Academic Excellence: Annual Awards Chapel
Georgina D'Cruz

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:1-10

There was an excitement and sound of chatter when the Boston Trinity Academy students and staff gathered together in the Auditorium for the Awards Chapel. Headmaster Tim Belk welcomed everyone, saying that our latin motto "Via, Veritas, Vita" reflects our desire to be a school that represents and follows Jesus and His will for our lives because Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It also commits to our three-pronged approach embedded into our educational philosophy which is the integration of faith, learning and service. It was a beautiful ceremony to commemorate and honor the BTA scholars who have excelled this year.

Mrs. Sarah Raux, representative from the Boston Trinity Board of Trustees, added here welcome, offering congratulations to each prize winner. Prize Day is important to the Board, Mr. Bradley said, because the goal of the school's founders was to create a school not only based on faith in Christ, but also a place of diversity and academic rigor.

The academic awards were bestowed upon students by Mr. Kris Loper, Academic Dean:

The Marie Crandall World Language Award – Middle School recipient, Alina Graham '28; 9th-10th grades, Emma Hurst '26 ; 11th-12th grades Spanish, Eli Jakubiak '24

Visual Arts – MS, Anna Rickey Keltner '27; 9th-10th grades, Therese Franks '25; 11th-12th grades, Cole Friedrich '23

Science – MS, Ava Becker '27; 9th-10th, Adam Friedrich '25; 11th-12th, Sophia Comiso '24

English – MS, Asher Clark '27; 9th-10th, Savannah Booker '25; 11th-12th, Luke Hodge '23

Math – MS Tiffany Comiso '27; 9th-10th, Ailish Dujardin '25; 11th-12th, Daniel Shi '24

History – MS, Asher Clark '27; Humanities US - 9th-10th, Therese Franks '25; US, 11th-12th, Evan Tao '23

Bible – MS,Mary Pierce '27; for the most outstanding Senior Symposium project, senior Gaelyn Grant.

Mr. Geoff Hicks was chosen by her peers to receive the Katie Wiens Excellence in Teaching Award, and the eleventh Alumni Recognition Award went to Toni Oloko ('13).

Major Awards were presented next. The Middle School Performing Arts Award recipient was Austin Mooneyham '27; The Board of Trustees MS Personal Achievement Award went to Jason Wang '27; Tiffany Comiso '27 received the Rebekah Guerra Citizenship Award; Male Athlete of the Year was Wellbi Perez-Valera '24 and Female Athlete of the Year, Amber Stubblebine '24. Ellie Peltz '23 received the Upper School Performing Arts Award; Eric Xiao '23 was chosen for the Board of Trustees Award, and Chloe Verrengia '23 got the Upper School Frank Guerra Citizenship Award.

The annual Awards Chapel concluded with the presentation of the four Junior Book Prizes. The Brandeis Book Prize was awarded to Emanuel Wieczorek; the Gordon College Faithful Leadership Prize to Keziah Belk; the Harvard Book Prize to Daliya Smith; and the Dr. Michael Chen Leadership and Social Justice Book Prize to Abigail Hill.

Congratulations to all of our outstanding students for jobs well done, and especially to this year's prize winners.

God Has A Plan
Emilie Hodge Osman and Georgina D'Cruz

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow

come down from heaven,

and do not return to it

without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish,

so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater - Isaiah 55:8-10

Two weeks ago, Emilie Hodge Osman ‘13 led Chapel along with her husband Siwar. Emilie spent a number of year working with Syrian refugees in Turkey. 

She stated, “When I first went to Turkey I couldn’t wait to jump into the work there. I had so many ideas and plans for projects I wanted to do–Bible studies, art therapy groups, cooking classes, and more. When I got there I tried right away to start a girls group for the teenagers in the church, but nothing came of it, nobody wanted to do it. A few months later I tried again, this time for a women’s Bible study, but again nobody wanted to join. I was living in a women’s safe house that the church owned at the time, which I thought was the prime opportunity to connect with some refugee women, but as time went on I was finding it incredibly hard to even have conversations with them, let alone connect on a deep level. I started to feel discouraged.”

She would go out many times a week with the ministry team doing home visits to Syrian families, but over and over she’d find herself in a family’s living room listening to stories of unimaginable pain and loss, thinking, “What in the world am I doing here? I have nothing to offer them, no solution to their problems, and barely enough language skills to try to say something comforting.”

She continued, “I felt discouraged and, honestly, useless. This discouragement quickly turned into guilt as I tallied up all the things I wasn’t doing in my head and thought about all the people who were supporting me and thinking I was doing amazing refugee work when in reality I was incredibly lame. I frequently questioned why God had wanted me to come to Turkey if I wasn’t actually doing anything.”

It wasn’t until she had a crisis of her own that she started to consider things differently. Her son Ayaz was born with a number of health complications. He was in the ICU for 10 days right after birth and had to have eye surgery at just 12 weeks old. It was a dark and difficult time for her family, but one of the things that helped them through this time was her friend Anna. When Ayaz was in the ICU, she visited Emilie and her family with M&Ms and sat and talked with them. The day of Ayaz’s surgery, she got a text from Anna that said “I’m down in the lobby. I don’t need to come up to you if you don’t want but I’m here praying for you.” After Ayaz came out of surgery Anna brought them coffee and stayed with the family until he was discharged. 

After that incident, she thought, “Gosh, Anna is so good at knowing how to help people. How does she do it?” She realized then that it wasn’t that Anna had the perfect words to say or a solution to every problem, she just showed up with what she had and did what she could do.

Emilie started to reconsider the small things she was doing with people, the things she had been feeling were not enough. While she was in those Syrian houses beating herself up for not knowing what to say or not offering enough, maybe they were just grateful to know that somebody cared. Maybe just being there in somebody’s house made them feel seen, like her friend coming to the hospital made her feel seen.

She stated, “Slowly, instead of being incapacitated with how inadequate I felt, I started focusing on just being present for people. Maybe inviting someone over for dinner, treating a friend to coffee, or just messaging someone, not because I had something specific to offer, but just to let them know someone is thinking about them. And that’s where I started to feel the presence of God flowing through me to others. It makes sense, this is what Jesus does. He’s not just interested in trying to solve our problems and he doesn’t show up only to do impressive signs and wonders, he’s Emmanuel: God with us. Sometimes God shows up like a fire or an earthquake, but so often he shows up as the still, small voice. The voice that says I’m here and I see you.”

The night before Emilie’s family left Turkey, they had friends over the house to say goodbye to them. One of the people there was a girl she had tried to reach out to over the years. This girl was lonely and depressed and Emilie tried to be a friend to her, but every time they would meet up and she would tell her everything she was going through, Emilie never knew what to say. Emilie wanted to lift her spirits but she just felt like she never did a good job of it. This girl had grown closer to her in her last year there and connected her to our other friends, but Emilie still regretted not doing more with her. When it was time to say goodbye she gave Emilie a hug, said “thank you for everything”, and walked out the door. But later that night, Emilie received these messages from her: 

“I know I am a difficult person to love, although you kept trying until you changed me with your love and caring, you made me believe that even though I lost my family I can still have another one. I know you did a lot in Turkey, you handled lots of difficulties, but remember that God used you in our lives in an amazing way. I can say that the last year here was the best because I felt I belonged, and less lonely because of you…I saw and felt everything you did for me no matter how small!” 

Emilie recounted, “For years I had questioned if my presence in Turkey made any difference. I felt that at this moment, on my very last night in Turkey, was God saying to me, “It made a difference.”  I didn’t accomplish what I thought I would accomplish in Turkey–although I still believe that God has those things for me and that he will fulfill the big dreams he gave me–but I think the biggest thing he wanted to do in me and through me in Turkey was not to do things for people, but to learn how to be with people. And this is what our life as Christians is really about, whether we’re in Turkey or Boston or Syria or anywhere else. The calling that all of us have is to be the presence of Christ to those around us. 

None of us are going to have the “right” words or the perfect solution, but all of us can be present with someone. And so I want to encourage you to look around you and think, today how can I be there for someone?

God works in amazing ways when we just show up, whether we know what we’re doing or not. His ways are higher than our ways. All he’s asking for is for us to offer what we have, to give Him our loaves and fish, and he will multiply it.”

The Rich Young Man
Tyler Donaldson

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” - Matthew 19:16-26

Last Tuesday, Mr. Philip Dujardin led Spirit Week Chapel. Mr. Dujardin is the husband of faculty member Mrs. Bridget Dujardin, and parent of three current students at BTA: Maeve ‘23, Ailish ‘25, and Claire ‘25. Mr. Dujardin is a theology teacher at Matignon High School and connects students with other community organizations giving them an opportunity to make real change.

Mr. Dujardin’s Chapel was a unique experience compared to typical Chapel messages. Instead of an address, Mr. Dujardin acted out a one-man play titled “The Rich Young Man” based on the parable outlined in Matthew 19. The play had heavy biblical integrity but also artistic liberty as Mr. Dujardin gave an impassioned performance complete with singing, laughter and audience participation.

Throughout the play, students were asked to respond and sing along to the lyrics, “God is here, God is Here, one thing I know, God is Here.” The lyrics could be heard echoing down the halls of BTA the rest of the week! After that, he led the audience with the song “Whatsoever You Do”. Mr. Dujardin then left students with a small conclusive message on internalizing the Voice of God and carrying it with them throughout the rest of Spirit Week.

Be Overly Nice
Tyler Donaldson

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. - Luke 6:35-36

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. - 1 Peter 3:8-9

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. -1 Peter 4:8

Last Wednesday, Dean of Students, Juan Gonzalez spoke at Chapel on the importance of kindness. Mr. Gonzales started off his address with a challenge. “Today, I’m here to challenge you to do two things. To be overly nice and to not think the world is against you. You may think those are two different things but they are very much connected.”

Mr Gonzalez then built upon his main point of being overly nice, “Growing up, I tried to follow the rule: do to others as you would want them to do to you. It’s so easy to be mean. And, that is why we live in a world where it’s unique to be nice. I thought of the topic for this Chapel after so many cases of students not being nice. A culture of meanness is contagious. Being a jerk is a problem that feeds itself - the more mean you are the more you will react that way in the future. The good news is the more you train yourself to love and be nice, the easier it gets. Your attitude needs training just like your muscles and heart do. I challenge you for the rest of the year to train your mind to be overly nice.”

Mr. Gonzalez continued, “So, why do I say to be ‘overly’ nice? Is just being polite not enough? Being overly nice is not about meeting the minimum standard but going above and beyond to be nice and make one another’s day better. Being overly nice means avoiding gossip and negativity and focusing on positivity to uplift one another and to support others.”

That led Mr. Gonzalez to his second point: to not think the world is against you. He continued, “You know when you think everything is against you? Or when you are working hard but not getting recognition? Or that feeling that everyone is out to get you. Stop that thought right now. I’m not saying feeling defeated is not okay, but do not go down the rabbit hole of thinking the world is out to get you because you will fall down that rabbit hole and it will suppress you. Because when you are so focused on how difficult life is, you keep yourself from being overly nice. That path leads to bitterness, anger, resentment, and blaming others for your problems. Do not let it win.”

Mr. Gonzalez concluded by saying, “Be overly nice. Persevere, and above all other things, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins”.

The Implications of the Cross
Tyler Donaldson

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. - Luke 23:26-56

Last Thursday, Boston Trinity Academy held its Holy Week Chapel. Dr. Michael Balboni, the Associate Minister at Park Street church, led the address and spoke on the crucifixion of Jesus and the implications that pivotal moment in history has on all of us.

“When I was young I started to wonder what this crucifixion thing was all about. I didn’t understand it. Why was Christianity centered around it? Here, was this 33-year-old man. He performed miracles. He taught. He lived in such a way that was gentle, loving, and nurturing. It was in many ways a perfect life. And yet he was sentenced to death. By Roman officials, and the crowds of people. Sentenced to die.

Romans had perfected the crucifixion. A way of death that was slow and as excruciating as possible, and on top of that was very public, in order to instill fear. This process started with the scourging by flagellum. The flagellum was a strip of leather and it was embedded with iron and bronze or sharp bone or Iron hooks. The ones with iron hooks are the ones Roman soldiers called the scorpion. Victims were stripped naked and two Roman soldiers would take the flagellum and whip the victim.

Each blow would tear away skin, and muscle and it was a bloody, terribly painful act. We don’t know how many times Jesus was flogged. But I imagine it was a lot, so much so that as a 33-year-old carpenter, Jesus could not carry a 75 lb piece of wood on his back. The soldiers then took a crown of thorns and beat it down on His head with a hammer. They then led Jesus to the site of the crucifixion, they took iron spikes and hammered right through his wrists and overlapping feet and nailed him to that same 75 lb wooden cross. It was designed to be cruel and to punish. He was then left out to die over several days. But, Jesus died in just 6 hours most likely due to the extreme flogging he received. In particular, breathing would have been tough in this state, the body leaning forward head down, it would’ve been hard to exhale. His breathing would have become shallow, and in order to breathe, he would have actually had to lift himself up and push himself off his feet to get a full breath. Each word spoken would have been extremely painful.”

Mr. Balboni continued, “At noon, we are told the sun would turn really dark and fall over the land. And, Jesus shouted, “God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why did this happen? Well, God allowed all this wickedness to be placed on Jesus’s shoulders. See there is a darkness that hides in our human hearts, behind our smiles we can see glimpses of violence, anger, insatiable lust, lies, and a disregard for the truth. It’s all in us and around us, things like narcissism, envy, a never-ending hunger for pleasure and excitement, and gnawing darkness of fear, worry, anxiety, and insecurity. There’s this darkness that permeates. If you look around, and look at other societies and our own, you will see it. The reality of this evil is that by its nature it implodes upon itself. It’s a destroying energy or force. It implodes everything around it. It’s destructive. Both around us and in us, when left to its own trajectory is like a black hole. The Bible says religion and good works can’t save us. Social justice and politics can’t save us. And, money can’t save us. And, that’s where the cross comes in. To let all the wickedness all the evil, all the sin be placed upon Him. God allowed all the wrath in all of human history placed upon Jesus at this crucial moment in history. All that sin was put on Jesus, like a destructive energy, and it ruined him. Ultimately, it ruined Jesus and God did it to save us.”

Mr. Balboni finished his address with a personal note on his own walk with Jesus Christ, “As I contemplated the crucifixion when I was 16, I came to two conclusions. First, I’m a sinner because what happened to Jesus should happen to me and the second is how much Christ loves me that he would take all my ugliness upon himself to save me. When I was 16, and meditated on this reality, I realized he loved me this much, and this freedom he had purchased for me made me realize I want to live my whole life for Him. So, brothers and sisters as you go into this weekend, take time and bring your minds high and meditate on Jesus and what he has done and if you do, he will speak to you. Why? Because He is not dead.”