Windows to Learning

Nov. 11-17, 2004
Windows to Learning
By David Friedlander/ SUN contributing writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Facility and Program Improvements Enrich Trinity Catholic School in Oswego OSWEGO –– When students entered school on September 2nd, they noticed a brighter and quieter atmosphere at Trinity Catholic School. The only Catholic elementary school in Oswego was a recent recipient of approximately $100,000 from the Diocesan Heritage Campaign that began five years ago. During this past spring and summer one of the school’s largest capital improvements projects since the school was built in 1935 was begun, and all 137 of the original wooden windows were replaced with new energy-efficient aluminum windows. From the outside, the school looks just like it did 70 years ago, according to principal David Friedlander.

Trinity Catholic is in its sixth year as Oswego County’s only Catholic elementary school, since the consolidating of three schools in 1999. Today Trinity Catholic serves 17 Catholic parishes throughout the Northern Region of the Syracuse Diocese and will accept students from all parts of Oswego County. Trinity Catholic provides academic and spiritual programs from preschool through sixth grade. Beginning with the preschool years, Trinity’s faculty realize that a warm and positive early childhood experience is the cornerstone of a child’s emotional growth and well-being and are committed to providing a warm, caring and nurturing environment for its 3-and 4-year-old children. Trinity Catholic offers several different half day preschool classes ranging from two to five day experiences designed to meet both the child’s and the family’s needs. While the curriculum provids a challenging and enriching learning environment, the preschool children are also introduced to prayer and other general aspects of the Catholic faith.

One of Trinity Catholic’s goals is to provide an environment in which words, actions and beliefs are modeled on the life of Jesus. All kindergarten through grade six students at Trinity Catholic receive daily instruction in religious education, based upon the diocesan curriculum. However, their learning extends beyond the classroom as each class is assigned a monthly Mass to plan, and students participate in different aspects of the liturgy. In addition, Trinity Catholic has implemented a monthly Virtue Recognition Program that helps students learn and practice the spiritual virtues of their Catholic faith. Another part of their religious instruction includes volunteering in various community activities such as the local soup kitchen. Beginning with morning prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, students are enriched with a consistent spiritual foundation blended with an excellent academic curriculum centered on the NYS learning standards. In addition to following the NYSED curriculum, Trinity Catholic also administers the NYSED assessments in fourth grade in the areas of math, English language arts (ELA), and science, while the fifth grade students are assessed in the area of social studies. In the 2004 math assessment, Trinity Catholic’s fourth grade students achieved an excellent 95% passing rate. This was the top score throughout Oswego County. The school’s fourth grade ELA results reflected a 70% passing rate, which was third highest in the county.

In addition to studies in core curriculum areas, Trinity students are culturally enriched with subjects such as art, vocal music, instrumental music, physical education, and foreign language. In their foreign language classes, students in grades three through six are taught both French and Spanish during the school year. The students learn about the languages and cultures of other countries, thus exposing them at a young age to the world around them. Throughout the day, visitors to Trinity Catholic will not only feel the warmth and enthusiasm within the building, but also hear it as childrens’ voices and musical instruments resound in preparation for their winter and spring musical concerts. The classrooms and hallways are usually decorated with colorful and varied art projects that accentuate each child’s creativity and individuality.

The physical health and well-being of the students are also addressed through the physical education program that not only follows NYS guidelines but also offers an intramural sports program that promotes a team sport experience. In the spring the Trinity campus is transformed into an indoor and outdoor sports arena where the school’s Annual Sports Day is held. During this event parents, faculty, and staff volunteer their time to conduct a variety of Olympic-style athletic events with a barbecue lunch provided by the Home and School Association for all of the participants, spectators, and volunteers. All students in kindergarten through sixth grade, along with the faculty participate. This event concludes with an awards program where ribbons are presented.

This past September, Trinity Catholic students and faculty reaped the benefits of wireless technology as they received 28 laptop computers to enhance their existing state-of-the-art technology program. During the summer, Trinity Catholic teachers received intensive training on the use of wireless technology along with new ways of incorporating technology into their academic curriculum. Classroom teachers are now integrating technology via usage of interactive web sites that tie into classroom text publishers. In addition, each classroom teacher has been provided with the necessary skills to develop individual classroom web sites in order to provide on-going information and communication with their families, alumni, and the entire community on a global basis.

The school and faculty are always seeking new and innovative instructional methods to help the students meet the challenging expectations of today’s world. An example of this is the recently acquired Reading First Grant the school received through its partnership with the local public school district. With this federally-funded grant, the students and faculty of Trinity Catholic have received a tremendous amount of state-of-the-art materials and resources towards improving the reading skills of children in kindergarten through grade three. In addition, kindergarten through third grade teachers are receiving additional in-service training in scientifically researched-based reading instruction. The purpose of this grant is to have all students reading at or above grade level by the time they leave third grade.

The technology program, expanded academic programs, the Window Replacement project and in-depth spiritual programs are integral parts of Trinity Catholic School and have become a reality as a result of the school’s overall long-range, strategic planning process. This process improves, enhances and promotes Catholic education. Trinity Catholic is currently in the third year of a four-year project which involves input from a planning committee composed of faculty, parents, and members of the parish and general community. Their mission is to ensure the success of Catholic education and restore its livelihood in the Northern Region of the Syracuse Diocese. Based upon all that has taken place during the past six years at Trinity Catholic, this goal is certainly within reach.

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