Weekly Message from Head of School
- A Fresh Perspective (March 24, 2020)
- We have an opportunity...(Mar. 17, 2020)
- a community of hope (march 10, 2020)
- The Antidote for Educational Disarray (March 3, 2020)
- The Beauty of Service (Feb. 25, 2020)
- why do we teach rhetoric? (feb. 18, 2020)
- what in the world is the progymnasmata? (feb. 11, 2020)
- Why study the great books (Feb. 4, 2020)
- faith and reason (Jan. 28, 2020)
- light drives out darkness (jan. 21, 2020)
- a classical mission (Jan. 14, 2020)
- Why it Matters so Much (Jan. 7, 2020)
- catching excellence (Dec. 17, 2019)
- what is the quadrivium and what does it have to do with fine arts? (dec. 10, 2019)
- classical education is growing across the country (Dec. 3, 2019)
- a response to tragedy (nov. 19, 2019)
- the next generation (nov. 12, 2019)
- Traditions, Old and New (Nov. 5, 2019)
- Gratitude (Oct. 29, 2019)
- joy, joy, joy (oct. 22, 2019)
- how trinity has influenced my midshipman (oct. 15, 2019)
- What is the "win"? (Oct. 8, 2019)
- Why Read the Great Books? (Oct. 1, 2019)
- part of a family (Sept. 24, 2019)
- What is Classical Education? (Sept. 17, 2019)
- The Myth of Classical, Christian Education (Sept. 10, 2019)
- Spiritual Practices at Trinity (Sept. 3, 2019)
- first day in our new home (aug. 27, 2019)
Blessings to you Trinity families as we venture into week #2 of our Remote Learning journey. These last few weeks have increased my gratitude for our precious community of Christ followers. Our entire learning community, from our littlest of TK friends to our most seasoned faculty and parents, has responded with a spirit of creativity, perseverance, grace, diligence and great humor. It is a very trying time of unknowns and we are navigating what seems to be constant change.
I remember thinking in January that one of the big challenges for the year would be navigating Trinity's graduation being the same day as my son Ian's graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy. And now we don't yet know what graduation will look like for either school. Trying times like these give us new perspective. I'm grateful for the Lord's promises in these seasons of new perspective, bringing us to our knees, trusting him in every season, seeking gratitude and joy in all things, even when we are afraid. One of my favorite things to recall when I'm afraid is to go ahead and "do it afraid". We don't need to be paralyzed by fear; we need to move out, trusting the Lord in all things.
Although unexpected, I'm grateful to have all of my children in their beds at night, as Ian and Hannah have both returned home from college. Wally, Lily and I are enjoying our family of five again. We are playing card games at night and watching favorite movies. Playing family games has reminded me of my competitive spirit. When playing Dominoes, Hannah said, "Mom is going to make us play this game until she wins!" On the basketball court, even with some extra grace from Ian, not only did I lose at PIG, I was the first one knocked out. Hopefully, I'm gaining a better perspective about competition as well. We also enjoyed a little sidewalk chalk art; I felt like on some level I had my 7-year-old, 4-year-old and 1-year-old back again. It was kind of surreal. I'm also playing my cello a little more, although I don't think my family is as grateful about that. Our dog Ody is living his best life - going on lots of family walks.
I hope in the midst of this time all our families are able to experience unexpected gratitude and joys, even though you might possibly be a little afraid. We are praying for all of our families. In particular, we are praying (and perhaps you can join us in praying) for our parents on the front lines as health care professionals and first responders. Additionally, we are praying for our families that are affected because they have small businesses or work in the entertainment industry. Please let someone on our team know if your family is having a particularly tough time and you have a specific need or prayer request.
We are trusting in Jeremiah 29:11 - I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. I'm trusting the Lord has a bigger plan we can't see and is working all things together for His good.
This is certainly an unprecedented time for our school, just as it is for our country. The response of the public is varying from panic buying in preparation for quarantine to going about normal business wondering why everyone is making such a big deal out of a virus...and everything in between. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, you have to agree that our country has never seen such a thing before and we have to respond. The question is, how do we respond?
As believers in Christ, I believe we first have to embrace the opportunity to respond with compassion and love for others and a belief that Christ has not fallen off of His throne and He is still in charge. We have an opportunity to get creative in how we do school, how we function as a family, how we attend church, how we get exercise, how we shop for groceries, how we connect with others, how we work, and how and what we pray about. And perhaps we should reverse the order of that sentence and put prayer first, because our connection with our Lord is going to influence how we respond to the rest of those things. We can be grumpy and frustrated, or we can find the good opportunities in the midst of the many issues we are facing. We can pray and worship, and maybe watch an extra sermon online, since there are a plethora of them, and many of them are dealing with anxiety and responding in faith to this national crisis.
Our teachers have been hard at work yesterday and today, creatively determining how they are going to teach their students remotely. Upper School will look different than Grammar School. In our preparation and training the last two days, as a team we are holding close to our school verse, Proverbs 9:10 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Remembering the truth of that verse brings peace and comfort. Additionally, we cling to Philippians 4:6-7 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We will stay in touch with families via email, Google classroom, videos, etc. Please know that I, along with our Principals, am praying for our entire Trinity community as we respond thoughtfully and prayerfully, as God calls us to do. Certainly, it won't be perfect, but it will be thoughtful and we will do our best to honor God and care for our families throughout this national emergency.
School is fundamentally a place to learn. But more than that, it is a culture and a community. The average American student goes to school for about six and a half hours a day for 180 days a year, or about 1,170 hours. Since our children spend so much of their life at school, it would make sense that that place would be not only a place to learn, but a place that makes them feel safe and happy. It makes sense to have teachers who truly care about their learning and about who they are as people.
At Trinity, we are blessed to have a culture of learning, caring, and loving God and others. One of the biggest blessings we've had since starting Trinity 19 years ago is the addition of the Imago Dei School. Having students with special needs on campus has changed our community. We've become more compassionate and understanding. We've become more considerate of how others learn and how socializing with peers is different for some people.
The mission of the Imago Dei School is to offer students with learning and developmental disabilities hope and a future in a Christ-centered, special education setting within the vibrant culture of Trinity Classical Academy to produce young men and women of virtue, courage and independence.
We appreciate having a school that is inclusive of students who learn and navigate social situations differently. We learn from them every day and we love being a part of their community and their journey of hope. This weekend, we got to see hope in action....literally. The action was the Hope and a Future Run. Hundreds of people of all ages showed up at West Creek Park for a 1K/5K/10K run/walk to benefit the Imago Dei School. It was a huge success in so many ways. We raised a lot of money for IDS, but perhaps the larger success is that of seeing our entire community love and support their peers in Imago Dei.
I was blessed beyond measure to witness our Trinity community, and many in our larger Santa Clarita community, run, walk, jog, stroll, and dog-walk the paseo path toward a Hope and a Future. We want to serve more children in our community who have special needs and desire an education that supports them in their mission to become young men and women of virtue, courage and independence.
One has to have empathy for the public schools these days. They are expected to do everything: prepare students for college or vocational technical jobs, enable both brighter and slower students to excel at their respective levels, inculcate the "right" values, teach proper sexual behavior, teach students to think critically, raise the self-esteem of students, discipline children, prevent them from turning to drugs, alcohol, or suicide, teach a wide-ranging curriculum, create racial, sexual, and gender understanding and harmony, win ball games, and do it all in a manner that is pleasing to the students so they will not be bored or discouraged. They are indeed doing yeoman’s work. In spite of these grand expectations, most government schools are not quite sure just what their ultimate mission actually is supposed to be. In the midst of a host of bugle commands, they are unsure which way to charge.
In an age of cultural rootlessness, moral relativism, religious pluralism, social disintegration, and future uncertainty, not to mention massive budget cuts and 40 students to a class, how can we expect anything other than educational disarray? Unstable times are a call for Christians to return to the time-honored theological foundations of education.
In education, Christians have too often seen the Bible either as a book to be studied as a separate subject, i.e. Bible class, or as a devotional book. Christian education must teach not only Bible details, but systematic biblical theology. From that theology, Christians must develop a worldview that applies biblical concepts to every area of life. Thankfully, this has been done numerous times in the history of Christianity. The historic forms or examples can be found where Christians produced educated, biblically literate, discerning students. The historic form can be called classical Christian Education.
Classical Christian education is designed to produce a student with the mental discipline and ability to read a challenging book (even one with more than one hundred pages), write discerning, thoughtful essays on the book, present lectures or debates on the contents of the book, and evaluate its contents in light of a Christian worldview. And here is the big secret – students love to learn in this way and find it stimulating and inspiring! Shallow, secular humanistic curriculum, multiple choice tests, computer games and entertaining films cannot accomplish these incredible results. Classical Christian education has produced exceptional students throughout the centuries and will continue to do so in our present age.
As human beings, we all want our lives to matter. We are all looking for purpose. We go after promotions and positions in leadership so that we can make a difference. As Christians, we know God has a plan and purpose for each one of us. Many spend time in prayer asking God what it is that He's calling them to do.
As teachers and parents, we encourage our kids to pursue excellence, go to college, get a good job, and achieve success, in hopes that they, too, will make a difference. There’s nothing wrong with gaining wealth or influence, but those things alone won’t change the world and they aren’t what we were made for.
We were made to build the church (Ephesians 4:11-13). God made every person with unique talents, personalities and skill sets. He wants us to use them to serve Him, and perhaps the way that we serve Him best is by serving others. At Trinity, our teachers serve students and their families every day. It's part of their calling. Our staff is integral to the function of the school, serving students and parents, as well as the faculty and administration. Without our staff, our teachers could not be effective.
Yesterday, I saw a beautiful example of service as our Parent-Teacher Fellowship (PTF) group gave back to Trinity. PTF is service in action, as they serve our needs on a regular basis, connecting parents and teachers and making things fun, yummy and beautiful. This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and they are showing their appreciation in spades. This morning they laid out a beautiful spread with fresh fruit, bagels, donuts, and more. As faculty and staff members came to the Celebration Center, the ladies were serving up fresh crepes, with a yummy variety of toppings available. They also brought in Swirl Coffee to make fresh coffee, lattes, tea and smoothies to be served to those who could come in, or delivered to classrooms for those teachers who were unable to break away.
The ladies of PTF truly are a beautiful example of service to the body of Christ and our Trinity community. I am grateful for their many efforts throughout the school year and their hospitality blesses us immensely.
Why rhetoric? The answer is simple: rhetoric was an essential part of a liberal education from the days of Aristotle to the 20th century. A well-educated man was expected to write and speak effectively and persuasively and students devoted several years to studying how to do so. Today, our society is becoming increasingly knowledge and information based; the ability to communicate effectively and persuasively is more essential to success than ever before. Yet we’re spending less and less time teaching our young people the very subject that will help them navigate this new world.
What Is Rhetoric? Rhetoric is simply the art of persuasion through effective speaking and writing. For many in our modern world, the word “rhetoric” has a pejorative meaning. They see rhetoric as the manipulation of truth or associate it with an overly picky concern with how things are said over what is said and associate it with slick politicians or advertising hucksters. But from ancient times up through the early 20th century, men believed learning the art of rhetoric was a noble pursuit and considered it an essential element of a well-rounded education. They saw rhetoric as a vital tool to teach truth more effectively and as a weapon to protect themselves from those who argued unfairly and for nefarious purposes.
In short, a mature, educated student should know how to discuss and debate with vigor, intelligence, grace and civility. Sadly, most never learn this indispensible skill. In the early part of the 20th century, a shift in education occurred. Degrees which prepared students for specific careers replaced a classical, liberal arts education. It is rare for today’s college students to get any formal rhetoric training and it is nearly unheard of at the high school level.
Learning rhetoric gives a student the tools to take part in constructive debate at school, eventually at work and ultimately in all walks of life. And the invaluable benefit is your son or daughter will be nobody's fool.
Finding the word "gym" in the middle of Progymnasmata, one might think it has something to do with gymnastics or with working out at a facility with weights, classes and equipment. Gym comes from the Greek "gymnasion" which means "public place where exercises are practiced." So, exercise is inherent in the word, but in this case, we are not talking about physical exercise, but rather about writing and rhetorical exercises.
Trinity uses the Progymnasmata, an ancient methodology that teaches students to become eloquent, persuasive writers. These exercises were taught in ancient Greece and Rome to educate boys in the art of speech writing. The Progymnasmata (Greek for “preliminary exercises”) begins, for all Grammar School students, with the simple re-telling of fables and short narrative stories.
From there, students gradually move on to exercises in simple exposition and persuasion. Each exercise features a fixed outline and carefully specified subject matter. The more advanced exercises of the progymnasmata combine elements of the earlier exercises to create increasingly complex, effective compositions. By the time students have reached the advanced progymnasmata, they have developed clarity of expression, beauty of style, excellent compositional habits, and the ability to write confidently for a variety of purposes.
Our seniors use all that they've learned over their time at Trinity from these various writing exercises to craft their Senior Thesis arguments and prepare their speeches. It is a true culmination of our Progymnasmata writing program and our Humanities curriculum in the Rhetoric School.
At a Classical school, the student actively engages with the ideas of the past and present — not just reading about them, but evaluating them, tracing their development, and comparing them to other philosophies and opinions. There’s a very practical way to engage in this conversation of ideas: Read, talk about, and write about the Great Books.
The study of Great Books allows the past to speak for itself, combining history, creative writing, philosophy, politics, and ethics into a seamless whole. This Classical goal is a greater understanding of our own civilization, country, and place in time, stemming from an understanding of what has come before us. The student who has read Aristotle and Plato on human freedom, Thomas Jefferson on liberty, Frederick Douglass on slavery, and Martin Luther King on civil rights will read Toni Morrison’s Beloved with an understanding denied to the student who comes to the book without any knowledge of its roots.
People who question or even scorn the study of the past and its works usually assume that the past is entirely different from the present, and that hence we can learn nothing worthwhile from the past. But the poets bear witness that ancient man, too, saw the sun rise and set, was possessed by love and desire, experienced ecstasy and elation as well as frustration and disillusion, and knew good and evil. The ancient writers speak across the centuries to us, in many instances more directly and vividly than our contemporary writers, and they still have some thing to say to us.
We must seek what is most worthy in the works of both the past and the present. When we do that, we find that ancient poets, prophets, and philosophers are as much our contemporaries in the world of the mind as the most discerning of present-day writers. In fact, many of the ancient writings speak more directly to our experience and condition than the latest best sellers. I think Henry David Thoreau might have said it best, when he remarked, “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”
Many people doubt and question the Christian faith, and often they cite science as being a primary reason for their doubts. It's a common misconception that science doesn't support Christianity. However, sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and and the Christian faith.
Faith and reason are mutually reinforcing and this is why at Trinity, we have a "Theology and Science" department. We are purposeful about uniting these two disciplines. Schools have Science departments, and some schools Theology departments, but I've never heard of a school combining the two into one department and teaching the subjects in a united and comprehensive way.
The Chair of our Theology and Science department, Dr. Mark Phillips, is passionate about science and even more passionate about Jesus. He is a favorite and beloved teacher at Trinity, combining his knowledge with a sense of humor that engages students in the classroom and keeps them on their toes. He has a varied and interesting background, including a season as a stand-up comedian. He was a biochemist and a skeptic and he set out to disprove the Bible and found that the scientific rationale for a Creator were too strong to deny.
The physical universe, the realm of nature, is the visible creation of God. An honest study of nature - its physical, biological, and social aspects - can prove useful in a person's search for truth. Properly understood, God's Word (Scripture) and God's world (nature), as two revelations (one verbal, one physical) from the same God, will never contradict each other.
At Trinity, we say that "our students graduate knowing how to read well, write well, speak well and think well; know what they believe and why they believe it." Our Science and Theology department contributes to that critical thinking as students study our world through a Christian worldview. The goal is that they leave here, having made their faith their own and enter college (and life) able to defend that faith.
A long weekend is a blessing to enjoy - an extra day off to rest or to spend with family or enjoy an activity. But it’s meaningful to reflect on the reason the government has chosen to make a particular day a holiday. Yesterday, our nation honored the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Everyone seems to recognize his “I have a dream” speech and it’s covered in history books. But of course, there is so much more to the man.
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.
A brief read on him will tell you how he fought for what was right. He wasn’t just a speaker; he acted on his beliefs. He was arrested for acts of civil disobedience 29 times. He was even jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956 for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone. He wasn’t always treated fairly but he kept fighting for what he believed was right. He fought for equality and justice and he preached about love.
In fact, one of his most simply profound quotes is “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” We, as Christians are supposed to be “the light of the world” as Jesus taught us. Our light and love is meant to drive out darkness and hate. It seems that Jesus and MLK were on the “same page”, so to speak, regarding loving others.
A quick internet search of MLK Jr. quotes will produce an abundance of profound insights. Related to education, a meaningful quote is “the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”
At Trinity, we value critical thinking; we want our students to think deeply. We use Socratic dialog in class regularly to help students to think and to express their thoughts. More importantly, we value godly character. In some of our past communications, we have said, “it’s not what college your child goes to; it’s who she is when she gets there.” We want our students to be people of virtue, wisdom, purpose and courage. We want them to be people that you would want to know, would want to work for you, would want your child to marry. Education is more than learning facts; it’s a becoming. Our students are in the process of becoming people of character, and people who think and reason well. It seems that Trinity is also on the same page with Martin Luther King, Jr., regarding the meaning of true education.
Trinity’s mission has remained unchanged since its founding and we are always looking for creative ways to incorporate our mission into our everyday learning.
Trinity’s mission 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. Those last four words, we refer to as our “pillars” and each year we are are focusing our learning on one of the pillars. This year’s pillar of focus is Wisdom. We select our verse for the year that pertains to the pillar as well. This year’s verse is Proverbs 9:10 - “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Our chapel teachings address our verse, and therefore our pillar, as well.
Upon our return from break last week, Dr. Andrew Selby (Humanities faculty) taught our chapel message and he brilliantly wove Wisdom in with a story about St. Boniface and classical education. He spoke about how St. Boniface was born to wealthy parents and had a great education that would mark a rich and safe path for him in the dark ages of the early 700s. And while the saint applied himself to his studies, his purpose and plan was different than that of his parents. He chose to serve Christ by evangelizing the Germans. This was a risky pursuit since the Germanic tribes were pagans, worshipped many gods, and tended to be violent. But he persisted in evangelizing and then teaching the newly converted Germans how to read the Bible and how to worship God. He used his rhetorical skills to preach the gospel. Ultimately, he was martyred when he and his band of believers were attacked and killed while traveling and teaching.
Dr. Selby helped students to connect the fear of the Lord, which is wisdom, and using education for the glory of God. He urged students to use their classical education for more than just getting good grades and good test scores and eventually getting into a good college, getting a good job and buying lots of good stuff. He pointed out that a classical education will prepare students to read the Bible well, and in doing so, learn to fear the Lord and trust in His wisdom. Secondly, he spoke about the negative results of fearing people, and what they think of us, more than we fear the Lord. We need to be more concerned with disappointing God than we do with disappointing others.
I was encouraged by Dr. Selby’s message, reminding students (and all of us really) that we can use our education, and our life, to honor God if we are intentional about it. We must read and meditate on God’s Word to gain wisdom and insight and to know who God is and who He wants us to be. And when we trust Him, and seek to know Him and please Him, more than we want to please others, then we find true purpose.
There is a quote from Christian author Shauna Niequist that makes me think of our alumni:
Sometimes we have to leave home in order to find out what we left there, and why it matters so much.
For myself and my own family, I have found that it's the WHO that matters so much! It's the WHO that is left behind when someone leaves home. As two of my own children have graduated from high school and left home, I have missed them and they definitely left a hole bigger than the size of their empty rooms.
Our alumni have also left their homes and families just as God has designed for all people to do. But coming home is a very special thing.
I absolutely love when our alumni come back to visit. They seem to love returning home to remember what they have left and whom they have left. And who wouldn't? It's wonderful to visit those people that matter so much to us! Many of our alumni joined us for breakfast before the break, and they got together for an alumni connection event. They visited their families and friends. And for the first time this year, we enjoyed some alumni vs varsity games. Our alumni beat our varsity teams in boys soccer and boys basketball. Our CFO, John Brooks, who is also Trinity's first basketball coach, enjoyed seeing all his athletes again, and he humbly says he didn't coach them this time, but just facilitated a rotation. But the young men recall that he coached them up from their youth and they remember the skills he taught them and they were therefore able to play as a team, and as a family. On the other hand, our girls varsity basketball team overshadowed a smaller and less experienced alumni team. As the years go on, I'm confident that the alumni ladies will come back stronger and be able to compete with our varsity girls.
As our faculty and staff returned to school yesterday for our "Inspiration Day", we enjoyed teaching on the subject of wisdom, led by Grammar School Principal, Mr. Richardson. He taught from Proverbs 2:1-22 and we reviewed together how we are to seek God for wisdom and how it is a protection for us from evil. We also took communion and prayed together. The purpose of the day is so much more than what schools traditionally call their "In-Service" days - where school business is covered and reviewed. We do cover school business as well; we reviewed safety protocols for possible intruder, earthquake and fire drills. We talked about our Strategic Planning process, and more. But more importantly, we gathered together as a community. We shared meals, we enjoyed fellowship, we worshipped, learned and prayed together. We prepared our hearts and minds to receive our students today.
As we enter this year, and this decade, I trust everyone is rested and renewed and ready to tackle the rest of the school year! There is much to look forward to and I'm looking forward to sharing with you on Vision Night so mark your calendar for January 27th!
Famous football coach Vince Lombardi is quoted as saying, "Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence." At Trinity, we know as Coach Lombardi knew, that we can't be perfect. Only Jesus lived a perfect life. But we know that we can pursue virtue, wisdom, purpose and courage in an excellent manner. We know that we can create an excellent piece of music or art, present a speech, play or thesis with excellence. We can write a paper, be a friend, do a job, play a sport, all with excellence.
Last week, we witnessed a beautiful Christmas program presented by our Grammar School students. The sixth graders and Mrs. Brown worked very hard and practiced many extra hours to prepare for the concert. And the result was excellent! The gospel was shared in a fun and creative way, and not just on the stage. Mrs. Brown brought the love of Christ to life in our community when she coordinated with volunteer parents to collect shoes to give to the homeless. The goal was 300 pairs, and our community exceeded that with about 800 pairs of shoes. That is most excellent! (more details on this here)
This week we look forward to the Fine Arts Christmas Program, which I trust will also be excellent. Have I said excellent enough times? Our musical ensembles have practiced for many hours at school and at home. They will lead us in a beautiful celebration of the birth of our Savior, singing and playing praises to our King.
Then on Friday, a few of our alumni will be here to be a part of our Annual Alumni Panel, answering questions about their college experience, work experience, and how Trinity prepared them for both. They are people you want to know, you want to work with and spend time with. I'm very excited to see them and hug them, and hear how they are doing. I encourage you to come to the Alumni Panel if you are able. It promises to be excellent!
It's very exciting to be part of a community that works so hard at what God has called them to do. And the results are not perfect but they are indeed excellent.
As a classical school, we talk about the “trivium” which consists of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Our three levels of school correspond with a child's cognitive development stages and they build on each other. Knowing the “grammar” of a subject, the basic information and skills is foundational to the next stage, where students learn how to logically think about subjects. So grammar is used in logic and then logic is used in rhetoric, when students learn to communicate effectively and logically what they know and are learning about a subject.
But what is the quadrivium? The quadrivium comprises arithmetic (number), geometry (number in space), music (number in time), and astronomy (number in space and time). These subjects complete the preparatory work of the trivium. Educationally, the trivium and the quadrivium impart to the student the seven liberal arts (essential thinking skills) of classical antiquity.
While some within modern education choose to push music to the side, classical education recognizes that it is foundational to learning and developing thinking skills. In this Christmas season, music is on full display for all its truth, beauty and goodness to be seen. Kindergarten had their performance last week and it was adorable and excellent! Children learned praises to their Savior, and presented them beautifully, with a little bit of choreography, displaying rhythm and timing along with the melodies.
Friday night, music was on display at the Barnes & Noble book fair. The Rhetoric School Choral Ensemble sang for all the guests and they were truly outstanding. We were also blessed by a wonderful performance by our advanced strings group.
This week, the grammar school is in full rehearsal mode for Thursday’s concert, which I anticipate will also be excellent. Each year, it is a demonstration of the broad capabilities of music to enrich this season of celebration. Next week, we look forward to the fine arts concert, with its many musical ensembles. Students of all ages will perform what they’ve been learning this semester. Orchestra, guitar, jazz ensemble, and choral ensemble will showcase the beautiful culmination of hours and hours of practice, both at home and in their groups.
To learn music (number in time) is to learn an order. Notes are played or sung in an order with other notes to create a piece of beautiful music and when played or sung with others, a harmonious work. Music is part of classical education and training, and it’s a lot of work. But it’s also a lot of fun and the end result is to be shared for the edification of all and the glory of our Creator who made us to worship Him.
Those who assume that educational methods used for millennia can be dismissed within a generation forget that time is the best laboratory, especially regarding human behavior.
It has taken modern educators around 150 years to disassemble an educational system that took thousands of years to refine and establish. The classical method was born in ancient Greece and Rome, and by the 16th century, it was used throughout the Western world. This system educated most of America’s founding fathers as well as the world’s philosophers, scientists and leaders between the 10th and 19th centuries. What other period can claim so many advances in science, philosophy, art, and literature?
For education to be effective, it must go beyond conveying fact. Truly effective education cultivates thinking and articulate students who are able to develop facts into arguments and convey those arguments clearly and persuasively. Parents all across the United States are recognizing that classical education adds the dimension and breadth needed to develop students’ minds. Rigorous academic standards, a dedication to order and discipline, and a focus on key, lost subjects is fueling the rapid growth of the nation’s classical schools.
There is no greater task for education than to teach students how to learn. The influence of progressive teaching methods and the oversimplification of textbooks make it difficult for students to acquire the mental discipline that traditional instruction methods once cultivated. The classical method develops independent learning skills on the foundation of language, logic, and tangible fact. The classical difference is clear when students are taken beyond conventionally taught subjects and asked to apply their knowledge through logic and clear expression.
In 1947, Dorothy Sayers, a pioneer in the return to classical education, observed, “although we often succeed in teaching our pupils ’subjects,’ we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think.” Beyond subject matter, classical education develops those skills that are essential in higher education and throughout life – independent scholarship, critical thinking, logical analysis, and a love for learning.
Last week, our city, Santa Clarita, made national news as the latest to suffer the tragedy of a school shooting. It occurred at Saugus High School, which is only a few miles away from our campus.
First responders made it to the scene in two minutes! We were informed and we did what other area schools were doing, and went into lockdown status as a precaution. We followed our safety protocols, communicated to parents, and went about the business of caring for people. Many of our families have connections with Saugus High School students and their families – whether it’s through church, sports teams, youth groups, boy scouts, neighbors or friends. Some of our families even have students at Saugus as well as here at Trinity. To say it hit close to home is an understatement.
As a TK-12 school, we also wanted to be cautious to protect our little ones from information that they don’t need to know, at least not from us. We let parents know that we were not going to communicate about the day’s events but leave that to the parents to share as much information as they felt was appropriate for their children. While other schools closed on Friday, we held school, but sent an email letting parents know that they should feel the freedom to keep their children home if they felt it was appropriate to do so. But we knew that at school, we needed to respond to the tragedy.
We began the day as we begin every week, with prayer and praise. Dr. Matthew Dixon, Administrator of Spiritual Life and Co-Curricular Programs, led the time as our entire school gathered in the hallways and Promise Circle to pray and to sing the Doxology. Then the grammar school went to class to go about their day. We held the upper school students longer for some directed prayer time, and as always, all of the teachers and administrators are caring for our students and available to talk, to listen and to pray.
A common question after incidents like this is “how do you feel?” During times when emotions are understandably high and we don’t know how to feel we must remind ourselves of what we know. We can ask ourselves and one another how we feel repeatedly, when what we really need is to ask ourselves and one another what we know.
And so, what do we know? We know that bad things happen. We know that tragedies are sad and sometimes evil. Unfortunately, we know that things like this aren’t new. And to give us a little context we must remind ourselves of where it all began...Genesis 3, the first sin. Adam and Eve believed the lie that God didn’t know what was best and that they knew how to best be satisfied. And from then on, in our fallen world, sin continued. The first murder was Cain killing Abel, his own brother.
We remind ourselves of what we know and then what? That doesn’t change the pain, sadness or fear. More than what we know, it’s vital to consider WHO we know. We know Jesus—the author, perfecter, and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We must look to Him. When we’re lost, when we have fear or doubt, when we hate what this world is like – it’s a reminder that there is something greater. Someone greater.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33
When we decided to hold school, we wanted to be thoughtful and intentional about how we addressed the tragedy and how we were going to care for each other and process the feelings that are sometimes overwhelming. We took time to review our first Catechism question from this school year, which was: What is our only hope in life and death? The answer: That we are not our own but belong body and soul both in life and in death to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.
Our only hope of peace in the midst of a world that isn’t peaceful is to seek after Jesus Christ, for He has overcome death and has overcome the world. He is no guarantee that we won’t face heartache and tragedy. But He does guarantee that we won’t face those things alone.
At Trinity, we remind ourselves and teach our children that we are the hands and feet of Jesus. We are not in this life alone. We are here for each other. We are a community of faith. We love Jesus. We love each other. That’s what we know.
At Trinity, we talk about investing in the next generation, pouring into their hearts, minds and souls so that we can achieve our mission that ultimately produces young men and women of virtue, wisdom, purpose and courage. Inviting the previous generation to our campus to witness a Trinity education in progress is truly one of my favorites days of the school year!
Yesterday was a lovely day and was excellent from start to finish - set up, parking/shuttling, greeting our guests, hospitality, corporate time presentations, classroom presentations, the Grand Brunch, fine arts concert, The Giving Tree, and finally, a very efficient clean up! I'm grateful to the many hands who had a part in making the event wonderful.
I was inspired by many of gracious comments I heard from our special guests -
"I wish I could have gone to school here"
"So blessed our grandchildren are able to be at this school"
"What a blessing this school is"
"Your team is excellent"
"What a beautiful day - thank you!"
"So grateful my grandchildren attend this school"
The number of comments shared were many and overwhelmingly positive! I love seeing students enthusiastically sharing their work, introducing their teachers and sharing their love for their grandparents and guests with all of us at Trinity. It's a truly beautiful thing to witness three generations walking our hallways, learning in the classrooms, and sharing the Lord's bounty in a wonderful meal together.
Very soon, we will be taking our Thanksgiving break, and it's an awesome reminder to be grateful to God for all that we have at Trinity. Days like Grandparents Day are at the top of my gratitude list.
This past week, we witnessed not only the continuation of a long-standing tradition, but also the start of a new tradition. When Trinity launched its Upper School in 2006, the Buddy system was a student-initiated program designed to enrich the lives of all the students through the individual investment of older students into younger students.
The program expanded each year and has seen us adjust from pairing specific classes (older to younger) to utilizing the House system. Now held three times a year, the Buddy times are set apart in the midst of our school calendar to allow for the vital work of communal friendship, mentorship, and enrichment. At its heart, it remains one of the most vibrant examples of independent student leadership and relational mentoring in our school.
The goals of the program have been well thought out and communicated to our faculty and staff:
- develop rich relationships over the course of the year between Grammar school students and their Logic and Rhetoric school Buddies
- cultivate student leadership through service, maturity, and a love for their younger peers
- model compassion, joy, and friendship for our younger students
The new event we enjoyed on Friday night was our very successful Rhetoric School Hoedown! What a blessing to see students come together and enjoy good, clean fun! Our big kids were line dancing, square dancing, and taking pictures. They enjoyed sliders, mac n cheese, popcorn and s'mores. We sold 135 tickets to the event, which is about 75% of our Rhetoric School, so that is awesome!
As with all of our events, we learn how we want to make things even better for the future, so I cannot wait to see what next year brings for our new tradition.
In the wake of the fires in the Santa Clarita Valley, I'm very grateful to the Lord for keeping all of our families safe on Friday and over the weekend. Several of our families and faculty were evacuated, but by the Lord's grace, all were able to return to their homes over the weekend. We continue to pray for the safety of all of our families and team members as well those in the surrounding areas.
Our community is such a gift from the Lord and truly an example of the Lord's goodness and beauty. I cannot imagine being anywhere else. I have daily moments of gratitude as I experience the Lord's joy through our students, parents, faculty, staff, grandparents and friends on campus. It is a privilege to serve with this community to help produce young men and women of virtue, wisdom, purpose and courage.
Hebrews 12:28 (ESV) - Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.
Joy is the word of the day. Pure joy is what I witnessed and experienced Saturday at Homecoming. Welcoming so many of our Trinity Alumni home always brings me great joy. Seeing so many of our younger students come to participate in the banner contest and our older students filling the student section, and parents volunteering to make events happen - it's all a beautiful picture of community.
We of course had the football players, coaches, parents and cheerleaders that are a part of every football game, but on Saturday, we had many Grammar School girls who had attended a cheer clinic join our Varsity Cheer team on the sidelines. We had many more volunteers to feed our families and alumni and to facilitate lawn games. We had faculty come out to play volleyball against alumni. Our faculty is genuinely interested in catching up with our alumni and look forward to seeing them. Our Trinity family was enjoying a wonderful reunion.
This year's half time was my favorite so far. We introduced our alumni in attendance by class as they joined us on the field and then we posed for a group picture. I always feel like they are all my children and I'm gathering up my chicks for a family photo. Then, the Houses had a tug-o-war where the Rhetoric School students and Alumni from each House competed against each other. House spirit and competition continues beyond graduation, and the celebration of a win is exciting for both current and former students.
The "cherry on top" of this fantastic event was that Trinity won the football game 50-28!
There are so many people that took a role in making this event special, and if I tried to thank them all, I fear I'd miss someone, so I will just say thank you to each person in our Trinity community for taking your little (or big) piece of Homecoming and doing it with excellence, with love and with JOY!
The last four Columbus Day holiday weekends, Wally and I have gone to see Ian, our oldest, now a “Firstie” (or senior First Class midshipman) at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. This year Lily was blessed to join us.
The weekend is usually attached to a few school events parents can partake in with their "Mids" but mostly it is an opportunity to connect with, encourage, and pray with and for our son. We also enjoyed a lot of hugging and feeding him real food.
As a First Classman, Ian is preparing for step one of his Senior Capstone, which is like Trinity’s Senior Thesis. The first part is a Leadership/Ethics panel, taking place at the end of this month. The second part is a thesis paper connected to a theme based on his service selection, which he will know at the end of November.
For the Leadership/Ethics panel he will spend the day with Naval and Marine corps officers, USNA alumni, and his peers, discussing various leadership and ethics issues and how to respond to them.
We talked about how this portion reminded him of the many Socratic discussions that he participated in at Trinity. He recalled discourse over meaningful and noteworthy topics and questions, seeking what is true, good and beautiful. He spoke of the things he read at Trinity that might influence his thoughts for the upcoming panel and the leadership experiences he has had at the academy that have influenced him.
The fact that these conversations occurred over food and while buying a suit for the event blessed my mom’s heart all the more. Wally and I continue to be grateful for Ian’s experience at Trinity that informed his heart, mind and soul to know and seek a life of virtue, wisdom, purpose and courage. Those continue to be integral pillars impacting him now as he is transformed for what the Lord will call him to in service of our country and leading other men and women.
The longer Ian is removed from his time at Trinity, we sense a continued and growing measure of gratitude from him for his learning experience – the “how, what and why” of his learning, as well as his teachers, coaches, and community of parents and friends who influenced and encouraged him. He has sought to emulate them at USNA in his continued pursuit of virtue, wisdom, purpose and courage, all of which he will need, and can speak to, for his upcoming Senior Capstone.
Last week, I enjoyed the opportunity at Coffee with Caddow to meet with parents to check in and answer questions, as all of our administrators do on a regular basis. One dad asked me for the “elevator pitch” for how to explain classical, Christian education, and how would we know if it’s a “win”, meaning what are the benchmarks to determine if we are successful in our mission?
Classical education is not new, but it has experienced a bit of a rebirth in the last 30 years or so, after progressive modern education has been the societal norm for many decades. Therefore, it requires a new explanation of how grammar, logic and rhetoric phases mirror the phases of child development and therefore facilitate learning in a very natural way. It’s intentional and it includes educating students in the Great Books, Latin and the history of Western civilization, cultivating hearts, minds and souls toward virtue. These are all things missing in public education. Even more important is that God’s Word, and the pursuit of Him, are weaved throughout our school day, in all subjects and activities. Our teachers disciple and mentor our students.
So, how do we know when we win? How can we know when we are succeeding at this thing called classical education? Parents around the table began sharing the ways they believe we are succeeding in our efforts with our children, spiritually and academically, in big and small ways:
- Seeing a child with a contrite and repentant spirit apologize to a friend on the playground
- Witnessing students being kind to other students, in particular students unlike themselves, and perhaps especially students in the Imago Dei School
- Friendships built and maintained over the course of many years
- Children of all ages demonstrating the ability to speak and present information – beginning with bible verses, progressing to character presentations in our living history museums, and culminating in our senior thesis presentations (which I highly recommend you attend)
- Acceptances to a variety of colleges, large and small, religious and secular
- Relationships students have with their teachers – this lasts long after they graduate from here
- Seeing the courage displayed by students, as they take on something new – be it a new instrument, a new sport, or a new academic challenge
- High standardized test scores / high SAT scores
- Hear from our alumni panel – this event happens right before Christmas. We have alumni who are in college and talk about how prepared they are for higher education, and we also have alumni who are in the work force who speak to how a Trinity education has prepared them for college and for life.
Our mission statement ends with “…to produce young men and women of virtue, wisdom, purpose and courage.” I witness this daily on campus and am regularly visited by alumni who demonstrate that they have these attributes. This is where I see God’s purpose for my own life manifested. Starting Trinity Classical Academy with only 28 little people, I had no idea what would happen or if it would succeed. God has richly blessed us and our families. I am so grateful and filled with joy to say I do believe the Lord is allowing us to bless the next generation.
And yet, despite the desire to succeed when it comes to our children and our school, a statement from Mother Teresa reminds us to remain humble. She said, “we are not called to be successful but faithful.” We faithfully do what it is God is calling us to do. We are blessed to have successful results. But we cannot measure success solely by the results; we must remember that our success, our “win”, is in the faithfulness to our calling as educators and as parents.
At a classical school, the student actively engages with the ideas of the past and present — not just reading about them, but evaluating them, tracing their development, and comparing them to other philosophies and opinions. There’s a very practical way to engage in this conversation of ideas: Read, talk about, and write about the Great Books.
The study of Great Books allows the past to speak for itself, combining history, creative writing, philosophy, politics, and ethics into a seamless whole. This classical goal is a greater understanding of our own civilization, country, and place in time, stemming from an understanding of what has come before us. The student who has read Aristotle and Plato on human freedom, Thomas Jefferson on liberty, Frederick Douglass on slavery, and Martin Luther King on civil rights will read Toni Morrison’s Beloved with an understanding denied to the student who comes to the book without any knowledge of its roots.
People who question or even scorn the study of the past and its works usually assume that the past is entirely different from the present, and that hence we can learn nothing worthwhile from the past. But the poets bear witness that ancient man, too, saw the sun rise and set, was possessed by love and desire, experienced ecstasy and elation as well as frustration and disillusion, and knew good and evil. The ancient writers speak across the centuries to us, in many instances more directly and vividly than our contemporary writers, and they still have some thing to say to us.
We must seek what is most worthy in the works of both the past and the present. When we do that, we find that ancient poets, prophets, and philosophers are as much our contemporaries in the world of the mind as the most discerning of present-day writers. In fact, many of the ancient writings speak more directly to our experience and condition than the latest best sellers. I think Henry David Thoreau might have said it best, when he remarked, “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”
One of my favorite things about Trinity is the feeling of being part of a bigger family than just the Caddows. Many of our faculty and staff have children who attend Trinity, so there are moms and dads everywhere. They look out for their own children, friends of their children, students they teach, and really, any student they run across in the hallway or outside. They support the endeavors of the students here, whether it's by attending a a play, a concert, an athletic event, and sometimes even an event outside of Trinity.
Trinity athletic teams often describe themselves as family. Close friends feel like family. The drama class, producing a play together, often develop a familial closeness. And there are many more examples in clubs, Houses, discipleship groups, fine arts, and more.
Saturday was one of those special days that I saw family in action! The fruits of the labor of many was on display for all to see! Besides the obvious months of preparation of our Football team and Cheer team, we saw so much more. We saw tailgating - lots of tailgating. This took the cooperation of many parents and students to pull off well. The competition between classes (9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades) made for some good food and good-natured challenges posted on social media leading up to the big day. Students got together at houses and made banners for all the football players and cheerleaders. The student section prepared by not only wearing white, but also bringing the powder to make it a true white-out. Many families, with students of all ages, came out to the first home football game to show their support and enjoy the camaraderie of a night under the lights at College of the Canyons.
I was blessed to witness more family fun when I headed over to Masters University to watch my daughter Hannah (college freshman at Life Pacific University) play volleyball. I entered the gym to see many Trinity faces - the Trinity volleyball team, faculty, parents and alumni. They all were kind to come and watch Hannah play with her college team. They came, not out of obligation, but because they genuinely care for Hannah and wanted to be an encouragement to her. This is what family is about. Many of our alumni express their appreciation for being welcomed when they return, and feeling like they are home. They feel loved by our faculty and staff, and by some of the older students who remember them from their time at Trinity. Hannah was moved by the great turnout of support from her "fans." I was moved too!
We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We are a family for eternity. We are united by common beliefs and a common affiliation at Trinity. Like a family, we can't be at everything for everyone, and we don't agree on everything, but we love each other and we have a lot of fun together!
Classical education is like a very large museum with many beautiful, wonder-filled rooms that could be studied over a lifetime. It is a long tradition of education that has emphasized the seeking after of truth, goodness, and beauty and the study of the liberal arts and the great books. What are the liberal arts? They are grammar, logic, rhetoric (the verbal arts of the trivium), arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy (the mathematical arts of the quadrivium). This approach to education also includes the study of Latin. The classical approach teaches students how to learn and how to think.
What makes classical education so effective? It is largely because of its approach to how and when students are taught. Regardless of their learning style, children learn in three phases or stages (grammar, logic or dialectic, and rhetoric), known as the trivium. In the grammar stage (K-6), students are naturally adept at memorizing through songs, chants, and rhymes. If you can get children in this stage to sing or chant something, they will remember it for a lifetime. In the dialectic or logic stage (grades 7-8), teenaged students are naturally more argumentative and begin to question authority and facts. They want to know the "why" of something—the logic behind it. During this stage, students learn reasoning, informal and formal logic, and how to argue with wisdom and eloquence. The rhetoric stage (grades 9-12) is naturally when students become independent thinkers and communicators. They study and practice rhetoric, which is the art of persuasive speaking and effective writing that pleases and delights the listener. Again, it is this approach to teaching students based on their developmental stage that makes this approach so very effective.
It is precisely this kind of education that has produced countless great leaders, inventors, scientists, writers, philosophers, theologians, physicians, lawyers, artists, and musicians over the centuries. Classical education never really disappeared, but it did diminish starting around 1900 with the advent of progressive education. In an effort to restore this most proven form of education, the liberal arts tradition has been being renewed and expanded again over the last thirty years. More than 500 classical schools have started during that time, and tens of thousands of families are benefitting from the classical approach to education.
As tens of thousands of parents across the country choose classical, Christian education for their students, many more are still left with questions. Unfamiliarity with the classical method seems to have given rise to several common misconceptions. Lets take a look at a common myth.
Myth: Classical Education was fine for a time gone by, but now we need modern education in a modern world.
Fact: Classical education teaches students facts, provides them with logical tools to use those facts and perfects the student’s ability to relate those facts to others. This fundamental skill-set is more valuable today than it has ever been. Classical education helps students draw original, creative, and accurate conclusions from facts and then formulate those conclusions into logical and persuasive arguments. Regardless of our modernity, these timeless abilities to think well, read well and communicate well, are truly the most valuable of all educational outcomes.
It has been said that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. Much of modern education seems to look at history through the prism of the present with historical events colored by current ideology and a political correctness that distorts history and even our present-day society. To understand our modern world, a classical approach emphasizes the rich timeline of human history and how events from the ancient to the recent, affect and shape our modern world.
Science and technology are taught in classical schools through classical methods, with a much broader scope and depth to the discussion. Many wonder if the classical method is applicable in our modern, technological age? The technology we have today was invented, in large part, by the classically educated. The groundwork for so many modern technological achievements, from the very basics of scientific study to modern engineering methods, was laid within the last 400 years when classical education was the most common form of excellent education.
Classical education teaches students the timeless skills of thinking, reasoning, logic, and expression. The subject matter is as up-to-date as that found in any modern government school. There is however, an added depth and dimension, through the time-tested Classical method, which has simply been lost in contemporary schools.
Last week was our first full week of school and was jam-packed with information. As our students settled in, parents attended Back-to-School Nights for both grammar and upper schools, as well as the first PTF Meeting, which is always helpful to inform our community. At Dedication night, we prayed over the school, teachers, and students and got our focus on our Lord. Now it's time to make sure our students' focus is where it needs to be so they are ready for learning.
To that end, we emphasize the spiritual. We do this in several ways: catechism questions, doxology, chapel, spiritual emphasis events, in our daily curriculum, and even on the playground. The catechism question for the first two weeks of school is: What sort of Redeemer is needed to bring us back to God? The answer: One who is truly human and also truly God. Reciting truth in question and answer form allows students to study and learn theology through memorization. This daily practice helps take students through foundational parts of biblical teachings consistent with our curriculum.
If you are able to stay after drop-off on Monday mornings, come in for a few minutes and enjoy the Doxology. All the students come into the hallways, recite the catechism question and answer, and sing the doxology. It's a beautiful sound, hearing all of our students, little and big, lifting praise to God. It's a beautiful way to start the school week!
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 not only our on our relationship with God, but 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 Friday. 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.
Finally, the pillar of virtue we are focusing on for 2019-20 is Wisdom. This year's school verse reflects that focus. Proverbs 9:10 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Our spiritual practices at Trinity are intentional. The questions we respond to are consistent with our Statement of Faith and focus only on primary doctrine. We want our students to form a perfect balance of biblical theology, practical ethics, and spiritual experience in their hearts and minds. As I say in our Information Meetings, we want students to know what they believe, why they believe it, and be able to communicate it well.
Every year, since I was a child I've looked forward to the first day of school. There is always anticipation for what is new! Since we opened Trinity eighteen years ago, each year has held new promise and exciting opportunities. We've been on different campuses; we've been on multiple campuses at once. For 10 years, we've been on this campus, sometimes in one building, and sometimes with the addition of portable classrooms.
This year was a huge milestone for us and I have not been so excited to start school since I was in the beginning. This year, we own our home which means we no longer need to wonder where we will do school; we just get to expand and grow and learn here in this place the Lord has given us.
On Thursday, our first day of the 2019-20 school year, we began as always with an all school chapel, but this year was also a celebration of what God has done and re-dedication of our building and our land to our Lord and to the mission He has given us.
Following is a recap of some of what I shared on Thursday, in case you missed it, or you just want to hear it again.
Today we give thanks for the Lord’s great faithfulness and provision – he has always provided for our school – In September of 2001 we opened our doors with 28 little people Kindergarten thru 2nd grade, 26 families and 3 faculty and staff at Valencia Open Bible Church on 15th street in Newhall – the entire facility being smaller than our current Kindergarten play space. We are so grateful to our Founding Families, who, said “yes” 19 years ago to an idea. An idea of a Christian, classical school that would shape the hearts, minds and souls of children, seeking to know noble ideals - the true, good and beautiful – hopefully leading to a “virtuous” life through the pursuit of virtue, wisdom, purpose and courage.
I invited any founding families who were present to come forward and said, "We recognize you for your courage and faith – not sure why you all said “yes “, but so grateful you did! Thank you! Look what your faith has led to!"
From 15th Street we went to the Little Light Preschool on Apple Street, and the Seventh Day Adventist Church also on Apple Street, taking field trips each day with students back and forth between campuses for PE and Chapels – even going back one year to 15th Street for 3 campuses! Now in our current facility, which we have called home for 10 years, by the Lord’s grace, can truly call “our home”. We are now blessed to serve over 560 students TK – 12th grade, our friends in the Imago Dei and Libertas Preparatory School – 404 families from 87 churches and over 130 faculty and staff.
We are so grateful to our entire community – those present and those not able to join us, for their generosity in time, talent and resources over the many years. They have invested countless hours of prayer, service and faithfulness to our mission of serving the next generation for the Kingdom. Our permanent home includes our building, nine acres of land, and the ability to expand in the future. Our children now, and the generations to come, can grow like the Psalmist says – A tree firmly planted by the rivers of the Lord’s living water – so they can bring forth fruit in season that will not wither! And in Hope, fruit that reflects a life that pursues virtue, seeks wisdom, lives with purpose and is courageous for their God.
Our children, because of all of you, will know the faithfulness, generosity, investment and commitment of the generation before them, and they in turn will know to do the same for the generation that will follow them. Thank you!
- the final stretch (june 4, 2019)
- military appointments (may 28, 2019)
- Finishing the Race (may 21, 2019)
- celebrating the arts (may 14, 2019)
- The Key to Excellence (may 7, 2019)
- Blessed by Special visitors (Apr. 30, 2019)
- community service at trinity (apr. 23, 2019)
- lifelong relationships (apr. 16, 2019)
- The Joy of a Healthy Debate (Apr. 9, 2019)
- welcome back (Apr. 2, 2019)
- Ciao from Italy (Mar. 19, 2019)
- A Hope and a Future (Mar. 12, 2019)
- A Totally Tubular Talent Night (Mar. 5, 2019)
- the art of appreciation (feb. 26, 2019)
- What Makes an Education "Classical"? (feb. 19, 2019)
- Seven Good Reasons to Study Latin (Feb. 12, 2019)
- remarks from vision night (Feb. 5, 2019)
- Be Thou My Vision (Jan. 29, 2019)
- i have a dream (Jan. 22, 2019)
- A Great Dei (jan. 15, 2019)
- Something New...(Jan. 8, 2019)
- celebrating redemption (Dec. 18, 2018)
- A season of mystery (Dec. 11, 2018)
- A Season of Waiting (dec. 4, 2018)
- Embracing the Crazy (Nov. 26, 2018)
- My Teacher's Heart (Nov. 12, 2018)
- veterans day (nov. 5, 2018)
- grandparents day (oct. 30, 2018)
- Homecoming (oct. 23, 2018)
- the lost art of penmanship (Oct. 16, 2018)
- keeping up the momentum (Oct. 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! (Aug. 28, 2018)
Class of 2019 Baccalaureate and Graduation, Disneyland, 8th grade promotion, receiving and signing yearbooks, textbook return, awards, and celebrations have been our students' lives the past couple of weeks. Today we had the Olympics and picnic, and tomorrow we will promote our 6th graders to Logic School and say goodbye to all of our young friends until August.
BUT, there is so much still going on this summer! Many of our young friends will attend summer camp or summer sessions at Trinity. Many of our Upper School friends have camps, academic opportunities, volunteer efforts and club activities that they are looking forward to. Many will go on family vacations, make trips to the beach and/or the pool to beat the SCV's summer heat, and enjoy some rest, relaxation, and extra time with friends and family, homework-free. The Caddow Clan is looking forward to time with family and friends.
There will be some minimal school work as each student in 6th-12th grades has a reading assignment to complete and Varsity sports hold practices over the summer so lots of students will spend some of the summer break preparing for next year. Grammar School students have the opportunity to participate in a voluntary summer reading program.
There will still be plenty of activity on campus as our administrative staff is working to prepare for 2019-20 and summer camp will be in full swing. This is the last newsletter that will go out this school year, but be aware that we will communicate reminders via email/Trinity Message, so remember to check your email regularly.
Our front desk will be open M-Th from 9am-12pm between June 10-Aug 8, with the exception of July 1-12, when all school offices will be closed. Regular hours (8am-3pm) will resume on August 12.
My prayer is that our students, families, faculty and staff enjoy a safe summer, filled with a combination of rest and fun activities, and come back August 22nd rejuvenated and excited to see what God has in store for them for the 2019-20 school year.
As we have just celebrated Memorial Day, it seemed fitting to acknowledge our military-minded graduates. We have had graduates join the military, some have gone on to participate in ROTC in college and we have been honored to have five Trinity graduates earn Congressional nominations and appointments to military academies - United States Military Academy at West Point, United States Naval Academy and the United States Air Force Academy.
Our first student to receive an appointment was Spencer Klehn, class of 2014. He attended West Point and is now a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and he is in flight school to fly helicopters. My son, Ian Caddow, class of 2016, has just finished his 3rd year in the U.S. Naval Academy. Caden Kulp, class of 2017, just completed his second year in the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Academy students receive what amounts to a four-year full ride scholarship. They also receive modest pay while attending. In return, when they graduate with a stellar education, they will serve our country as an officer in the given military branch for a minimum of 4-5 years (depending on which academy they attend). Military academy admission is very competitive, with low acceptance rates from 7-12% depending on the academy and the year. In addition to high grade point averages and test scores, candidates must meet medical and physical requirements and they must also obtain a congressional nomination.
This year, the United States Air Force Academy Admissions Liaison, Colonel Scott Coon, attended our Baccalaureate chapel to present appointments to Andrew Dever and Shane Lintereur. He described the process of appointment, the obligation to serve, and he also said that it is clear these students were schooled surrounded by excellence. He was very impressed with our ceremony and the caliber of people that have just graduated with academic honors, as well as honors for citizenship and character.
I am so very proud of our graduates who are going on to serve our country and who are currently serving.
Finishing the race is a metaphor that the Apostle Paul uses in Scripture. II Timothy 4:7 says "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." He's referring to the race of life as a follower of Christ. We use the metaphor in many ways in life, but the most important being as a follower of Christ.
We are finishing the race of this 2019-20 school year. Some are finishing the race of Grammar School. Some just finished the race of producing creative films or completing a theater production (with excellence I might add). Some are finishing the race of their time at Trinity and are completing final exams, and preparing for commencement exercises this Saturday. We are coming close to finishing the race of purchasing the property on which our campus sits. We are fighting the good fight on a daily basis of completing responsibilities, with a faithful attitude...getting ourselves and our children off to school and work, eating, getting exercise, household chores, whatever it may be.
At this time of year, when so many things are ending, and final products are showcased (thesis presentations, awards banquets, film festival, theater, yearbook, concerts, graduations), I am reminding myself and all of us at Trinity to finish strong. Don't grow weary of doing good. There is still much to do as we close out this school year. There are events to attend, finals to take, and work to do, all while looking forward to summer vacation and keeping our eyes on Jesus, even as our children move on to the next grade, next school, or next phase of life. It can be bittersweet. How dare they grow up so fast?
Mr. Caddow and I have Ian at the United States Naval Academy; Hannah, who is a senior and is about to graduate; and Lily, an eighth grader who is about to move on to the Rhetoric School. They each have their own God-given gifts and plan for their lives. Your children have their gifts and God also has a plan and purpose for their lives. I pray that our faculty is an encouragement to your students to live for Jesus, and seek Him in all that they do, so that whatever their "race" is at this time in their lives, they run with endurance, with their eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). Let's do this!
Seniors - 4 days until graduation
8th grade - 10 days until promotion
6th grade - 15 days until promotion
Summer is coming! Fix your eyes on Jesus; keep running your race. He is with you!
Our Fine Arts program at Trinity really shines this time of year. Whereas athletics has games all year long that we attend and support, Fine Arts works all year long to produce amazing things that we witness here as the year is coming to an end. There are recitals, art displays, performances, and a festival.
Last week we had our Musicale, which consisted of individuals who had worked all year on their instruments and they performed with courage in a recital format. On Friday, one hundred students traveled to Fullerton for the Forum Music Festival. Crimson Choir and Orchestra were awarded GOLD. Choral ensemble, Choristers and Jazz Band were awarded silver. There were individual awards as well and you can read about those details in the story posted on our website.
Last night was our Fine Arts Banquet, where all of our Rhetoric School Fine Arts students celebrated a year of the arts well done. Individuals were awarded Most Valuable Artist, Most Improved Artist, and Director's Awards for each class. Andrew Dever was selected as Artist of the Year and the Scholar Artist of the Year was awarded to Spenser Rapier. It was a wonderful night of celebration and recognition for achievement in the Arts.
Coming soon we have two performances of Jungle Book by our theater department, the annual Film Festival and two Spring Concerts. We will also hear from our Choral Ensemble at our Baccalaureate Chapel and our Orchestra at Graduation. And we will hold in our hands the product of almost a year of graphic design and photography efforts in the form of the yearbook.
I love that our school celebrates the arts, along with academics and athletics. The creativity and beauty of the arts truly reflects a creative and beautiful God. It is an act of worship to participate in the arts. The education our students get is complete and well-rounded, and always with Christ at the center.
On Friday, our community came together for our annual Spring Gala. This year the theme was "The Secret Garden - the Key to Pursuing Excellence" and it was beautifully done! Thank you all for your support of this very special event in the life of our school. Our children are blessed by everyone's efforts and generosity.
The Spring Gala is a wonderful way to celebrate the mission of our school and enjoy the company of friends in our community and beyond, while raising resources to support our ongoing efforts for our children. We were blessed to recognize Dr. Richard Riesen of In Christo Vera Educatio Foundation (ICVE). The foundation has supported 44 of our Rhetoric School students since 2011 through financial scholarships. ICVE has given over $600,000 to Trinity students who qualify academically and financially.
All proceeds raised at our Spring Gala go toward furthering our mission. We were blessed to share the attached videos, one produced by Mark Gould, Trinity's Film and Media Elective Teacher, the other by Trinity Junior Isabel Antillon. Both are wonderful and highlight our students and what we hope to accomplish in our mission with them.
The evening concluded with a very lively Live Auction and an opportunity to Fund the Vision, followed by some fellowship and fun on the dance floor!
Many thanks to our Development Department and Gala Coordinators for the months of planning and preparation, to our sponsors and bidders for their generous support, and to the army of volunteers who helped them to make the event outstanding.
One of my great joys is teaching and I am privileged to be able to continue to teach at Trinity, in addition to my other responsibilities as Head of School. I enjoy having our seniors in my Honors Government classroom, reading the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, portions of the Federalist Papers and other original documents as we learn about our United States government, its history, and how it functions today.
I particularly enjoy teaching from the documents that originated from our forefathers and from live people who have something to share about our government, whether it be at the local, state or national level, or even if it be a bigger picture concept like appreciating our democracy in light of an alternative like communism.
Recently, we've had a few special visitors. Trinity parent Mrs. Martin shared her testimony about growing up in Cuba and what it was like to live in a communist country and the risks she took to escape from it. She shared her experiences last semester as well and her story was published on our website if you'd like to read more about it. She is truly an inspiration and brings perspective and appreciation to those of us who know no other life than having grown up in the United States of America.
Last week, we had Special Agent Jon Mosser from the FBI. He is Team Leader for the FBI's Hazardous Evidence Response Team so he is on the front lines when there are biohazards or bomb threats and sometimes suits up in the protective gear like the rest of his team. (I always wanted to be a spy!) He brought insight and passion to our students as he shared the history of the FBI, its function in government today, career opportunities, and more. Students were prepared with excellent questions and they engaged him in Q & A for a good part of the class period. I am very grateful to Mr. Mosser (husband of our Art teacher Mrs. Mosser and Trinity parent) for his time last week and for his service to our country. If you'd care to read more details, you can find a story on his visit here.
Also last week, we had Newly elected Assemblymember Christy Smith (Democrat), who was kind enough to spend time sharing her experiences in government, her hopes for changes in California during her term, political opportunities for students to experience, and what she believes are the biggest issues facing our state today. Again, our students were well prepared with questions and kept her engaged in Q & A for quite some time. There are more details about her visit in the story on our website.
Next week, I am pleased to welcome Trinity Alumni parent, Annette Peterson, Los Angeles District Attorney. she will speak specifically to the fourth-eighth amendments. In the past, we've had Mr. LaFrance (Trinity parent), who is an attorney and spoke about article 3 and the Judicial branch of government.
I'm so happy for our students that their education includes special visitors like this, and what they bring to the classroom in passion, information, and personality. You can't get all of that in a textbook!
While in Grammar School, field trips are intentionally chosen for their value educationally and purposefully related to our curriculum. Once students are in Upper School, we choose some of our field trips for those reasons as well, such as the Museum of Tolerance, Mann Biomedical, the Getty Villa and, of course, our cumulative senior trip to Italy. We also incorporate service-oriented field trips. Serving others is something we encourage our students to do as good citizens and, in particular, as followers of Jesus Christ.
Our students serve at Children's Hunger Fund, Hope Gardens, the Los Angeles Mission, Carousel Ranch, Hart Games, as well as a graffiti clean up in Santa Clarita. Several of our Rhetoric School students are in California Scholarship Federation (CSF) and National Honor Society (NHS), which also involves a lot of community service. They served at the Hope and a Future Run, collected donations for the military, homeless shelter, animal shelter and for children's hospitals. They also participated in the River Rally, which was a cleanup of the river beds in Santa Clarita.
We have a club that meets at lunch that knits scarves to give away. They call themselves the "Made with Love" club and have given scarves and hats to the senior center, homeless and military.
We had a group that spent their Spring break in Mexico building a home for a needy family.
Our students enjoy serving others and volunteering. We know that many of our students serve at their churches and in their community outside of what they are doing through Trinity.
Most importantly, this blesses them as they serve the Lord through serving others. In addition to the personal enjoyment that comes through serving, there is an additional benefit to this kind of service when it comes to applying for college. When evaluating prospective students, colleges and universities look not only at grade point averages (GPAs) and test scores (SATs, ACTs), but they look at the whole student. Community service is part of what is considered. Colleges want to accept students who are going to be involved on their campus and serving others is one indicator of the good character of a student.
I am so proud of our students and all that they are able to accomplish. They are students, athletes, musicians, artists, and they work hard. Some earn money babysitting or in other endeavors, including part time jobs. And in addition to all they do at school, they find the inspiration and time to serve others. It's a blessing to offer them opportunities to serve together during some of their field trips because I believe that it gives them a taste of what it is to see a need and to fill it and how they feel about themselves when they serve.
Saying goodbye to seniors - or should I say "the process of saying goodbye" over their final year - is bittersweet. In particular for those who have been here since they were very little (this year there are fourteen of them who have been here since kindergarten), they have a lifelong relationship with Trinity, with our teachers, with each other, and with me. These relationships have been cemented over the years in the classroom, the courts and fields, the playground/lunch area, on field trips, in electives, and through doing hard things together - like the senior thesis. We traveled to Italy together and further strengthened bonds on the cobblestone roads, the terraced hills, the Mediterranean sea, and over lots of pasta and gelato.
Last week at our final Corporate Time of the year, one of the highlights was seeing our seniors perform the Senior Song. The Senior Song is a Trinity tradition going back to the first graduating class of 2012. They take a familiar song and re-write the lyrics to personalize them, often naming teachers and specific events they recall. It's very personal to them, and totally entertaining. This year, they used the song "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire, repeatedly asking "do you remember...?" You can watch a video of their performance HERE. (song lyrics here)
The senior year is a year of firsts and lasts. First time doing a thesis, first trip to Italy, first time participating in Senior Nights for athletics...and last Corporate Time, last Senior Night, last Ball, last performances, last games, last finals. From here to the end of the year, there are lots of final things, lots of bittersweet feelings in this process of saying goodbye. And since I have a senior myself again this year, the process is even more personal. Not only is my own daughter graduating, but in this class are many of her close friends, many of whom I've known for over a decade.
Launching them is a privilege. Praying for them is an honor, as we express our trust in God who has a purpose and a plan for their lives. I have said hundreds of prayers over this class this year. And I will continue to pray for them until the day they graduate and beyond.
I encourage you to come and watch as many senior thesis presentations as you are able, as you will be amazed at what our students are able to do. You will learn what they are passionate about and and how they communicate their passion persuasively. You can join me in praying for them as they do this hard thing, and finish well. They begin at the end of April and a schedule with specific times, topics and presenters will go out.
There are many other events to attend as the year comes to a close over the next seven weeks. Music festival, banquets (Athletics and Fine Arts), theater production, Spring concert, Olympics, promotions, baccalaureate chapel, and more. I hope that even in this busy season, you can make room in your calendar to attend these events. Time goes quickly. You don't want to miss a thing.
Grammar School students start out with benign arguments, such as, "what is better - Strawberries or Watermelon?" "Dogs or Cats?" "Blue or Green?" As they mature, they learn to develop their argument to support their opinion. By Logic School, they are taking formal logic, learning about fallacies, and taking the natural tendency of a 12 or 13-year-old to argue, and developing their skills to make a logical and solid argument.
In Rhetoric School, the art of Rhetoric is a main focus of the curriculum. The senior thesis is the capstone of a Trinity education, demonstrating a student's ability to research, write, and thoughtfully present an argument. This prepares them well for college and for life.
One of my favorite ways to see both sides of an argument is a debate - a good, healthy debate. In addition to senior thesis, all seniors take an Honors Government class. I have the great privilege of teaching one of the Honors Government classes and discussing big ideas. We've gone from arguing about a preference for a particular fruit, color or pet to arguing big national topics like healthcare, poverty and the electoral college.
We don't use a textbook in our class, but rather we study original documents like the Constitution and the Federalist papers. We memorize the Bill of Rights. It's important that our students graduate knowing what the Founding Fathers documented and how we have evolved...even how we were designed to evolve because Constitutional amendments are part of the process. We enjoy talking about the hard things that face our country today and debating Democratic and Republican positions.
This week in class, we enjoyed a live debate between representatives from our local government. On the Democrat side, we had Mr. Ryan Valencia, Assemblywoman Christy Smith's campaign manager and a district representative for her office. On the Republican side, Mr. George Andrews is the Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Tom Lackey's office. After introductions, the gentlemen listed on the board what they believe the top three issues are that California faces.
1. Affordability (housing, business, healthcare)
1. Campaign Finance Reform
3. Poverty/Income Inequality
As you can see, there is overlap in the issues and so there is some agreement as to what the issues are. There was also some agreement as to how to approach some of the issues. The debaters were gentlemen; they were respectful and kind. Their opinions differed as they discussed regulations and reforms. They noted that issues are extremely complex. For example, the border crisis is an immigration issue, but is also a drug issue, a humanitarian issue and a healthcare issue. Homelessness is a poverty issue, a housing affordability issue, a mental health issue and a drug issue.
After both sides stated their positions and had a chance for rebuttal, students asked very insightful and intelligent questions. I was very proud of all of them, their preparation, engagement, and their thoughtful and respectful questions. After addressing the top issues as defined by the visiting debaters, I invited students to ask any questions they wanted - which led to a discussion of significant issues like abortion, illegal immigration, the electoral college system, minimum wage and President Trump's strategy with North Korea. Wow! It was an impressive list of concerns from our young people.
We finished the morning with gratitude to Mr. Andrews and Mr. Valencia. They ended by pointing out that the purpose of the debate was to demonstrate differences between the parties, but they wanted the class to know that both sides agree on many things and work together well in this district. Despite the National narrative on some issues, and the divide between the parties' ideals, the local government is proud to work together to make things better for the district and for California. There are many issues in a state as large as California, with the 5th largest budget in the world! "California could be a nation of its own based on size and budget," Mr. Valencia said. They both want California to be sustainable in its growth and infrastructure and to be a better place for families and small business for this generation and generations to come.
Blessings to you! I hope that everyone has enjoyed a week of rest and rejuvenation for their minds, bodies, and souls!! This week begins our last quarter and truly the home stretch of a very fast moving school year! We started our day with the Doxology as we do every Monday. It was nice to be back at school and to welcome our seniors back from Italy as well.
Our Rhetoric School enjoyed a Pep Rally at lunch which included a fun game and the honoring of all the Varsity Spring Sports teams - Baseball, Softball, Track, Golf and Swim. I learned today that Trinity Swim has not lost a meet since 2015! We are blessed to have so many athletic options at our little school and to have student athletes who work hard on the field (or in the pool, on the course, on the track, in the gym) and in the classroom. Many of them play instruments or participate in other fine arts as well. It makes me tired just thinking about all that our students do!
So, back from break, and back to work! Just a couple of short months and we'll be sending off another class of graduates, welcoming a lot of little ones to Summer Camp, and praying for new and returning families as we begin planning the next school year. I know - you're just looking forward to summer, so I won't jump ahead too much. (But I can't help but be excited!)
I invite you and encourage you to attend our final Corporate Time presentation of the year. It's next Friday, April 12th at 8:00am, so don't drop off and drive away. Stay a little while and enjoy seeing our students present what they have learned this year. This day is also the last Corporate Time ever for our seniors. The tradition is that they sing their "senior song" and we pray for them and their futures and what God has for them even as they prepare to leave us.
We are ramping up for the Spring Gala on May 3rd, which is our biggest fundraiser. It's also a beautiful and enjoyable evening to spend with friends and supporters of Trinity. It's truly one of my favorite nights of the year. Our theme this year is "Secret Garden" and it is sure to be spectacular. I hope you have bought your tickets and are bringing friends.
I am so grateful for the job I have, the people I work with, the students and families and all the people that make up Trinity. I am finishing this year strong and I know you are with me!
We have been enjoying many wonderful sights in Florence, including the beautiful countryside, the Duomo, the Ufizzi Gallery, one of the world's top art museums, and Dante's house. The seniors who are in Dante house always like getting a photo in front of Dante's real house. (see photo in Scenes of the Week at the end of this newsletter).
We are enjoying fellowship, delicious food, gelato, and a lot of walking! Students are delighted to see what they have been talking about for years in their classes. Much laughter and joy abounds as we walk the streets! It is such a joy to see their faces light up like little children when they walk into the cathedrals and museums and even just walking around the city.
We are in Cinque Terre today and for two days, we will be hiking the coast of the Mediterranean! Some of the students will even enjoy a dip in the cold water. I am experiencing so much joy and gratitude - what a special time!
One special moment was when we sang the Doxology in the Pazzi chapel in Santa Croce and it sounded so beautiful. Mr. Leigh has posted that on the Facebook private group page - Trinity Parents and Families. It's really worth looking it up! It sounds amazing!
Jeremiah 29:11 is a very well-known verse in the Bible because it's a promise from God to His people. As God's people, we are reminded that He has a plan for us and it is to prosper us and not to harm us; to give us a hope and a future. Many believers consider this their "life verse." At the Imago Dei School (Imago Dei is Latin for Image of God), we know that all people are created in the image of God. People with special needs are often marginalized in our society but not in God's Kingdom. He has a plan for everyone and a hope and a future for all his people.
For these reasons, when we decided to do a 1k/5k/10k run as a fundraiser for Imago Dei School, we decided to name it "Hope and a Future Run". The run is to raise funds that can be applied to tuition to assist families who want a hope and a future for their child with a developmental disability. Part of our mission when starting Trinity was to serve the entire body of Christ in our student body, which was the genesis for the founding of our Imago Dei School, now in its eighth year. Our goal is to serve students who have a variety of learning needs so that they can be prepared to reach their God-given potential.
Our entire Trinity community is changed and blessed by serving our students in Imago Dei. There are opportunities at each level for our Trinity students to come alongside their peers in special education and develop friendships and serve as peer mentors. They support and encourage their friends in everything from elective classes and social skills, to athletic competitions like the Hart Games.
Our little valley has many families and businesses who are supportive of the special needs community. But more needs to be done! March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness month so it is time to get the word out and support students with special needs. We are still raising funds for the Hope and a Future run up through March 15th. Text IDS to 71777 and give today to support the Imago Dei School offering scholarships to families who wish to attend but need financial assistance.
I always enjoy the showcase of talent that is displayed at our annual talent night. But this year was truly the best! The 80's theme was silly and a true joy to watch! It was a blast from the past to see some 80's friends visit - Billy Joey, Little Mermaid, and Green Day to name a few.
Talent Night represents our community so well; it is a pursuit of excellence, not perfection, performed for an encouraging audience. Students demonstrate the courage to try, to have fun, and to share their God-given talents with all of us. It's an excellent example of "doing it afraid," which is one of my favorite sayings/reminders. Of course, the Rhetoric School Houses each performed and they did not disappoint.
It is a joy to gather as a community and celebrate one another’s talents and encourage others in them - from the youngest to the more mature, the entire audience enjoying such a wholesome evening of entertainment. It was a packed house with standing room only to enjoy songs, dances, a little comedy, and even some board breaking with a live Tae Kwon Do demonstration!
If you missed it, you can watch it on our YouTube channel! Just click the link below.
Talent Show on YouTube
Merriam Webster defines appreciation as: a feeling or expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude, as in "I want to express my appreciation for all you've done." This week, our faculty and staff are grateful recipients of the admiration, approval, and gratitude of all of you, represented by the PTF (Parent-Teacher Fellowship). It is truly a wonderful thing to know how to express appreciation to others as well as to be on the receiving end of this kind of expressed gratitude. Voltaire said, "Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well."
Our nation recognizes teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week, which is a week-long celebration in recognition of teachers and the contributions they make to education and society. In an effort to avoid parents feeling pressured to make extravagant gestures, at Trinity we have always encouraged the simplicity of handmade cards or a flower from the garden at home. For the past several years, the PTF has taken on Teacher Appreciation week in an effort to represent the appreciation and gratitude of all families and they provide some lovely extras for our faculty and staff. This week we are enjoying Vibe coffee, a pancake breakfast, gifts and a luncheon, all supplied by PTF on behalf of families. Thank you! We are grateful for how generous and kind our parents are!
We teach our children manners from when they are young - to say please and thank you, to give thoughtful cards and gifts to others, to write thank you notes for birthday gifts, and more. Having an attitude of gratitude is a wonderful way to combat selfishness and entitlement. It only take a little bit of perspective to see how blessed we are in this lovely California city that we call home. According to Entrepreneur.com, science tells us that grateful people are typically happier people, since being grateful makes us more optimistic and reduces negativity. The website lists five simple ways to show gratitude every day:
1. Write in an abundance (gratitude) journal
2. Express gratitude in person, verbally and/or with a cup of coffee or a lunch out
3. Show respect for those around you - smile, show kindness, be patient, listen
4. Don't complain - when feeling frustrated and tempted to complain, try focusing on something positive
5. Volunteer in your community - an act of kindness does more good for you than for those you're serving
We are so grateful to have some of the best teachers there are. They are not only well educated and passionate about their subject and craft, they are passionate about the young people that they have in their classrooms each day. Teaching is truly an investment in the future of our country and the Kingdom and I agree wholeheartedly with John Wooden who said, "I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession." Our teachers wouldn't be able to accomplish all that they do without our dedicated staff that supports them. Our PTF does a great job showering all of them with appreciation. Our attitude of gratitude starts with thanking God for all He gives to us. Psalm 95:2 - Let us come to Him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to Him.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.