Trinity Hall was rededicated by Abbot Richard Cronin, OSB on September 24 when Delbarton celebrated the completion of building's renovation with a cocktail reception that attracted over two hundred and fifty campaign donors. It was thanks to their generosity that the building received a top-to-bottom makeover during several phases of fast-paced summer construction overseen by Director of Buildings & Grounds Michel Rimpel.
Five months have passed since opening day of the new school year when students and teachers first entered Trinity Hall to test drive the fully renovated building. After speaking with a variety of users, the results are in: The Trinity Hall renovations are a major hit, a fact that pleases one of the masterminds of the project, Headmaster Br. Paul Diveny, OSB who says, "It has been so much fun to show the renovations to recent alums. The expressions on their faces are priceless."
First, let's talk temperature. The building's greatly improved HVAC system gets two thumbs up. "Most of us can recall the steam room conditions of the third floor of Trinity in May and September," says Assistant Headmaster Chuck Ruebling '79, P'10. "Those conditions simply no longer exist with the new HVAC system. Trinity is a comfortable 70 degrees all year long." The cost-effective efficiency of the new system is a fiscal bonus.
Other improvements include LED lighting, acoustical ceiling tiles, carpeted floors, flexible seating arrangements, and state of the art technology that provide the optimal learning environment. New too is a welcome station in Trinity Hall lobby, complete with a stunning mosaic by Jason Rossi '19, the product of his freshman project. Lorraine Petrolino divides her busy work day between the main office and the centrally located kiosk where she offers a cordial greeting to students, parents and guests alike.
Technology upgrades are also featured in the new Trinity Hall. Extra white board space means teams of students can simultaneously access the board to answer questions together and review work collaboratively.
Language Department Chair Inma Serrano can't imagine teaching in a classroom without an Epson Board or a SmartBoard. "My entire curriculum is web based," she says. Serrano teaches from an e-text book using a wide range of multi-media resources like listening/speaking comprehension activities, documentaries, soap operas and short films, all beamed via interactive projector.
English teacher Mike Carr '01 reports that his middle school students have fully embraced the Trinity updates. "The Epson Boards have completely changed the way I teach," Carr says. "I am able to write lecture notes and save them in real time for any absent students."
Teacher Tony Negrin sums up the improved teaching experience for many of his colleagues. "The new classrooms in Trinity Hall allow me to differentiate my lessons and classroom activities every day. Not only are the new Epson Boards capable of connecting an eBook or Audio book for the entire classroom's pleasure, they also allow me to edit documents based off student responses, and then send the revised version via email to all of the students or post to our class Schoology page directly."
Negrin reports that the daily reading quiz average has gone up 6% points in his classes, which he attributes to the lively and welcoming environment the new classrooms present to the student body. Extra credit goes to the Trinity Hall improvements!
"Overall, the new classrooms have been tremendous not only to myself and the rest of the English department, but most importantly to the students' learning experience in the classroom," says Negrin. Br. Paul points out the change in noise levels throughout the building. "The one that caught me most by surprise was the quiet. You can't see that in renderings; and so it was only apparent after the renovations were completed. A school building full of teenage boys is bound to be a bit raucous anyway, but Trinity Hall, with its multitude of hard surfaces, was always an extremely noisy place. Now with new wall, floor and ceiling surfaces the building is so much quieter."
Mobile Friendly Furniture
Students especially appreciate the modern, mobile, user-friendly furniture which includes desks and chairs and shared, high-top seating. Each desk comes equipped with its own charging station, plus a white board which does double duty as an instant partition for quizzes and tests.
Serrano enjoys the mobility as she pairs up students for different activities. Chairs and desks are easily moved aside when, for example, language students perform skits in the target language. Whether it a "pair and share", pods of four, traditional lecture setting, or a classroom debate, the furniture in each classroom is conducive to the teacher's preference, while also allowing the boys to feel exceptionally comfortable while learning.
Student Gianni Restivo '21 says his favorite part of the new renovation is the new classroom desks and chairs. "Last year some chairs and desks were very old, and the new outlook provides a modern feel to school." Teachers also observe that the general energy in the renovated classrooms is improved. Color boosts the ambiance: the primary colored furniture in cheerful blue, green and orange suggests modern, comfortable classrooms.
Inma Serrano sums up: "I love my classroom and I know the students do too."
Use of Space
Some areas were completely reconfigured during last summer's construction. The relocated headmaster and assistant headmaster suites now include an office and conference rooms for private group meetings (the headmaster's suite also has a full bathroom). In fact, all Trinity Hall bathrooms got a complete facelift with new tile, lighting, commodes and hand blowers.
The former headmaster's office is now part of a medical suite that moved off the busiest hallway in Trinity Hall to a more tranquil setting with a Garden view. School nurses Barbara Pereyra and Deirdre McAuliffe say the increased space, improved privacy, storage and lighting, is a boon for them as well as for ill or injured students. The nurses also have ample room to conduct visual and hearing screenings, a major convenience.
The Valentine Library also received a dramatic facelift during last summer's construction. Stacks were pared down and the space was turned on its axis, with greatly improved lighting and technology. Several small offices were carved out of the reconfigured space, and a Quiet Study for smaller groups was included in the design. The new library layout also gets two thumbs up from Gianni Restivo '21 who says, "The library is much more of a peaceful place to do work after school."
Trinity Hall's Spiritual Life
The Trinity Hall renovation also presents the community with a new spiritual hub after last summer's work. The Oratory of St. Martin, conveniently located just off the Library, is an intimate space for prayer, Mass, Confessions, and quiet reflection. At the September 17 dedication, the Most Rev. Arthur Serratelli, bishop of Paterson celebrated the inaugural Mass in the new Delbarton chapel. Fr. Edward Seton Fittin, OSB, was instrumental in selecting secular and religious furnishings for the Oratory.
Next door to the Oratory of St. Martin is Campus Ministry Director Dr. David Hajduk in a large office with overstuffed furniture that students confirm is the most comfortable seating on campus. Hajduk enjoys meeting with groups of boys in this welcoming, easily assessable area of Trinity Hall...and you can't beat his Garden view.
The Delbarton Learning Commons
The next goal in Delbarton's master plan is to build a Learning Commons between Trinity Hall and the Fine Arts Center, a construction project that promises to integrate student research, collaborative learning, and Delbarton's first all-student commons in a stunning, light-filled, multi-level space. Stay tuned for updates on the exciting project as fund-raising continues to bring the ambitious dream to life.
Meanwhile, improved learning continues to take place every day in the renovated Trinity Hall. Br. Paul says, "Even when classroom doors are open, the sounds coming from the classrooms are generally much more subdued. As a result, Trinity Hall feels much calmer these days and that's a good thing." Michael Carr '01 -- who experienced the 'old' Trinity Hall as both a Delbarton student and educator -- concludes: "I and my students are overjoyed with the renovations, and I look forward to the learning center!"