Eleanor Yousif ~Senior Story/Valedictorian Address

My name is Eleanor Yousif and I know that communities often gather their hopes and wishes together in prayer, the third Dominican essential. I have discovered that it does not have to be guided by a higher being or power. In fact, as we begin to discuss the nature of prayer, I encourage you to look at prayer with a broader perspective. That is, think of prayer as a meaningful action that can inform one´s future. Trinity taught us that prayer is an act that connects many of us from various spiritual, religious, and secular backgrounds in ways we might overlook. Prayer can involve the contemplation and analysis of one’s thoughts and actions in a spiritual manner. The time spent developing self-awareness keeps us in touch with our inner beings and helps us better understand our motivations in life. This meaningful engagement with our thoughts leads to a better understanding of ourselves and our peers as it forces us to take a moment to absorb and observe our surroundings before acting on issues important to us. While religious individuals reflect and pray with the guidance of God, atheists still contemplate and believe, finding meaning in diverse ways.

As a Muslim in a Catholic school, I have learned the importance and value of prayer, an ancient and timeless practice. I have found a great sense of belonging to a community that is seemingly so different from my personal cultural and religious beliefs. While I am a rather secular Muslim, the Catholic practices of Trinity High School have all been incredibly foreign to me since the start of high school. However, I have found that although the beliefs and doctrines of the Catholic religion may be different than my own beliefs, my sisters and I who do not identify with this religion can still join the Christian women of Trinity High School in prayer. As a community, we can all gather in the auditorium and contemplate and reflect in our own way with the support of our sisterhood around us. At a glance, prayer may seem like a religious practice that has the potential to divide a diverse student body like ours, but the awareness and thought-provoking questions prayer brings out in us are not only complex but encourage us to reflect before making decisions, guiding us on future journeys we may not anticipate.

Eleanor Yousif, Alcuin Montessori, Oak Park
Barnard College, New York City

Katie Taaffe ~ Senior Story

Attending Trinity has been one of the greatest experiences I ever had. The unique community and incredible spirit have made my days at Trinity just that much better. I remember the first day of freshman year wishing for time to fly by. That is a perfect example of being careful with what you wish for. I graduate in one day and I can safely say these past four years have given me more than I could have asked for. I received an amazing education, confidence, and most importantly I met some of the best people ever. I would have never guessed I would be so close with my class, as well as find the best friends I could have ever asked for. Trinity is full of spirit and that spirit makes every day a good day. Never will you find a school that goes as hard as we do during spirit week!!! As I go off to college, I leave Trinity knowing I would have never been as confident as I am if it wasn’t for the amazing teachers and students I had met. I’ve made so many memories and I am forever grateful for what Trinity has blessed me with.

Katie Taaffe, Ascension Grade School, Oak Park
The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Tayler Sain ~ Senior Story

Looking back, the process of choosing a high school is similar to the college decision process. As an 8th grader, I  was the kid who looked at virtually every single high school in the Chicagoland area. I came from a tiny grade school and all of a sudden I was going to high school open houses every weekend even though I didn’t even feel ready to leave 8th grade. To make matters even more complicated for 13-year-old me, my parents left the high school decision process almost completely up to me. I felt overwhelmed. That was until I shadowed at Trinity. Trinity gave me an instant feeling of belonging and I knew it was where I was meant to be. Throughout all the spreadsheets and pamphlets and pros and cons lists, if I had the chance to make the choice again, I would choose Trinity a hundred times over. Trinity has helped me grow into a more confident, outgoing, positive person and I will always be thankful for every experience Trinity has given me and every memory I have made. I am confident I would not be the person I am today if I had ended up anywhere except Trinity. Trinity is so truly special and I consider myself so lucky to have been able to spend my high school years here. 

Tayler Sain, Brickton Montessori, Chicago
Dayton University, Dayton, Ohio

Emma Potempa ~ Senior Story

In four years at Trinity, I have formed many friendships with classmates and teachers, all of whom have impacted my life. I have known that I wanted to attend Trinity since I was in 7th grade, partly because my sister attended Trinity. I knew about all the challenging classes and fun events, and so I finally shadowed to see if the place was what I had imagined. 

Walking around the Trinity halls as a freshman was a bit intimidating, but I did not feel that I was being judged. Everyone was friendly and open; Trinity really felt like a home away from home. In my senior year, I realized how much Trinity had changed me into an independent and strong young woman. When I took PE Leadership this year, I realized how much Trinity empowers young women to embody knowledge, faith, and strength. I know it is cliche to use Trinity’s mission statement, but I never realized how accurate it was until this year. Being a senior in high school has opened my eyes. Trinity helped me grow and set new standards for myself. I truly appreciate all that Trinity has done for me.

Emma Potempa, St. Vincent Ferrer Grade School, River Forest
The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Gina Grazian ~ Senior Story

Trinity High School has held a special place in my heart since I was a small child, and I performed dance recitals and summer camps in its auditorium. I felt connected to the positive atmosphere, and I always hoped that one day I would become a Trinity Blazer. Trinity seemed focused on empowerment and generosity, and this inspired me. Choosing to attend Trinity was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made.

My four years at Trinity were spent learning, listening, and understanding. Trinity’s single-gender environment allowed me to gain confidence in myself and my capabilities. I reach for seemingly impossible goals because I knew that the Trinity community would support and encourage me. I have caring relationships with my classmates and faculty, who will continue to inspire me for my further studies. I can proudly confirm that I am well-prepared for the next chapter of my life.

Although my time at Trinity is coming to a bittersweet end, I will always reminisce about the fond relationships I created here. Trinity helped me discover my importance, my strengths, and my potential. 

Gina Grazian, St. Vincent Grade School, River Forest
Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO

Victoria Bendersky ~ Senior Story

If it were not for Trinity High School, I would not have met a diversity of people who I may not have befriended otherwise. Friends and teachers have made my past four years at Trinity happy ones and I am excited for my next adventure at Elmhurst College in the fall. 

On December 1st I walked up my stairs after school and checked the mailbox to see a blue box from Elmhurst College. Inside were an acceptance letter and a winter hat. I immediately texted my friends and family to let them know the good news. Without those friends, family, and teachers who supported me, especially the ones who have impacted my life the past four years, I would not be as confident as I am, that Elmhurst College is the place for me. When high school began, people told me that time flies, and I did not believe them, but the past four years of high school really have flown. 

Still, I cannot wait to continue meeting friends and teachers who will definitely make an impact on my life. I am thankful for the teachers at Trinity who have helped when I needed it most, especially three who left Trinity–Mr. Daly, Ms. Tebbutt, and Mrs. Harrington–and several who are still here: Mrs. Kane, Ms. Rosas, Mrs. Costello, Ms. Link, Mrs. Spohnholtz and Mrs. Hopek. My love for science, religion, history, art and even business classes have grown thanks to many teachers at Trinity who made learning fun. I cannot wait to become a teacher myself one day!

Victoria Bendersky, Elm Middle School, Elmwood Park
Elmhurst Collge, Elmhurst Illinois

Evangelin Young ~ Senior Story

It is surprising to me how fast my time as being a Blazer went and I am thrilled to call Trinity home. 

My start at Trinity was difficult and at times. I did not think I was going to make it.  Trinity was something very different to me. Through my year and four months here, I have learned to be more open and learned what it means to empower yourself and other women. I have learned the true meaning of connecting with your peers, your teachers, and even the community.

Even if I was only here for a single year and four months, I feel that I have attended Trinity for all four years.  It’s heartbreaking knowing that I soon will be cheering with another mascot.  However, it is a pleasure that I was given the opportunity to be a Blazer. I came to Trinity during the middle of my junior year, and I am proud of the person that Trinity has helped me become. Trinity is a school of empowerment, a school of honor, a school of community, a school of value, a school of growth, and most of all a school of faith. Trinity is a school that has gained admiration from young and old because at Trinity, Blazers can do great things and are encouraged to follow their dreams. Trinity is a school of welcoming and loving arms and that is what I can say I love the most. 

Trinity has helped me pick up the broken pieces that I had both school and family related. I am honored to be part of this loving community that has prepared me to further my education onto South Suburban College on a full ride scholarship. 

Evangelin Young, Jacob Beidler School, Chicago
South Suburban College, South Holland, Illinois


Daniela Pope ~ Senior Story

We live in a world where most people want to belong to something greater than themselves. The desire to belong can create groups that despise other groups being different. As a Mexican-American with Caucasian and Latina heritage, I see myself as a special creation of diverse heritage. I empathize with the desire to feel belonging to each group, but I think of myself as the product of cultures, not as a bystander apart from the mainstream. 

Since I entered high school, I have met a variety of mixed-race people. It is one of the most beautiful things in the world to not feel pressured to be the perfect example of one culture or the other but to be accepted as one whole, unified being. As a young girl becoming a young woman, my initial thoughts of self-doubt were damaging because I had not yet developed a sense of myself, a sense of how I could find my own way in a world that craves uniformity. Trinity offered me the chance to meet and interact with inspirational peers and teachers alike who were shining examples of how to live authentically. It never occurred to me that I could belong not to a group of people, but to myself alone. In that sureness of self, I am able to give of myself and my talents in the knowledge that who I am, my genuine self, is never lost in translation.  

Daniela Pope, Hauser Junior High, Riverside
The University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

Yailenne Escobar ~ Senior Story

Trinity High School was a dream of mine since I was in sixth grade. Attending a coeducational elementary school, I knew that in high school I wanted a new community and environment. I remember counting down the days until I would be able to say “I’m a Blazer!” Being the only one to attend Trinity from my elementary school, I experienced mixed emotions. It felt as if everyone already knew each other and I did not. However, I learned that I was in control of making high school the best it could ever be. As I reflect back on my four years here, I am in awe of how much I have blossomed academically, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I could not have become the woman I am today without the constant motivation of my teachers, friends, and family. I am eternally grateful to Trinity for preparing me to be the first in my family to attend college out of state and for making me realize how proud I am to be a Hispanic woman and scholar. 

Yailenne Escobar, Mary Lyon School, Chicago
The New School, New York

Maya Kolatorowicz ~ Senior Story

In 1952 my grandmother, Leona Hanley Schmitt, concluded four years at Trinity High School and received her diploma.  Sixty-six years later, her granddaughter is doing just the same. Even though my grandmother passed away long before I began my Trinity career, I know within my heart that she has walked with me along every step of the way.  I feel sincerely blessed to be connected with my grandmother through the sisterhood of Trinity, and I hope that I continue to be an empowered young woman ready to set the world on fire, just as she always was.

As Trinity became a part of my grandmother’s heart, Trinity has become a part of my heart as well.  I will hold in my heart all of my classmates who worked hard in class with me, laughed with me, and supported me.  I will hold in my heart all of my teachers who pushed me to do my very best, even though it was not always easy. I will hold in my heart the choir room and the many hours I spent there working to perfect a piece for the concert.  I will hold in my heart the spirit that flooded the hallways of Trinity not only during Spirit Week but every single day of the year.

As my senior year comes to a close, my heart is overflowing with the love, joy, and community that Trinity High School is.  It is with great pride that I will say, “I am a Trinity Blazer” when asked where I went to high school, and it is with great happiness that I will remember that I will always be a Trinity Blazer.  

Trinity has guided me.  Trinity has pushed me. Trinity has shaped me.  Trinity has loved me. And, as Tim McGraw sings, “a heart don’t forget something like that.”  

Maya Kolatorowicz, Divine Providence Grade School, Westchester
Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin         

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