Oakbrook Preparatory School

Oakbrook students help rebuild Cleveland Park

Oakbrook's Interact Club members joined forces with several community groups and leaders to help build a new playground at Cleveland Park in Spartanburg.

Oakbrook's Interact Club members joined forces with several community groups and leaders to help build a new playground at Cleveland Park in Spartanburg. 

The old playground one was torn down in 2011 after a children’s train derailed, killing a 6 year old and injuring more than two dozen others. Oakbrook students said they wanted to get involved so chidren could once again enjoy a playground that was once special to them.

"I can remember going to Cleveland Park as a child and I wanted to be a part of the rebuilding so that more children can have those same memories I have," said junior Sarah Keim, who is also a member of Oakbrook's Student Government and Girls Varsity Basketball.

The students spent several hours at the park building a swing and painting several attractions. Spartanburg Parks and Recreation officials said the playground's design has elements of Spartanburg's history and culture. It features a peach shed, playhouse and Revolutionary War mural. The playground also has other features such as a balance beam, climbing wall, slides, a water wheel, and a swinging platform. 

A play area will be designed for specifically for 2- to 5-year-olds, and another will be designed for 5- to 12-year-olds. After the playground is complete, a fully accessible rubberized play surface will be installed. The playground is expected to open this month.

"We were very happy to be involved in this project," said senior Daniel Stephenson, Interact Club president. 

"It was one small way we could be a part of something really big in the lives of kids and families in Spartanburg."

Oakbrook students contribute to Healing Classrooms program

Oakbrook students partnered with Students Rebuild, a nonprofit organization, to help create safe classrooms for school age children from Syria who are now refugees.

Oakbrook students partnered with Students Rebuild, a nonprofit organization, to help create safe classrooms for school age children from Syria who are now refugees.

Middle and Upper School students spent their Chapel hearing the story of one Syrian student living in a war torn nation. After the program, the students made pinwheels that were given to the Healing Classrooms program, which donated $2 for each one. Oakbrook students made a total of 465 pinwheels, earning $930 towards providing these children a safe and loving classroom.

"We learned of our Biblical response to this crisis - love our neighbors," said Oakbrook's Director of Christian Education Merissa Ramantanin. "With the making of a simple toy, a paper pinwheel, hope for a future is given to other children. We also pray that the Syrian refugee children, in their new classrooms, would hear the everlasting hope that comes through Jesus."

Pinwheel making didn't stop there, the eighth grade students visited lower school classrooms and shared how together they can help even more children.

Since the civil war began, nearly 11 million Syrians have fled their homes. Of those, more than four million Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries of Lebanon, Northern Iraq, Jordan and Turkey. According to studentsrebuild.org, nearly six million children have been affected by their country’s civil war and on average, it takes 17 years for most refugees to return home. This means millions of Syrian children will likely spend most—or all—of their childhood as refugees.

The International Rescue Committee partners with schools in crisis zones to create Healing Classrooms—paired with support from parents and the community—so children can recover, grow, develop and learn. Healing Classrooms trains teachers in special techniques to engage conflict-affected children with social-emotional learning opportunities and to create secure, nurturing learning environments. Funds generated by the Challenge will support the IRC’s Healing Classrooms programs which:

  • Equip teachers with skills to create safe, nurturing spaces where children can recover, grow, develop and learn.
  • Create learning environments that provide children with a sense of normalcy, structure and stability to promote their well-being.
  • Provide opportunities for children to build self-esteem and strengthen their interpersonal skills.
  • Lay the groundwork for refugees to eventually return, reintegrate and become peacebuilders in their communities.

Want to learn more about the Healing Classrooms program? Click here.

Oakbrook students cultivate life lessons through gardening

For more than six years, Oakbrook has had a thriving garden program that is producing healthy snacks and life lessons for its students.

Broccoli, kale, and radishes are not common foods for students to get excited about, but when it's grown by them, they've been known to fight over the leftovers.

For more than six years, Oakbrook has had a thriving garden program that is producing healthy snacks and life lessons for its students.

Oakbrook's first garden was started by alumnus Laura Godenick, who chose a school garden as her senior project. She approached the three fourth grade teachers about having their classes partner with her. Laura planned and built three raised beds, and also visited the classes several times a week to teach and guide the young students in planting and caring for a vegetable garden.

The following year, with Laura graduated and gone on to college, the fourth graders and Mrs. Jeanie Nethery moved up to the fifth grade. They decided to plant three beds of colorful zinnias. They dissected the flowers as they learned about pollination, and plant reproduction. They also had a surprise lesson on vegetative propagation when they found potatoes growing among the flowers. After that year, it was decided that the experience of gardening was too valuable to keep to one group of students, so the garden has stayed in the fifth grade while the original group of Oakbrook farmers are now in freshmen.

Oakbrook parent Mrs. Margo Baghdaddy volunteered the third year and has since continued to help the fifth graders plan and plant a square-foot fall vegetable garden. In this method, each student is responsible for farming one square-foot plot. They clean out the weeds, prepare the soil with compost, figure out how many seedlings or seeds they need to plant, depending on the proper spacing for their particular vegetable, thin the plants, weed, and water. They use a planting chart to mark the number of days to germination and the number of days to harvest. Once a week, they document the progress in a journal. As each crop is harvested, that vegetable is prepared and brought back to school for the fifth graders to share. 

“The garden truly becomes an extension of the classroom and is a prime example of experiential learning,” said Middle School Director Dawn Rollins.

It is a great teaching tool, said Mrs. Nethery. “The children not only learn about the composition of soil, nutrients, and the life cycle of plants, but they learn valuable lessons about being faithful to tend what has been entrusted to them. They are often required to solve problems along the way, like cabbage worms. They get to experience delayed gratification while waiting for their plants to mature. And, in the end, when they see the miraculous transformation of a tiny seed, into a large plant that can feed several people, they get a glimpse of the magnificent mind and generous heart of our Creator,” Nethery said.

Oakbrook’s youngest students have also become master gardeners. The K3 and K4 students have enjoyed planting seeds and watching them grow for the last two years.

“I love gardening with the little ones because they are able to see how a little seed turns into yummy vegetables they can eat,” said K4 teacher Leslee Page.

“The boys and girls are responsible for their little portion of the garden and they take great pride in watering, talking and singing to their vegetable.”



Middle School Volleyball winning the game of life

Random Acts of Kindness

The middle school volleyball team is practicing for games, but they are also practicing harder for the game of life.

The team is going through the fruits of the spirit with Coach Erin Biggar and assistant Coach Hall. Right now, they are focusing on the fruit of kindness.

During their devotion, they discussed Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  

Coach Biggar decided this would be a great opportunity for the team to do some random Acts of Kindness. So, with the support of their parents and coaches, the girls will be doing the following: 

Over the weekend- they are asked to do the following: 

*Get together a care pack for a person in need: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, hairbrush (this can be gotten at the dollar store). They will bring these back to school on Monday, and Mrs. Hall will distribute them to a local ministry. We will attach the same quote as above in each care pack. 

They will also come home with a laminated sheet that explains the next four numbers in better detail. These can be easily done over the weekend, as well. 

 1. help someone for free

 2. help someone w/ yard work

 3.hold the door for someone

 4. let someone go in line in front of you

The last thing we will do for our random acts of kindness, as a team, we will volunteer our time to read and help with homework at Knight Shift on September 23 from 3:15-4:00 for our devotion day. 

From Coach Biggar: “Coach Hall and I are extremely excited about this and hope that you will feel the same.  These girls are amazing and they have such sweet hearts.  Thank you for allowing us to be part of their lives.”

Mr. Hinds and the rest of the administration is certainly proud of the leadership by Coach Biggar and Coach Hall and how they are training hearts, not just bodies. Go Knights!

Religious liberty attorney David Gibbs speaks to AP Government classes

Attorney David C. Gibbs III, president and general counsel of the National Center for Life and Liberty, spoke to Oakbrook's AP Government students today and shared his experiences arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Attorney David C. Gibbs III, president and general counsel of the National Center for Life and Liberty, spoke to AP Government students today and shared his experiences arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gibbs, who represented the Schiavo family in the highly publicized Terri Schiavo case, also hosts the weekly radio program Law Talk Live on the Moody Radio Network and has authored five books including Fighting for Dear Life and Understanding the Constitution. He has also been featured on many major news and talk programs.

Gibbs discussed several issues facing our state and national government, including healthcare and the national debt, and encouraged students to understand and fight for their beliefs.

"It's important for students to be mentally engaged so they can become the leaders that God intended them to be," Gibbs said.

AP Government student Slade Glenn said he was excited to hear Gibbs speak today.

"He has a lot of experience and it was interesting to hear him explain how it's not the government that gives us our rights, but it's the government that can take away those rights," said Glenn, a junior at Oakbrook.

"I agree with him that it's important for my generation to get involved and understand the laws that are going to have a lasting impact on our next 30 years or so."

"We are gracious that David Gibbs, as someone particularly involved with issues of religious liberty and education, could share his insights about government with us today," said AP Government teacher Jonathan Clayton. "Mr. Gibbs highlighted important issues currently being addressed in the court system which will impact students when they are pursuing their own careers in the years ahead as well as contextualizing those issues within the intentions of the framers as individuals who composed the document establishing our government to be read along with the Bible."

Gibbs graduated from Duke Law School and manages the Gibbs Law Firm with offices in Dallas, Texas; St. Petersburg, Florida; and Washington, D.C. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and numerous federal circuit and district courts nationwide. He has also been admitted to the State Bars of Florida, Minnesota, Colorado, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan, and the District of Columbia.

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