Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Trinity School: beyond good education, to the sacred
Story and photos by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff
(From the Sept. 8, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)
Trinity School, on Spokane’s near north side, serves students from St. Anthony and St. Joseph parishes. (IR photo)
It’s a bright, sunny day in the first week of September, and the 130 students, seven teachers, and one principal at Trinity Catholic School, on Spokane’s near North side, are happy to be starting a new school year at their favorite school. Although they probably don’t give it much thought, when they began this new school year, they continued a tradition that goes back 100 years.
Trinity’s tradition goes back to St. Joseph School, in Spokane’s St. Joseph Parish, which the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary began in 1905 and staffed until 1921, when the Sisters of Notre Dame took over. In fact, until 1922, the school included both an elementary school and a high school.
In 1951, St. Joseph was the first Catholic school in the Diocese of Spokane to begin a hot lunch program.
In the early 1960s it became evident that the building St. Joseph had occupied for so many years needed major repairs and restoration. Since this seemed unfeasible, the idea surfaced to combine St. Joseph with another Catholic school. This idea was attractive to the administrators of St. Anthony School, which itself had been in existence since 1928. In 1969, the two schools consolidated in the St. Anthony School building and became Trinity School.
The name “Trinity” originated during a brief period when it was thought that Our Lady of Lourdes School was going to join St. Joseph and St. Anthony. Before that happened, however, the decision-makers at Our Lady of Lourdes Lourdes decided, instead, to become part of Cataldo School, on Spokane’s South Hill, along with the St. Augustine and Sacred Heart parish schools.
It was about this time, too, that the Sisters of the Holy Names and the School Sisters of Notre Dame agreed to staff Trinity School together.
In 1995, Trinity was the first of the smaller Catholic schools in the diocese to become accredited. Today, Trinity is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges and the Western Education Association.
Trinity boasts a combined seventh-eighth grade classroom. Says Principal Dan Hill, “We believe that the kids can meet and exceed high expectations – and they do it!” (IR photo)
The current staff consists of seven teachers, all laity, including one who teaches a combined seventh and eighth grade class. Trinity School’s curriculum includes a music program, art classes, drama classes, and a band program. Trinity welcomes students from pre-K through eighth grade.
A special feature at Trinity School is Shane Playground, a “creative playground” dedicated in September 1977 through the efforts of the parents, family, friends and classmates of Shane Torrison, a first-grade Trinity student. Shane was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease in November 1976 and passed away the following February.
Trinity Catholic School’s new principal, Dan Hill, is beginning his eighth year at Trinity. For seven years he was a teacher and athletic director and, for five years, assistant principal.
“The Philosophy and Mission Statement of our school are very accurate,” Hill says. “A lot of our kids are from lower-income families. We have high expectations of all of these kids, and they meet and exceed what we expect of them. A large percentage of our students go on to Gonzaga Prep or to honors courses at North Central High School or Shadle High School. That says a lot about the academic value of our school. It doesn’t matter how much money a family has. We believe that the kids can meet and exceed high expectations – and they do it!”
Trinity holds four major fundraisers each year. The Trinity Catholic School Auction will be Nov. 12 this year. For “Day in Motion,” the students collect pledges, then exercise in various ways with students from Gonzaga University’s P.E. department. According to Hill, “The students from Gonzaga come to Trinity and set up all the activities for the kids, and they have snacks and prizes at the end of the day.” In June comes the annual Trinity School Cow Plop. Finally, an annual appeal includes donations from 100 percent of the families of Trinity’s students.
Another annual fundraiser, each September, draws on parent volunteers who work at the Spokane-area Señor Froggy Mexican restaurants’ booth at the Spokane Interstate Fair. The owners of the Señor Froggy restaurants then donate to Trinity School a percentage of the income from the 10-day fair.
Visiting briefly in two classrooms and the pre-school room at Trinity, a visitor is likely to be impressed by the quiet, the feeling that the students are having a good time learning, and the obvious Catholic “feel” to the environment. What the visitor senses is not only caring teachers and happy students, but a prayerful environment.
What’s happening at Trinity Catholic School goes beyond a competent, up-to-date education – although it is certainly that. What’s happening – and everyone can feel it, even if they aren’t consciously aware of it all the time – is warmly and delightfully sacred.