Trinity High School is blessed with countless students who are talented, engaging, and involved. Below are features of just a few noteworthy members of our community.

Abigail Stackle ’20 (Immaculata House)

Abigail Stackle ‘20 is one of ten national winners of the Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF)’s Payback Challenge Essay Contest! NGPF is a non-profit which works to provide students with financial literacy skills needed for an increasingly complex financial world. One of their tools is a game–The Payback Challenge. This interactive, web-based game puts players through a series of decisions designed to mimic the real-life tug of war of competing desires: new or used books, private or public college? Students make virtual choices about what decisions they will make and what the cost will be for their future selves. 

Abigail, or Abby as she’s called, completed the Payback Challenge along with her peers in Mrs. Elaine Scholz’s Personal Finance class. Mrs. Scholz chose to use the game in her “Paying for College” unit with the student loan debt crisis in mind: “I wanted my students to personally see how their decisions have a direct impact on their future college debt.  Payback was the tool to help deliver the message to my students.” 

Based on their feedback, she guessed that students found the experience of playing the game useful. The class followed up their experience with “valuable dialogue regarding their future college decisions and fears,” said Mrs. Scholz. Abby confirmed the insight the game gave her: “Personally, the game highlighted many costs I had not considered when I was planning for college, as well as demonstrated some realistic strategies for reducing the cost, such as having roommates and buying books second hand.” 

As a whole, Abby says, the Personal Finance class has made her “more confident about going out on my own next year. Money always seemed fairly complex when I got into the details of it, but this class has broken it down so managing my own finances is entirely possible.” This newfound confidence is exactly what Mrs. Scholz finds so rewarding about teaching the class: ”witnessing the students taking careful thought on planning their financial future by setting financial goals and developing the steps they need to take to meet their goals.”

Abby must be getting the hang of it, because her essay to her future self–a college freshman–on keeping her debt manageable while still pursuing her dreams, came in the top ten out of more than 900 entries nationally, and is the one winner Pennsylvania has had in the contest’s three years of operation. In her essay, Abby reminded herself of strategies she learned while in class at Trinity: get a job to help manage costs, use a reliable banking app to avoid low balance fees, and set a realistic budget. Abby said she was “thrilled” to find out she had won the competition and a $5,000 scholarship along with it. She says, “the timing was perfect! I actually found out right after applying for a few other scholarships.”

Abby plans to use this financial literacy foundation she’s built to attend college and pursue a major in International Business. Congratulations to Abby and to the rest of her class, who will be able to use the skills they have learned to make informed decisions, create financially secure lives, and build the next generation of financially capable leaders.

Play the Payback Challenge yourself, here.

Katie Dominguez ’20 (Immaculata House)

Katie Dominguez takes service seriously. She is one of four school leaders to focus on providing service opportunities to Trinity students. Recently she organized “Sleep Out for the Homeless,” an event that raised funds and awareness for the experiences of 2 million homeless youth in America. Katie described this reality as “heartbreaking,” and was motivated both to educate her peers and join the national Sleep-Out America movement.

To achieve this, Katie advertised the event to the senior class by regularly visiting mentor groups to talk about the event and distributing information and registration papers to those interested. Katie also planned activities to keep everyone engaged. She secured a guest speaker, Robert Mott ’13, an employee at the Valley Youth House in Dauphin County, who was able to provide information and personal stories to Trinity participants about the homeless youth he works with every day. This “really drove home the significance of the sleep-out,” Katie said. They learned more about the homeless experience by watching a film.

The group raised $300 to support homeless youth through a registration fee, but they also worked on holiday gift bags for the homeless young people currently at the Valley Youth House. This activity allowed education and empathy to be turned into beneficial action. The group also acted by living a small part of the homeless experience themselves. After 10:00 p.m., more than a dozen participants huddled together in their cardboard boxes and tried their best to make it through the twenty degree night. Katie described the experience of sleeping outside in November as “challenging,” but that ultimately they “came out of it stronger and more understanding of the plight of others.”

In the morning students enjoyed a hot breakfast; Katie had coordinated with the Lower Allen Diner to set up a warm breakfast for everyone. In the end, Katie and the other students recognized that their experience was temporary: “though sleeping outside demonstrated the reality for many teens, we bundled up in layers, ate a hot breakfast, and were able to return to a warm house, while homeless youth do not have that luxury. I can only imagine how challenging it would be to sleep outside every night.”

Thanks to Katie for her careful planning of this 12-hour event, Mrs. Jo Reider and Mrs. Judi Fejfar for their help in organizing the event, Sister Susan Kuk and Mr. Jose Dominguez for chaperoning, and Mr. Robert Mott ’13 for speaking!

Alumni Update: AJ Turo ’03

AJ Turo ’03 has been affiliated with the US Navy for 16 years, including his time at the US Naval Academy, where he studied physics. During his service, AJ has flown F/A-18s of all varieties, travelled to exotic locales both in and out of the United States, and taught brand new pilots and officers flight specifics and air-to-air combat training.

AJ cites some specific standout experiences during his time in the Navy, which include: flying on the F/A Tactical Demonstration Team where he flew in airshows in Indiana, New Jersey, and Ocean City, Maryland; flying in “Panchito,” a restored B-25; and hanging with the Thunderbirds.

These experiences were made possible for AJ primarily because he was interested in the challenge the Naval Academy presented him and the chance for free tuition. His desire to attend the Naval Academy was further strengthened by experiencing 9/11 as a junior at Trinity, and some pessimism he received about his ability to make it into the Academy in the first place. These motivations helped propel AJ forward despite “having no idea what [he] was getting into.” After he graduated from the Academy he felt that flying was an obvious next step because it provided continued “challenge, excitement, and the chance to be on the front lines.” His hard work paid off, and his role flying F/A-18s gave him the responsibility to “drop and fire some of the most powerful weapons the U.S. owns, take off and land on a carrier day and night, and break the sound barrier. It’s unique, hard, and rewarding work.”

Currently, AJ is a Department Head (similar to a Vice President) of a squadron where he flies as a pilot, but also has the responsibility of managing schedules, budgets (fuel and flight hour allocation), people, and maintenance, which assists the commanding officer in running the squadron. He also teaches younger pilots and is responsible for leading the squadron and air wing’s biggest events.

AJ currently volunteers for The Wingman Foundation, which provides post-mishap support for the Navy and Marine Corps Aviation community and their families. AJ and his wife, Stephanie, have supported 4 mishaps directly and helped with several other fundraising and outreach programs. The team AJ works with is fluid, and his direct responsibilities have been largely with mishap organization and supporting the families through the process, including memorialization, if the mishap was fatal. At this point in his career, AJ has “lost many leaders, friends, and students to fatal mishaps, and while the government tries to take care of the families afterwards, there are still many gaps, and that is where the foundation steps in to help financially and emotionally.”

His experience at Trinity has played a “positive and crucial” in AJ’s life. He named many teachers who played a significant role for him: “Mr. Carr certainly challenged me to be successful in math which I believe helped me greatly at the Academy. Mr. Casey was instrumental in English, which was not my best subject. Speech and student congress pushed me to be a confident speaker which had obvious benefits throughout adulthood. Ms. Dobbie gets a shout out here too. Mr. Cominsky and Ms. Shoemaker gave me a love of history. COBO was the positive leader and mentor we all needed. Really, they all were such positive role models, it’s hard to name people specifically.”

However, “the biggest single experience would easily be that I had the opportunity to do Karios as both a junior and then lead as a senior. I made some of my strongest friendships with my leadership group and had such a great maturing experience as a leader. I can say that I believe our class got closer afterwards, and I was so humbled to have even a small bit to do with it. There is nothing at Trinity like Karios.”

AJ’s next steps include transitioning out of the Navy full-time, which will allow him to spend more time with his wife, Stephanie, and young son, John. He plans to continue to work in the Naval Reserves and will be flying for airlines.

National Merit Students

Giana Abbas ’20 (Seton House) and Megan Gouldy ’20 (Loyola House) have earned Semifinalist honors as a result of their PSAT scores, joining 16,000 students out of 1.6 million entrants nationwide. They have the chance to advance as Finalists, which will be announced in February of 2020.

Connor Coyle ’20 (Seton House) and Maya Arora ’20 (Immaculata House) earned the distinction as “Commended” students based on their PSAT scores. Congratulations to these students on this wonderful academic achievement!

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