Dorm Welcomes International, Domestic Students
Oaks Christian School marked the opening of its 20th anniversary year with another vanguard moment in the school’s illustrious history. On Aug. 10, 40 students made history as the very first residents of the new OCS residential boarding facility, a state-of-the-art dorm that will eventually house 68 international and domestic students. In this inaugural year, the program welcomed students from Indonesia, China, Ghana, Vietnam and locally from Orange County.
As they unloaded hampers, pictures, bedding and other personal items, the students and their parents were welcomed to The Den with music, food, and balloons. OCS residential ambassadors (fellow students) directed them to their rooms, answered questions, and helped move furniture and belongings. Dorm parents – a total of four husband-wife teams – greeted the students on their individual floors and helped them get oriented.
OCS College Counselor Valerie Johnson and her husband, Rodney, are dorm parents. They have welcomed two international male students into their home for the past three years and have now taken their commitment to a new level.
“I am really excited to be able speak into the lives of high school students. It has been wonderful to have two international students living with us. And now, to be able to do that with 22 boys is an amazing opportunity we are excited about,” she shared.
Students quickly found their rooms and their new roommates and began unpacking, organizing and decorating.
Sophomore Rui Chen, from China, took a moment from unpacking his suitcases to share his thoughts on move-in day.
“I think it’s a new opportunity for me for educationally and socially. We all get to be with other new people, get to know each other and make new friends, like with your roommate,” he said.
His mother, Dai, was staying a few days to help her son settle in. She felt confident the residential dorm would provide a warm, family environment.
“He will get to learn and gain knowledge in a new school with a new, big family,” she said.
Domestic student William Pezold, freshman, hails from Laguna Hills, Ca., and his family decided boarding was a great option for him to attend Oaks Christian, but still be able to come home on weekends depending on his waterpolo schedule with tournaments and games.
“I see a lot of opportunity for my son here and I think it was the right decision. There could not have been a better situation and we feel fortunate about the location of Oaks Christian School,” his mother shared.
Move in day was the culmination of a vision three years in the planning and spearheaded by OCS Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kris Thabit. Thabit, an original OCS board member, was also instrumental 20 years ago in finding the present location for the main OCS campus.
The OCS residential program makes Oaks Christian one of the few national Christian secondary schools to offer both a day and boarding option. Indeed, the building with three modern kitchens, fitness room, lounge areas, computer study areas, and dorm rooms that rival and even surpass that of universities, does impress. Included are gender-specific dormitory floors, high-tech security system, move and game rooms and a chapel.
But beyond the bells and whistles, the residential boarding program provides a unique opportunity for Oaks Christian to live out its mission.
“No doubt, this is a milestone for the school; a brand-new building and a new place for student life to happen. As I walk in here and see the smiles of the students I know this will have a tremendous impact on their lives, “said Head of School Rob Black, “But this is also an opportunity for us to do life on a much deeper level than we can on the main campus. We are going to be able to take student living in this building, with each other and faculty and staff, and engage them on a much deeper level.
For International Student Director Nicole Oakes, her heart was full on the special day as she welcomed the 25 boys and 14 girls who now call the dorm home.
“It’s been so much fun to see this day come together with our 30 ambassador student teams, our admissions department and all those who came out today to welcome the students. I am looking forward to building the community here for students to feel at home and have the extra time to get involved and connect with staff and each other,” she shared.