Project Update October 23, 2012

Dear Parents and Friends,

On Thursday evening, October 11, Trinity Hall held its first public event to celebrate the United Nations’ inaugural “International Day of the Girl.” Held in the Theater at Christian Brothers Academy, nearly two-hundred people attended, including prospective students of all ages and their parents.

As part of the evening, the audience was treated to a 90-second teaser for the upcoming feature film Girl Rising, being produced by 10×10, a non-profit group and social media campaign that emphasizes their belief that “educating girls in developing nations will change the world.” View the teaser at: http://10x10act.org/10×10-the-film/. The feature film is due out in Spring 2013. However, it was commonly agreed that the highlight of the evening was when all future students were called to the stage to present their “Girls + Education = ________” signs following the 10×10 activity (below). Trinity Hall’s Navy and Orange was everywhere and guests loved all of the Trinity Hall gear. In the coming weeks, a selection of Trinity Hall t-shirts, sweatshirts and outerwear will be available for purchase here on our website.

The night concluded with a Trinity Hall project update delivered by Trustee Victoria Gmelich. Since many families were unable to attend the event, we have copied her message below to keep everyone informed of the most up-to-date happenings in the development of this exciting new girls’ school community:

“I am Victoria Gmelich and I am one of the founders of Trinity Hall. Like many of you in the audience, my husband Justin and I have an eighth grade daughter, Caroline. All of our families will be making the difficult – but exciting – decision of where these young ladies will attend high school next year. Tonight, I am here to update you on our progress and encourage you to stick with us as we continue to meet our objectives. Before I do, and although I am sure I will miss a few folks in doing so, I would like to take this opportunity to specifically acknowledge some of the people who have helped with this 10×10 event, but who have also been instrumental in moving Trinity Hall from a dream to a reality.

students on stage

(Credit: Theresa Kiernan)

First, the group of Trinity Hall volunteers that have been tremendously successful in getting Trinity Hall’s name out there and in managing the many tasks and details required to put on an event of this magnitude: Mairead Clifford, Allison Wagner, Theresa Kiernan, Ciara Kelly, Gina Rodolico and Christine Latore… thank you all for a job very well done. And thank you to the many parents and students who volunteered their time to be here and welcome all of you this evening.

Second, the CBA family, whose support for not only this event but also so much more has been profound. Brother Frank, thank you. The CBA Board, thank you. The CBA leadership has been unwavering in their support of Trinity Hall’s development.

Third, I would like to thank tonight’s speakers – and educational advisers to Trinity Hall, James Palmieri and Ann Clarke. Your words tonight – and your experiences in general – truly speak to the mission and vision of this exciting project. Providing the girls’ school option to the young women of Monmouth County is a must, and we appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the many advantages girls’ schools offer.

students on stage

(Credit: ShannonK.Winning)

Lastly, I would like to thank the burgeoning Trinity Hall community. Similar to the CBA family, the energy, care, commitment and passion of this group is outstanding. This has been very hard work. Sometimes we meet headwinds in pushing Trinity Hall forward. Without you folks in this room encouraging us, supporting us, and offering your time, kind words and feedback – the reality of Trinity Hall may not have happened. Make no bones about it… it is happening! Thank you.

So here we are. As the mother of an 8th grader, I stand here before you today empathetic to the challenges of where to send your daughter and my own daughter to high school. Since last winter, when our founding team analyzed the overwhelming interest and positivity of the feasibility study results, we have been committed to opening Trinity Hall’s Ninth Grade in September 2013. We have done everything possible to make that opening date a reality and we stand here today having accomplished so much in Trinity Hall’s development, including: our independent Governance structure and by-laws; our 501c3 non-profit formation; documenting our mission statement; conducting a search for our Founding Head of School; and holding a number of outreach events to gain your support among many, many other less desirable tasks.

We have business, legal, political, religious and educational advisers in place to guide us in all of these areas. As a result, the soon-to-be-named school leadership team has a head start on curriculum design, co-curricular planning, faculty needs and descriptions, independent school transportation processes, and preparing for interscholastic athletics offerings and schedules. The list goes on and on and we have been successful on many fronts. So much work, but so worthwhile.

Nevertheless we have a few critical open ended issues that are either partially answered or in the process of being answered. Clearly, what has proven to be the most elusive piece of the puzzle is the location for Trinity Hall, both next year and permanently. The most frequently asked question we get is: Where will you open? This is generally asked with some pointedness… Where are you going to open next year? And where will Trinity Hall be located permanently? Will you be constructing a new school building? All questions are usually followed by some offerings of help. We recognize the importance of our location.

We know you need to know where your daughters will be going to school; where you will be driving to/from; if the facilities will be up to par, etc. As a result, you should not be surprised to hear that our site search consumes the largest percentage of our time, concern and efforts. No building or land opportunity has gone unvisited or unconsidered. Our Real Estate Committee has grown, and the amount of professional support we have received in this area is appreciated and humbling.

As I have learned as a founding board member of Trinity Hall, many of the things that we need to accomplish have to be approached cautiously. This is particularly true regarding our School Leadership Team, and also regarding Real Estate Acquisition and Development. How we engage with property owners, planning boards and different levels of government is often as important as cost and potential.

So what can we say about 2013’s location?
First, that we are in very late-stage discussions with Middletown Township officials about a terrific temporary site which could be used for the fall of 2013. This facility can be used for as few as 2 years, with the option of additional years if necessary or desired. Second, it has all the accoutrement that a new school needs: classrooms, offices, all-purpose space, a gymnasium, stage, kitchen, and athletic fields. We have toured this property as board members – and as parents of daughters who will attend Trinity Hall. This space checks the boxes, however, we certainly do not want to compromise the 2013 start for Trinity Hall because we do not adhere to process. This waiting game is something that we know will be rewarded. Regarding timing, we plan to announce our Head of School and the 2013 location in the coming months. Please stick with us.

The fact that you’re here tonight shows that not only are you considering Trinity Hall, and not only are you supportive of single-sex and Catholic education, but that you are excited about this new school option and are willing to embrace the opportunity to join us as Founding Families and Founding Students of Trinity Hall. Hopefully, your experience here tonight has enhanced your enthusiasm and support.

Having said that, it is our primary responsibility as parents to care for our children. Therefore, we encourage all families to explore other independent, Catholic and public school options; take the entrance exams and make your visits. Even apply. I expect most of you had plans to do this anyway, but please submit your application of interest to Trinity Hall as well. Our admission and enrollment processes are in production and will be clearly communicated within a few weeks. You will be granted an opportunity to meet with a Trinity Hall representative and discuss this high school option for your daughter. There will be no cost to apply to Trinity Hall this year.

Do we have a Plan B? 
Yes. If an adequate site for Trinity Hall is not secured by the end of the year, we will be forced to delay our opening until 2014. If this is the case, the 2014 school year will consist of Grades 9 and 10. While we acknowledge that a one year delay is better than no school at all, we continue to strive and pray every day for progress, good news and a timely delivery of our inspiring vision.

Rest assured; we will be as transparent as possible in our updates in the coming months. We commit to being completely forthright with you about our timeline – well before the time of year that your family would be asked to make any decisions regarding next school year. Again, embrace and enjoy the high school selection process, but stick with us at the same time.

Tonight’s atmosphere further confirms our feasibility study from 18 months ago; it affirms our continued hard work and commitment; and it confirms our commonly held view that Monmouth County needs an all-girl’s High School in the Catholic tradition. We are here tonight to celebrate the International Day of the Girl. We are also here to celebrate Trinity Hall’s future in educating your daughters.

The event will conclude here but we will remain available to speak with you. Thank you for coming and thank you for a special night.”

Thank you for your continued interest and support.

Sincerely,

Trinity Hall’s Board of Trustees

Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy as to Students: Trinity Hall admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.