A celebration of rebirth

Trinity Parish toasts rebirth a year after Sandy's devastation

Trinity parishioners Lois Smith, Jean Rae, Nancy Smith, Jan Perry, and Joan Neilly celebrate the rebirth of the Trinity Parish Nursery School, destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Jan Perry, first director of Trinity Parish Nursery School, holds a pumpkin carved in its honor.

The Rev. Leslie Smith, Susan Ratcliffe, Jill Walker and Glenn Ratcliffe celebrate the reopening of Trinity Parish Nursery School.

It is said that “prosperity makes friends and adversity tries them.” When confronting such adversity requires battling back from a once-in-a-lifetime Superstorm, the resulting bonds of friendship can grow stronger than steel.

That’s one lesson that the teachers, parents and volunteers of Trinity Parish Nursery School in Southport have discovered in their shared effort to restore their beloved school after the utter devastation it faced in the wake of Hurricane Sandy some 12 months ago. More than four feet of water flooded into the ground floor, destroying the nursery school and doing significant damage to the church offices and library. Some 113 nursery school students, their 14 teachers and two administrators were forced to suspend operations and move to temporary quarters at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Bridgeport, where they stayed for the rest of the school year.

Yet as trying as the disaster was, the Trinity community was equally determined that nursery school operations return to normal in time for the start of this school year. And after Herculean efforts, they did. On Friday night, Nov. 1, some 100 friends of Trinity Parish Nursery School gathered together to celebrate and toast their combined victory over Hurricane Sandy.

“One year after Hurricane Sandy, we’ve quite literally had our prayers answered,” said John Morgan, Trinity’s senior warden. “Today, we are blessed to offer a top-notch nursery school education at facilities that are second to none. It’s just amazing to consider how bad things were a year ago and how beautiful the school is now. The spirit of dedication and sacrifice by all who worked on this transformation — and brought the project in on time — is an inspiration to all of us.”

This year’s success was also testament to the nursery school’s heritage, leaders said.

“Trinity Parish Nursery School was founded 48 years ago on the belief that our area needed a high-quality, nondenominational setting where our small children could learn, play and explore the world together,” said Jan Perry, a longtime Trinity Church parishioner who first conceived of the school and guided its launch in the early 1960s. She was honored for her half-century of vision and fortitude during the event.

“Trinity Parish Nursery School has had only four directors in its almost 50 years of its existence,” Perry observed. “That says something about a school and the environment we have worked so hard to create here. It is a very special, very welcoming place, and the teachers who work here just love it. Being around so many bright children who are eager to learn is just a joyous thing.”

Perry stressed that the school has been nondenominational from the start.

“We are not teaching religion here at TPNS,” she said. “Our doors are open to children and families of all faiths.”

Among those in attendance were the current director, Meg Riley, secretary Bev Greenop, and teachers Joan Bakes, Kristen Bria, Toni Consiglio, Diane Creamer, Marcy Dearth, Libby Gnibus, Karen Humby, and Kathleen Lucas.

Other guests of honor included Barbara L. Geddis, the principal for Geddis Architects of Southport; parishioners Jim Funk and Jennifer Smith of the church’s Property Committee; financial administrator Melanie Andrews; and the church’s wardens, Morgan and Michael Banten.

“As Trinity Parish Nursery School enters its next phase of life, what has not changed over the years is that education ministry remains in our DNA,” Morgan said. “Generations of parishioners have turned to Trinity to provide their children with sound teaching and values, and our school has always delivered.

“We can now stop worrying about deluge, devastation and destruction, and focus instead on renovation, restoration and renewal,” said the Rev. Leslie Smith, Trinity Church’s interim rector. “Every deluge of God’s people ends in rainbows.”

To help commemorate the opening of the new Trinity Parish Nursery School, the church is now taking orders for nameplates to be added to a custom plaque in the entryway, where they will remain on permanent display. Additionally, those wishing to give a gift toward the renewal of Trinity Parish Nursery School may do so at trinitysouthport.org.

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