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The Story of Our Experiences Told Through Music

May 05, 2021
By Natalie Watson, 11th Grade Student

Cantare amantis est~Only the one who loves sings~St. Augustine

2021 marked the first time that Rockbridge had to cancel their annual variety show, inspiring Mandy Ball, music director, to invite students to participate in a musical retrospective show. On May 18, students will perform a collection of acts which musically interpret the story of their experiences over the past year.

Students have selected a wide range of acts which vary from an a cappella ensemble to dancing to songs from popular musicals. The event will be combined with the upper school spring concert and the Rockbridge Academy Art Exhibit will be open to an audience with limited tickets available, at Rockbridge's Evergreen Campus. The combined event is being called the Fine Arts Showcase—a musical, spring concert, and art show in one event. Staff are also investigating the possibility of live streaming the show, for which the details are to be determined.

Ball spoke about her vision for the students' project, saying, "I was hoping they would try to express musically some of the harder aspects of COVID and quarantine and the summer of 2020 because we really went through a lot as a culture." In particular, the acts share students' reflections on quarantine and the summer's tensions resulting from racial injustice. She said that students expressed interest in this idea when she floated it to them, saying, "They seemed to really like that idea of expressing things that they felt during COVID, but also being able to perform a wider variety of styles than we normally would be able to do in a spring concert."

For seniors who have been participating in Rockbridge's music and theater performances for a long time, this provided them the opportunity to have one last hurrah. "I've been doing theater stuff for years now and without something like this there would have been no closure to that," said Sean Fitch, senior.

Leah Ball, senior, also echoed this thought, saying, "It really is a gift that we're able to perform."

Tomi Akinyelu, junior, expresses her thoughts about the show, saying, "It seems like a really fun way to give joy to the community during COVID because we can't meet and do things that are too big." In addition to this being an opportunity for students to tell their stories, hopefully it will bless the broader community as well, by providing a unique artistic perspective of the past year. "I hope that people will be able to look back on this whole COVID period and recognize the good parts of it, the funny parts of it, the parts in which we needed to listen and learn, and the parts where we looked forward to hope," she said.

Throughout this past year, many have seen that even when we are surrounded by unexpected challenges and loss, taking the time to focus our thoughts on appreciating the beauty around us is well worth the effort. Ball described the value she saw in performing this show, saying, "I think it's important to keep fighting for beauty when everything around us looks ugly." She further spoke on this point, saying, "It redeems them in a way, while still honestly giving expression to the pain and sadness that created them."

Posted in Upper School

Not to Be Served But to Serve

April 21, 2021
By Olivia Reardon, 11th Grade Student

If you have ever been backstage during a drama production you know that there is a lot more that goes on than what the audience sees.  The stage, lighting, makeup, and costume crews are all working tirelessly behind the scenes.  But just because these people aren’t center stage doesn’t mean they aren’t vital to creating the magic that happens.  The administration and support staff at Rockbridge Academy are like the stage crew at a drama: absolutely necessarily but hardly ever seen.  The central office ladies, Shannon Reich, Heather Reardon, Tina Thompson, and Tammy Rhodes are a few staff members that truly exemplify what it means to serve from behind the scenes.  Without the hard work of our dedicated staff, Rockbridge Academy would not be able to function the way it does today.

Have you ever stopped to wonder how the stapler that saved your preparedness grade got into your homeroom?  Or, where new books and sports equipment come from?  Shannon Reich is the operations coordinator at Rockbridge Academy.  According to Mrs. Reich, she handles “the purchasing and provides administrative support for facilities-related items and on-campus events.”  She also does central office administrative work, fulfills all of the behind the scenes needs of Discover Summer, and checks on the school building after-hours and on the weekends.  Mrs. Reich is a sweet lady who is not afraid to do hard work in order to serve those around her. Mrs. Reich does so much for Rockbridge, and she points to Jesus as the perfect example of how to serve others.  She articulated that by using our gifts “in service towards others, Christians may also have access to unique opportunities that bring others to Christ.”  Not only does Mrs. Reich employ her gifts to physically serve Rockbridge, she uses them to glorify God and bring others closer to Him.

If you have ever been through the Evergreen car line or received an Essentials email, you are familiar with Rockbridge’s Assistant to the Headmaster.  But when she is not at the front desk or doing car line, Heather Reardon handles a multitude of other tasks.  A few of what Mrs. Reardon tackles regularly includes handling hospitality events, assisting Roy Griffith and the Board, managing the hiring and interview process, and sending the Essentials and Headmaster Messages.  It is difficult to pin down all that she does because Mrs. Reardon serves so many people on a daily basis in various ways.  She says, “I want to serve them so that their life is easier and so that they can attend to the work that they need to attend to.”  Mrs. Reardon relates that Rockbridge’s unique environment makes serving a blessing: “I think that it is really special that I have the opportunity to serve at Rockbridge Academy because I think it’s an incredible place where kids are learning about the Lord. So, to serve them, even to serve the kids in the front office, is just a privilege.” 

“I think that it is really special that I have the opportunity to serve at Rockbridge Academy because I think it’s an incredible place where kids are learning about the Lord. So, to serve them, even to serve the kids in the front office, is just a privilege.” 

As bookkeeper, Tina Thompson holds a job that is very much behind the scenes but nonetheless important.  Dedicated to her work, Mrs. Thompson spends countless hours maintaining donation databases and the FACTS financial database, processing income checks and payroll, acting as a resource for employees with expense and payment concerns, and much more.  Mrs. Thompson said, “as the tiny wheel in the back of the bus, I don't get a lot of fanfare but I am okay with that.  It is just nice to know that the contributions God allows me to make are valued.”  Although Mrs. Thompson is quiet and not often seen by students, she serves the Rockbridge community in many important ways.  Mrs. Thompson said, “I am a steward of God's gifts and graces in my life, blessings that I believe God enriched and enabled me with for the purpose of serving.”  She, like the other staff, desires to use God’s gifts to serve those around her.

Believe it or not, all the technology used to make learning happen, especially virtually, does not work by magic.  Tammy Rhodes, Rockbridge’s IT Coordinator and Registrar, handles technology at the Evergreen campus, which includes troubleshooting, setting up, and purchasing technology, and communicating with vendors such as Verizon and Comcast.  There is no pressure to be tech savvy when Mrs. Rhodes is around, she is always willing to lend a hand, whether that be fixing a teacher’s stubborn laptop or assisting remote students.  As well as maintaining our technology, Mrs. Rhodes handles duties as registrar such as enrollment processes, transferring student records, distributing report cards, updating the school website, and much more.  Mrs. Rhodes says, “It's not only important that I help/serve others but that I do it in a way that pleases the Lord and promotes His glory so that I may hear Him say those wonderful words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’” (Matthew 25:21) Mrs. Rhodes humbly serves the Rockbridge community to glorify God.

Mark 10:43-45 states “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  The staff members at Rockbridge Academy strive to live out Christ’s perfect example of how to serve others.  Undoubtedly, Mrs. Reich, Mrs. Reardon, Mrs. Thompson, and Mrs. Rhodes are all essential to Rockbridge’s success in and out of the classroom.  However, they are not the only ones that keep this school up and running; each administrative, support, and faculty staff member works hard to make Rockbridge Academy a wonderful place to learn.  Whether these staff members are center stage ready to take a bow or happy staying behind the curtain, they are all vital to Rockbridge’s success. So, the next time you see a Rockbridge staff member, say, “Thank you.” They are a critical part of what makes Rockbridge Academy so special.

Olivia Reardon, ‘22, loves to write and can usually be found reading a good book.  She is part of a dance company and enjoys spending time with friends and eating ice cream.

Posted in School Culture

Recent Posts

5/5/21 - By Natalie Watson, 11th Grade Student
4/21/21 - By Olivia Reardon, 11th Grade Student
4/7/21 - By Denise Hollidge, Grammar School Principal
3/25/21 - By Monica Ault, Upper School Administrative Assistant
3/10/21 - By Melissa Lentz

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