Weekly Message from Head of School
- the lost art of penmanship (Oct. 16, 2018)
- keeping up the momentum (October 9, 2018)
- "Classical" is a Culture Changer (Oct. 2, 2018)
- School Rivalries (Sept. 25, 2018)
- Discipleship (Sept. 18, 2018)
- September 11th (Sept. 11, 2018)
- An Emphasis on Spiritual (Sept. 4, 2018)
- Welcome Back! (August 28, 2018)
I remember learning to write in school, learning to form letters between lines on a paper, with those ascenders (like d and h) and descenders (like g and p). It mattered back then. Do your mothers and grandmothers have beautiful cursive writing but like me, sometimes you cannot read your own handwriting? These days, the time we spend typing and texting may actually be detracting from our ability to compose a legible note.
Trinity is taking the time to teach D'Nealian and require the use of it. D'Nealian is a style of printing that is designed to ease the transition to cursive handwriting. Students begin learning cursive in 3rd grade and are required to use it on writing assignments throughout high school, with exceptions made for some transfer students who never had the opportunity to learn it. Sometimes, prospective parents will ask me at an Information Meeting, "How often will my 2nd grader get to be in the computer lab?" I always take the opportunity to explain the importance of children writing with pencils in their hands. There is a connection between the brain and the hand, and the fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are practiced while the mind is telling the hand what to do. Do you remember making flash cards for study aids? Did the act of writing help you to remember what you wrote? Having a pencil in hand helps one to think. Children learn patience, discipline and the rewards of practice, which will be foundational for everything else children need to learn.
We intentionally do not have computer screen time in the grammar grades. It is an unneeded distraction for our young friends to work on a screen at school and, statistically, it is not shown to improve learning in reading, writing and math. Some of our little ones are better on a computer, iPad or phone than I will ever be because they get plenty of screen time at home and it seems to come naturally to them. And whatever we could teach them will soon be obsolete. Our time is better spent learning to print and to write cursive, and to develop the thought process that comes with handwriting.
In every school year, there are annual biorhythms: August is full of energy, excitement, new uniforms and backpacks, new teachers and classes; May has the energy of celebration of achievement and the anticipation of summer vacations. At certain predictable times in between, there can be sort of a slump, a kind of loss of energy, a case of the "blahs". Early October is one of these times, and as the first energy dip in the new school year, it warrants attention. By this time, the honeymoon is over, the first quizzes have been graded, the first round of colds has hit, Fine arts groups are well underway for rehearsals but no performances yet, and for many students (and parents), school is just school again. At Trinity, we make an effort to remind our students, and each other, that there is much to be excited about and we want to keep the momentum going.
We've had our first pep rally, first service project, our first games against our rival, SCCS (which reveals the amount of energy our students, parents and faculty possess!), our first field trips, and some exciting classrooms activities (see this week's stories and Scenes of the Week for birds, fish and frogs). These are fun things we've done amidst the necessary (dare I say less fun) stuff like standardized testing, homework and SAT prep. We are ramping up for Spirit Week and Homecoming next week and those events help keep up the energy and momentum on campus.
Once we're in November, it seems that we are rolling along at a faster pace as we run towards Grandparents Day, Fall Fun Day, and Thanksgiving break. By the time we hit Thanksgiving break, we will have been in school for 11 weeks with no real break, and we will all welcome some time to rest, enjoy family, and reflect on the many gifts God gives that we are thankful for.
Between Homecoming and early-mid November, we must be intentional about our attitudes and momentum as we may struggle to keep up the energy in the post Spirit week/Homecoming let down. If we are paying attention, we can rekindle those fires, and as we study together, worship together, compete in good-natured House games and competitive sports, serve our community and churches, and spend time with loved ones, we can make it to the next break with a joyful attitude.
The medieval model of classical education is so much more than teaching subjects or skills, or preparing people for the workforce. In fact, in order to be a valuable member of a workforce, it's important to know what's good and true and beautiful. If we prepare good people, they will perform well in life, both personally and professionally. We want to prepare students for college academically but we are more concerned with who they are when they get there. We want to do what our mission says: produce young men and women of virtue, wisdom, purpose and courage...young men and women that colleges want on their campuses, businesses want to hire, parents would want their son or daughter to marry, and who will be raising up the next generation for service to Christ, to our community, and to our country. This is how our little school in Santa Clarita can change culture for the Kingdom.
So how do we develop and educate these young people? Classical education begins with the belief that Christ is sovereign over everything. So He must be integrated into every part of our curriculum and our community. We must recognize His fingerprints on History, as we see how He prepared the world for all that He would do; we see the amazing order of the world God created in math and science. We experience a relationship with Him as we study His word but also as we interact with others in a loving and gracious way - something that students learn on the playground, in group projects, in fine arts ensembles, on the athletic field, and many other venues.
Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric are more than just the classical buzz words that make up the trivium. They are purposeful seasons of learning development, and therefore the tools of learning that we utilize in our school. All subjects have a "grammar" - the fundamental rules and core knowledge of each subject, and young children enjoy the chants, songs and routines that foster this learning. "Logic" is the ordered and logical relationship of particulars in each subject - and 7th and 8th graders are at the developmental stage of asking questions and discovering the how and why of everything. "Rhetoric" is the stage where the grammar and logic of subjects can be clearly communicated. Our 9th-12th graders are learning every day how to speak and write effectively and persuasively.
Trinity has graduated seven classes so far and every graduate has been accepted to a 4-year university. Some of our alumni are in the workforce making an impact. A few have gotten married. Some are engaged to be married. Some are in the military serving our country. Some have come back to teach at Trinity and impart what they've learned on your students. Some are still in college earning their degrees, making an impact where they are. It's very exciting to see who and what our students are becoming. They are a generation of culture changers and they are already making a difference.
USC vs UCLA. Harvard vs Yale. Berkeley vs Stanford. Annapolis vs West Point. And in our little valley, it's Hart vs Valencia and Trinity vs SCCS. Rivalries have a reputation. Mascots being stolen, insults spray-painted on campus and other grudge-related acts. Even without those crazy (and sometimes illegal) pranks, rivalries can be strong! And it is so with ours against Santa Clarita Christian School.
We've had two games recently against SCCS - football and volleyball. And I have found the psychology of rivalry interesting. You might notice that in big college rivalries, there is some similarity between schools. USC and UCLA are both big Los Angeles prestigious universities. Harvard and Yale are both Elite East coast schools. Annapolis and West Point are both military schools who have a similar motivation to produce defenders of our country. For Trinity and SCCS, we are both K-12 private Christian schools here in Santa Clarita. Another element that creates rivalry is the frequency of head-to-head games. We get to play SCCS often and those games are the best attended. Finally, we are pretty evenly matched with them in most sports. These three components (similarity, frequency of meeting, and parity) create energy which fuels intense excitement in the stands.
Rivalries are tradition and they create a feeling of family. When everyone is cheering together, wearing their school colors and rooting for the same outcome, there is a feeling of camaraderie. There is an energy in the stands where students, parents, faculty and alumni are bound together in celebration and competition for events like the Faith Bowl, which create memories and tradition.
Since SCCS and Trinity are both Christian schools, we hope to have a respectful and yet exciting rivalry that honors the Lord. It's fun to be loud and united in competition, but we don't want to lose sight of what we have in common and that's spreading the gospel. It was a beautiful thing to witness the school choirs sing together at the Faith Bowl. It's a blessing to gather on the field or court to pray together before a competition. It's a joy to know that while we play (or cheer) for our school, we are all doing it to the best of our ability for an audience of One!
We look forward to finishing our season with athletic teams at all levels.
It's so special to be in a place where we can intentionally teach our students about their Father and Creator. Under Dr. Dixon's leadership, we are adding an additional layer this year to our spiritual life on campus with the catechism. It's a joy for my soul to witness our students of all ages learning about our Lord. Not only in the classroom, but on the playground, in athletic competitions, fine arts groups, and with intentional times like chapel. With our big kids, we've started our discipleship groups. I started my group with the senior girls last week and it's very encouraging to see how many girls want to be seeking the Lord together on a regular basis during their lunch hour.
We discussed what they would like to use this time for and two things we are considering are Tim Kellar's devotional on Psalms, and a "40-Day Journey" with Deitrich Bonhoeffer, breaking down the Psalms.
Sometimes I get stuck on an author and that happened this summer with two authors. I've been reading Ken Follett - historical fiction is my favorite! I also read a few of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's - "God is on the Cross", "Letters and Papers from Prison", and "The Cost of Moral Leadership".
Another book I recommend is "Do it Scared" by Scott Allan. If you're going to have an impact, you're going to have to put yourself out there. Our kids are doing that on a regular basis. Our football players did it Friday night, Fine Arts students do it regularly, our little people do it when standing up to say their bible verse in class, and our seniors just started their work on their senior thesis. Trust me, every single one of them does that afraid. You build courage while you're doing it.
Today is September 11th and it’s a day of remembrance for our country. This morning we honored our military, first responders and those who lost their lives on this fateful day in 2001. I’m so proud of our Young Americans for Freedom students for their commitment to make this event happen each year. They do a beautiful job!
We founded Trinity in 2001, so it was just a few days after school started with our 28 little people, that we all sat watching the news in horror. I wondered what would become of these young people, what would become of Trinity, what would happen in our country. I could never have imagined what God would do here at Trinity. Seventeen years later, we are thriving. Those little people have graduated years ago, and are finishing up college or have already finished and are working. I have no doubt that some of them will have little people of their own and in a few short years, we could have second generation Trinity students! I continue to be amazed at what God is doing here at our “little school” founded in 2001 in a tiny church on 15th Street in Newhall.
Wally and I were blessed this weekend to attend 2nd Class Midshipman Parents' Weekend at the US Naval Academy, where our son, Ian, is a junior. We were able to sit in on a couple of his classes, attend the Navy vs. Memphis game, and have dinner with the juniors and families in his company. It was a very special time!
All of our students are back on campus this week, after a week of Spiritual Emphasis, team-building, worship, discussion and fun. We are prayerfully moving into the school year, laying all of our people and our facility at His feet. We trust Him to continue to work in and through our people. Join us to pray any time. We meet on Wednesday mornings at 8:00am in the lobby.
I hope you enjoyed your long weekend and, after attending Back-to-School Night, are fully prepared for the first semester of school. Since yesterday was Labor Day, I thought I'd remind you that Labor Day has been an annual celebration of American workers and their achievements since 1894. Average Americans at that time worked 12-hour days, seven days a week just to provide basic necessities for living. Even children as young as 5 or 6 worked in mills, factories and mines! Can you imagine our little kindergarten friends working in mines? You can read more about Labor Day here.
I am very excited for this week for our students as it's an important time in the life of our school, when we carve out time to focus on our relationship with God and with our peers at school. On Friday, our Logic School had their Spiritual Emphasis Day, today our Rhetoric School headed to Forest Home for the rest of the week, and our 4th-6th graders will have a special day on Thursday. Before much time passes at school, we want to remind them how to be good friends, how to build friendships, how to honor God in their actions and choices, and how to grow in their love for God. This sets the tone for the school year, the upper school students enjoy the team-building games, and the grammar school students enjoy their treats and interactive time with Mr. Richardson and me.
I hope you will take advantage this year of the special times with our administrators. We want to be available to answer questions and connect. There are opportunities throughout the year for:
Mornings with Massetto
Checking in with Richardson
Coffee with Caddow
Dunkin with Dr. Dixon
These dates are all on the calendar. You can get to know other parents and get to know our administrators and their hearts for your students and for their work here at Trinity. If you can make yourself available, I highly recommend attending.
One last thing: I invite you to join me and others to pray! We have a prayer group that meets to pray over our school every Wednesday morning at 8:00am in the school lobby and we also have a Moms in Prayer group that will be meeting on Tuesday mornings. Contact Mrs. Strader at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info on that.
I pray blessings on your week!
Welcome back to school Trinity families! I am so excited to be back after a fun and full summer. Wally and I were blessed to spend time with our entire family in Arizona this summer. Our son Ian was visiting from the US Naval Academy and we enjoyed some time at the beach with him. Our girls, Hannah and Lily, played lots of volleyball and basketball while I read several historical fiction novels and Dietrich Bonhoeffer biographies. Our middle child, Hannah, is a senior this year and I'm so excited for her and can't believe how fast time flies.
As we embark on our first full week of school, I'm reminded why I love being here so much! It's the people! Our littlest students to our biggest, parents around campus, and an amazing faculty and staff!
At Trinity, we love our students and we are so happy that they love to be at school. We know that one of the best ways to teach children is to model the qualities we hope they develop. Our teachers are fantastic mentors and role models.
I pray that your family will be blessed this school year by what happens in the classroom, after school, in fine arts, athletics, and at home.