Oakdale Christian Academy has many pros and cons, and ultimately your experience will vary based off of one’s goals, outlook on life, and general disposition. I’m going to do my best to be entirely honest on this review so that others can make an informed decision on whether or not they’d like to attend, or send their children to attend, this school. I’ll start with the cons: it is a rather conservative school in terms of what they teach doctrinally and in terms of the rules they enforce-including the things they teach in the Bible class. These rules include things like no contact with anyone of the opposite sex (no pda, not even hugs or holding hands-whether as friends or if in a relationship. If one does these things, one runs the risk of being put on “social,” which essentially means that for a set period of time you will not be allowed to interact with whomever it was. This may seem petty at first, but it’s enforcement is pervasive and quite annoying, as other rules are created as prevention methods to help ensure this rule is followed.) You may not listen to any music other than approved Christian music, and if caught listening to other music you will have certain restrictions placed upon you and your ability to privately listen to music. No phones, and no technology really, allowed-aside from radios, CD players, and alarm clocks. Moving around on campus can be a struggle-there is a boundary line between girls and guys campus, you are required to have a signed pass to move around on campus. It is a beautiful environment, but your ability to truly enjoy it will be limited (unfortunately.) I will say, in all fairness, that myself and some friends were allowed to climb the mountain behind the Beacon center, so it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility for you to do things!! It truly is a beautiful view from the top! Those are some of bigger rules that some might find oppressive, so choose wisely. It is a well-studied fact that frequent interaction with the opposite sex equips a person to better handle working with members of the opposite sex, so to limit those opportunities most definitely limits the development of that ability. (Just something to keep in mind.)
Onwards: to the things that some might think are bad, but which I think are excellent! There is a job training program at the school, and to my knowledge all students are required to participate in it. You are divided into different “teams,” essentially your job, and there is a student supervisor picked, as well as student head supervisor, as well as an adult head of the entire job training crew. It’s a good system, in my opinion. Every day during the week, for one hour, after class is out, students will report to their assigned areas and begin “work.” You are trained for whatever it is you’re doing, and the jobs range from cleaning kitchen/dining areas, to cleaning the church or the beacon center, all the way to grounds crew, which I was supervisor of for a brief time. This program provides the opportunity for kids to learn to appreciate work (well, that’s the hope, at least) and they are awarded weekly with “coupons,” essentially “Oakdale currency,” which they may redeem for certain privileges or-more commonly-in dorm treats/food stuffs. (Lol) The one problem, once again, is the extremely rigorous division between male and female, in that they aren’t even supposed to talk if they walk by each other while working! (Single sex work crews.) aside from that, it’s an excellent program!
Furthermore, there is a rotational list for dish crew/kitchen duty and dining hall cleanup every night, and lunch, and breakfast. I’ll divide that up for you now. Dinner: rotation throughout the entire student body, to my knowledge no one is exempt from This duty-though if you have more points (I’ll explain points in a moment) you’re more likely to be on dish duty! You are assigned a task by a student supervisor to carry out in the kitchen or the dining hall to clean up after meals, which includes washing dishes, returning them to storage, as well as pots/pans/utensils/etcetera, as well as cleaning the floors/tables/buffet line. In my opinion, it’s a good system! Usually this crew is divided up into the “dining hall/room” and “kitchen,” with one sex doing one or the other. Sometimes there is a co-ed crew though!
Lunch: Lunch is similar, though for this system I’ll have to address something called the “point system.” (Or, at least, I call it that lol). Basically, if you mess up/do stupid things/break the rules/whatever a teacher decides you need to be disciplined for-you will be written up and will receive “points.” You don’t want these points, I assure you. Although, if you’re looking to be a master dish washer, then maybe you do, as having more points causes you to be more likely to be selected for the dish crew! These points are accumulated during the school day. It’s not a bad system! 🙂 So, basically that explains the lunch dish crew.
Breakfast: Breakfast deals with dorm points, which I’ll explain now. Every week you start off with 200 points, but every day you are assigned with keeping your room at a certain standard of cleanliness/organization. If you fail in this obligation, you will lose a select amount of points, depending on the degree and quantity of mistakes you’ve made. It’s simple to do, teaches students time management in the morning, and basically if your points are low enough you will be on the “morning dish crew.” You really don’t want that-it’s morning after all-but also because everyone also picks a dorm job. Each job is different, some are really easy/doable, others are awful and should be avoided at all costs! (lol). Unfortunately, those with less points pick after those with better points every week, so if you have low points, you may be selected for dish crew AND a terrible dorm job! It’s no fun, I assure you! (personal experience!!) These things, in my opinion are not cons, but pros of Oakdale! They make things challenging at times, but that’s a good thing! So now you know about the “work” programs at Oakdale. The benefit of these things is that Oakdale’s costs can be lowered as they don’t have to hire professional staff to do these jobs, and the students learn job skills that can go on resumes for jobs after high school!
On to the education portion. Oakdale is not exceptional in its education, BUT, it’s also not terrible. This view will be partially dictated by what sort of schooling system you’ve been a part of prior to Oakdale, of course! Math courses are generally regarded as “challenging” by the students, whereas all other courses can be considered as “average.” Also, there are Hebrew and Christian scripture classes (one per semester). These classes in particular are overviews and teach general “conservative” views of scripture (not comparable to contemporary academic studies). Students can expect to memorize scripture, read the Bible, and engage in discussion. That being said, Oakdale is inclusive of others, and while I was there a Muslim student from Kyrgyzstan was in attendance-an exceptional student and young man, by the way! While he was also required to take the class and participate, he was not under any pressure to “convert” in order to be a part of the Oakdale community! (Kudos to Oakdale, there!)
On to Church. There’s a weekly chapel on Friday-mandatory attendance- and Sunday morning church is mandatory as well. Students are required to “dress up” to some degree. There is also a student “staffed” worship band. While I was there it was on fair track to becoming contemporary, though if you’re used to a big church band or full contemporary you’ll find some of it to be sort of slow or bland! (But that’s okay, you’ll be fine and will enjoy it, if you let yourself!) After I left I heard there was a female pastor instated- I just know her by “Mrs. Mosier-Peterson!” She’s a great lady, I knew her while I was there (so there’s my bias for this review lol).
Next short topic-activities. Activities can be limited at times, but not by an unbearable amount! The fact is, you’ll find much of your time taken up by school activities, work, and anything else you’ve gotta do! Many things tend to include the entire school body as it’s a small attendance. While I was there it was normal for students to play games like ultimate Frisbee, two hand touch football, and soccer on the lawn. Co-ed, and everybody who participated in it seemed to really enjoy it! There’s also a girls volleyball team and a boys basketball team. They’re in small leagues, but I’m not a sports pro so I didn’t pay much to those things! Music is an option for musically inclined students! There is a teacher there, (Mr. Johnston) who records music using the recording studio on campus-small, but functional-and in the past there were student bands that he led. As well as the band and just playing music yourself, while I was there he taught a class on recording using a home studio program and setup (name: Reaper). Good class, good teacher. I do not know if this is still happening though, so ask! As I said previously I liked hiking the hills when they let me-though it must be included that if you intend on hiking you need to bring a small bag, first aid kit, and wear snake-proof boots! There’s a large amount of snakes in the area, some poisonous, some not! There is a weekly opportunity to go out to the community/Jackson (town) and costs coupons. It alternates between girls and guys every week, except for occasional forays for particular activities set up by the school or (once) we went to a fair/event in town. While I was there, Oakdale was involved in a weekly ministry at a local church-geared towards helping local kids. I just had it reconfirmed that this is still continuing, but that gives you an idea for some of the things to do at Oakdale.
I want to also include a few comments on the social atmosphere at Oakdale. It is a fairly easy enough place to make good, lasting friends. I did not notice it be cliquish, I suppose the school is too small to be cliquish at this point.
Another quick addition: every so often you receive a card with your grades and your school rank. As I look back on that, I think that is absolutely awesome! It causes there to be a bit of underlying competition among some of the students for “who can have the highest grades/gpa,” which I personally think competition in that area is ideal! 🙂
Lastly, summer school. I, personally, advise going to summer school! It’s a blast. Yes, there’s academics, yes, there is still a points system and work to be done, but there are, while I was there, regular outings to various places, usually in nature! It truly was a blast! Examples include a float trip down the nearby river, hiking and rappelling in the nearby state park, and rock climbing, as well as visiting a nearby church camp for a day (they’ve got a water slide!) It’s worth it, I assure you.
Unlisted pros, and here’s where my opinion comes more in to play: Oakdale, while conservative both religiously and socially, will help you become a better person if you let it! It will instill within you the values of work ethics, self discipline, and integrity. It provides opportunities for leadership training and job training skills and, if you are of the religious sort, provides you an environment for understanding your faith. The environment-both geographically and in school atmosphere-provides an opportunity for students to focus on important things, like education, without the distractions of technology or the pressures abundant in society for people to use drugs, drink, or simply get caught up in things that simply aren’t worthwhile. Oakdale is definitely not for everyone, but if you can swing it, you will succeed, and you’ll come out with a lasting impression of success and joy over the things you’ve accomplished! I do not recommend people like me-more liberally minded and free spirited/unbound to go-it’s just not a good fit. Really. BUT. If you wouldn’t immediately jump at those descriptions and say “yup, that’s me!” then I would suggest checking Oakdale out and even going to it for a visit. At the most you can have found a boarding school to go to, at the least, you had a nice, scenic drive, depending on when you went. (Spring and fall are especially GORGEOUS, in my opinion.)
Good luck! I hope this review helped to answer your questions! If you have any more questions, contact me by email (email@example.com) OR comment!
-Blue Skies- xoxoxo
*Edit* A former student at Oakdale has suggested that the rules on dress code be written about! It slipped my mind to include these things as, well, clothing is not something I usually think about lol. Anyways, I suggested that they write out the dress code portion instead of me, as they have the newest rules and honestly paid more attention to it than I did. I’ll just copy and paste that here!:
Everything Clint has said about OCA is true, barring some details that were either changed or forgotten. I, however would like to discuss something he looked over entirely- the dress code.
The dress code it like everything else at OCA: conservative. You have different dress codes for different things. School dress code is quite uniform while still allowing personal expression. Dress code outside of school was restrictive, particularly for the girls. Dress code for formal events was difficult at best.
As a female in attendance at the school, I personally didn’t have many problems with the dress code simply because of the type of clothing I like to wear. However, it could be very trying for some other students. Here is a Basic outline of the dress code:
- School (Church as well)
- Polos/ blouses
- jeans or slacks with no holes
- hoodies allowed, but must follow the other two rules.
- Hats only allowed if it was for fashion (i.e No snapbacks, but fedoras were okay)
- shorts that came to your knee or below
- hats allowed
- hoodies allowed
- no tank tops or muscle shirts (not that this rule was ever really enforced)
- dress shirt
- dresses for girls, with specific length requirements)
- dress pants
- dress shoes
The dress code seems simple enough, and for the males it is. For the females, however,meeting dress code could be a taxing experience. Clothes for girls are simply designed to be revealing. There is almost no escape for that unless you are like me and buy clothing that is at least two sizes too big for you. Skinny jeans are always a hot topic, and the rules on them change almost semesterly. Cleavage was a no-no, but the definition of cleavage was vague. I wear a B-cup bra, and I could wear clothes that my friends who had more voluptuous figures could not. The same goes with jeans. I had a friend that was constantly getting in trouble for her jeans falling down and for them being too tight, just because of the way her body was built.
As far as tshirts go, you really didn’t have problems save for what was allowed to be on them, and even then it wasn’t that restrictive. Shorts were the same way.
The dress code was taxing in that you could only dress “modestly.” However, you cannot set a standard of modesty without a uniform, and even then things will not look the exact same on two people.
For updated dress code information, call and ask to speak to one of the dorm deans or the dean of students. It isn’t impossible to dress the way you are asked to, but it can be a major headache.-Alec Nero