This week the 6th grade class studied ‘49ers and the California gold rush in history. They learned about the conditions the ’49ers experienced while trying to get rich! On Thursday, the students had an opportunity to find gold as they panned for it in ice cold water. Some of them were quite successful and “struck it rich” as they said, while others found very little gold. Overall, it was an exciting time and there were mixed feelings about whether these 6th graders would ever leave their homes to find gold!
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Smartphones were turned loose on the world in 2007. How many of us have stopped to think that the average fifth grader has never known a world without smartphones? Today’s seventh graders were only two years old in 2007, so it is doubtful they can access much memory before smartphones. These children have always had the power of the internet and everything it brings with it right at their fingertips on their parents’ phones. Now they have it right in their back pockets because the average American child receives his first smartphone at the ripe old age of 10 (Psychology Today). As you might expect, that little number comes with some baggage.
Technology is moving so fast that parents often do not have time to get their minds around one gadget or game or social media craze before the next one has kidnapped their child’s attention. Don’t think it is any easier for school teachers and administrators either. Even though student cell phones must be in the backpack, in the locker, and turned off at Trinitas, the residual effect smartphones are having on school culture isn’t so residual. The age group from 10 to 15 years old is the hardest hit because they are not mentally, emotionally, or socially prepared to navigate the enormous responsibilities that come with having a smartphone and the data plan to go with it.
Some estimates are that teens spend six to nine hours a day on their phones (Psychology Today). This kind of usage could be considered addiction (or idolatry). Many parents are harrumphing right now because they cannot imagine how their child could spend that much time on his or her phone. I’ll tell you how: they aren’t sleeping! (The Conversation) Just recently a group of pre-teen boys told me that they regularly wake up at 2am to play Fortnite. One of the boys was sheepish about not being allowed to play until 8am; the others teased him.
The boys aren’t the only ones affected, though. Girls are also sleeping less while spending more time on their phones than on any other activity. For girls, it isn’t gaming that interests them; instead, it is searching for acceptance on social media. Jean Twenge, Ph. D., writes in Psychology Today:
… we found that social media use was significantly correlated with depression for girls … Developmentally, girls are more concerned with physical appearance and social popularity than boys are. Social media is a showcase of those issues, even quantifying them in numbers of likes and followers. Girls also spend more time on social media.
As it turns out, girls’ reactions to how they are perceived on social media can be dangerous. In fact, self-harm among girls between the ages of 10 and 14 has tripled since 2009. And by self-harm, I mean cutting or poisoning or something else serious enough for an ER visit. In short, our teenage daughters are looking for love in all the wrong places and are hurting themselves when they don’t find it (Psychology Today).
As a parent talking to other parents, I want to ask you a few questions. Does your child really need a cell phone, especially a smartphone, before he or she is driving? Does your teenage son or daughter have unrestricted access to the internet? Does he or she keep the phone in the bedroom? Do you have a way to check what the phone is being used for?
I firmly believe we are giving our children far too much freedom on the internet before they are mature enough to handle it. The effects on our culture are widespread, of epidemic proportions really. It is a disaster we are bringing on our own children. And why? For what reason? If our best answer is that everyone else is doing it and we can’t bear to tell our children no, then we need to carefully count the costs because they are high. I have only scratched the surface in this little blog. I encourage parents to do their own research. It will be well worth your time.
Mr. Ron Gilley
Mrs. DeGraaf’s first grade science class dissected owl pellets this week. Owl pellets are undigested food that owls regurgitate. Students extracted bones from this material and then tried to identify them. The students found skulls of rodents as well as bones of birds. Amazing and fascinating discoveries were made by all of the children.
One goal not written in the Trinitas mission or vision statements is the goal of building a close community among Trinitas families, but it is our goal nonetheless. Community building isn’t a foreign concept at schools, and especially at the college level since it is a retention tool for colleges and universities. College students who might otherwise consider dropping out or transferring to another school may be reluctant to do that if they have grown close to their classmates, professors, and others at the school. For Trinitas, our reasons for building community run deeper.
Trinitas embraces content and pedagogy that are unique in our area. If a parent is struggling to understand why his second grader spends the school day singing and chanting and reciting rhymes instead of analyzing his feelings and doubling down on STEM, chances are he can’t ask his neighbor whose kid goes to XYZ school down the road to help him understand it. He needs to ask Trinitas parents to help him understand it, and not only other Trinitas second grade parents, but also parents of seventh graders and tenth graders who can tell him how what his child is doing in second grade will pay off down the road. If he has met and gotten to know those other parents, he can get answers to his questions that will most likely lead to a fuller understanding and deeper appreciation for the classical education his child is receiving.
Another reason community is so important at Trinitas is that we are living together every day at the school as Christians, holding each other accountable to live according to God’s ways. We work hard to cultivate virtue and Christian character in our students, but that takes community. Hillary Clinton famously said in the nineties that it takes a village to raise a child; in fact, she wrote a book by that title. I never did read the book, and I doubt Ms. Clinton and I would agree on all points regarding raising children, but her statement makes sense to me from a Christian perspective. It does take a like-minded group of people to give a child a solid foundation in the Christian faith. Parents need reinforcement from church and school; they need to have a community that believes the same thing they believe about raising children.
At Trinitas, we look for ways to bring our community together so we can build relationships with each other and get comfortable leaning on each other in this great task of raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In the early days of the school, one of those ways we built community was Fall Festival. The whole school would turn out to eat barbeque, play games, and enjoy conversation with new friends under the shade of our sprawling oaks. As the school grew and we added sports, the calendar became so full that we dropped Fall Festival in lieu of tailgate parties at soccer and volleyball games. But for those of us who have been around a while, nothing can quite replace Fall Festival.
This fall, we’re bringing festival back! Times may have changed, the calendar may be too full, and the school may have grown, but we still need community. There’s no better time to make new friends and build the relationships that bind a people together than on a picnic blanket under a big oak tree with a belly full of barbecue. If you’re already part of the Trinitas family, I sure hope to see you there. All the details have been coming home to you in our weekly emails. If you’re not part of the Trinitas family, well, you just don’t know what you’re missing, but maybe it’s not too late. If you’re looking for a school that values community, you’ve come to the right place!
Mr. Ron Gilley
The foot bone connected to the leg bone, the leg bone connected to the knee bone, the knee bone connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone connected to the back bone, the back bone connected to the neck bone, the neck bone connected to the head bone; Oh hear the word of the Lord! The kindergarten class learned the shape and names of the bones in the human skeleton today with a little help from our fourth graders. Cutting, pasting and hands on assembly helped the young ones enjoy learning the beauty of the human frame and some sweet time with the “big kids”.
On September 16, 2004, Hurricane Ivan roared into Pensacola and changed the area’s landscape forever. Ivan brought sustained winds of over 120 miles per hour and spawned more than 100 tornadoes. The storm surge wiped houses off their foundations and destroyed the I10 Bridge over Escambia Bay. Some families and businesses in the Pensacola area were without electricity for as long as two weeks. Destruction was widespread from Baldwin County, Alabama to Santa Rosa County, Florida. At that time Trinitas Christian School was occupying a rented space off Summit Blvd that was not spared from the storm.
During the weeks after Ivan, many volunteers participated in the cleanup and restoration efforts at the school so students could return to classes and some sense of normalcy. Hundreds of man-hours were spent cleaning and drying and rebuilding. Reestablishing routine is an important step in recovering from any disaster, and getting students back in classes does just that for them. The Trinitas family was greatly blessed by the love of our neighbors after Hurricane Ivan.
Last week a group of thirteen Trinitas students traveled to Panama City with parents, teachers, and alumni to participate in Hurricane Michael relief efforts. The group spent the day working on the campus of Covenant Christian School, a classical school we have been acquainted with for some time.
Covenant sustained heavy damage to most of its classrooms and its gym. Ironically, a few old portable classrooms that now serve mostly as storage units were spared damage because they were sheltered by the gym. One of our team’s main goals was to reroute foot traffic on campus so those portables can be used as temporary classrooms while the main building is repaired. We relocated two large sections of fence and picked up truckloads of debris to open new walkways and make them safe. We also relocated a few truckloads of stored items to prepare those portable buildings to become classrooms again.
When Michael hit with its 150 mph winds, even the strongest trees were no match for it. Our chainsaw crew cut up three giant pines that the storm blew down onto the playground and surrounding area. Volunteers, with a little help from a tractor we took with us, moved all of the debris of those trees into one pile that the county should pick up soon as part of the cleanup effort.
In that same area of campus, the storm picked up a 600 square feet artificial playing surface and moved it several feet off its concrete pad. Our crew disassembled the whole playing surface and relocated it to a safe area until construction on the gym is finished and the school can reassemble the playing surface in its proper location. Trinitas students also relocated picnic tables out of that construction zone and into an area where Covenant students can access them when they return.
Trinitas volunteers were unable to work on the hardest hit parts of the Covenant campus. We could not rebuild the gym, replace the roof, or haul wet insulation and soaked ceiling tiles out of classrooms. Fortunately, Covenant has already contracted with a company to make those repairs. We could, however, deliver supplies they needed and do the small things already mentioned to restore some normalcy in preparation for the return of students who desperately need to reestablish their routine.
After Ivan hit Pensacola fourteen years ago, Trinitas was the beneficiary of so much kindness and love in the effort to prepare our school for the return of students. We know what it feels like to be overwhelmed by the destruction of a major hurricane, and we know what it feels like when others help carry our burden. Often, you find yourself best suited to minister to those who are experiencing something you have previously experienced—adversity has a way of teaching us to better love our neighbors, and that was the case here. Trinitas is thankful that God prepared us to minister to Covenant Christian School the way others ministered to us fourteen years ago. Our prayers will continue to be with Covenant as they rebuild.
The Trinitas Varsity Soccer team began their successful 2018 campaign in June conducting “in the dead heat of summer” workouts to train and prepare for an aerobic athletic season. A several-miles-per-week running regimen helped them build their endurance and ability to compete. And compete they did, ending the regular season with a record of 6-2-2. The Trinitas men qualified for the Final Four competition and in the Semifinal beat friendly-arch-rival Aletheia on Friday night, 3-0. They played in the Championship game against Calvary Christian Academy Patriots of Fort Walton Beach. The match was a hard-fought, intense affair, with regulation play ending in a 2-2 tie. Two overtime periods of 10 minutes each were not able to produce a winner. Therefore, the Knights and Patriots moved to a “Penalty Kicks round” to decide the winner. In a fitting finale to an amazing turnaround year, Calvary prevailed 4-3 in the PK round, leaving the brave Knights with the second place trophy. Well done Knights! Congratulations!
The varsity and junior varsity volleyball lady Knights took home the grand prize last Saturday winning first place in the Panhandle Christian Conference! The junior varsity ladies entered the championship game on Saturday undefeated for the season. They faced Pensacola Christian Academy in the final match and it was an unknown and daunting task. PCA’s excellent team battled hard but our girls ultimately defeated their team and won the championship title. The varsity Lady Knights played Friday night against the PCA Warriors and won in 3 sets. Saturday was the rematch the ladies had hoped for against the West Florida Baptist Conquerors. Not to be outdone after a defeat by West Florida in the regional competition, the Varsity Knights worked and played hard. Their diligence paid off and they also won the conference championship title in 4 sets. It was an amazing streak for our volleyball players and we congratulate them on an outstanding season.
The Chem II class celebrated Mole Day on 10/23 in honor of the chemistry unit, the mole. The mole represents 6.02 x 10^23. This unit is similar to a dozen. A dozen represents 12 while a mole represents 6.02 x 10^23. Mole Day is celebrated on 10/23 from 6:02 am to 6:02 pm! Our students enjoyed presenting the mole research projects and “mole” related refreshments.
Mr. Reed’s fourth grade class is almost to the end of Roald Dahl’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and so they celebrated at Charlie and the Chocolate Day. They made and enjoyed sweet treats straight from the pages of the book like Butterscotch, Toffee-Apple Trees, Candy-Coated Pencils for Sucking in Class, Stickjaw for Talkative Parents, Square Candies that Look Round, and Nutty Crunch Surprise. Thank-you to Mr. Reed and all the parents who volunteered to help the students realize new culinary heights.