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kids at Veterans Day celebration


Is a quality that isn’t measured on a state test or rewarded with a trophy, but here at Oak Hills, it’s a trait we emphasize, encourage, and very much admire.

For our littlest Highlanders, character shows up in PBIS training and in Responsive Classroom, where students learn to contribute to their school community, show kindness to their classmates and teachers, and take responsibility for their actions. “You act a certain way because you develop a sense of caring for your community,” says J.F. Dulles Elementary School Principal Beth Riesenberger.

With secondary students, character is the respect and gratitude shown by 2,400 cheering Oak Hills High School students who stand and applaud as 300 military veterans proceed into the OHHS gym for one of the region’s largest Veterans Day ceremonies. Thank you for keeping us safe, the students’ signs say. You make OHHS proud. 

Character is the humility shown by National Honor Society members who give up their spring break to pick up litter along the hairpin curves of Ebenezer Road. It’s the genuine friendships born of the Partners Club, where typical students and students with special needs pair up for social, athletic and volunteer events, as well as Hamilton County Special Olympics. Character is living out the Oak Hills High School motto – You belong here.

kids with treat cart

A heart for service

Oak Hills students begin to serve almost as soon as they walk through a classroom door. At C.O. Harrison Elementary, older students join the “Umbrella Brigade” where, on rainy days, they meet the younger students in carline and escort them into the school. J.F. Dulles students operate “Johnny Bear’s Treat Truck,” a snazzy little cart stuffed with snacks that allows teachers to enjoy a treat and feel appreciated, and teaches students the basics of customer service and hospitality. At Springmyer and Oakdale elementary schools, students serve their schools through the School Safety Patrol. (Last year, Springmyer fifth-grader Samantha Kessler was the 2022 Outstanding Safety Patroller for the Tristate!) 

Girl holding out her hands that reads 'VIDA'

Making people feel they belong

The Rapid Run Middle School Mural Club created five beautiful murals to decorate hallways and create a positive vibe in the school. Delhi Middle School Spanish students promoted inclusion and togetherness through a project based on the song ‘Humano,’ which means human.  At Oak Hills High School, 168 students earned National Community Service Awards from the United Nations Association for 6,464 hours of community service.

group picture with mascot

Giving is just what we do here

As the winter holidays approach, each Oak Hills school collects gifts or money to help Oak Hills families in need. Last year, the ‘Caring & Sharing’ drive helped 627 members of 173 families – with a number of the contributors being former recipients of Caring & Sharing help themselves.

In early April, it feels like the entire community turns out for the legendary One Hope, One Heart round-robin volleyball tournament and fundraiser to support Oak Hills families affected by hardship or tragedy. In eleven years, the event has given $100,000 directly to families in need.

After the December 2021 devastating tornadoes in Western Kentucky, Oak Hills families and staff contributed $17,034.46 – collected in four days – to the tornado relief fund. It was the middle of the pandemic, right before the holiday season, with plenty of Oak families experiencing financial insecurity – and still they gave.

Humble winners, gracious non-winners, all-around good sports

Coaches, band and choir directors, and teachers hear it every time they accompany Oak Hills students to games, music competitions, and field trips: Highlanders are good sports, great kids and good citizens. 

Our students are polite and respectful. They take care of other people’s property. They follow the rules. They neither rub in a win nor pout over a loss. 

Oak Hills Football scoreboard

How we shine

A ‘character moment’ we won’t forget:  In May 2020, as the first school year of the pandemic was coming to an end, high schools across Ohio lit up their stadiums and communities to show support for the Class of 2020, which had missed out on so many traditions and events. Across the Tristate, seniors at a number of schools discarded their masks and flaunted social distancing, but Oak Hills seniors showed restraint, appreciation and concern for each other. They drove by the brightly lit stadium, waved to homeowners who had turned on their porch lights, and inspired our community with their self-discipline and maturity. As one mom posted on Facebook, “You shine for me brighter than the stadium lights.” And – evidence of the beautiful character of the Oak Hills staff – a retired bus driver shared this post: “I was a bus driver for Oak Hills for 25 years, and now I live in Florida. I’m going to support those Seniors of 2020 by putting my porch light on. Oak Hills students will always be a part of me.”

That’s what character looks like over here on the west side.