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Matt Allio

A Platform for Thanksgiving

Dear Trinity Families,

 

The rhythm of the school year is unmistakable – at least to those of us to measure time by a school calendar.  It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving, a day before we return to campus, and about three weeks before Winter Break.  It’s uncanny how similar this time of year feels, year after year, even over the past 18 months when we’ve all navigated a world that abruptly changed in almost every imaginable way.

 

There’s a dissonance between what feels similar and what feels unparalleled due to the pandemic.  We can enjoy what feels like a gift of a normal Thanksgiving and be alerted two days later about the Omicron variant. With that said, I was reminded over the break of one of the aspects that brings us all on a common platform (what feels similar) at Trinity.  It has to do with a line in our statement of Episcopal identity, specifically:

 

Trinity School is a community of learners immersed in social responsibility, a sense of connectedness to something greater than ourselves, and an understanding of how we might contribute to the good of the world through the way we live.

 

Let me try to explain further with three reminders from the Thanksgiving break.

 

Yesterday, in communicating with Kim Thacker (Service Learning, Religious Studies and Grade 3 Teaching Assistant), she shared with me a comment from a Grade 3 student when asked if we should have a food drive in November after numerous other collections in October and possible fatigue among the students. The student’s comment was “The more we can help, the better!”  

 

Sure, we have grown accustomed to students getting out of the cars at drop off with bags of food and other requested materials. We’ve grown accustomed to this embedded sense of social responsibility among our students and their families.  What I didn’t realize, until asking Kim directly, was how tangible the results have been.  In the first three months of the school year, the Trinity community has:

 

  • Contributed over 1700 items to the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto.

 

  • Contributed  over 100 items of clothing, bedding and small appliances for Afghan refugees.

 

  • Contributed over 500 toys and books for Afghan refugees.  

 

What is perhaps equally important, in our community of learners, is these contributions run parallel with learning.  Many of our classes participated in simulations of food insecurity and food scarcity.  There were a series of Chapels that provided key insights into the plight of refugees.  Contributing is one thing.  Learning is one thing.  Put them together and they provide an integrated and powerful experience for students to connect to something greater than themselves.

 

On Tuesday, in a communication from a Trinity family, they and other Trinity families were heading up a Diaper Drive for Samaritan House through December 19.  The family wanted to let us know in case it runs parallel with any other Trinity service projects.  This is an example of families collaborating with families (another example of our common platform at Trinity).

 

Last Sunday, Pal Thinnappan (IT Director), let me know that Achungo Children’s Center – our sister school in rural southwest Kenya – had a year of unplanned construction due to Covid-19 requirements and it cost $57K above operational costs.  And because of a government road enlarging project, an additional $51K to rebuild classrooms and a new kitchen along with improving safety structures due to the new road.  

 

Achungo Children’s Center takes in orphans and destitute children in rural Kenya.  The Center provides food, clothing, medical care and schooling for more than 600 students ages 3 to 16 and is funded by individuals and partners who believe in their mission:  Give Kenyan children a way out of extreme poverty, so they can reach their potential.

 

At Trinity, over many years, we’ve partnered with Achungo Children’s Center by donating all of our used laptops and iPads for learning at Achungo.  Each summer, Pal wipes all of the iPads and laptops clean, makes any repairs needed, installs new operating systems, and ships the refurbished technology to Achungo.  

 

The next few weeks will no doubt be a time of giving and receiving, a time of reflection and gratitude, a time of family and friends and navigating the pandemic.  I think it’s timely to pause and reflect upon the good fortune we have in our lives and consider our common school platform of service at Trinity.  A platform of social responsibility and a sense of connectedness to something greater than ourselves.

 

See you around campus,

 

Matt

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