Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans' Day at Trinity School

This year we decided to mix it up a bit with Veterans' Day.   In the past, we've had school-wide assemblies, with speakers addressing the entire school.

This year we decided to give each division its own special time together.

Today, on the Day Itself, both the Middle School and the Upper School held their events.  The Lower School has a special day planned for Thursday of this week, with a guest speaker from the Armed Forces.

The Middle School began the day at the flagpole, raising the flag and hearing two students and a faculty member playing the national anthem.  Dr. Goss made a few remarks and offered this prayer:

Lord Jesus, the Captain of my soul, who endured the pain of battle with the old evil Foe in order to secure my redemption, grant me a grateful heart for the freedoms I enjoy through your grace and mercy.  

Help me to treasure my spiritual freedom from sin, death, and the devil, and open my lips continually to praise you for my liberty in you.  

Teach me to be thankful for my liberties in this blessed land, which were won and preserved for me by the sacrifices of my countrymen.  Help me to honor their memory by a conscientious and loyal citizenship and a readiness to defend the rights of free people everywhere.

Grant thy comfort to families who today remember with sorrow the death of one who gave his or her life for our country.  Sustain those veterans who are confined to hospitals throughout our land, who bear the scars of war, so that I might enjoy the wholesomeness of peace and freedom.

Keep me from forgetting the heroes of the past lest I become a coward in the face of the future.  Grant the gift of peace to our land and to the world, so that you Gospel may have free course and more people everywhere may march under your lordship beneath the banner of your cross.  Amen.

The Upper School gathered in the US Library (won't it be great to have a Commons!?) to hear from Durham businessman Joe Collie, who was in France on the front lines during the winter of 1944-45.  Mr. Collie told stories of his time on the front, of the liberation of France, of his reunions with friends.  He brought his jacket, with many medals affixed, and explained them to the students.

On this day, we acknowledge the endless debt of gratitude we have to men and women like Joe Collie and especially to their fallen comrades.

On November 13, our Middle School gathered to hear from Trinity alum and Purple Heart Marine Christopher Ray, who talked about his experience in Afghanistan.

The Lower School also held its own assembly, with Army Ranger and former Duke ROTC officer Todd Sherrill, who brought his box of military hats to share with the students.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Dedication of the Blake Hubbard Commons

On this spectacular October morning, the entire Trinity student body along with many guests and friends of the school gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking for our new Blake Hubbard Commons.

Tim Govert spoke eloquently and humorously about Blake, remembering him as a loving and mischievous friend to so many. Angela Tawfik prayed beautifully for us all, thanking God for the design, praying for safety and success through the project. And Board Chair, Jeff Lloyd, led the groundbreaking itself. 

We sang the “Non Nobis” at the end, and then students all tossed 525 tennis balls into the air.  

Here are my remarks to open the day. I was very pleased with the morning. It was a simple but beautiful ceremony.


Good morning and thank you for coming today.

Why are we here?  To begin together to construct a new building here at Trinity, the Blake Hubbard Commons.

This is a day that we have all been waiting for with high hopes, and I give thanks that we have come to this place.  But it is also a day we wish had never come.  Many of us have worked very hard to get to this day, many have given generously—thank you!  But I would trade this day, all the money we have raised for it, this building for the life of the young man for whom it is named, just as I would trade it for any one of you Trinity students.  Like each of you, Blake Hubbard bore the image of God, and he was dearly loved by his parents (Jeff and Patty, along with Blake’s sister, Lauren, we welcome you).  May this space always be a fitting remembrance of Blake and a lasting tribute to Blake’s savior, Jesus Christ.

What is a Commons?  A Commons is a shared space.  You TK Cubs have your own room here at Trinity—that is not a commons.  In the Middle and Upper Schools, teachers share rooms—Dr. Hall and Mrs. Stepp use the same room for Middle School Science, and Mr. Hicks and Miss Hardy share a room in the Upper School too.  But a Commons is shared by everyone in some way, for many purposes.  So now at Trinity, the Great Room is a sort of Commons, as is the Blue Gym sometimes, and even the Upper School Library.  But none of these spaces were designed and built to serve this way.

But our architects from Duda Paine (Dave Davis and Turan Duda were there) have designed this new building as a Commons Space.  And our builder, Riggs Harrod (Bruce Harrod was ill and sent his greetings; Debbie Parrish, Dean Brown, Sean Kane, and Bruce’s wife Kathy were present] will build this space as a Commons Space. 

The Blake Hubbard Commons
Duda Paine's Original strong design, with the square within a circle, turned on a diagonal, has remained the central big idea through this process.  The model that Duda Paine built to perfect the design is now on display in the lobby of the South Building.
This is where our Upper School students will come for study hall and free periods.  This is where the Middle School will hang out at breaks.  This is where both MS and US will eat their lunches, where US will have Cornerstone in the mornings.  On Thursdays, you can imagine the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools all coming here at different times for worship.  There will be rooms for group projects.  When I walk down the hall now, I often see MS students sitting on the floors working on laptops or in groups of two or three collaborating on an assignment—this space is built just for that kind of work.  This space connects directly to and opens up into the Library, so that it is an extension of the school’s learning and media center.  The small commons space upstairs in the US will now connect to the reading loft of the BHC and will flow downstairs into the larger Commons.  It will surely be the Hub of Trinity.

Raise your hands if you ever met Blake Hubbard.  A Trinity mother told me recently that her second grader asked his dad recently, “Dad, who is Blake Hubbard?”  Many of you have that question.  Blake was a kindergartner in Mrs. Watts class, a first grader in Mrs. Wright’s and Holland’s class, a second grader in Mrs. Bohn’s class.  He was in Mrs. Spiegel’s sixth grade homeroom.  He was a Middle School student who liked to play silly games like Human or Not Human (ask Mr. Dicks about that), who took a very long time to eat his lunch (ask Mrs. Whisenhunt).  And he was only halfway into his ninth grade year when he died in an accident. 

How many of you remember where you were the day Blake died?  That memory is still fresh and painful for many who are here.  But it will fade for Trinity students over the years.  What will remain—and this building will help it remain—is the memory of a young man who embodied some of the best of what Trinity wants to be: He was a playful boy, he was a good friend to many and created community wherever he went, and he loved and followed the Lord Jesus with his young heart. 

As Headmaster, that is what I want for all of you: To learn in playful unhurriedness, to be good friends and connect with others in loving ways, and to love and serve the Lord Jesus.  If this building can celebrate those qualities and call us all to live like this, then it will serve its purpose well.  To God be the glory.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Running for Mukhanyo

The fourth annual Run for Mukhanyo School took place today at Trinity.  The entire school gathered by the gym, having brought water bottles full of cash and coins, all for this young school in South Africa that serves AIDS orphans and other children in an impoverished region not far from Pretoria.  

Just as we started the run, the rains that had been threatening all morning came down.  One parent came up to me and asked, "What are you going to do with 500 soggy children?"  

"Send them back to class," was all I had to offer.  And we did.  And they dried out (with the help of a few borrowed T-shirts).  

All for a good cause and the chance to practice what Jesus taught us and modeled for us: It is better to give than to receive.  

Each homeroom and classroom brought bottles full of donations.

Laps around the soccer field

Miss Spangler's Third Grade arrived early for the run.

Cheerful Givers

Upper School Students organized the run and collected donations.

Soggy but happy

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Rainy Day of Learning at Trinity School

Earlier this year, Cooper the Wonder Dog, my grandpuppy, went in search of students who were not yet to be found.  But this morning Cooper would have found plenty of students at Trinity School.  I took some time to wander the Lower School classes, and I was delighted with what I found.

It's officially the 13th day of school, and we are humming along.  On this rainy day, students and teachers all seemed to have settled into lots of great learning.

I found the TK Cubs reading Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel, a book my mother read to me when I was a child.

I saw the first graders working on Singapore math and second graders taking a break after reading to play with games for an indoor recess.  The first graders in Mrs. Simpson's class were having snack and listening to their Bible story, and I had the privilege of sharing in their time of prayer for the world, their families, and the school.  Upstairs, I found sixth graders learning about the Order of Operations, as Mrs. O'Brient told the story of guests at the Operations Ball (students were enthralled).  And Mrs. Steis was giving the students a visual tour of Minoan civilization and the explosion of the volcano on ancient Thera--the students had many questions about tsunamis.  Across the hall, Mrs. Ruffing had just finished teaching her students about the scientific method, having them build paper airplanes, whose various designs they tested by flying them in the hallways.  Whoever said you couldn't have fun learning on a rainy day?

Let it rain.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Weight of White People in the World

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I will tell a truth that is hard to tell: If it weren’t for Trinity School, or some kindred community into which I was inducted, I would not be thinking about Michael Brown, Jr.  His story would be a one of the dark drops of headlines that dissolved and disappeared into my clear consciousness as soon as the evening news faded away.  Big Mike’s story would be diluted by tales of Ebola, ISIS, and Russians in Eastern Ukraine, drowned out by the floods in Phoenix.
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Not so for my African American friends.  This story is their story.  Not that they are just like Mike, but that they find themselves irresistibly drawn into this story.  They are talking about it at their dinner tables the way I would be talking if my neighbor’s house had been burglarized or his wife assaulted.  “That could happen to me” and “That just ain’t right” are questions like scabs that we keep picking until they bleed.  

When the board at Trinity formed its permanent committee on diversity, we called it by the strangest of names, the Koinonia Committee.  I will confess to having doubted the wisdom of this appellation over the years--most people cannot pronounce it, few people can spell it, and anyone who tries to define it will get all tangled up in the lexical knot that the Greek word renders.  It has been translated variously as “fellowship,” “communion,” and “commonality,” and I often find myself trying to explain what it means and why we chose it to name our Diversity Committee.  Were we just trying to be cute or clever?

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But Michael Brown’s story reminds me why it was a stroke of brilliance (not mine) to name our work Koinonia.  At its root, the word means “sharing.”  In the Greek world, a koinonia was a partnership in which both sides had skin in the game.  

My black brothers and sisters have skin in the Michael Brown game, and therefore so do I.  And my skin is not just the skin of sympathy and compassion, it is the white skin that James Baldwin discovered after his bitter father died, “the weight of white people in the world.”  That weight is not a thing I can take full responsibility for, anymore than I can be (entirely) responsible for the number that appears on my digital bathroom scale.  But it is my weight, and wherever I go, there I am, every white pound of me.  Part of koinonia is being willing to learn how that weight feels to others.  

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Baldwin tells the story of how he hurled a mug of water at a waitress who said to him, “We don’t serve Negroes here.”  He tells it not so that he can hurl condemnations against this woman (who spoke with “a note of apology in her voice, and fear”) but to claim the truth that “my life, my real  life, was in danger, and not from anything other people might do but from the hatred I carried in my own heart.”

Turns out that some of the things we share are toxic koinonia, the kind that knows no color bar.  

Which makes me glad, most of all, for another Koinonia: the share we all have in Christ, who bore the weight of the sins of the white people and of the black and the brown.  His story is our story: Christ died for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.  Not the weight of all the white racism or the weight of centuries of black anger can count against that Great Gift.  
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But the glory of that truth has not won out in my own heart yet, and they are rioting still in Ferguson.  And so, in the meantime, I am trying to listen.  And not only to my African American friends at Trinity, but also to those (of many ethnicities) in law enforcement--I was glad to see that Attorney General Eric Holder mentioned his brother in law enforcement in his recent op-ed piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  I am thankful for people like our Diversity Coordinator, Adrienne Davis, who is telling me what questions her son is asking and how she and her husband, as parents of two black sons and one black daughter, respond.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Back To School!

We've welcomed forty new families to Trinity over the last two days.  It's a joy to have the energy and optimism of these fresh hearts and faces.  

I love seeing students greeting one another at the beginning of the year.  Back together again!

Mrs. Holland says hello to new students and to some that have grown a bit.

Remember the smell of new pencils freshly sharpened?

A firm welcome-back handshake from Zachary.