The Oakridge School
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|The Oakridge School|
|5900 West Pioneer Parkway
Arlington, Texas, Tarrant County 76013
|Color(s)||Green and Navy|
|Newspaper||'"The Oakridge Outlook"|
|Athletic Director||Shawn Meadows|
The Oakridge School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school. A non-profit institution governed by an elected Board of Regents, the school was accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS) in 1988. It holds membership in the National Association of Independent Schools (1987) and is recognized by the Texas Education Agency (1982).
After its founding by a group of concerned parents in March 1979, The Oakridge School opened at the Handley United Methodist Church on Forest Avenue in east Fort Worth in August 1979 with 85 students under the leadership of headmaster Peter Ensor.
In 1981, the Board of Regents named Andy J. Broadus its second headmaster. Broadus had served as associate headmaster at Jacksonville Country Day School in Jacksonville, Florida. Enrollment quickly grew to 154 students.
The Texas Education Agency accredited Oakridge in 1982, the same year NAIS granted "new school status." While the school gained academic traction, it sought a permanent home. Upper School classes were held at a house on Meadowbrook Drive in 1981-1982. For three years, from 1982 to 1985, Oakridge operated at the old Handley Middle School, which was razed in the early 1990s.
Due to problems with the lease agreement with the Fort Worth Independent School District, and ongoing doubts as to the location of a permanent home, the Board of Regents purchased the 35 acres on the south side of Pioneer Parkway and started construction on the Early Childhood Center building in 1983. This, the first building on the Pioneer Parkway campus, was ready for students in the fall of 1984.
The year 1985 was a major turning point in the history of The Oakridge School. Its first class of seniors (7 members of the first alumni class) graduated in 1985. One of these pioneer members of the Oakridge Alumni Association came from the United Kingdom (Wales), beginning a tradition of enrolling international students that continues. To date, Oakridge students have enrolled from 24 different countries. In the Fall of 1985, Oakridge opened the Upper School Building at 5900 Pioneer Parkway.
With the 1986-87 school year, the school completed the move to the new campus with a new Lower School, Middle School, and Student Activity Center. In December 1987, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accredited Oakridge. That same month, the NAIS granted the school full and active membership. Several months later (March 1988), Independent Schools Association of the Southwest accreditation followed suit. Among all ISAS members schools, Oakridge led with the greatest enrollment increase for the 1988-89 school year.
In September 1989, Oakridge started the Pre-school program for three-year-olds, making Oakridge the only ISAS school in the area with such a program. "It is never too soon to start laying a strong foundation," remarked one parent.
Headmaster Andy J. Broadus was named a Klingenstein Visiting Fellow at Columbia University's Teachers College in January 1992. By then, the school's debt had been reduced while plans were underway for expanding the Early Childhood Center (1993) and the construction of a new library and the Amon G. Carter Multipurpose Activity Center (1994). In September 1992 the National Merit Scholarship Corporation named Oakridge's first National Merit Scholar.
Oakridge successfully completed its first ten-year accreditation visit in 1997 with outstanding reviews by visiting teams from ISAS and SACS. This was followed by the launch of a $6 million capital campaign for the construction of a fine arts center and information center. An extension to the Lower School was completed that summer (1998). The new Information Center opened in December 1999, followed by the John P. Flavin Fine Arts Center in May 2000.
In 2006, the Boswell family of Fort Worth announced plans to sell 47.5 acres of property across the street on the north side of Pioneer Parkway. "We had always wanted the property," Mr. Broadus said, but the parcel belonged to several family members and could not be sold. After a real estate agent pieced the land together, Mr. Broadus was pleasantly surprised to see a for-sale sign. "That had to be ours," he said, especially in light of the fact that other Fort Worth sister schools had outgrown their space and had to relocate and build new campuses. "That land meant [Oakridge] would never have to move." The school acquired the additional land and set out to develop a master site plan for development into an athletic complex.
By 2007, the "Securing the Legacy" campaign had exceeded the $6 million goal. That September, the new Security Center was completed, the most expensive square footage ever developed by the school, due to the high technology needs of a secure campus.
Changes in leadership came in 2007 as well. Mr. Broadus, the longtime headmaster, stepped down from his role and assumed the title of president and chief fundraiser and developer for the Oakridge Athletic Complex. His associate headmaster, Jon Kellam, who had first come to Oakridge in 1993 and who had served as a soccer coach, English teacher, and Middle School head, stepped up to take over the management of the daily operations of the school. Mr. Kellam holds a master's from Texas Christian University, is an alumnus of Stanford University's Educational Leadership Institute, is a member of ISAS's Secondary Commission on Standards, and was selected as one of the 2014 Head of Schools fellows at the Klingenstein Center of Columbia University.
The 2011-12 school year saw various developments at Oakridge that impacted students across all divisions and in Academics, Arts, and Athletics. First, the new Quinn Family Kindergarten Center opened, creating four new K classrooms and almost doubling the Early Childhood Center to over 16,000 square feet. This state of the art facility was made possible by the philanthropy of Billy and Stacey Quinn. The former Paradise Liquor store and gas station had been purchased and refitted for use as a 10,000 square foot Wrestling Center, with bathrooms and storage for the adjacent Duggan Track. In the realm of technology and public speaking, an Oakridge grandparent, Dr. Don Shelton, donated a short-range radio station: K-OWL AM 1670. After just a few months on the air, and streaming online, Oakridge Radio had listeners tuning in across 40 states and 13 countries.
To inspire students to share what inspires them and to work collaboratively and creatively with classmates on campus and in the community, Oakridge led a group of local ISAS schools with the first TEDx Youth Conference. This event supports the school's mission and philosophy. Furthermore, it has expanded to other schools (private and public) in the metroplex.
The 2012-2013 school year featured another TEDx Youth Conference and two other developments: first, the Dubliners Colloquium for Upper School English students drew not only Oakridge students but those from eight other metroplex schools. Also, the Oakridge Athletic Complex opened the Tennis Complex with eight new, hard-surface courts. This allowed Tennis to be added to Middle School programs. Both the Track and Tennis courts are already serving the needs of many groups across the community, including the nearby Arlington Police Training Center.
After over a decade of study and observing other schools' technology initiatives, Learn21 provided computing tools for an innovative classroom environment in which students connect, communicate, collaborate and create. This program continued from 2013 until 2017 at which point the school reverted to a bring-your-own device policy.
The school includes students from age 3 to grade 12 in four divisions, each run by a division head. The Early Childhood Center includes pre-school, pre-Kindergarten, and Kindergarten. The Lower School includes elementary grades 1 thru 4. Middle School houses grades 5 thru 8, and Upper School incorporates the high school grades 9 thru 12. Each division head oversees the academic, arts, and athletic programs for the grade levels under their care.
With a full menu of curricular and extracurricular opportunities in a dynamic, student-centered environment, The Oakridge was characterized by a former parent as, "a wonderful school that is small enough to know you, yet large enough to serve you."
The school's philosophy is to admit students who are a "good fit" for its programs and who are bound for college. Parents and children are encouraged to attend admissions events and to tour campus. After the introductions are made, Oakridge staff begin to gather academic and social information on each prospective student. "We do admissions testing and request report cards.... We require current teacher and principal recommendations, which address not only academic progress, but also the student's ability to get along with his or her peers, teachers, and others."
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has authorized Oakridge to host international students from such countries as Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong (pre-1997), India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, and Vietnam. Each year, the school enrolls around 20 students from about a dozen countries.
Each year about half the senior class leaves the Lone Star state for college to such schools as University of Southern California, Vassar College, Northwestern University, Harvard University, New York University, Boston University, University of Virginia, University of Alabama, California Institute of the Arts, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, American University, Washington & Lee University, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of St. Andrew's. The Upper School offers 23 AP courses. Average SAT scores for the Class of 2013 were 617 verbal, 622 math, and 606 writing; 28.4 for the ACT. Seventy-one percent of the 74 members of the class were offered merit scholarships. The class included 7 National Merit Scholars, 9 National Merit Commended Letter winners, 2 National Achievement Program Outstanding Participants, 3 National Hispanic Scholars, 1 acceptance to a service academy, and 5 bound to play collegiate athletics.
The Fine Arts program at The Oakridge School is a comprehensive, sequentially developed education in the arts. At each divisional level, the program is viewed as an integral part of the overall education of our students. We are concerned with creating an atmosphere of trust and the ability to inspire artistic risk-taking while developing a lifelong love of the arts. This program is not only for the "talented few" that are concerned with acquiring skills and seeking acceptance to post-secondary Fine Arts education, but also for the student who finds personal enjoyment in understanding a unique dimension of our characteristics as people, human beings with valid personal voices of artistic expression.
A major component for fine arts students is demonstrating their particular talent. Favorable conditions for validation of student work are also sought through the public sector. We seek and encourage functions that provide public exhibitions at local and national levels which offer educational opportunities for our Oakridge students.
Since 1985, high school juniors and seniors have participated in the Twelve County High School Art Competition, referencing twelve counties of north Texas now sponsored by the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. The annual Fort Worth Stock Show art competition entails a broader range of grades (1-12) and includes both private and public schools. Oakridge art students have won many awards, including "Best Elementary Grand Prize" four times under the guidance of teacher Rene Levisay. Out of the top 7 awards in the High School 3D division, Oakridge students took 3 awards.
Beginning in the early 1980s, Oakridge music students performed in choral ensembles and in musical theatre. Affiliation with the Texas Music Educators Association, which involves over 20,000 students in competition across the state, and the Texas Private School Music Educators Association has allowed many Oakridge music students to enjoy quality musical experiences in local, regional, and state competitions. It has served to cultivate an appreciation for the arts and a lifetime involvement in music. Below is a listing of Oakridge's TMEA All State winners:
- 1999: Monica Knight, Alto 2, Mixed Choir
- 2002: Katy Kapphahn, Alto 1, Treble Choir
- 2002: Reid Masters, Tenor 2, Tenor/Bass Choir
- 2003: Clayton Carter, Tenor 2, Tenor/Bass Choir
- 2004: Clayton Carter, Tenor 2, Tenor/Bass Choir
- 2006: Katy Reiswig, Alto 1, Mixed Choir
- 2006: Andrew Miller, Bass 1, Mixed Choir
- 2010: Christopher Grubb, Bass 2, Mixed Choir
- 2014: Nooshin Ghanbari, Alto 1, Treble Choir
- 2017: Walker Emmert
- 2017: Cade Kellam
Drama is an integral part of the Fine Arts experience at Oakridge, starting with Music & Movement in the Early Childhood Center and continuing with Lower School music, Lower School musical theatre, and the 5th grade rotation of drama as well as choir, art, and string orchestra. Sixth graders take a semester long arts course, including either drama or art. Starting in 7th grade, students commit to a fine arts class for an entire school year. Drama and Musical Theater are options for Middle School, while Acting and Theatre Production are Upper School drama options. Each year, there is a large scale high school musical performed in the John Flavin Fine Arts Center's performance hall, which seats almost 400 audience members.
- 2005: Taylor Wright, Best Female Actor
- 2005: Jmac Richardson, Best Scenic Design, Budget Level 2
- 2005: Courtney Blackmon, Best Ensemble Actor
- 2006: Best Musical (tie), Children of Eden
- 2006: Courtney Blackmon, Best Female Supporting Actor (tie)
- 2006: Leah Williams, Best Costume Design, Budget Level 1
- 2006: Steven Rheiner, Best Lighting Design, Budget Level 2
- 2006: Morgan Lay, Best Scenic Design, Budget Level 2
- 2006: Katy Reiswig, Best Female Ensemble Actor
- 2007: Courtney Blackmon, Best Female Actor
- 2007: Steven Rheiner, Best Lighting Design, Budget Level 2
- 2007: Claire Dalton, Best Female Ensemble Actor
- 2009: Mark Laird, Best Male Supporting Actor
The mission of the Oakridge Athletic Department aligns with The Oakridge School’s Mission: to inspire athletes to reach their full potential. (By forcing students to play a sport from 7th-12th grade.)  One major objective is to prepare young men and women for lives of responsibility and leadership in a competitive and changing world. Oakridge partners with the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), founded by coach and author Jim Thompson in 1998, to transform the culture of youth and high school sports so that every student-athlete can have a positive, character-building experience. The department also oversees the school's Physical Education program for students and a wellness program for parents and staff. Courses are also offered in strength and conditioning year-round.
Students in grades 7 thru 12 can participate in as many as 16 different sports over three seasons during the school year: Football, Volleyball, Cross Country, Field Hockey, Cheerleading, Basketball, Soccer, Wrestling, Power Lifting, Swimming, Equestrian, Baseball, Golf, Tennis, Track & Field, and Softball. Oakridge Owls regularly compete against other Southwest Preparatory Conference schools as Episcopal High School (Bellaire, Texas), St. Mark's School (Dallas, Texas), The Casady School (Norman, Oklahoma), and many others in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"They're just kids that we're developing, and they're learning it and figuring out the system," said Owls head baseball coach—and the Texas Rangers' 1984 rookie of the year--Curtis Wilkerson. "And they are getting better and better."
- 1996: JT Hodges, former pop singer/country music opened for Eric Church singer
- 1999: Eli Jordan, radio personality on Sportsradio 1310AM The Ticket
- 2003: Bruno Guarda, professional soccer player
- 2005: Jessica Renee Russell, professional actress
- 2006: Andre Akpan, professional soccer player 
- 2006: William "Trip Lee" Barefield III, rapper
- 2007: Alexandre (Ale) Ivo, professional soccer player
- 2007: Ed O'Connor, vice CEO and operations executive for Purity Oilfield Services, LLC
- 2008: Diogo de Almeida, professional soccer player (Real Salt Lake - FC Dallas) MLS
- 2008: Arthur Ivo, professional soccer player
- 2008: Chris Babb, professional basketball player for the Boston Celtics
- 2010: Tayo Fabuluje, offensive guard for the Chicago Bears
- 2010: Ross Apo, wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks
- 2015: Colten Martin, professional defensemen affiliated with Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres
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