We invite all Trinitas fans to our first soccer tailgate of the season on Friday, September 7, 2018 at Ashton Brosnaham field. We’ll serve burgers and dogs beginning at 6:00PM as the Varsity Knights prepare to face the Aletheia Lions at 7:00PM under the lights of the stadium. For the ultimate Trinitas fan, the junior varsity volleyball team plays at 4:30PM and the varsity volleyball plays at 5:30PM in the Trinitas Grand Hall. There will be plenty of food for all during the soccer game if you’re inclined to make it an entire sporting evening.
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Trinitas held our twentieth annual orientation this week. At Parent Orientation, Trinitas faculty and parents joined together to reinforce and discuss the goals of a Classical Christian education. There was a wealth of information for new and old parents who were able to visit classrooms, ask questions, and experience what an average day will be like for their children. Students arrived for their own orientation well pressed and full of smiles, supplies in hand, and parents in tow. This year marks the return of the early kindergarten program at Trinitas. Aptly named the Junior Kindergarten Class, twelve students began their first year here learning, as you would expect, Psalm 1. Welcome to all new and returning students. It’s sure to be a great year!
For our family, friends, and fans, the final day to order spirit wear is Tuesday, September 4th at 4 PM. Join us in supporting the Knights and show your school spirit around town.
West Florida Baptist recently hosted the first preseason volleyball tournament. Eight teams from Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi competed for two days in hard fought games. Our lady Knights were victorious in round one against Escambia Academy, but lost Friday evening against Victory Christian, placing them in the losers’ bracket. The loss did not stop our ladies, but spurred them on to work harder playing nine sets in four additional games Saturday, three consecutive. They battled much of the day, consistently dominating their respective opponents. After hours of play time, they rebounded and ultimately won the tournament against a rematch with Victory Christian which they won in two sets. Jillian Todd and Alex Johnson were named All Tournament Players and the Varsity team was awarded the first place trophy. Congratulations Lady Knights on a job well done!
I am usually guilty of not keeping up with the news like I should. Sometimes, though, the news is just too depressing to keep up with. I caught the tail end of a news story this week, for example, from a governor’s race where one candidate suggested that what our nation needs right now is an expanding of its moral compass. I think Christians will disagree with the candidate. Has God asked us to “expand” our moral compass or to obey His word? Well, of course, we are to obey His word, but that candidate I just mentioned could end up being the governor of a state and therefore responsible for its schools. I’m hoping Christians won’t just hand their children over to a school system that has as its goal expanding students’ moral compass.
Speaking of just handing your children over, though, sometimes schools don’t even give you a choice in that matter. I heard on the radio this week that one school board has passed an ordinance prohibiting parents from walking their children to class. Safety concerns were cited as the main reason for the new rule. The school district in the neighboring county has had the same rule in place for two years. No one in his right mind would argue against keeping students safe at school, and I do not doubt the desire of those school districts to keep students safe, not even for a minute. I am absolutely certain that they would not knowingly put students in danger ever—I am certain of it.
What exactly is safe, though, especially from a child’s point of view? I’ve never met a child from a loving, non-abusive family who would choose anything over Mom and Dad when it comes to protection. Children never feel safer than when they are with their parents. So it seems counterintuitive for a school to prohibit its parents from walking their children to class as a safety measure. Perhaps the size of the school has something to do with it in this case. I suppose you can’t know every parent in a school of 500 or 1,000 students, and that makes everyone a suspect—even the parents.
I do not think that banning parents from a school makes students safer in every situation. If the size of the school is such that we can’t know all the parents, maybe the school is just too big. Whether it is the size of the schools or just a way of thinking that pervades institutional education these days, banning parents from the educational process has become all too common, and it is a bad idea for Christian parents to go along with. Remember, God has charged us with training up our children in the way they should go. If we are locked out of the education process, how can we fulfill that responsibility God has given us? Ask yourself what is happening at your child’s school? Do they know you? Are you welcome there, or do they want you to just hand your children over and get out?
At Trinitas Christian School, we are working harder than ever to keep our students safe, and we believe parents are an integral part of that safety and of the whole educational process. We have the advantage of being small enough to know every parent’s face and name. We want parents involved in the school. We wouldn’t have it any other way because we don’t think God would have it any other way (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Do you want to walk your child to class? Do you want to spend the day in your child’s class or even visit other classes? Do you want to celebrate your child’s birthday at school or eat lunch with her every day? Do you want to participate in field trips and class projects? If so, I invite you to check out Trinitas Christian School where we are teaching God’s moral compass, and where parents are always welcome.
Mr. Ron Gilley
For the past two weeks I have tried to convince parents that Christian people are required by God to educate our children in a Christian way, to point them Godward. I have suggested that Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is instructive to that end. I continued by appealing to common sense, the wisdom of the Proverbs, and even statistics to persuade Christian parents of the dangers of secular education for their children (remember, there is no such thing as a neutral education). Now, I’m going a step further and claiming that sending your child to a Christian school is not the whole education solution because all Christian education is not the same.
The Nehemiah Institute, which I referenced last week, has shown through the results of its PEERS test over the past thirty years that Christian students attending public schools leave those schools more often than not with a position that can be described as something other than Christian. It gets worse. The results also show that in 2015 students from Christian homes attending what the institute calls “traditional” Christian schools scored an average of 12 on the PEERS test—remember, it takes a score of at least 30 to show that your position is moderately Christian and a score of at least 70 to show that you hold a position of biblical theism. The only students who were even close to holding the position of biblical theism were students attending what the institute calls “worldview schools.”
The meaning of the word “worldview” seems to have been somewhat muddled in recent years because of the way some educators go about imparting worldview to their students. Here is what I mean: a student who is taught what to think may well leave his school with a solid Christian worldview, but when that worldview is challenged by the real world it may break down when it encounters scenarios it hasn’t been trained to think about. On the other hand, a student who is trained how to think Christianly about everything, how to examine his entire range of experience in light of the Scriptures, is not only a student who probably holds a Christian worldview, but is a student who will not easily be persuaded when the world throws him a moral curve ball.
A strength of classical Christian schools is that they teach students how to think and learn for themselves. These schools usually do not fall into the error of instructing students to stick their heads in the sand and pretend the world is not there. Neither do they fall into the error of teaching students to embrace everything the world has to offer by Christianizing it with a fish symbol. What they do is marinate their students in the Scriptures. They hire teachers who don’t treat their faith like a social club they choose to belong to but as a gift from God and a heritage handed down over the past two-thousand years. They work to cultivate virtue in their students because trying to be human apart from the way Scripture instructs us to be human isn’t really being human at all. Through the reading of old books and the singing of ancient psalms they connect students to their Christian heritage so that students understand they are not alone in their Christian beliefs but are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1) that have walked the path before them through hardship and sacrifice and even martyrdom.
Christian parents should give their children a Christian education, but all Christian education isn’t the same. There is something afoot in classical Christian schools across the nation. A brand of Christian education is being offered in such a way that students’ faith isn’t just surviving their education, but is actually being informed, strengthened, and even built by it. What Christian parent would want less?
Some of the founders of the classical Christian education resurgence have put together this short film to provide more information on the rise of classical Christian education over the past thirty-five-plus years. The film will cost you about twenty minutes of your life, but the return on investment makes it a bargain.
Mr. Ron Gilley
Last week in this space I urged Christian parents to consider Deuteronomy 6:4-9 as a guiding principle for how they educate their children. Before the ink was dry on that piece, I could imagine at least one objection to the position I had staked out because I have frequently heard it before: We send our children to non-Christian schools so they can be salt and light to the lost children and teachers. If that’s what you think, I suggest what you’re doing is more like sending your lambs to slaughter.
Every Christian must be engaged in Christ’s Great Commission to His followers found in Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen! We have our work cut out for us, brothers and sisters. We are charged with spreading the Gospel!
But where do our school-aged children fit into that commission? Does Christ want us to send our young, (mostly) spiritually defenseless children alone into the lair of the enemy in an attempt to convert them? I want to suggest that the answer to that is almost always a resounding, no. Where is the wisdom in that strategy, after all? Of course we want our children walking in faith and learning how to bear witness to the Gospel, but do we really think our nine-year-old is spiritually strong enough, prepared enough, mature enough to have more of an impact on his unbelieving schoolmates than five, ten, or more of them will have on him? Again, I think the answer is most often, no.
The Proverbs caution repeatedly against aligning ourselves with certain kinds of companions—from the foolish to the guy with a bad temper (both frequent behaviors of the non-believer) and then warn us that bad company corrupts good morals. Some may argue that these proverbs are not actually commands, but we can agree that at the very least they are wisdom for the believer, and they seem to be saying that it isn’t wise to spend too much time with people who serve other gods, especially if they outnumber you. And that goes double for the nine-year-old who, by the simple fact of his age and lack of experience, does not possess the discernment and wisdom necessary not just to defend himself but to go on the offense with the Gospel.
Of course, every child in a secular school is not anti-Christ and, in fact, it would be foolish to think your child would not find a couple good Christian friends to help sustain him. Certainly there are some good Christian teachers in secular schools as well (and they definitely have a more valid salt and light argument for being there than your child does). Unfortunately for your child, though, a couple of like-minded friends and an undercover Christian teacher usually isn’t enough to protect against the secular attack on Christian presuppositions and ideals even when it is not attacking Christianity directly by name. In other words, it isn’t simply that there are a few predators in this pond you’ve let your little Christian minnow loose in; it is that the whole pond is toxic to your minnow, and he is going to bring more toxic waste home with him each night than you can possibly wipe off of him before he goes back for another seven hours tomorrow.
Still not convinced? Let me leave you with a couple sobering statistics. The Nehemiah Institute administers a test called PEERS that measures Christian worldview in students. (You can check them out here.) A score of 70 or above on their test means the student is solidly in the camp of biblical theism. A score between 30 and 69 means he is moderately Christian. Below 29 is secular humanist. In 1988 the composite score on PEERS test for Christian children attending public schools was 36.1. In 2001 the score had dropped to 7.5 (Wilson).
The Barna Group is known for its work compiling a variety of Christian statistics. In the early 2000s, they determined that 59% of young Christians leave the church permanently or for an extended period of time (https://www.barna.com/research/six-reasons-young-christians-leave-church/ ). This study was not related to Christian education, but one should ask himself how many of those students were getting one unified message from home and church while the school—the third influence in a child’s life and the one that spends the most instructive time with the child—was teaching and training a message radically different from home and church, a message toxic to Christianity.
While I won’t suggest these statistics definitively prove my point, neither do I discount them. Scripture and common sense should prevail in this argument. If I want my child to be a great football player, I’m not going to send him to music camp to be trained for football. If I want my child to be a faithful Christian, I’m not going to send him for 1,200 hours a year to be trained in anti-Christian thought and practice. Don’t send your lambs to slaughter. Teach them diligently (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
At Trinitas Christian School, we aren’t perfect in training young Christians, but we are working at it faithfully. A recent survey of our alumni showed that 92% of them were still active in a local church and pursuing the faith. We won’t be satisfied until that number is 100%. Let us partner with your Christian family to teach diligently to your child the ways of Christ that he or she is learning at home and at church.
Wilson, Douglas. The Case for Classical Christian Education. Crossway. Print. Pg 104.
Mr. Ron Gilley, headmaster
Trinitas senior, Jillian Todd, was given the amazing opportunity to experience the behind the scenes workings of the University of West Florida when she, along with two other high school students, were chosen to participate in the four-week Presidential Internship program. These students worked one-on-one with UWF President Martha Saunders and the senior leadership team as well as other faculty and staff members from the Division of Research and Strategic Innovation, the Division of Academic Affairs, the Division of University Advancement, and the President’s Office. In addition to learning the business aspects of the university, Jillian spent a week in the nursing department which is her chosen field of study. She enjoyed talking with professors and even taking part in classes and labs saying, “The time I spent with the professors and students reinforced my desire and excitement to go into the nursing field.”
Every year thousands of Christian families have to make a decision about schooling for their children. Arguably no other decision parents make in a lifetime will have a greater impact on their children. Should they send them to public school, charter school, private school, private religious school, virtual school, home school, virtual home school, or some other exciting new option? How do Christian parents sift through their choices to make sense of it all? Is there a guiding principle we can use to help make the right decision, one that will provide a hierarchy for ranking all the variables? Scripture is always a good place to start.
What does God’s word tell us about educating our children? Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is one informative passage to help believing parents think about their children’s education:
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
What can we learn from this passage about educating our children? First, “The Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” God claims ultimate authority over every other authority in our lives—over government, family, and all else. He does not share that position with any other entity. Because of that, He is to be our first love; love of God should come before all other loves: before love of spouse, parent, child, job, or pleasure. We are to love God completely, holding nothing back.
This orientation to God as the primary authority in and love of our lives also makes God our foundation for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. All forms of education presuppose a source, foundation, or beginning of knowledge. There is no such thing as a neutral education, in spite of claims made by some institutions, and any education built on a foundation other than God, or even shared with another foundation, is an education that leads away from God.
Second, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…” God requires believing parents to teach diligently His words and ways to our children. That is supposed to happen when? All the time, the passage tells us! Whether we are standing, sitting, walking, in our houses or on the road; at all times we are to teach our children about God, even putting His word before their eyes in all times and places. Any education that does not have this constant, diligent teaching of God’s words and ways as a primary goal is an education at odds with the responsibility of Christian parents.
If you are a Christian trying to decide how to educate your children. I encourage you to consider Deuteronomy 6:6-9 as a guiding principle for making that decision. Although the other variables you have to consider are numerous, ask yourself what is the most important goal of your child’s education. I think the answer is in that passage of Scripture. If you are interested in a school that will partner with you to accomplish the goals set forth in that passage of Scripture, I invite you to check out Trinitas Christian School. We are entering our twentieth year of working faithfully toward those goals for each family we serve.
Headmaster Ron Gilley
My wife and I have attended an unusual number of weddings over the past few months. Far from being a burden, I consider our attendance at these glorious events a blessing. After the most recent wedding, I remarked to my family that every wedding like that one strikes a blow for the kingdom of God. Whatever do I mean by that? And what does this have to do with classical Christian education or Trinitas Christian School?
Secular American culture has come to view marriage as a matter of small consequence—sometimes even temporary or disposable. I tell you, though, when a Christian man and a Christian woman commit themselves to each other before God and a church full of God’s people in a beautiful, God-honoring ceremony, the gates of hell tremble. Why? Because that man and woman have chosen the path that God has ordained for most men and women; because they have covenanted together to be faithful to God and to each other; because they have started down a path that will likely bring children into the world to be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and because their Christian marriage is a testimony to the unbelieving world about God and His people. Christian marriage matters even if the rest of the world has given up on it—50thand 75th wedding anniversaries matter.
As image bearers of God who call Christ our Lord and King, we have a responsibility to bear His image well. That means everything we do should be done to the glory of God. That is why it is important for Christians to have edifying weddings and enduring marriages, yes, but we must also bear God’s image well in smaller and even routine or mundane acts. Everything we do says something about who we are and what we believe.
At Trinitas, this small but profound truth encourages us every day to work at cultivating virtue in our students. It drives us to labor at developing Christian character. It places weighty responsibility on us as we labor alongside parents and the church to train children in the way they should go. It fuels us to help them develop habits of mind, body, and soul that enable them to live the Christian life well, honoring God in all they say and do.
Because even the small things children do matter, at Trinitas we train them to say please and thank you and yes ma’am and no ma’am. Speaking this way to one’s neighbor is kind and charitable, and Christians ought to practice kindness and charity. We also train even the smallest students to practice self control in very small ways—ways that may seem mundane or unimportant such as keeping their eyes and ears trained on the speaker even when his speech is not very interesting, or waiting patiently for their turn to speak without interrupting, or not blurting out the answer when it is their neighbor’s turn to answer. These are small acts, yes, but they require children to practice self-control, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. If they are able to control themselves in these small ways, they will eventually be able to control themselves in the much weightier matters awaiting them as they grow older.
This attention to practicing distinctly Christian ways of doing even very small acts is the sort of stuff that keeps the devil awake at night. If the gates of hell tremble at the news of a glorious Christian wedding, know that they are equally rattled by our doing even the smallest tasks in distinctly Christian ways. Let us teach our children to honor God even in the smallest, most mundane tasks because bearing the image of God well in the world tells the truth about who God is, and while that is a testimony to unbelievers, it is also an act of warfare against the kingdom of darkness. From please and thank you, to weddings, to funerals, the way we do everything matters.
Headmaster Ron Gilley
Over the past few weeks I have sat through dozens of interviews with families interested in Trinitas. It is still enrollment season after all. Each year we continue to enroll a few good students throughout the summer, so these meetings are commonplace and they last about an hour and a half. A couple weeks ago I made Trinitas families aware of a few openings we still have for students in the grammar school and asked them to invite families similar to theirs who share their beliefs and values about Christian education to come check out Trinitas. Most of them don’t have an hour and a half to tell their friends about the school, though, so I thought an elevator speech might prove helpful.
Many of us are familiar with the term “elevator speech.” For those still in the dark, it isn’t really a formal speech but something more like a pitch that can be delivered in the space of the average elevator ride, say 30 seconds or so. The goal is to inform the audience—even an audience of one—about your self, cause, organization, business, project, or candidate in a short time.
The main thrust of a Trinitas elevator speech should be to emphasize how different Trinitas is from other schools because people may assume Trinitas is just one more school option among many in our area. But Trinitas is more than that—we’re doing something completely different than any other school around; in fact, we don’t even share the same end goal as other schools, so our elevator speech must demonstrate that difference. I’ve identified three important differences that should go into an elevator speech and briefly described them here:
The majority of Christian schools are based on an evangelistic model; this means they enroll children of non-believing parents. The hope is that children would come to Christ through the school. Trinitas, however, is a discipleship model school. At Trinitas, we only enroll children of Christian parents; we verify the faith of the parents through having families sign a statement of faith and having their pastors provide a reference for them. We prefer this discipleship model because it means we are all starting from a common understanding of the Triune God—we have one foundation from which to begin. That one foundation allows us to focus on spiritual growth through our curricula and through our interactions with one another in a distinctly Christian environment. In the discipleship model, any necessary discipline can be based on biblical principles and consistent with expectations that are shared by the school, the church, and the family.
Classical Curriculum That Cultivates Virtue
Our students read many of the important works that have shaped the West, from the ancient Greeks to the best Christian thinkers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. They wrestle with the big ideas contained in those literary works and then reconcile those ideas with the historic period that produced them and with what they know to be the ultimate truth of God’s word. This daily wrestling with foundational ideas and synthesizing of supporting information through discussion and debate gives students a unique perspective on their own place in history. It helps them come to a fuller understanding of who they are in God’s kingdom and what really matters in the here and now. Students immersed in this kind of study put on faith, hope, and love over the course of time because they develop a profound understanding of who God is and who they are in relationship to Him.
Distinctly Christian Community
The discipleship model affords us the freedom to create a distinctly Christian community at Trinitas. We begin every day together as a school reading the Word, memorizing large passages of Scripture, singing Psalms and hymns, and praying together. We close each day together as a school with a brief exhortation from the Word and singing the Doxology. Our teachers teach from the wisdom of the Proverbs to begin their classes, and the upper school theology classes are rich discussion-based classes that provide a mooring for the rest of the curriculum. Not only that, but by the time Trinitas students graduate they can read the New Testament in the original Greek language. Parents are welcome throughout the day because we believe Deuteronomy 6 places responsibility for educating children on the parents. Students thrive spiritually when the family, the church, and the school are all on the same page and actively involved in their education. Parents who are involved help us maintain a distinctly Christian community at Trinitas!
It isn’t surprising that I’ve given too much material for a thirty-second elevator speech, but there is so much to say about how Trinitas is different from other schools! If you are a current Trinitas parent, hopefully this encourages you to come up with your own pitch based on your experience at Trinitas. If you are not currently associated with Trinitas, I hope this has been informative for you. I invite you to stop by the school anytime for a tour and a fuller exposition of who we are and why.
– Headmaster Ron Gilley