive understanding of the nature of music education that many people miss; and that is that learning to sing and learning to read are both forms of literacy.

PianoWe are all familiar with language literacy: the ability to read and write in one’s native language. Large portions of childhood are dedicated to mastering this ability. But music literacy? What’s that? Why should we bother with it? And how do we achieve it?

Music Literacy  - What Is It?
Music literacy is exactly what it sounds like: the ability to read and write the language of music. Just like letters are the keys to unlocking language literacy, notes are the keys to music literacy. And much like reading and writing, all that is required to be musically literate is an ability to equate the written symbols with the sounds they represent.

What’s So Important About Being Musically Literate?
There are many reasons why being musically literate is important, reasons that range from philosophical to historical to practical and everything in between. We’ll stick with two main reasons that resonate strongly with us here at Oak Hill: Biblical and educational.

Even if we narrow our focus to strictly Biblical reasons for strong musical literacy, we have enough material to write several blog posts… or at least a very lengthy one! The main reason, though, is because Scripture commands us to sing: not once, not twice, but 50 times! Here’s just one from the book of Psalms: “Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.” Psalms is full of similar injunctives, and this command to sing is not limited to the Old Testament.

With over 400 references to singing and music contained in the Word of God, it is obvious that music is vital to a life of worship. It just makes sense, then, that if we are to fulfill this mandate to sing, then we must learn how to do it, and how to do it well.

In terms of educational reasons for developing musical literacy, it remains pretty much an undisputed fact that learning about music enhances learning in every other area. Experts credit music education with everything from increased spatial intelligence and improved memory to emotional development and better physical coordination1. Inner-city and low income schools have improved their students’ test scores and overall academic ability simply by implementing music into their curriculum – one recent high-profile (due to videos of their success going viral on social media) example of this is Feversham Primary Academy in West Yorkshire, England2.

So How Do We Become Musically Literate?
To quote Fraulein Maria again, we start at the very beginning. Only, in a real life setting with real live children, our beginning looks a little bit different than the one on the screen, where the von Trapp children went from musically illiterate to public performance in five minutes or less.

The beginning of music literacy is very much like the beginning of language literacy. A child learns a language by first hearing and experiencing long before he begins to decode and decipher it with the symbols of letters and punctuation. Similarly, music literacy is learned by first hearing and experiencing its various components (mostly melodic and rhythmic concepts) well before attempting to decode and decipher it. In our music curriculum at Oak Hill, we ensure that by the time a child gets to the point where the teacher shows him a quarter note and tells him it lasts one beat, he has already experienced this many times kinesthetically, aurally and visually with the aid of icons and pictures. Now he is simply naming a concept he is already fully aware of, and the visual representation of it makes perfect sense.

In this way, music literacy is achieved almost effortlessly… and with great joy and full engagement in the process! Using this methodology of “sound to symbol”, by the time our students at Oak Hill arrive in middle school, they have learned all the key components of basic music notation: all the notes of the scale, the letter names of the staff, various rhythm patterns, the most common time signatures, and other symbols such as flats, sharps, etc. They have also amassed a large library of folk songs and hymns, and have had much practice analyzing and enjoying art music. In grades 6-12, students begin to put what they know into practice by sight-reading choral music, all the while deepening their understanding of music theory.

What A Musically Literate Student Looks Like
The end goal for a musically literate student is one who is fully fluent in the language of music. An individual fluent in a language is one who can easily speak, read, and write in that language, and has a solid understanding of the grammar and spelling rules underpinning it. Therefore, a musically literate student should be able to:
  •  Sight-read music from the staff
  •  Write music on the staff, either music he hears or music he creates himself
  •  Understand music that is heard
  • Identify and interpret all the symbols relating to musical notation and perform them as directed
  •  Understand and correctly implement the “grammar and spelling” of music, the theory that underpins harmony and rhythm

From beginning to end, cultivating a heart and a mind for music is a major objective here at Oak Hill!

Written by Anne Simpson music teacher at Oak Hill Christian School

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February 13, 2019

Alumni Bulletin: Dryden Joss

“I think I was 8 when I decided I wanted to be an actor. I think I was even younger when I knew I loved making people laugh.” Anyone who has met Dryden Joss knows this statement had to come from him. Dryden attended Oak Hill Christian School beginning in the second grade. He continued to study at OHCS until moving to Williamsburg, Virginia with his family just before his senior year of school. Currently he is a senior at Liberty University pursuing a Bachelor's of Science in Cinematic Arts.

As a senior he has finished filming his thesis work, About Last June, but he is spending time working on other films. During his short career he has directed three films and acted in a few others. Recently Dryden worked as an extra in Messiah, a Netflix series scheduled to be released in 2019. The Trump Prophecy is another film that he has recently worked on. It is a feature length film that tells the story of a former firefighter and a national prayer movement for America's leaders. “I do not recommend The Trump Prophesy . . . I got great experience working with professionals every day for two months. Again, I'm proud of the experience, not the film itself,” says Dryden. He worked as an assistant assistant director, basically, he says, “a production assistant.” This is the role he will have straight out of college.

As May 2019 draws nearer, Dryden is excitedly anticipating graduation and thinking of his next steps: moving to Atlanta, Georgia to act in television and film full time. “Atlanta has a huge film industry! More and more people are flocking to Atlanta to work in film. People choose it over NYC and LA. Most of it is nonunion which is better for people who have less experience (like me).”

He plans to work on set full time as a production assistant while he auditions for film. He has skills in assistant directing and hopes to work his way up to being a professional assistant director. “This will help me network in the industry. I plan to use this skill as a way to leverage myself into a spot where I can act . . . I love both careers but I would prefer acting.”

His main goal is to entertain every person, ever. In preparation he is interviewing professionals and actors who have been a part of the Screen Actors Guild to glean from their experiences and knowledge. He doesn't see himself as an actor who would always be in the media, rather he recognizes that one can be well known and respected without relying on the media for promotion.

“When I was around 12 years old, I decided I wanted to be a film actor so that I could show other celebrities what a relationship with Christ really looks like. I want to be a light to the celebrities, because they have so many people who look up to them. It saddens me that so many celebrities have killed themselves or done drugs. I want to help them.”

Talking about his education, Dryden believes the biggest benefit from studying at Oak Hill was the ability to think. He believes that so many people have grown up without learning how to think logically. “I spent 12th grade at a public school and it was very evident how some of those kids did not think for themselves. Oak Hill was a great foundation for me, because now I am an entrepreneur who thinks logically and has knowledge of the Bible.”

Dryden has fond memories of his studies at Oak Hill. He has a true appreciation for the encouragement from teachers and Mr. Thoburn to work hard. He believes that “Oak Hill is the school to go to if you want your child to learn to think, and create.”

About Last June is a movie that Dryden wrote and directed for his senior thesis in Cinematic Arts. He calls it a classic children's movie. “Think Goonies, The Sandlot and Stand By Me,” he says in way of description of his film. He is currently working on submitting it to film festivals. The movie cannot be released while he is in this process, but he expects it to be available for viewing within the year. So far he has worked over 200 hours on this film.

Not only does it take hours of work that easily add up to working for months, it takes money. Part of submitting the film is the cost. As a college student, funds don't come easily. If you would like to support Dryden's film, use this link to make contributions:

You can also follow his work on his website drydenjoss.com which he is currently transforming from a filmmaker's website to one for an actor; it will include headshots and a demo reel to show off his skills to potential agents. If you have never met Dryden, be sure to follow him on Instagram @drydenjosss . You can see if his vision as an eight-year-old boy (or younger) wanting to make everyone laugh has come true.

Written by Sheila Thoburn
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