Category Archives: Special Events

Holiday Magic: Oakcrest Chorus to Perform with McLean Orchestra

Immerse in the magic of the holidays with the McLean Orchestra, once again joined by the Oakcrest School Girls’ Chorus. Revel in the joy and solemnity of the season and bring your best voice to join in on our traditional holiday sing-along which will include the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s beloved Messiah. As always we offer free parking and our popular post-concert cake and champagne reception, open to all.

McLean Orchestra flyer

Saturday, December 8, 2012  8:00 p.m. Sunday, December 9, 2012  3:00 p.m.

Oakcrest School – 850 Balls Hill Rd. McLean, VA

For more information and to purchase tickets, click HERE.

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Filed under Fine Arts, Liberal Arts, School Traditions, Special Events, Student Life

Jeanne Monahan, President of the March for Life, Speaks on the Role of Young People in the Culture of Life

By Laura C., Student Writer

Jeanne Monahan has considerable experience in the public eye for the pro-life cause; however her speech to Oakcrest students on October 26 addressed the role of ordinary, young people in building up the Culture of Life.  Formerly the director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, Ms. Monahan steps into Nellie Gray’s shoes as the new President of the March for Life.

Monahan

To begin, Ms. Monahan gave an overview of abortion in the United States.  She pointed out that, after Roe v. Wade, it has been said that abortion is “safe, legal, and rare.”  In reality, abortion is not safe, legal, or rare.  Monahan asserted that, besides the killing of innocent life, abortion has resulted in hundreds of maternal deaths in the United States alone.  Side effects are not only physically painful and dangerous, but psychologically harmful as well.  Abortion may be legal, but the United States has more relaxed regulations for abortion clinics than any other country.  Lastly, abortion is simply not rare: about 55 million babies have been aborted since 1973.

Ms. Monahan challenged us to contribute to the growing Culture of Life.  She related inspirational stories, like the invention of mobile ultrasounds.  When stationed outside abortion clinics, it changed the minds of so many women seeking abortion that eventually the clinics shut down.  Another story was of two kids in Michigan who fundraised to buy billboards along country highways, and who received calls from women who had changed their minds about abortion from seeing those billboards.  With these examples, Ms. Monahan encouraged us to become active pro-life advocates.

Besides increasing our involvement, Ms. Monahan urged us to search for our vocations and to grow in virtue.  Whether or not we enter the public square, she assured us that living life according to God’s plan will be the most exciting adventure we could ever dream for.  To illustrate this, she presented the moving story of Pope John Paul II’s visit to communist-controlled Poland.  Thousands of people responded to his words with thunderous chanting: “We want God!”  Thus, one man’s courage sparked the fall of communism.  Ms. Monahan told of another modern spiritual giant: Immaculée Ilibagiza.  After hiding in a bathroom with seven other women for three months during the Rwanda genocide, Immaculée wrote Left to Tell, and even today she speaks about how she found a way to forgive the people who killed her family.  These stories show that even if we face threats from the government or from the culture, we can do great things through courage, forgiveness, and trust in Our Lord.

march for life

At the conclusion of Ms. Monahan’s engaging talk, students and faculty asked several important and insightful questions.  Ms. Nussio asked Ms. Monahan about her vision for the March for Life going forward, and Ms. Monahan answered saying that a major area she would like to focus on is influencing policy in Washington D.C.

We are so grateful for the valuable lessons and stories Ms. Monahan shared with us.  Now it is up to us, we who are called the most pro-life generation, to live our vocations, grow closer to God, and witness openly to the dignity of every human person.

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Oakcrest Music Program Featured in Connection Newspaper

An Instrumental Program at Oakcrest School: McLean independent girls’ school enjoys its musical reputation

By Lori Baker, Connection Newspapers, November 5, 2012

The sixth grade chorus class, including students Kiley Hatch, Maddy Conroy, Lily James, Julia Cipollone, Emma Pelletier, Caroline Dauchess and Grace Talbott, practice one of their more challenging pieces, Laudate Dominum.

Photo by Lori Baker: The sixth grade chorus class, including students Kiley Hatch, Maddy Conroy, Lily James, Julia Cipollone, Emma Pelletier, Caroline Dauchess and Grace Talbott, practice one of their more challenging pieces, Laudate Dominum.

When music teacher Anne Miller came to Oakcrest School 11 years ago, there was no formal music program. The small Catholic girls school in McLean had no formal chorus, no band and no orchestra. So imagine her delight at the school’s current reputation.

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Photo by Lori Baker: Sixth grade students Maddy Conroy and Lily James.

“It’s been said that it’s become a singing school,” Miller said. “Which I think is beautiful,” she added. Miller said the girls are constantly singing in the halls. They leave class singing.

As director of the school’s music program, she built the program from the ground up.

The program started slowly. Middle school girls, grades sixth through eighth began with chorus. A music appreciation course was soon added. “They develop an understanding of the great classics as well, and some of them might come in thinking I don’t want to learn this music,” said Miller. “But invariably they leave saying, ‘wow, I want to keep listening and going to concerts.’”

Though the school historically produced one show per year, Miller is proud that the girls now put on Broadway musicals, and present musical shows throughout the year. In fact, last year’s Seussical production resulted in four Cappie award nominations for the school. Miller said that could not have been done without Oakcrest Theater Director Jessica Carey.

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Photo by Lori Baker: Oakcrest School’s music team, Joanna Iwaskiw, Anne Miller and Elizabeth Black.

“I have never liked music class,” said sixth grader, Caroline Dauchess. “But I like this music class. It’s fun. We learn all these songs, like staccato.” At the mention of the word, the students spontaneously belted out staccato demonstrations, which were quickly followed by giggles.

EACH CHORUS CLASS begins with a series of warm-ups, also cause for stifled giggles. The warm-ups feature a wide variety of stretches for not just the vocal chords, but for posture as well. “I think we learned a lot of cool techniques that help us sing a lot better,” said sixth grader, Maddy Conroy. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s cool learning all of these songs that you never thought would exist.”

Depending on the time of day, music of another sort can be heard coming from the school’s auditorium. Students with flutes, cellos, violins and oboes were spread throughout the room, focused on individual practice sessions.

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Photo by Lori Baker: Sixth grade cellist, Skye Hartsoe, learns a new piece on her brand new cello.

On one recent October morning, they were just given a new piece of music to learn. Oakcrest Instrumental Music Director Joanna Iwaskiw moved throughout the room, individually coaching each student. Iwaskiw was hired just this year to get the school’s new instrumentals program off the ground. Many of the students had previously played instruments, and Miller encouraged them to stick with those instruments until the school’s instrumentals program could begin. The students have greeted the new program with enthusiasm.

Iwaskiw enjoys seeing what the children learn. And it’s more than just music. “It is a place where the students really express themselves. Their character is very much shown while singing and playing music. And I’ve noticed also the girls’ really hard work ethic, which is lovely to have.”

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Photo by Lori Baker: Oakcrest violin students, Julka Syska and Sofia Summitt, at a recent practice session.

“I love music,” said Summitt. “It’s fun to listen to, and also it gives you a pleasure to play it for people,” added Syska.

THE GIRLS are beginning to prepare for a Christmas concert on Dec. 17. And Miller is pleased that the upper school chorus has been invited to sing for a third year with the McLean Orchestra, on Dec. 8 and 9, at Oakcrest. Both concerts are open to the public.

Miller said she is proud of the students, and the school’s music program. “I am very happy to be able to give the students the opportunity to learn music, to express their creativity, to experience the beauty of music,” she said.

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Oakcrest Respect Life Club Attends Vitae Anniversary Dinner

By Laura C., Student Writer

On Saturday, October 27, Oakcrest teacher and alumna parent Mrs. Bell treated the officers of the Respect Life Club (Laura C., Maria K., and Giorgina A.) to seats at the Vitae Foundation’s 20th Anniversary Dinner.  Mrs. Agostini, Mrs. Kehrli, and Ms. Lecuyer were also guests at the table.  Our table was surrounded by many familiar people from Oakcrest and from their parishes.  We even saw Jeanne Monahan, the new President of the March for Life who spoke to Oakcrest just the day before!

The Vitae Foundation was established in 1992 by Carl Landwehr.  Vitae’s mission is to use mass media to eventually make abortion “unthinkable.”  Vitae promotes the culture of life by using bus ads, TV commercials, radio, and Internet sites.  For example, www.GravityTeen.com was launched to help build teen confidence and ability to face peer pressure, unplanned pregnancy, and other problems.  Young women who may be pregnant and are looking for a place of comfort can go to www.YourOptions.com to read stories of other women’s choices.

The goal of Vitae is to convince abortion-minded women to choose life by appealing to human compassion and other similar sentiments.  This unique method of “right brain” motivation has yielded incredible results: in New York City, Vitae’s 2009 campaigns saved an estimated 1,323 babies from abortion.  Internet advertising in Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth increased visits to www.YourOptions.com by over 66,000.  A DC bus campaign generated at least 2,300 calls to the Pregnancy Centers in the metro area, and saved an estimated 150 babies.  Vitae’s Atlanta billboard campaign generated nearly 2,000 calls to the local Pregnancy Centers.  These are just a few of the fruits of Vitae’s work over one year.

At the dinner, the Keynote Speaker was national pro-life figure Jill Stanek.  She told her story of being a nurse in the Labor & Delivery Department at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois.  She discovered that the hospital provides abortions, and not only that, but that the method of abortion is to force the baby to be born prematurely and leave the baby to die.  She related many tragic stories.  Jill Stanek fought from the inside, publicized Christ Hospital’s practices, and testified before Congress to pass the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.  She was eventually fired from Christ Hospital and now speaks openly about the horrors of abortion.  At the end of her speech she received a standing ovation from the immensely grateful crowd.

The night’s stories were a mix of tragedy and success, and everyone in the room was charged with the mission of defending life with increased vigor.  We have faith that with God’s help we can restore the culture of life.  As Jill Stanek said, “One + God = the majority.”  Many thanks to Mrs. Bell for her invitation, and many thanks to Vitae for its abundant contributions to promoting the culture of life through their pro-life efforts.

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Filed under Character, Clubs, Faith, Special Events, Student Life

Oakcrest Presents C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”

Oakcrest School is excited to announce their 2012 Middle School Show, “The Lion, The Witch and The  Wardrobe.” This new dramatization of C.S. Lewis’ classic, set in the land of Narnia, faithfully recreates the magic and mystery of Aslan, the great lion, his struggle with the White Witch, and the adventures of four children who inadvertently wander from an old wardrobe into the exciting, never-to-be-forgotten Narnia.

The intense action features chases, duels and escapes as the witch is determined to keep Narnia in her possession and to end the reign of Aslan. All the memorable episodes from the story are represented in this exciting dramatization: the temptation of Edmund by the witch, the slaying of the evil wolf by Peter, the witnessing of Aslan’s resurrection by Susan and Lucy, the crowing of the four new rulers of Narnia, and more. The show will be presented by a 32 member cast from Oakcrest’s 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

This story of love, faith, courage and giving, with its triumph of good over evil, is a true celebration of life and a great way to begin your holiday season!

Performances are on Friday Nov. 9 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, Nov. 10 at 11:00 am and  7:30 pm.  $5/childres ages 2-18, $10/adult.  Buy tickets online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/283287

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Spirit Week 2012!

By Skye H., Student Writer

Spirit week is a week of activities, games and contests to promote school spirit, get to know your classmates and big/little sisters, and earn points for the Green and White Teams!  It gets everyone excited for the school year.  For example, Monday was “Zoo Animal Day,” when each girl met her big and little sisters and became a part of a ‘family.’ Throughout the year, sisters will earn points by guiding new students and helping them learn about Oakcrest.  Little sisters can also earn points by asking questions!   It is a great way to be able to give and receive help.

Tuesday was “Air and Space Day,” which was a lot of fun! Wednesday was the favorite day for many Middle Schoolers, because we went on our bonding field trips!  The 6th grade had a lot of fun at Hemlock in Clifton.  The 6th grade participated in “Adventure Links” with Mrs. Bell and Ms. Cross to guide them in teamwork and bonding activities, such as such as the peanut butter pit and the zip line. The peanut butter pit is a hole about the size of a small pond.  The bottom is muddy and the water in it is murky, dirty and full of toads and tadpoles.  If you fell in, you would come out smelling terrible and covered in mud!  The object of the activity was to grab the rope dangling above the pond and to get across to the other side.  The 6th grade made a chain and made it safely across.  Fortunately, only one person fell in, because she let go in the middle of the pond!

The 6th grade also enjoyed trying to get across from one side of the grounds to the other by only using six wooden planks.  If you weren’t touching a plank, it would be taken away. The 6th graders tried various ways but after three struggles and start-over’s they made it! It took a lot of effort and team work.

On Thursday, the theme was “Army and U.S. History.” It was also a day for classes to get ready for Friday!  Friday was my favorite day of the week!  It was Field Day!  In the morning, every class scramble for those few extra minutes to practice their class cheer.  After Mass or enrichment, the cheer competition began!  It started with the 6th grade and went up from grade to grade. It was exciting to watch all of the cheers and wonder how long they spent preparing for their cheer, and how much effort they put into it.

After the cheers, everyone proceeded with field day.  After the field day games, the winners were announced.  Seventh grade won 3rd place for the cheers, Juniors won 2nd place, and the Seniors won 1st place!  Then came the moment we were all waiting for…who won Spirit Week, the Green or White Team?  The Spirit Committee announced that the White Team won by a slim fifteen points!  There was a cheer from the crowd. Me being on the white team, I was extremely happy!

All in all, with all the costumes and fun activities, everyone enjoyed Spirit Week!

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Filed under Athletics, Green & White, Mini-Courses, School Traditions, Special Events, Student Life

Founding Mass & Brunch

By Kiley H., Student Writer

The Annual Oakcrest Founding Mass & Brunch took place on Sunday, September 9, 2012.  It was attended by students, parents, siblings, extended family and faculty.

It started with Mass celebrated by Fr. Ron Gillis, the Oakcrest Chaplain.  There was a storm the night before, and the power was out at Oakcrest.  But in true Oakcrest fashion, we didn’t let that stop us and proceeded with the event.  The doors were propped open to the breeze.  The beautiful Mass was said in the Oakcrest G. Lloyd Bunting, Sr. Theatre, and Cantare Lux led us in beautiful songs.

Mass was followed by a delicious brunch in Walsh Hall.  Every family brought their signature breakfast dish, and it made quite a spread!  In addition to eating and visiting with friends, it was a chance for family members to see the school!

Thank you to Ms. Ortiz, Fr. Ron, Cantare Lux, Caroline Lulli, Irene Hill, Bernadette Goyette, Bridget McNeish, Loice Kiara, Andrew Rudy, Matt and Barb Dauchess, Caroline Dolan, Marye Carter, the Cermak family, the Himpler family, the Rudy family, and Agostini family and everyone else who helped make our Founding Mass & Brunch a huge success.

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