Trinitas loves books and is thankful for the donor who recently made possible the purchase of forty new titles for our library. Our librarian Mrs. McGee worked with several teachers to purchase books that support both classroom instruction and outside reading as well as to replace several popular books that have fallen apart. As the author Jules Verne once quipped, “We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read.”
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In recent weeks our posts have dwelt on the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty, and how that pursuit might make Trinitas a very different sort of school from other schools with which we are acquainted. The pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty looks different in different classes and activities—it takes on different dimensions in different contexts. As we begin to gear up for our spring drama production of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, our own Ms. Hartke reflects on students’ pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty on the stage.—Mr. Gilley
With drama underway, it seems like a fitting place to unpack the pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. On the stage students are called to imagine life from another perspective. Students wrestle with not only what someone says, but how they say it and then why. Actors humble themselves and explore a nature not their own. In this putting on of a character, students are able to actively pursue the true, the good, and the beautiful.
When the cast list is posted, students often have no idea who their character is, or even the plot of the show. As Nick Bottom asks when he is cast as Pyramus, they also ask: “Am I a lover? Tyrant?” And so, their pursuit of truth begins. This is a research stage. They learn their lines, their blocking, their role in the story. Searching for truth is full of what and how questions as each student steps into the shoes of another soul. There is much investigating, probing, studying, as the students do their due diligence to prepare for a true and faithful imitation.
During week seven of rehearsal, we move to the pursuit of goodness, which I suspect has two parts. In the first part, the students investigate further into their character with why questions: “Why is my character disgruntled at the beginning of the show? Why is my character exiting the stage? Why does my character say these words?” Students connect action to motive, effect to cause. The second part of the pursuit of goodness looks more like a character analysis. Students dig deep into their characters and judge: “Am I a good guy or bad guy? Am I a means of justice in the plot? Am I the prideful man who ought to fall?” And thus, students get hands on practice with the tools of narrative and grow in wisdom.
Now, it is time for production, for beauty; the labor bears fruit. In this phase students hone and polish their performance. They find themselves back at the what and how questions again, but this time it is, “How can I express faithfully and truthfully the thoughts and motives of my character to my audience? How can I give a gift to my audience?” Often beauty is expressed on stage as fitting together and then faithfully representing truth and goodness, which includes a faithful representation of the antithesis to truth and goodness so that real truth and goodness may be better known; for example, the darkness of a villain is a necessary element of tension to tell the truest story.
As a cast, the students put all these elements together–beautifully. And now, it’s show time!
Last week our post dwelt on the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty, and how that pursuit might make Trinitas a very different sort of school from other schools with which we are acquainted. To be sure, the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty isn’t easy. This week our own Mr. McGee from 5th Grade reminds us that any worthwhile pursuit—the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty included— is best accomplished through good old fashioned hard work.—Mr. Gilley
In Pursuit of Diligence
In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty.
The work Trinitas requires can put a strain on parents and students, but, as uncomfortable as it is to hear, that’s the way it ought to be. School should be hard. Why? Hard work brings a profit.
Think of something good. Is it easily acquired? Now something beautiful… Now true… The world our Father created yields its fruit only to laborers like the ant in Proverbs 6. Students who are allowed to grumble about memorizing an additional five vocabulary words or to roll their eyes when required to show all of their math work are being prepared to live life lazily.
If we want students to take pleasure in a lifelong search for wisdom, they need training in how to work. They get some of this training naturally. Fifth grade is more challenging than fourth grade. But it is not enough to have students advance to the next textbooks, start using planners, and pack their own lunches. These appropriate challenges are not the only ones. Students need to be equipped to wrestle with their sins and shortcomings. They need encouragement to say about their sins the same things that God says about them.
Preparing students to entrench themselves in the work of searching for wisdom means teaching them what a pick axe looks like and teaching them to use it with all their might! Sometimes the pick axe looks like a protractor or dictionary, and sometimes it looks like prayer or confession.
Students who spend their days studying Latin and writing research papers in addition to learning how to love God, love their neighbors, and root out their sins will fall into their beds tired. That is how it should be. Put simply, the lifelong struggle for wisdom is difficult, but diligently running with endurance is beautiful.
Boston Butts were overflowing in our school kitchen last week! At least 10 students from 9th through 12th grades stayed after school to season pork shoulders on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Juniors and seniors sold over 320 butts with the proceeds benefiting the New York City aesthetics trip in March. Thank you to all who participated and/or contributed to this project!
The cast for A Midsummer Night’s Dream was announced last Friday! The list is as follows: Theseus-Andrew Sandell, Puck-Jacob Hopkins, Philostate-Adam Strickler, Egeus-Cole Chandler, Oberon-Bennett Looper, Lysander-Phillip Myers, Demetrius-Edwin Weihenmayer, Peter Quince/Prolouge-Clayton Myers, Bottom/Pyramus-Parker Gilley, Flute/Thisby-Evan Hennessey, Snout/Wall-Jimmy Hunter, Snug/Lion-Clark Dunham. Robin Starveling/Moonshine-Nathan Peterson, Attendant/Understudy-Mitchel Peterson, Peaseblossom-Faith Heifner, Cobweb-Erica Radcliffe, Moth-Emily Hadding, Mustardseed-Laura Looper, Titania-Leah Strickler, Helena-Sarah Fletcher, Hermia-Alex Johnson, Hippolyta-Reagan Chandler, Faerie 1-Hannah McNeill, Faerie 2-Mekenzie Petersen, Faerie 3-Grace McNeill, Faerie 4-Jessica Croley, Faerie 5-Tess Dickinson. Congratulations to all!
As students prepare for the Grand Hall Winter Ball on February 4th, they are enjoying weekly dance lessons. Fred Astaire Dance Studio has come in each Tuesday and Thursday this month to teach our 9 th through 12th graders several traditional dances. Rhetoric parents, please join us for this grand affair and for dancing lessons Tuesday evenings at the Fred Astaire Studios!
Plans are under way for the 2017 Trinitas Classic Golf Tournament. It will take place on March 3rd and 4th. This year’s format is new and different with 2 opportunities to play in separate tournaments at the beautiful Stonebrook Golf Course. This is NOT a 2-day golf tournament, but a Pro-Am on Friday followed by a scramble format on Saturday. Please take a moment to register your team at trinitaschristian.org/school-life/golf-tournament/. Early registration for Saturday’s scramble ends February 17th. Come play with a pro, eat delicious food, and enjoy our new location.
When you come to Trinitas, what jumps right out at you is the fact that it is a different sort of school than your common public or private school, and even different from most private Christian schools you will have been acquainted with in your life. That isn’t to say that there aren’t other schools like Trinitas in the world, and it isn’t even to say that Trinitas is the best school that you will ever have been acquainted with. It is different, and that should be obvious. One of the main catalysts for that difference is the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty in our school life, not only in the classroom, but also in the hallways, at the lockers, on the ball field, and in short, everywhere the school has any presence as an institution.
The founding philosophy for our pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty is the exhortation in Philippians 4:8: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” This Scriptural exhortation is a well-suited template for classical Christian education. If we meditate on and even pursue things that are true, good, and beautiful, we will be orienting our hearts, our loves toward these things and away from the opposite of truth, goodness, and beauty. We will be cultivating virtue in our students and teachers.
So how does that make Trinitas different? Does it mean we only read stories about sweet little Christian boys and girls whose hair is parted on the right and whose faces and hands are always clean and who never tell lies? Well, that isn’t a bad place to start with toddlers, but any eight-year-old can tell you the world doesn’t work that way. Adam and Eve messed that picture up and none of us has done any better since. So instead we teach and train (and learn alongside) our students to discover what is true, good, and beautiful in the rubble of this fallen world. When we find it, we hold it up in a redeeming sort of way and point others toward it; we meditate on it apart from the rubble we rescued it from, allowing it, more than the rubble, to inform who we are.
The rubble we search through is the whole world and all its works. God created the world and everything in it, “even the wicked for the day of doom” (Prov. 16:4). With that in mind, it seems that at least a shred of truth, goodness, and/or beauty ought to be lurking everywhere. Certainly there is some rubble too ragged for our students to dig through at this stage of their lives, so we won’t dig in those places. Still, we want to dig through enough rubble during their career at Trinitas to give them the tools they need, and the practice with those tools, so that they can continue to sift through the rubble for themselves for the rest of their lives, always searching for the true, the good, and the beautiful.
All of this gets us back to how that pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty makes Trinitas different. The world has decided that truth, goodness, and beauty are relative. At Trinitas we maintain that there is a standard for truth, goodness, and beauty, and that it can be found in the Logos—in the Word and in the Word made Flesh, Jesus Christ. This is our compass when we go digging in the rubble; this is our magnifying glass, our lie detector, our model for beauty. It is as much our guide when we read Nietzsche and Rousseau as it is when we read the Hobbit. It is what makes our Aesthetics trip a serious educational exercise instead of a class party. It is the line we correct to in the classroom when we drift to one side or the other. It is the thing we most want our students to know and love, to live their lives by, and to measure everything by as they leave Trinitas and continue the lifelong pursuit of things true, good, and beautiful. No matter what education may look like elsewhere, this is what it should look like at Trinitas. No matter what the template for education is at other schools you may be acquainted with, the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty is the template at Trinitas—and that is why everything we do should look very different from other schools you may be acquainted with.
Congratulations to our Cross Country team on their performance at the 2016 Pensacola Airport Run. Held on December 3rd, Tucker Gregg placed first in the boys division. Evan Hennessey was close behind in second place with younger brother Issac bringing home the bronze in third. Great job boys! The girls also had excellent times with McKinley Traylor placing second and Emily Hadding finishing fourth for the girls. Well done team and keep up the good work! With Coach AJ Traylor at the helm and the countless miles run each week, the Trinitas Cross Country team is looking strong!
When teachers and administrators from other schools visit Trinitas, one of the things they love is that all of our students sing. Music is not an elective at Trinitas; singing is not optional. We sing to start the day, we sing in music class, we sing in other classes, we sing in choir, and we sing to end the day. It is not a spontaneous thing—though song does occasionally erupt unannounced—it is intentional. We work at it. Even those of us who do not naturally sing well work at it (even harder in fact).
Why all this hard work at something that is uncomfortable for lots of people? Because with few exceptions God has given us all the gift of voice, and what better way to use the gift than to praise Him with it! The Bible is chock-full of examples of God’s people creating and then beautifully singing songs to God. It is also full of exhortations for us to do the same.
A main focus of our music program at Trinitas is for every student to graduate with the ability to read music well enough to sing a song he or she is unfamiliar with—in parts. We spend lots of time in our music classes learning to sight read and sing. In choir we put that into practice in a big way, always working toward performing a piece or a few pieces. If you’ve seen one of our concerts, you’ve seen the fruit of this work. We may not be the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but we are working hard, having fun, and sounding pretty good. We are learning to sing beautifully and hope that it pleases God to hear us. You can hear every student in the 4th through 12th grade performing the “Hallelujah Chorus” on our Facebook page.
Another place we work hard learning to sing is in Morning Meeting. Our Morning Meeting is a time of confessing our faith together, hearing God’s word, and devoting our day to Him, but it is also a time of singing praises together. Perhaps you have been to Morning Meeting at Trinitas and have seen Mr. Varela teaching the whole school to sing a song in parts. If praises are worth singing, they’re worth singing beautifully. That’s why Mr. Varela may spend several days teaching parts of a song to the whole school before we ever actually put it all together and sing the song in its entirety.
With few exceptions, we all have a voice, and our voices can be employed in no higher calling than beautifully singing songs to God. And where else are students learning to do that? Reading music and singing is an art that seems to be losing its importance among the masses in exchange for the acquisition of more practical, utilitarian skills. Not at Trinitas! We learn lots of practical skills, certainly, but we also aim to graduate students who live beautiful, Gospel-centered lives, students who are able to do a great variety of things beautifully—not the least important of which is singing. We can hardly hope for anything better than that our students would bless their families, their churches, and their Heavenly Father with beautiful singing.