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Classical Christian Education for TK-12th grades

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Weekly Message from Head of School

What Makes an Education "Classical"? (feb. 19, 2019)

At Trinity Classical Academy, we talk about "classical education" at faculty meetings, at Information Meetings and at Trinity U. Sometimes we refer to it at PTF meetings and other gatherings, but it's not unusual to hear a parent ask, "please tell me again what classical education is and how I can explain it to a friend." 

In a nutshell, classical education is a time-tested method of teaching done in three stages - the grammar, logic and rhetoric stages. The stages are reflective of the natural developmental stages of children:
The Grammar phase (K-6th grade) - considered a "Poll-parrot" stage - children are excited about new facts, they like to explain, figure out, relate their own experience and tell stories. They like collections, chants and clever, repetitious word sounds. They easily memorize and can assimilate another language well. 
The Logic phase (7th-8th grade) - considered a "Pert" stage -  students judge, critique, debate, and are critical. They show off their knowledge and want to know the "why?" for most things, the "behind the scenes" for facts. They think and act as though they know more than adults.
The Rhetoric phase (9th-12th grade) - considered a "Poetic" stage - students are concerned with present events, especially in their own lives. They are interested in justice/fairness; they move towards special interest topics. They can take on more responsibility and independent work, can synthesize information; they desire to express their own feelings and ideas and are generally idealistic.

An easy way to understand this is:
Grammar stage - student is a sponge; they want to see the dots all connected and have someone show them how they connect. 
Logic stage - student wants to see the dots, but wants to begin connecting them himself.
Rhetoric stage - student is able to synthesize all he has learned, not only connecting the dots, but producing them as well.

Taking these stages into consideration, and the natural way students learn at these stages, we use teaching methods that correlate with their inclinations. For example, at the grammar phase, there are lots of chants and memorization; at the logic phase, there are research projects and debates. And at the rhetoric phase, there are worldview discussions and written papers. 

With the Trivium as its framework, classical Christian education is also characterized by rich exposure to the history, literature and culture of Western Civilization. Students are immersed in the “Great Books” of our Christian tradition and Western cultural heritage. In the Logic and Rhetoric phase students read fewer “textbooks” and more original source documents and literary works, especially in history and literature. The languages of Western Civilization, especially Latin, are at the core of their academic studies. The arts are evident, not only in Art, Music and Theater classes, but woven throughout Literature and History classes as well. The development of a thoroughly Biblical worldview is an underlying aim of every lesson and class.

You can find a brief synopsis of classical education on our website, so you can understand the basics and share the link with a friend if you have trouble remembering how to explain it yourself.

Seven Good Reasons to Study Latin (Feb. 12, 2019)

Enhanced Vocabulary and Mastery of English
Latin is the root of 60% of our English words. It makes sense, then, that Latin is the surest way to gain mastery over the English language. Latin teaches the student the foundation on which English is built. Latin students actually learn English grammar more effectively and comprehensively in Latin than they do in English grammar class.

Foundation of Romance Languages
Latin is the basis of all the Romance languages including: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian.

Greater Thinking and Learning Skills
Studying Latin enhances a student’s overall learning and thinking skills. Latin requires precision of thought and attention to minute detail. The discipline of learning Latin trains students in analytical and logical thinking skills. Each sentence is an intellectual puzzle that can be solved by the analysis and synthesis of many pieces of information.

Higher SAT Scores
Students of Latin have significantly higher SAT scores than students of other foreign languages. The test results for the Verbal portion of the SAT clearly show the Latin advantage.

Latin in Literature and Historic Documents
The literature and historic documents of Europe and the United States (e.g. Geoffery Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson and John Calvin) contain so many Latin phrases and classical allusions that they often cannot be fully understood and appreciated without a good background in Latin.

Cultural Legacy
Our society’s intellectual infrastructure – its science, philosophy, politics, law, medicine, drama, art – are heavily influenced by the classical world. Reading the classical texts helps us to understand who we are as Americans and members of Western Civilization. Reading the ancient writings of Greece and Rome helps to understand many of the influences that have shaped our culture.

Improved Writing Skills
Latin improves a student’s writing style. Reading and writing Latin is an exercise in brevity, precision and economy. The great classical writers of Greece and Rome (Virgil and Cicero) were incredibly disciplined in their habits of expression. Extensive exposure to them and imitation of their style make students better writers and speakers.

remarks from vision night (Feb. 5, 2019)

Last week at Vision Night, I shared some things that are worth repeating. Even if you attended, perhaps you are not an auditory learner, so you will be blessed by seeing the words in writing. 

Credit for this example goes to Pastor Garrett Craw, Trinity Dad, who captured in a few sentences, the essence of what we are doing through our mission at Trinity:
In 869, in a time of darkness, England’s King Edmund and his Christian army stood against the great pagan, fierce Viking army. He was captured and when he refused to renounce Christ he was then beaten, shot full of arrows and beheaded for his defiant faith. But this one act of defiant faith would be remembered and acted upon and within 300 years the Vikings would no longer bow to Thor and Odin, but to King Jesus through their conversion.  In this current time of growing darkness, the work we are doing here at Trinity is an act of defiant faith – in our halls and on our campus, an emerging generation is taught be to dragon slayers, singing and feasting as we go. May our act of defiant faith echo with thunder a century from now.

I wanted to say those words out loud that night and they bear repeating now, for they pierced my heart and so deeply resonated with my soul, making me want to shout "Geronimo! Amen!" Paratroopers say “Geronimo” when jumping, for that is truly an all in, no looking back scenario. And Amen means "So be it".  I would also add, "Please help us Jesus!" King Edmund’s testimony makes me resolute in the pursuit at Trinity and spurs me, and I believe most in our community, onward, calling us to come together as the Lord’s army for this generation in pursuit of our mission. Defiant Faith!
 
So, how does this defiant faith work with hope? I started my Vision Night message with the story of King Edmund and ended with a quote from one of my favorite giants in the faith, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who addressed faith and hope. He said, "A Faith that does not hope is sick. It is like a hungry child who will not eat or a tired person who will not sleep. As certainly as people believe, so certainly do they hope. And it is no shame in hoping, in hoping boundlessly. Who would even want to talk of God and not hope? Who would want to talk of God without hoping one day to see Him?.... And why should we be ashamed of our hope? We will one day have to be ashamed, not of our hope, but of our miserable anxious hopelessness that trusts nothing to God, that in false humility does not grasp where God's promises are given, that is resigned to this life and cannot look forward to God's eternal power and glory. The more people dare to hope, the greater they become with their hope; people grow with their hope - if it is hope only in God and his sole power. Hope abides."
 
It is this determined hope in God's power and glory that fuels our defiant faith for each day. We march from our homes each day, with our children in tow, some days feeling great success simply because they have shoes on their feet. Every day has its challenges that require some measure of hope and faith. Some days, we recognize our need for Him more than others. Some days, that hope is all we have. Marching forward as God's army is different each day, but one thing is consistent. We are not alone. Please help us Jesus, to be determined in our hope and defiant in our faith.

Be Thou My Vision (Jan. 29, 2019)

Ever since we founded Trinity in 2001, vision has been central to our development and growth. We began with a vision to become a K-12 Christian, classical, college preparatory academy serving the Santa Clarita Valley and beyond. That vision was fulfilled in 2012 when we graduated our first class of 10 seniors. The vision is different than the mission, as the vision can and does change as circumstances change. The mission, however, can remain the same, as ours has. The mission of Trinity Classical Academy is to offer a challenging education grounded in the Christian faith and the classical tradition to produce young men and women of virtue, wisdom, purpose and courage. We have adjusted our vision as we have grown in an effort to accomplish our mission.

Every year we begin the school year with Dedication Night, which is an opportunity to pray and dedicate the year and our faculty, staff and families, to the Lord. We also share some of the logistics for the beginning of the school year and some of the things to look forward to in the first semester. Then at the midway point, after the first semester final exams, we gather for Vision Night. At Vision Night, we do a brief recap of where we have been, celebrate achievements, and then share the vision for the rest of the school year and beyond. It's an opportunity to talk about big picture things like facilities and new programs, as well as to remind families of annual events like the Spring Gala and the Hope and a Future Run. We hear from an alum and from the current student who is the winner of the Oratory contest. Both speeches always inspire me to keep doing what we're doing, as we witness some of the results of a classical, Christian education.

At Vision Night, we always sing "Be Thou My Vision" as it is important that we are all reminded that our vision comes from the Lord, and He not only directs our paths and our purposes, but He IS our vision. He is the One we look to, and look through. We seek to please Him in all that we do and all that we are. From our founding, He has been my guide and through much prayer and perseverance, He guides us still. He has guided us from a tiny school of 28 students to the K-12 program with over 500 students that fulfilled the original vision. And He has guided us through every development, facilities/expansion issue, every new teacher or staff member we hired, every new family that came through our doors, and we know He is guiding us to the next developments that we are pursuing.

He has given us a vision for Trinity and we are pursuing it diligently, in hopes that each of our students will discover their purpose and have a vision for their own lives that they can lay at the throne of Christ and boldly pursue that to which He is calling them.

i have a dream (Jan. 22, 2019)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister, a social activist, a civil rights leader and a Nobel prize winner. Yesterday, our nation honored his life and legacy. He is famous for his non-violent protests and inspiring sermons and speeches. He was the first African American to be named "Man of the Year" by Time Magazine and the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. And he donated the more than $54,000 prize money to the civil rights movement.

In 1964, he joined the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, an event aimed to draw attention to the continuing challenges and inequality faced by African Americans and it culminated in his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, a spirited call for peace and equality that many consider a masterpiece of rhetoric.

He was assassinated in 1968 and after years of campaigning by activists, Congress members and his wife, Coretta Scott King, in 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a U.S. federal holiday in honor of King. Martin Luther King Day was first celebrated in 1986.

There are hundreds of his inspiring quotes that can be found with a simple Google search. They are seen on social media as memes that continue to inspire readers. His top 10 quotes were published in 2016 based on what Twitter said were the most often Tweeted phrases. His words are worthy of repetition, even if only as a small snapshot of the values for which he stood:

"The time is always right to do what is right."

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

"Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude."

 "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?''

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."

I am moved by his example and the many sacrifices he made to stand firm for what was right. He was a true man of God. I'll end with a prayer that he prayed that we can all apply to our lives: "Use me God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself."

A Great Dei (jan. 15, 2019)

I could not be more proud of our Imago Dei students and the teachers who guide and direct them to be all that they can be. This past week, the long awaited "Great Dei" coffee company opened to anxious faculty and staff, ready to support the students and get their caffeine fix.

In 2011, Trinity Classical Academy launched The Imago Dei School (Latin for “image of God”), a unique kindergarten through twelfth grade program for students with learning and developmental disabilities that provides a supportive environment in which students can develop intellectual, academic, spiritual, social, emotional, and vocational skills. 

Last year, the Imago Dei School received a grant to help open two on-campus businesses to be run by our Transitions students, assisted by the Imago Dei high school students and overseen by Imago Dei teacher Mr. Tim Smith. The Transitions students are graduates of the Imago Dei School and are "transitioning" to work and life. The opportunity to run small businesses that are supported by Trinity will help them develop job skills such as customer service and money handling, which will help them gain employment. The hope is that these businesses will become profitable and be an employment option for students who complete Imago Dei's 18-22 year old post high school Transitions program.

Mr. Smith has done an excellent job overseeing the t-shirt screen printing, and helping the students to learn the necessary skills. He has gone along with students on the city bus to Salt Creek Grille, where they are employed, as part of the program with the Department of Rehabilitation, to help them gain job skills and a proper work ethic. After waiting for the back-ordered cappuccino machine, and completing taste tests in December, Mr. Smith has now helped oversee the launch of the Great Dei Coffee Company.

I never cease to be amazed at what God has done through Megan Howell, Tim Smith, and the rest of the Imago Dei team. We all want to see every student reach their full potential in Christ, and it's very exciting to see what God is doing in the lives of these young people. 

Great Dei is open for business Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:30-10:15am. Stop by and say hello, and get yourself a cup o' Joe.

Something New...(Jan. 8, 2019)

As I opened my devotional on New Year's Day, the Word jumped right out at me! Isaiah 43:19 - I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. I started the new year with a reminder not to worry about the changes and resolutions and challenges and all of life's concerns that I will face this year. He is in control and we can take comfort in knowing that the changes we face are all under His authority!

There is nothing wrong with making a New Year's resolution but we have to know that we cannot do anything new and different unless we submit ourselves to the authority of God. In God is in the Manger, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he is quoted as having given a New Year's sermon where he said, "At the beginning of a new year, many people have nothing better to do than to make a list of bad deeds and resolve "from now on..." - but, how many such "from-now-ons" have there already been! ...they believe that on their own they can make a new start whenever they want. But...only God can make a new beginning with people...therefore, people cannot make a new beginning at all; they can only pray for one. Where people are on their own and live by their own devices, there is only the old, the past. Only where God is can there be a new beginning."

Yesterday, we were blessed to join together with all of our staff and worship, take communion, pray, and be inspired to begin the new year with enthusiasm for all that God is calling us to do. We enjoyed a talk from Dr. John Mark Reynolds, Founder, CEO and President of the St. Constantine School - a fully integrated K-16 classical, Christian program in Houston, TX. I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Reynolds when he was at Biola University, running the Torrey Honors Institute, which he founded. Several of our upper school faculty attended Torrey Honors when in was in charge there. Reynolds spoke to us about Virtue and honored and esteemed what we are doing here at Trinity, as we seek to fulfill our mission which includes producing students who possess virtue.

As we began school today, we started with praise to God in our Doxology, where all students, teachers and staff came into the hallways to sing together, as we always do at the beginning of each week. We had a chapel service as well, which set our minds on God and helped us to prioritize what is most important. We do our work to the glory of God - students, teachers, staff and administrators alike. And we trust in Him that He is doing something new and we can trust in His goodness and love even as we do not know His plan.

I pray daily for Trinity and our families and know that many of you do as well. I am blessed to be on this journey with you as we begin 2019 and thank you for your faithfulness to Trinity.

celebrating redemption (Dec. 18, 2018)

Tis the season to celebrate, and in this country we celebrate in grand style with decorations and food and gifts and family. At Trinity, we celebrate with concerts, food, friends and fun. But what are we celebrating really?

We were blessed to enjoy a magnificent Christmas program on Thursday. Seeing the fruit of the hard work put in over the last few months was truly amazing. All of our music groups, from chimes to choirs, and from guitar to the orchestra - it was all on full display, and all to the glory of God. Our Grammar School students, under the direction of Mrs. Jennifer Brown, put on a spirited show "Jingle Bell Beach" which shared the Good News in a creative, inspiring and most excellent way. 

Faculty and staff are enjoying a season of celebration on campus as they coordinate Christmas parties in classrooms, Christmas sweater contests, and parade around with their Christmas Mugs. On Wednesday, we will enjoy a Christmas luncheon together and on Friday, with great anticipation, we will have our alumni join us for a Christmas brunch. I look forward to seeing each of them and hearing about how they are doing. Some of them will join us early for a panel discussion to bless our juniors and seniors as they share their experiences transitioning from Trinity to college and the work force.

In all of this celebration, it's easy to lose sight of what we are celebrating. Even when we sing Christmas carols and talk about baby Jesus, and the manger, and the Christmas story, it's easy to see it as just a story without seeing the purpose of the story. It's important to remember that what we're celebrating is the reason Jesus came, the reason He left His throne in heaven, the reason he condescended to be born a human baby, and that reason is redemption. Redemption is rescue. He came to rescue us.

In Bonhoeffer's advent sermon in a London church in 1933, he told a story of a mine disaster:

     You know what a mine disaster is. In recent weeks we have had to read about one in the newspapers. 
     The moment even the most courageous miner has dreaded his whole life long is here. It is no use running into the walls; the silence all around him remains...The way out for him is blocked. he knows the people up there are working feverishly to reach the miners who are buried alive. Perhaps someone will be rescued, but here in the last shaft? An agonizing period of waiting and dying is all that remains. 
     But suddenly a noise that sounds like tapping and breaking in the rock can be heard. Unexpectedly, voices cry out, "Where are you, help is on the way!" Then the disheartened miner picks himself up, his heart leaps, he shouts, "Here I am, come on through and help me!" I'll hold out until you come! Just come soon!" A final, desperate hammer blow to his ear, now the rescue is near, just one more step and he is free. 
     We have spoken of Advent itself. That is how it is with the coming of Christ: "Look up and raise your heads because your redemption is drawing near."

He has rescued us, He has given us hope, He has set us free. He is so much more than a baby in a manger. He is our Savior, our God, our Deliverer! HE is the reason we celebrate!

A season of mystery (Dec. 11, 2018)

In this culture of "holiday trees", Santa Claus, and commercialism, it is truly a blessing to work in a place where we can talk about Jesus. I love the magical stories of Santa Claus, and I also love giving gifts and decorating our tree. The lights, decorations, Christmas cookies, shopping and all the busyness and beauty of the season come upon us all, whether believers or not. At this time of year, it's especially exciting to be a believer. At Trinity, we have a good time celebrating! We have Christmas concerts, an Alumni Breakfast, the Christmas Mug Club for the faculty and staff, classroom parties, Christmas sweater contest for our Rhetoric School, and our staff also enjoys a Christmas luncheon before going on break. It's busy and it's a blessing to celebrate! It's a special blessing to celebrate with other believers who enjoy the frolic and fun, even while having a reverence for our Savior and a joy about sharing His story.

It's a story we've read and heard many times in our lifetime, a story we've shared with our children, the greatest story ever told - the story of a baby born in a manger, a baby who was God incarnate. And therein lies a great mystery. The mystery of Jesus will always be such this side of heaven. Dietrich Bonhoeffer states, "That...is the unrecognized mystery of this world: Jesus Christ. That this Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter, was himself the Lord of glory; that was the mystery of God. It was a mystery because God became poor, low, lowly, and weak out of love for humankind, because God became a human being like us, so that we would become divine, and because he came to us so that we would come to Him."

As we continue celebrating this season at school this week and next, I pray we won't get too busy to remember the mystery of the Christ child and our mission to share the good news.

A Season of Waiting (dec. 4, 2018)

At Trinity, we often feel like we are in a "crazy" season, or having a jam-packed day, or week. At this time of year, there is much anticipation for Christmas. There are parties and concerts to attend, there is a break from school, there are college students coming home, or grandparents visiting, there are gifts to buy, goodies to bake, and vacations and celebrations to plan. We are all anticipating, expecting and waiting. Advent is a season of waiting. 

"Advent" is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning coming. It is the season that lasts four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Christians around the world celebrate the coming of Christ in a manger in Bethlehem and also await the second coming of Christ in the clouds as the judge of the world. Advent calendars, advent wreaths and advent candles are all traditional symbols that helps us to remember for what and for Whom we are waiting.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of my favorite authors and theologians, wrote letters from prison during the Christmas season. Some of his letters and sermons have been compiled into a devotional called God is in the Manger. A letter to his fiancee on December 1, 1943 states, "I think we're going to have an exceptionally good Christmas. The very fact that every outward circumstance precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but now that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious."

We look forward, we expect, we wait. We work hard while we wait for our break; we love others while we wait for the One who loved us first; we celebrate that He came in a manger while we wait for Him to come back for us.

Embracing the Crazy (Nov. 26, 2018)

On any given day at Trinity, with over 560 students, and over 150 faculty and staff, things are bound to happen! There are so many wonderful things that happen every day, in the classroom, at recess, on the athletic field and at music rehearsal. But there are also so many things crammed into every given day that it can feel a little "crazy" at times. 

Fall Fun Day is a day that expresses on the outside what I sometimes feel on the inside. It's wild, it's crazy, it's busy, it's fun, and it's a special day. It's not a day that I can hold to a tight schedule or worry about the details. I've chosen instead to "embrace the crazy". I'm able to do that because it's a day that appears crazy on the surface, but is really a well-oiled machine that is organized by our amazing PTF and teachers; it is manned by over 100 volunteers, and it is super fun! The PowderPuff football game and cheer is something to which the Upper School students looks forward. It has been a crazy competition from the beginning but each year we learn how to make it more controlled (i.e. professional referees) for the safety of our students.  We've been able to do that without taking out any of the fun!

You may have heard me talk about the "genius of 'and' vs. the tyranny of 'or'" and there are many ways that the "genius of and" expresses itself at school. Many of our faculty and staff wear many hats. They are parents and teachers, coaches and volunteers, administrators and friends, administrative team and mentors, serious about school and serious about having fun! We have music 'and' athletics; there are students to whom academics comes easy 'and' students who need some extra support; we have serious work to do 'and' we hope to make it fun as often as possible. The Imago Dei School is perhaps the best example of the "genius of and" - we can have a private Christian school AND we can have a school for children with special needs, even if no one else is doing it.

Fall Fun Day is the perfect way to end our first trimester of hard work with an especially fun day. It's an opportunity to see the "genius of and" at work and to embrace the crazy. We're just returning from a week long Thanksgiving break and I am ready to work hard and inspire the students to work hard for the four weeks we have until Christmas break...one day at a time, with determination and perseverance, trusting that God has good things in store for us as we put Him at the center of our days and prepare for the season that celebrates our Savior.

My Teacher's Heart (Nov. 12, 2018)

As the Head of School for Trinity, I am encouraged on a daily basis by a multitude of things. It is a great privilege to partner with our parents, faculty and staff to serve the next generation.

Before we founded Trinity, I was a teacher at a local junior high school. Teaching was what I had always wanted to do. As a little girl, I played school with all my stuffed animals and my dog Sox, using all of my dad's lesson plans, grade books and textbooks. I loved playing school and pretending to be a teacher. I cannot believe I actually get to do it for a living and life's calling.

When we first started Trinity, we had only K-2nd grade, so in only our second year as a school, we had third grade and needed to begin teaching Latin. I learned just enough to teach Latin to our first class of third graders. I taught Latin for three years before we were able to find a good Latin teacher and I put my full focus on administrative duties and growing our school, but I missed teaching. A few years ago, I filled in for our Government teacher one day and the passion for the subject and the students grabbed a hold of my heart and I didn't want to let go. Soon I took over the class on a regular basis and I’ve been teaching Honors Government to our seniors ever since. 

Yesterday, at our all school Corporate Time, my heart overflowed. Seeing our students present something attached to their learning and our curriculum inspires, encourages and blesses my teacher’s heart. It is the greatest gift in the world to see children learn and catch fire to an idea or concept.

To have my own 12th grade class present, with zeal and passion, something that we have been learning in Honors Government overwhelmed me with gratitude. They presented the Preamble to our U.S. Constitution and I was proud to know that it is bigger than just memorizing a few paragraphs to present in public. They learned our Preamble, they committed it to memory, they will be able to recall it, and they know they are responsible for helping to secure the blessings of liberty for themselves, and to pass to the next generation things they have learned at Trinity. Sometimes I can't believe what Jesus, by his grace, allows to happen through our school. 

I am blessed to be a part of Trinity's faculty, grateful for our community, and privileged to serve our students.

 

veterans day (nov. 5, 2018)

Next week is Veterans Day and while we always celebrate it at Trinity, this year will be a new and exciting kind of celebration. It is the 100th anniversary of the first Armistice Day (which we now call Veterans Day) and we will combine it with Grandparents Day. We will honor our veterans, active service men and women, and first responders. Many of our grandparents will be honored in those categories.

The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was the armistice that ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and their opponent, Germany.

Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors military veterans; that is, persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. It coincides with other holidays, including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I; major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The United States previously observed Armistice Day. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

On Monday, November 12, Trinity will be hosting a combined Grandparents Day and Veterans Day celebration.  We will welcome grandparents, family, friends and community to enjoy a Corporate Time presentation, Fine Arts presentations during the Grand Brunch, and classroom visits.

In the evening, at 7:00pm, we are blessed to have Colonel Bartolomea, USMC, speak to us.  The last time we had a military speaker (General Berger), it was amazing and our families loved him and what he had to say. I am super excited to have the Colonel speak, as I know he will be awesome too!

Grandparents Day is an important day in the life of our school and Veterans Day is an important day in our country and I am very pleased to be combining the events into one day, so we can celebrate and honor those who are so deserving.

grandparents day (oct. 30, 2018)

Grandparents Day is a holiday created by federal proclamation in 1978, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter. It is celebrated each year on the first Sunday after Labor Day, so it falls between September 7 and 13.

Most family holidays are associated with traditional activities, but Grandparents Day has no real traditions to claim. This leaves some families wondering whether they should celebrate Grandparents Day at all and, if so, how they should do so. At Trinity, while we do not celebrate on the day that it is noted on the national calendar, we have made a tradition of celebrating our grandparents!

The purpose of Grandparents Day, according to the original proclamation, is "to honor grandparents and to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children." Notice that the celebration flows two ways: Grandchildren honor their grandparents, and grandparents honor their grandchildren.

At Trinity, we fulfill that purpose and enjoy seeing the love and celebration flowing both ways. We choose a day each year to invite Grandparents and special friends (since we know that not everyone has Grammies and Papas that can attend) to visit school and see what the students are learning. It's a sort of  "open house" where they visit classrooms and attend a "Corporate Time" presentation, where each grade demonstrates something they are learning, so guests get a snippet of what is going on in each grade level. Fine Arts groups play during the Grand Brunch for the enjoyment of all.

As in the purpose of the original proclamation, we honor our grandparents. We thank them for all they've done to support and encourage their grandchildren in their Trinity education. Some grandparents even help financially with tuition and/or extracurricular activities. We thank them with a lovely morning, designed to celebrate them and to share a little bit of school with them.

This year, for the first time, we're combining our Grandparents Day celebration with Veterans Day, which is on November 12. Many Trinity grandparents are veterans themselves and we can give them double honor as we thank our veterans for their service. Many people have Veterans Day off work, so we hope that by holding our celebration on this day, more families and friends will be available to attend.

I look forward to sharing more about Veterans Day and how we integrated it with Grandparents Day next week.

Homecoming (oct. 23, 2018)

Saturday was our annual Homecoming, and, as always, I love welcoming back our alumni – these former students are people that I have known for some or all of their childhoods, and I grew to love them all. I love seeing their faces, hugging them, and hearing how they're doing in their respective schools and careers.
 
Homecoming (or hoco, or HoCo) is a tradition in high schools and colleges in our country. It's named for the coming-home of the alumni and is tailor-made for the social customs of the given schools and reflects the values of the school. Some schools hold dances and elect Kings and Queens, some have entire weekends or weeks devoted to their alumni. There is a certain amount of school spirit and nostalgia attached to the event that alumni can reflect on as they visit their old stomping grounds.
 
For us, the focus is on the people. We want our alumni to want to come back, to want to visit with us, to participate in traditions like the alumni/faculty volleyball smackdown, to feel special and to enjoy what we still have to offer to them. This year, in response to some of their feedback, we gathered a panel of Trinity parents who are professionals that stand out in their field. Many colleges offer "distinguished alumni" panels where alumni who stand out in their field come back to speak to the students. For us, our alumni are still too young to be "distinguished" in their careers yet, so we invited parents to be on our panel. The alumni had exclusive access to the "Alumni Networking" panel, where they could hear from Trinity parents like T Meyer (Wealth Management Advisor), Chileshe-Nkonde-Price (Cardiologist), Mark Williams (Composer) and Andrew Wilson (Architect). They were also able to ask questions and network with these professionals.
 
We know our alumni value the relationships they have at Trinity, both with their peers and with the faculty and staff. They come back to see each other and to enjoy being "home" at Trinity, where they are known and loved. They got to enjoy food and fellowship, friendly competition on the volleyball court, some professional networking, a Varsity Volleyball Playoff game, and a football game, where they were honored and appreciated. I pray they enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed having them home.

 

Besides being a time for our alumni, it is a fun day for our whole Trinity community, as we plan the event to include students of all ages and their families. We had bounce houses and breakfast in the morning and we enjoyed watching the faculty and alumni play volleyball. Many headed to The Masters University for a Varsity Volleyball playoff game in the afternoon and then reconvened at Fillmore High school for the football game, lots of yummy dinner and snack options, Senior recognition, a Grammar School banner competition and some exciting cheerleading for girls of all ages, as our younger friends joined our Varsity Cheerleaders for the night. It was wonderful to see so many of our families enjoying the day together!

the lost art of penmanship (Oct. 16, 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.

keeping up the momentum (Oct. 9, 2018)

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.

"Classical" is a Culture Changer (Oct. 2, 2018)

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.

School Rivalries (Sept. 25, 2018)

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.

Discipleship (Sept. 18, 2018)

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.

September 11th (Sept. 11, 2018)

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.

An Emphasis on Spiritual (Sept. 4, 2018)

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

IDS Connection
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 danistrader@msn.com for more info on that. 

I pray blessings on your week! 

Welcome Back! (Aug. 28, 2018)

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.