Each year, the last Chapel of the school year is set aside for the senior class, and this tradition continued on the morning of Wednesday, April 26. The whole school, as well as parents of seniors, watched the Class of 2023 process in, share memories and enjoyed a slideshow commemorating the end of their time at Trinity.
This year, seven seniors stood at the podium in the Estes Athletic Center to share their “Mission Moments,” reflections upon how they discovered their path and to offer advice for their younger peers.
Layal El-Ayoubi recalled the eye-opening perspective she gained during a summer away from Trinity after sophomore year in the High O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference. “I was introduced to different leadership styles and forced to question my approach to effective leadership,” she said. “I learned who I was independent of my Trinity identity and also began to notice how my time at Trinity had influenced my opinions and approach to others.” Reflecting on this and other summer experiences that caused her to appreciate and apply valuable lessons she learned at Trinity, she encouraged younger students to likewise pursue experiences outside the school. “Don’t confine yourself to a bubble!” she said. “I never truly understood the lessons that were championed here until I was placed in an environment where I had to be the one to hold myself to the standards they communicate.”
Walker Hill reflected on his time at Trinity through an extracurricular lens. “Trinity has helped me realize that school is not just about the academics,” he said. “Joining clubs and hanging out with friends who have similar interests as me helped me feel more outgoing and built up my soft skills.” Hill said he successfully challenged himself to join a new club each year, and will especially cherish his time in the Outdoor Program and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). “The thing that helped me discover my path the most was… joining clubs with different perspectives,” he told the younger students. “And so I encourage you all to find clubs that interest you, and you'll have an awesome time and make great connections with great people!”
Haleigh McPeak began her talk with a quote from Winston Churchill: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Recalling the moment in her 9th grade year when she lost an election for student-government representative, she said she has drawn strength and motivation from that setback over the years, going on to become secretary of the SGA as a senior. “I was embarrassed to have lost in front of my peers, but more importantly, I was disappointed in myself,” she said. “It would have been easy to take that loss and never pursue another leadership position or challenging opportunity during my time at Trinity, but instead I used it as an opportunity for growth.”
“I’ll miss the beautiful drive down Cherokee Road every morning… talking to my friends in the parking lot about every little thing… but what I’ll miss the most is not being alone, no matter where I am on this campus,” said Cullen Malbone. “The feeling of being somebody and being heard is one of the feelings that saved me — a feeling that will always resonate with me every time I step foot on this campus.” To the younger students, he encouraged them to tap into their emotions: “Emotions are what make us feel alive — whether it’s joy, sadness, anger, fear or excitement,” he said. “Feel something, experience something, get everything you can out of this place.”
Ben Blair also urged younger students to get out and “try anything and everything you possibly can” and “walk across that stage at graduation leaving no regrets.” Blair recalled being apprehensive at a new school as a 9th grader, but made the most of his four years, in the classroom, the performance studio and on the field. “Every performance, every rehearsal, every piece of music… has just strengthened my love for music, and through this, I have become more confident in myself,” he said, comparing the experience to his time playing football. “Through the culture and brotherhood of the football team, I became part of a family that ultimately ended up keeping me here at Trinity.” Blair also thanked his math and science teachers for “believing in me and pushing me to my academic limits so that I would find my love in math and physics — something I will continue with, majoring in the engineering field.”
Miles Walker also recalled his initial anxiety about taking the leap into high school nearly four years ago. “I was coming from a completely different state, I’d never been on a tour of Trinity and knew next to nothing about it as a soon-to-be freshman,” he said, having moved to Virginia the day of freshman orientation. “I wasn't sure I’d like it here at first, but thanks to the amazing people I’ve met here, as well as the faculty and staff who have supported me, I’ve been able to grow into the person standing before you today.” He encouraged younger students to step outside their comfort zones, accept challenges and strive to make small improvements each day. “It is also important to have balance,” he said. “If you’re passionate about multiple things, that’s great — but if you stretch yourself too thin, you’ll find you won't have quite enough time to really invest in any of them.”
Caroline Roberts remembered her first scheduling meeting the summer before 9th grade, when Ms. Truman and her mother suggested she take an honors history class. “I immediately responded, ‘absolutely not!’” she recalled. Thanks to her mother’s encouragement, she tried the class and learned a valuable lesson from the challenge. “After pushing myself academically, I began to wonder how else I could push myself out of my comfort zone at Trinity.” After joining the swim team with some trepidation, she found it soon became like family. She has lent her leadership to multiple teams, clubs and roles in student government. “Take advantage of the countless opportunities provided to you at Trinity, and don’t back down from academic, athletic and extracurricular challenges,” she said. “You will be surprised by the accomplishment you feel from exploring outside your comfort zone.”