Boston Trinity Academy –
Modeling ‘a City Upon a Hill’

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In 1630, John Winthrop, the leader of the Puritan founders who landed in Boston, delivered what would become a famous sermon just before the first group of Massachusetts Bay Colonists departed for America on the ship Arbella. The sermon, titled “A Model of Christian Charity,” is one of the most famous documents in American history. One portion in particular has been frequently quoted, including by Presidents John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan:

For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.

The phrase “a city upon a hill” comes from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. Jesus calls for his followers to be salt and light in the world, and exhorts his listeners to be a city that is set on a hill, where their light cannot be hidden.

In 2000, a small group of educators, clergy, parents, and business leaders met to cast a vision for a first-rate Christian school that would serve the Boston community – a school which would serve as “a city upon a hill” and whose light would reach every corner of Boston. Two years later, Boston Trinity Academy opened its doors to its first 50 students in 6th to 9th grade. For the first four years, the school met in rented space in Temple Ohabei Shalom on Beacon Street in Brookline, the oldest Jewish synagogue in Massachusetts. By 2006, the school had grown to more than 125 students from 6th to 12th grade and moved to its present location in Hyde Park in the southwest corner of Boston. Boston Trinity Academy is now its 17th year and has over 225 current students. By June 2019, the school will have graduated nearly 500 students, and every graduate goes on to college or university.

Boston Trinity Academy is built upon three pillars:  academic excellence, purposeful faith, and authentic community. The school provides all students with a rigorous and well-rounded college preparatory education, grounded in the liberal arts tradition. In 2016, 14 students took the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam, and 10 took the BC Calculus exam. Out of the 24 total students who took the exam, 22 received a perfect score of 5, one student received a 4 (excellent), and one a 3 (good). Moreover, the school has a policy that each Boston Trinity student must complete three AP courses prior to graduation.   This equips them to handle the coursework at colleges and universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Wheaton (Illinois), MIT, and Gordon College, where Boston Trinity students have attended.

While students excel in the classroom, they are also taught how to integrate faith, learning, and service. A Boston Trinity education culminates in seniors engaging in a yearlong course titled Senior Honors Symposium. This course challenges students to analyze a topic related to justice through two lenses:  moral philosophy and Christian ethics. All students research a topic of their choice, write a 25-page paper, and then defend their writing before a panel of invited judges. Most importantly, this class is not a research class for the sake of research; it is a critical component of inspiring students to both pursue their passions and meet the world’s greatest needs.

Boston Trinity’s motivated faculty educate the mind, heart, and soul of each student. While students come from many backgrounds, the school teaches from the historic Christian tradition. Through weekly Chapel services and courses in the Biblical Studies Department, each student is challenged to determine how they can be the salt and light of the world. After learning about biblical literacy in the Middle School, the Upper School curriculum explores the skills and insights necessary to build a spiritual and ethical life. The Advisory System, where students engage personally with an assigned faculty member, allows students to be supported in this growth process throughout their time at Boston Trinity.

Many students will choose to put their faith into action through participation in the Trinity Institute for Leadership and Social Justice. The Trinity Institute provides training and support for student-led groups that tackle issues including human trafficking, homelessness, and public health in real and practical ways. In addition, the school sends a summer team to learn and work in Nepal, thus bringing a more global perspective to what it means to serve others.

Finally, the glue that holds Boston Trinity together is its authentic community. The students at Boston Trinity Academy represent 50 area neighborhoods in and around Boston, as well as eight countries outside of the United States. Approximately 70% of the students come from the African-American, Latino, Asian-American, and overseas Asian communities. In 2017, ranked Boston Trinity as the most diverse private school in New England. This diversity is a chief distinction between Boston Trinity and other independent schools in and around Boston. Another major distinction is that over 50% of the students receive financial aid.

Yet from this rich milieu emerges a united community. This deep sense of community is fostered by the faculty and staff, and the environment is one where students are confident that their teachers and peers know and love them. One student commented, “I have never felt this loved by a community. Knowing that, I gained confidence that I can do well in anything, under any circumstance.” Boston Trinity students are exposed to different perspectives and develop cross-cultural competencies that prepare them to succeed in our increasingly multicultural world. With academic excellence, purposeful faith, and authentic community as its pillars, Boston Trinity has stayed true to the mission of its founders. The result is both a community and a school that is making a difference in the city of Boston. From law offices in Boston, to the mission field in Turkey, from the local church, to global investment firms, Boston Trinity graduates are working and serving both locally and globally. This is Boston Trinity Academy, a true model of “a City upon a Hill.”