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  • Ansley Puckett

For Ashby Rickenbacker, his days to become an alumnus at Holly Hill Academy are quickly approaching. He has been a student at HHA for 15 years.

Only one more month until Ashby graduates and goes off to college. He says his experience at HHA was “long.”

Ashby’s advice to upcoming seniors and students is just “be open-minded.” He said he would change nothing about his high school experience and that everything happens for a reason.

Ashby dreamed of going to the Citadel. Through his hard work and his accomplishments at HHA, he has been accepted into the Citadel, and he received a full ride scholarship to the Virginia Military Institute.

But now he has a hard decision to make. He plans to join the Airforce ROTC program. Ashby’s inspiration to join the Air Force was from past family members. From a Raider to possibly a bulldog or kangaroo, I'm sure Ashby will find a new family just like he did at HHA.

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  • Ansley Puckett

Coach Strad is a middle school social studies teacher at Holly Hill Academy. Coach Strad is coming to the end of his second year of teaching and coaching at HHA. He coaches baseball and football and said he enjoys every second of it.

Coach Strad plans to become the best form of himself possible and is making new changes to his teaching. After sitting down with Coach Strad this past week, he talked about how he feels about his new position as assistant athletic director.

“I feel very excited because this is a very good opportunity for me but also a little nervous because of something new,” he said.

As a student of Coach Strad, I feel he has nothing to worry about and think he will do a fine job as assistant athletic director. Coach Strad puts 110% effort into everything he does, no matter what it is, if it's on the football field, baseball field, or in the classroom.

I understand that trying something new may have some new nerves, and Coach Strad shared his thoughts with me about this upcoming football season.

“I think it will be interesting because of the changes in coaches, but also, I think it will be a new challenge,” Coach Strad said.

Along with coaching changes, many changes have been made at HHA. There have been improvements in security and changes to classrooms, the gym floor, and new advancements in sporting equipment.

“I like the changes. I think we are improving in areas in this school, with a pretty good balance,” Coach Strad said.

It was a pleasure to interview Coach Strad. He was very honest and wanted students to know his impressions on HHA. When asked if there was anything he wanted to tell the students and staff at HHA, he said he did.

“I think we are making great strides in this school, so let’s continue to be the change that we want to see at HHA,” Coach Strad said.

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  • Ansley Puckett

Updated: May 13, 2023

Coach Dani Kern has been teaching at HHA for almost two years as a PE teacher and volleyball coach. When asked about her favorite part of teaching at HHA, she responded,

“I enjoy teaching kids different kinds of sports and how important it is to stay physically active,” Coach Kern said.

She also mentioned that she loves teaching us that anybody can be an athlete, even if they think that they cannot be one. She says it is a joy to know students and what their strengths are.

Coach Kern's alternate option, if she wasn’t a PE teacher, would be an all-time volleyball coach. In addition to being a PE teacher, she has been coaching volleyball for 13 years.

Adding on those 13 years of coaching volleyball, she has played for a remarkable 26 years. For the past two years, she has placed her time and effort into building the Raider volleyball program.

While building the physical skills of the game, she feels it is vitally important to teach her athletes to be mentally tough and prepared.

“Volleyball is just as much a mental game as it is a physical game, and that aspect makes it super exciting to me,” Coach Kern said.

For the past couple of months, some of the students at HHA have been talking about a boys’ volleyball league since the girls have been bragging about how good they are. She has an opinion on the argument.

“I would love to add a boys’ volleyball team, but the only problem with adding a boys’ volleyball team is the fact that they have their season during fall, which is also football season, which makes it extremely difficult to recruit players,” Coach Kern said.

With that exception, there would also be limited gym space with multiple teams playing all at once. Maybe in the future, we could have boys and girls unite and play together on the same volleyball team. Maybe a future mixed volleyball championship is on its way?

The new changes to the gym this year at HHA are remarkable, and Coach Kern has thoughts about it.

“I think the new gym is beautiful, and it rivals any other gym we’ve played in, and I can’t wait to get back in it,” she said.

I think that we all could agree on this. Since the gym is finally finished, we can now focus on some new projects here at HHA.

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