Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions Page!
Why are you ecumenical? What do you see as the greatest advantages of such an approach?
The answer to this question is probably best summarized in the following true story. Recently, a Trinitas student was reading some history and was very disturbed by the treatment of Catholics under Protestant rulers and vice-versa. When asked why he found this so upsetting, he said he thought it was because he has friends from both groups.
Sadly, Christianity is today marked by deep divisions. Because of this, we at Trinitas believe that we need to accomplish two things. First, instead of fixing upon the divisions within Christendom, we need to celebrate the common faith that binds Christians together. The issues that bind us are far greater than those that divide! By celebrating these, we believe that we can take steps toward being a positive Christian witness in a religiously fractured world. Second, when we have differences, we need to learn how to dialogue with each other in charitable and respectful ways. For in doing so, we learn from each other and are often blessed by one another.
At Trinitas, we are dedicated to Christian education. So, our goal is to educate children in such a way that they are formed by the richness of our faith. But we also realize that we live in a pluralistic world. So, we also desire to prepare our children to live in this world. We can think of no better way to accomplish these goals than to provide for our children an education in which they are simultaneously grounded in the fundamentals of the faith and interacting daily with children from different branches of Christianity. We should add, lastly, that our approach is not one that champions “lowest common denominator” Christianity. Christianity is a rich faith. We have no wish to minimize this. Rather, we gather together daily at Trinitas with our respective confessional identities, thanking God for the faith we share and learning from our respective differences.
Your school has daily prayer together. What do you do during that time?
We begin our day together around the Word of God and prayer. Every day we hear a reading from one of the Gospels and pray a Psalm, the Lord’s Prayer, and either the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed. We also join our voices in song, employing music that spans the whole history of Christianity, ranging from ancient hymns to the best of contemporary music. In addition, each week we hear short lessons about great figures in Scripture and the history of the church. On these days, Morning Prayer is a mixture of song and story and is an integral part of our character development curriculum. Parents and siblings are welcome to pray with the students and aid in whatever way they can; lending their voices in song or providing musical accompaniment are just two examples.
Is classical education only for gifted students?
Classical education is an excellent way to educate children whatever their abilities. Gifted children will do well in many different educational environments. They can excel at Trinitas, as we provide a challenging and robust academic environment. Classical education works with the natural development of the child and teaches fundamental skills in grammar, logic, rhetoric, history, math, and science. This knowledge is helpful to everyone ; it is knowledge that forms the basis of good thinking. Moreover, classical education communicates these skills in a way that is accessible and enjoyable, as we use chants, songs, and activity-based science. Finally, at Trinitas, we stress that education is holistic, engaging the entire person. And so we aim to provide a moral and spiritual grounding in the Christian tradition for our students. This grounding is invaluable for every student – whatever his or her academic ability may be.
What are your class sizes?
Kindergartners have their own class. Most classrooms in Grades 1-8 have combined grades (e.g., 5th-6th in one room) and are split into their respective levels for certain subjects. Class sizes typically range from twelve to twenty students.
How much homework will my child have?
That will depend to some degree on the child and his or her grade level, but we desire to strike a healthy balance. We are committed to academic rigor and challenging our students, so there is homework. However, children are not mere minds, so we encourage students to pursue activities apart from academics and to spend time with their families. Ideally, the amount of homework given should not prevent this.
Why do you teach “dead” languages such as Latin and classical Greek?
We teach Latin and classical Greek because they provide a terrific educational foundation. More than fifty percent of English vocabulary is taken from Latin. All the romance languages (Spanish, French, Portuguese, etc.) are based on Latin. Moreover, the study of Latin and Greek demand a very high level of competence with grammar. By learning these languages early, our students have a facility with grammar unmatched by most high school students. It is commonly noted that acquiring this competence with grammar stretches and strengthens the mind. As some like to put the matter, learning Latin and Greek are to the mind what physical education is to the body. Most children even find these languages fun.
By studying Latin and Greek students also gain valuable insight into the achievements of the Roman and Greek worlds (sculpture, architecture, sport, religious and political life, etc.). Finally, according to the National Committee for Latin and Greek, the study of Latin and/or Greek can also help student performance on college entrance exams. For example, high school students with two or more years of Latin typically score 140-160 points higher on the SAT than their Latin-less peers. The College Board (the publishers of the SAT) found that students with a background in Latin or Hebrew tied with higher scores in critical reading skills than students with a background in any other language. Students with a background in Greek scored next highest.
How do students taught in the classical tradition perform on standardized tests?
The data indicates that students taught in classical schools perform very well on such tests. More specifically, students trained at classical schools perform in the top 10-15% on national tests, such as the Stanford Achievement Test and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). (See Andrew Kern and Gene Veith, Classical Education: Toward the Revival of American Schooling, p. 24.) Many attribute these results, at least in part, to the study of Latin. For example, studies conducted by the Educational Testing Service show that Latin students consistently out perform all other students on the verbal portion of the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT).
Since the Spring of our inaugural 2006-2007 academic year, Trinitas students have taken the Iowa Test of Basic Skills to measure objectively their aptitude in vocabulary, reading comprehension, language, math, science, and social studies. These tests provide a standard for comparison with other mainline schools. It deserves mentioning that Trinitas spends no time at all “teaching to” this test.
When compared with students taking the same test at the same level nationwide, the composite average of every class over the history of our testing has ranked significantly above grade level as seen in the following table:
|National Percentile of Schools*
|Grade Equivalent Results
This means, for example, that over the past seven years our fourth grade classes have performed on average as well as the median seventh grade class would in the third month of its school year taking the same test, and so on. In most of the individual test components, our classes ranked far above their grade level. This was the case with our seventh and eighth grades, which consistently score at or above the level of high school seniors in Reading, Language, Mathematics, and Science, and our third through eighth grades, which place at least two years ahead of their peers nationwide.
*Data prior to 2010 not available.
Classical schools typically use the Trivium, which is a curriculum that has three stages: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Since Trinitas does not have a high school, it employs only the first two phases of the Trivium. In light of this, wouldn't it be stretching things to say that Trinitas is a genuinely classical school?
Our fundamental mission is to provide the best education we can for our students. At this point, we believe that we can do this by providing our children with a K-8 school. We realize that expanding beyond that would be a major undertaking. Of course a classical secondary school may be the natural outgrowth of Trinitas as it is presently configured. We are also exploring the option of working with other local high schools, many of which are excellent, to provide a “classical track” within which our graduates might complete the final stage of the Trivium. We believe that a school can be genuinely classical without offering the full Trivium. In fact, many of the members of the prominent classical school associations are K-6 or K-8 schools. For now, we are focusing our energy and resources on these grades, believing that it is better to be excellent at fewer things than mediocre at many.
What if my child is older and has not been classically educated? Will it be prohibitively difficult for him or her to “get up to speed” in subjects such as Latin or grammar?
When an older student transitions into classical education, there is typically an adjustment period in which that student is introduced to new material and educational methods. With a little work, the transition is one in which students typically come through extremely well. Most importantly, we are committed to shepherding students through this process. So, for example, if your child has not had any Latin, he or she will be put in the beginning Latin class. If he or she is motivated to move to a higher grade level, private tutoring is an option. Our teachers, you will find, are generous with their time. They are happy to provide extra help when the need arises.
Do you offer physical education, music, and art?
Yes. All Trinitas students have regular classes in physical education, music, and art.
Students at Trinitas have physical education two times per week where they learn to play such games as basketball, soccer, and field hockey as well as practice other skills related to physical fitness and good sportsmanship.
In addition to singing each morning during morning payer, Trinitas students have weekly music classes where they practice choral song, are exposed to various instruments, and are taught music theory, appreciation, and history. They also have the opportunity to improvise with melody, rhythm, and movement.
All grades have weekly art classes where they are taught technique in a variety of media as well as art appreciation and art history. Student work is on display for all to admire during our annual Fine Arts Night.
Do your students wear uniforms?
Yes, and our teachers do too. We believe that uniforms are helpful for numerous reasons. In our experience, they contribute to a sense of community. It also helps minimize the perception of socio-economic differences among students. Finally, it helps convey to students that there is a difference between being at school, on the one hand, and being at home or the neighborhood playground, on the other. And, we might add, we think our students look quite sharp in their uniforms.
Do you have a hot lunch program?
Although Trinitas does not operate a hot lunch program, students have the opportunity to participate in occasional community meals that affirm the Christian teaching that our bodies are not our own but belong to God. Nourishing and maintaining our bodies, then, is part of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation.
We also recognize that eating can itself be an educational opportunity and that what we eat can be related to our courses of study. Accordingly, we periodically work with faculty to coordinate community meals with specific learning opportunities.
What extracurricular opportunities and special events are there at Trinitas?
At Trinitas, students have the opportunity to participate in field trips (parents and siblings are welcome too), Spelling Bee, Speech Meet, Christmas Lessons and Carols, Grandparents’ Day, Fine Arts Night, Young Authors Festival, Science Fair, Trinitas Thoughtful Reader Book Club, Reader’s Theater, and more.
What are tuition costs?
To learn about tuition costs for the current or upcoming school year, please contact our office at 616-855-6518.
Included in the cost of tuition are all textbooks, field trips, membership fees, and tests offered to full-time and homeschool partnership families. School uniforms are not included.
Do you have a benevolence fund?
We are committed to being a school that displays socio-economic diversity. God’s kingdom, after all, displays such diversity. But we are a young school with limited financial resources, and we are also committed to fiscal responsibility. So, we currently have limited monies for families who need financial assistance. Families are encouraged to apply for tuition assistance from their churches and other charitable sources. Trinitas also provides tuition assistance (up to 50% total tuition) to qualified full-time families. New and returning enrollees seeking financial assistance from Trinitas must apply through FACTS Grant and Aid
. If you would like your child to attend Trinitas and are unable to afford full tuition, please talk to us about the matter. There are often creative solutions to such problems. Likewise, if you would like to contribute specifically to a benevolence fund, please talk to us about the issue. This is a wonderful way to further God’s kingdom.
Do you provide busing for students?
No. Parents are responsible for providing transportation to and from school. Carpooling is an option. Many Trinitas parents have found they enjoy driving their children (some even come from quite a distance). This also provides parents a regular opportunity to stay in touch with their children’s teachers and with fellow parents.
Are you a member of any Christian or classical associations?
We are members of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS) and Christian Schools International (CSI). Our faculty regularly attend classical education conferences.