(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)
A decade ago, a group of local educators, businesspeople, and religious leaders had a dream of a school that would bring together young people from many backgrounds to form a community based on Christian faith, academic excellence, and social justice.
Today, that dream is a reality, as Boston Trinity Academy celebrates its 10th year of educating young people in grades six through 12 from across Greater Boston and around the world. And starting this fall, the non-denominational Christian school is marking the anniversary through a series of events for students, parents, alumni, and faculty.
“None of us envisioned that in 10 years, we’d be here,” said Frank Guerra, the school’s headmaster and founding trustee, “and that we would be thriving, and now we’re trying to ensure that we thrive for the next 10 and beyond.”
Guerra credits the school’s success in part to a strong and consistent mission based on faith, achievement, and helping others. He said that mission has guided the school from the start and that every member of the school community has a stake in it.
“The mission was very clear here,” he said. “And everybody, from the board of trustees, from the chairman and everybody on the board, right down to a new sixth-grader here, can in some form or other tell you the mission of the school and be accurate.”
The anniversary celebrations began last week with the school’s annual convocation ceremony, where speakers exhorted the students to rise to meet life’s challenges with the support of loved ones and their religious beliefs. William L. Burke III, the headmaster of St. Sebastian’s School in Needham, Mass., delivered the keynote address and sought to inspire the students through thoughts from great leaders and thinkers.
“Abraham Lincoln said, ‘I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me, and I didn’t have the heart to let him down,’” Burke said. “Our friend is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who believes in us. We shouldn’t have the heart to let Him down. Our friends are our teachers, who labor hard night and day to prepare, to perform, to perspire, in the classroom, outside the classroom, for us. They believe in us. We shouldn’t have the heart to let them down.”
The anniversary celebrations will continue in early November with an elegant dinner for supporters, including current and former trustees and donors. Private donations are important to the school because it offers financial aid to 64 percent of its students and, lacking a large endowment or alumni support due to its short history, must rely primarily on donations to cover scholarships totaling $1.36 million annually.
In the spring, the school plans a more casual event: a large barbeque open to the entire school community: every current or former teacher or administrator, every student or alumnus, every parent or other family member, and every past or present trustee, donor, or other supporter.
As a lasting commemoration of the anniversary, the school will gather photos and reminiscences from the its history and publish a booklet that will recall the past while also sharing Guerra’s ambitious plans for the school’s future. He hopes to expand the school’s arts offerings through a new studio and performance space and to build a gymnasium and acquire athletic fields for its athletic programs.
Guerra wants to see the school grow from its current enrollment of 237 to 350, and to continue its record of getting every graduate accepted to a four-year college. But at the heart of the school’s future plans is the ongoing mission of serving students from widely varied backgrounds, said Robert Bradley III, the chairman of the school’s board of trustees and one of the school’s founders.
“You can look at almost any school in Boston, public or private, and you won’t see any school which is more truly integrated than Boston Trinity Academy,” Bradley said. “By that, I mean racially; I mean ethnically; I mean economically; I mean every kind of way.”
Part of that embrace of diversity includes having a student council that reflects the school’s blend of local students of many races and ethnicities as well as international students. Candidates for president and vice-president of the council pick running mates and are elected together, Guerra said, and last year all the candidates ran in ethnically mixed pairs.
Jaewoan Park, the current student council president, is an international student living with Guerra and his family while attending the school. The son of Korean missionaries, Park grew up mostly in China before coming to the US to attend Boston Trinity. As leader of the student council, he works to make students of all backgrounds feel at home, as students and faculty did for him when he came to the school.
“First when I got here, it’s just a totally new experience because it’s a Christian school, and they really focus on faith and they care for each and every single student,” Park said. “I felt very welcomed, from every teacher, every student.”
Park said the teachers at Boston Trinity demand a lot from the students, that they assign a lot of work but also provide support whenever it’s needed. Park said his most difficult class so far this school year is the advanced placement English course.
“I speak four languages, including English,” he said, “but this is my third year in America, so I’m still learning a lot.”
(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)