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Noble Eagle call down Victory
Never waiver; never fall
With our voices raised on high,
Alma Mater praised by all.
Scholar, Leader, Servant Be;
Hail to Gold and Burgundy!
Memories cherished one and all;
Alma Mater: Dear Oak Hall.
-words by Roger H. Nubern
Oak Hall Private School opened its doors on September 8, 1970. The school was founded by a group of 20 parents who wanted a quality private education for their children.
"The intent of every member of the Board was to create a prep school - an excellent prep school for these youngsters who wanted to go on to college," said founding member Aden Keeter.
That first year, Oak Hall School was temporarily housed at Highlands Presbyterian Church, and eight teachers welcomed 35 students.
One of the first tasks the student body faced was organizing the student council. Spirited campaigns were conducted, elections held, and a sponsor was chosen. They supervised the selection of the school colors - burgundy and gold - and the school mascot - the eagle.
Despite limited facilities, varied sports activities were available to students. A flag-football team was organized and competition was held with other private schools in the area. Later in the year basketball games were held with these same schools. By leasing community facilities, physical education programs in bowling and swimming were also available. Organized early in the year were the cheerleaders. Dressed in the school colors, the cheerleaders boosted the morale of the teams.
The Indo-American Club was organized by students in Spanish and Latin American History courses. They sponsored the highly-successful Latin-American dinner attended by over 100 guests. Classes created exhibits for display, and students dressed in Latin-American costumes and served the dinner. The club was also responsible for the school's trip to St. Augustine.
The yearbook staff was organized during the second semester. Unsure at first if a yearbook was financially feasible, students received tremendous support from parents and friends of the school. After much discussion, the staff decided upon the name The Aerie, or the eagle's nest, as the title for the yearbook.
During the first year students, faculty, and parents worked hard to build a strong school. Students organized clubs, participated in athletic and many other extra-curricular events. Pleased with the first year's beginning, all of Oak Hall looked forward to moving to the new school campus located on Tower Road in west Gainesville.
Our school's first classroom building was constructed on 33 acres and was occupied in December of 1972. Oak Hall grew quickly and required steady additions and new buildings. The Edith D. Cofrin Theater was built in 1978 and many other improvements were completed in 1988, 1990 and 1993. A media center with a computer lab was built in 1996. Three years later, the school obtained a bond in order to expand its facilities. This expansion included a separate middle school, additional playing fields, and a maintenance building to support the growing campus.
Pictured at Oak Hall School's groundbreaking: Rachel Emmel, Alan Edgar, George Little, Harry Walker, Glenna Brashear, Aiden Keeter. Kneeling: Robert Head, Headmaster Bishop Blackwell, Ned Scott.
The Middle School opened its doors to 169 students on August 23, 1999. It housed an administration building and two classroom buildings.
The new facility was characterized by Headmaster Richard Gehman as "the most ambitious project the school had undertaken."
The new home for the 6th-8th grade students included nine spacious classrooms, two science laboratories, a conference room, and plenty of space for students to congregate and socialize. The separation of the Upper and Middle school students, besides being socially advantageous, allowed for new labs and classroom space at the Upper School.
Oak Hall’s first capital campaign was in 2005 and raised funds to expand athletic facilities, build new Middle School science labs, The Ford Center, the Cofrin Arts Center, and create additional classrooms. In 2007, the school obtained a bond to finance the construction of the Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC).
For all divisions of the school Oak Hall provides a gymnasium, multiple athletic facilities, a student center, theater, media centers, computer centers, and fine arts and music buildings.
Oak Hall’s second capital campaign began in 2011, and many projects and improvements followed. In 2012, the Dr. Mohammad Faisal Family Media Center was complete and the ECLC was named in honor of benefactor Patti Shively - The Patti Shively Family Early Childhood Learning Center. In 2013, the centrally located administration building with a school store was constructed. The addition of this facility helped centralize the functions of administration and increased productivity. In 2014, the upper school building was partially renovated and a trendy student lounge was added that accommodates students during breaks and study sessions.
Originally housed in a one classroom building, the campus now encompasses 43 acres. At present, Oak Hall School offers Lower, Middle, and Upper School college preparatory curricula to an enrollment of approximately 800 students.
November 26, 2001 was a historic day for Oak Hall School and its neighbor Martha Manson Academy. Thanks to an extraordinarily generous donation from friends of the school, Oak Hall acquired ownership of Martha Manson Academy (MMA).
For 30 years the two schools have shared more than just an entrance on Tower Road. A great many MMA students went on to graduate from Oak Hall.
"Combined, the two schools will be stronger than ever, offering a seamless Pre K-12th grade program unique to Gainesville and the surrounding area, said Headmaster Richard Gehman. "This new configuration will allow the school to enhance an already shared mission, creating a coherent, sequential academic curriculum, while maintaining the advantages of small classes and personal attention on a safe, self-contained campus."