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The Perennial

Pinewood-Oakwood Mixers: Connecting Two Communities

Sam Jezak
Scence from the dance floor at the 2023 Pinewood-Oakwood mixer.

   At the beginning of last school year, most students hadn’t even heard of the school Oakwood. Now Pinewood has had two mixers with Oakwood and plans to continue to host more.

   Pinewood hosted one mixer each semester last school year with Oakwood, which is unofficially Pinewood’s sister school. Oakwood, founded 39 years after Pinewood’s establishment, is located in Morgan Hill. It was originally established in 1998 as a pre-k through eighth grade, and their high school was started in 2005. Pinewood’s connection with Oakwood originally stems from Michelle Helvey, the Head of School at Oakwood and President of Pinewood Scott Riches’ cousin. 

   “Oakwood was founded and patterned after Pinewood’s roots,” Scott Riches said. “Similar to Pinewood, Oakwood has a family atmosphere and strong sense of community. Generally speaking, Oakwood is similar to Pinewood in mission, culture, values and philosophy.”

   Originally, Kyle Riches, Director of Student Life at Pinewood, wanted to host a dance with Oakwood to provide an opportunity for students to meet new people to simulate a bigger school experience.

   “I think it’s just cool to be able to find students who are in a similar private school situation and just like trying to meet new people who you probably wouldn’t connect with because everyone who goes to Oakwood doesn’t live [in our area],” Kyle Riches said.

   Pinewood sophomores Marie Redondo and Dhruv Gupta enjoyed the past two mixers and are hoping for more in the future.

   “[Mixers] are different from other dances because both Pinewood and Oakwood’s dance traditions are mixed together,” Redondo said. “[Oakwood’s traditions] like getting together in a big circle with everyone during slow songs [are brought to the mixers].”

   Gupta enjoys meeting and connecting with similar students. 

   “Oakwood mixers are special because it gives us a chance to interact with a community that we are so connected to but don’t interact with that often,” Gupta said. “I am excited to meet people who have the same interests in the same circumstances as me but through a fun setting like a dance.”

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