Hello CHS Community,
Blessings in the name of Christ. I am proud to introduce you to my family... my wife Anne-Marie is my beautiful helpmate of the past 27 years and my best friend. UCONN is not only a great school to prepare you academically, sometimes you meet your perfect complement there!
My role as a dad means the world to me, and God has gifted me with three amazing children. My oldest, Jack (21), is a junior at Southeastern University studying nursing. Joel (17), is a full time HS dual enrollment student at Grand Canyon University studying criminal justice. Elyse (13) is an 8th grader studying volleyball :)
We are so excited to join the CHS community. You are all a part of something special; a place where excellence is upheld, where people are genuine, and most importantly, where Christ is honored. It is my joy to become part of the incredible team that ministers to students as we partner with families in helping our students grow in “wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
I know I have not formally met you all yet, but I want to let you know that I am already praying for you and anticipating the supernatural work that God will do in your lives through the ministry of CHS.
Blessings in Christ,
Video messages from Dr. Dube to our community, parents, and students can be found here.
Reflections on Dr. Modarelli from Bruce Stempien
Thank you, Brian and Tara Modarelli, for nine years of service and leadership to the CHS community.
In his entire life, Brian never lived more than five years in one place – that is, until he got to CHS. Brian and his family fell in love with the potential ministry and mission and community of devoted Christ followers. Tara and Brian enrolled their three younger children, Peyton, Davis and Mitchell, while Julia, the oldest, was away at college. Brian and Tara believed early on that the number one priority was for their family to be part of something special.
A close second was Brian’s passion for excellence in Christian education. Every relationship built and every aspect of his leadership philosophy was to propel his vision for what is considered excellent. Brian developed two important guiding principles. CHS would become a “calling" prep school where students are prepared for service to the Lord (or calling) for which God has uniquely designed them. The other was that CHS would partner with parents and churches to prepare and equip what he termed, “Christian Scholars.” He had a vision for this school: we would be exceptionally strong in both academic and spiritual pursuits. Education in this community would happen life-on-life, and students would eventually become like their teachers. His guiding verse is Romans 1:20. God reveals himself through both his Word and His world, and we have the privilege of pointing children to the Lord by exploring the wonders in both scripture and creation.
Thank you, Brian and Tara. Your primary goal has been realized and you served valiantly. Godspeed to you and your family as God opens a new adventure and continues to use you to teach children that, in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Reflections on Mrs. Smith from Dr. Modarelli
Written as a letter to the Lower School students, as printed in the Lower School yearbook
Dear Lower School Students,
It is really amazing for me to think that Mrs. Smith has served the students of CHS with every single head of school from the very beginning of the school. Mrs. Smith is known for her love of great books, her concern for individual students, her fondness for hedgehogs, and her joyful and steady presence in the school building every day. Mrs. Smith is finishing her 43rd year as a CHS Kingsmen -- although she will always be a Kingsmen at heart. She loves you with all of her being, just as she has loved the students at CHS over the last four decades.
Did you know that Mrs. Smith drives almost 100 miles every day to get to CHS and back home? On some days, there will be about a foot of snow on the ground by her house when she begins her drive to school, and we will have no snow at all here in Trumbull. Yet, she is often the first one on campus and the last one to leave.
Mrs. Smith has committed her life to thoroughly loving CHS students and helping them fully prepare for the life God has created them to live. She is simply the greatest combination of toughness, sweetness, and Christ-centeredness I have ever known.
Luke 6:40b states that everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. It is my hope that all of Mrs. Smith's current and former students will find this passage to describe their lives.
As Mrs. Smith retires, she will be remembered most fondly here at CHS and she will be missed greatly. Every time I see a hedgehog, I will surely think of the gifted and dedicated educator I have been privileged to work beside.
This past Monday, CHS students, faculty, and parents gathered in prayer, in a virtual format, to offer confession, to worship God, and to cry out to Him, sharing our heartache over the recent killing of George Floyd and the underlying racial injustices in our society that we seek to confront as believers. The meeting followed a special video devotional on the subject offered over the weekend by CHS chaplain Mark Persson.
The depth and magnitude of the challenges we face as a nation and as the Body of Christ can seem insurmountable. But acknowledging them together and seeking God is a powerful step, according to Mr. Persson. “In prayer, we get a sense of our helplessness,” he notes, “but also hopefulness in God.”
It’s a step that was deeply appreciated by those who participated. “Thank you for addressing this,” wrote one parent. “My son has been asking about things going on.” Another wrote, “Thank you for choosing to say something about how we experience social injustice differently and the need for racial reconciliation.”
To “say something” – to address directly the issues surrounding Mr. Floyd’s death – is a natural extension of an ongoing conversation at CHS, notes Persson. He has supported the pioneering efforts of CHS faculty member Patricia Liu and her students to foster community-wide understanding and action around racial justice and reconciliation.
The student group she advises, Imago Dei, sponsors an annual Diversity Week comprising myriad activities designed to “replicate the Kingdom of God within our community,” according to Miss Liu. This year, notes Mr. Persson, Diversity Week served as vital preparation for our community to encounter, process, understand, and talk about, recent events. During the week, students wrote essays and poetry now being collected into an anthology; they performed justice-themed songs and spoken word at an online virtual concert; and they arrived at new understandings together – despite all those activities happening at a distance.
“The depth of thought in these essays is truly moving,” Miss Liu says of the students' written submissions. “I think our kids know well the nature of this truly extraordinary time that, for them, is not just a thing of the present, but will also be part a of a very uncertain future as they grow into adulthood.” Far from giving up, though, she says, “time and time again, I am heartened by all the ways our students step up in ways that make their community stronger, kinder, and more unified.”
Dr. Brian Modarelli, head of school, sees all these efforts in light of the Bible’s “vibrant and compelling mandate of love for others, coupled with a comprehensive rejection of hate.” Citing John 13:34-35, Dr. Modarelli reminds us that that work is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. “Jesus left His presence with the Father, to live among us, to know us, and to love us. He asks us to know and love each other and tells us that the presence of this love will be the hallmark of His followers.”
May that love continue to be the hallmark of this community of Christ-followers in ever increasing measure as we seek, together, to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.”
CHS senior Katie Stalling has been announced as a winner of the 2020 Trumbull Fine Arts Literary Competition in the category of nonfiction.
Her personal essay, “How My Darkness Led Me to a Greater Purpose,” explores the pain she endured as the subject of cruel, incessant bullying at a previous school – and the redemption she’s found by discovering her voice.
“As I wrote this essay, my intention was simply to take a step towards reaching closure in a situation where I felt silenced,” Katie reflects. “By sharing my story, this was the only way I felt I could be heard.”
CHS English teacher encouraged her to submit her essay to the competition, and Mrs. Baylis provided some editorial advice as well. And, while Katie was surprised and thrilled to win the competition, she’s most hopeful that others will benefit from reading about her story. “I am genuinely so grateful that my truth gets to be shared with everyone,” she says.
An important theme of the essay is God’s ability to redeem incredible pain, using it for good. “This is a testimony to the faithfulness of God,” she explains. “He will open your heart to every scar and use it to change lives if you use your voice!”
In her case, Katie’s experiences have led her on a path to becoming a teacher – one, she says in her essay, who guards the emotional safety for her students, cultivating a culture of kindness and compassion. “I want to dedicate my life to be a voice for the millions of kids who do not have enough courage to speak for themselves,” she writes. “I will not be silenced.”
Having found her voice, she is raising it courageously, determined to “inspire anyone who is struggling to find purpose in their brokenness, and to bring awareness to the dark side of bullying and harassment.”
Katie’s essay was also published in the inaugural issue of CHS’s literary magazine, Paper + Ink.
Thursdays Are Special for CHS Middle Schoolers
Placing yourself inside a famous painting. Working as a team to compile an outrageous trick-shot video or design the farthest-flying paper airplane. Creating a sculpture out of everyday objects. Baking something with raisins and sharing it with your family.
Not exactly your typical school day! Activities like these are creative, educational, and community-building. Which is why they’re all part of distance learning for CHS middle-schoolers, every Thursday.
It’s Thursdays-in-the-Middle, an opportunity to make the most of what distance-learning can be: free-form, open-ended, challenging, collaborative, and fun.
When CHS initiated distance learning in response to COVID-19, the first priority was ensuring that students would experience a robust, well-coordinated learning experience, even at a distance. But that wasn’t enough, according to Dr. Parrish, CHS upper school principal. “The conversation quickly shifted to, ‘now how can we continue caring for the whole child, cultivating that sense of community that our students experience when we are all together?’” recounts Dr. Parrish.
So, while other days of the week follow a traditional academic model of virtual classes, readings, and assignments, Thursdays in the Middle provides CHS middle schoolers with a break from screen-time and regimented schedules – a flexible day for students to pray and worship, create, exercise, serve, explore, and play, with suggested activities in each category. Students are organized into teams and can tackle optional challenges, submitting photos or videos to earn group points.
“One of the best surprises that I have witnessed is that whole families are participating in some of the challenges. I did not see that coming,” reflects Dr. Parrish.
The flexible schedule of Thursdays-in-the-Middle also allows teachers and students to connect in special ways, providing support, building relationships, and bridging the “distance” inherent in distance learning.
Participation in online “lunch buddy” groups as been “huge,” according to Dr. Parrish. Over the last few weeks, teachers and students shave hared lunch together via online conferences -- showing off household pets, telling jokes, or simply chit-chatting. “These sweet moments of community helped both students and teachers feel more connected,” says Mrs. Baylis, who helped set up the events. Middle school parents have appreciated these moments as well. “It was so nice to hear my daughter connecting with her friends and teachers,” said one mom. “My daughter loved this…I am a grateful middle school parent!” expressed another.
Teachers also use Thursdays to connect with struggling students and provide extra help in classes.
“It’s great to have these avenues to connect,” reflects Dr. Parrish. “Our community’s embracing of these activities shows that we are in this together and we need each other.”