A Brief History of Trinity Episcopal School

Trinity Episcopal School serves 270 students in PK2-Grade 8 and is in its 64th year of operation. However, the present school is the third one to reside on this site. The first school began classes on July 7, 1845, with nearly fifty students in attendance. It was under the direction of Mr. Dean. The second school began in the summer of 1873, and was organized by The Reverend Albert Lynn, Curate, and by Dr. Bird. Both these schools closed in due course, and it is not clear how long each operated. Some of the difficulties involved with these 19th century efforts can be gleaned from an interview given by Mrs. Etna Parrish, Trinity’s Principal, to a local newspaper in 1962. “Cultured Benjamin Eaton (Trinity’s first Rector) saw clearly that he had another duty to perform…to enlighten the path for the minds of…children.” In 1844, Mr. Eaton “obtained from the Galveston City Co. four lots of ground adjoining Trinity Church for a school for males.” Yellow fever and lack of funding hindered the effort, and the first school closed “because of inability to obtain suitable teachers.” The school founded in 1873 was open to boys and girls.

Etna Parrish and OthersThe current Trinity Episcopal School was founded in the summer of 1952, and began with three teachers and three grade levels: Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and Grade One. The impetus for the school came from a group of parents who wanted a parochial school that would improve upon the way reading was being taught in the public schools. The Reverend John Caskey was “in league” with these parents and persuaded Trinity’s Rector, The Reverend Edmund H. Gibson, to support establishing a school ministry here. Mrs. H.F. Sanderford, Jr. served as the school's first principal and first kindergarten teacher in 1952. Mrs. Harvey Bunce taught first grade from 1952 to 1957 and served as the principal as well during most of this period, 1953 to 1956. The school opened with fifty-three students. In 1953, Grade Two was added. To accommodate the growing school, Trinity Church added a second floor to the cloister, which consisted of eight classrooms. During construction Temple B’Nai Israel allowed the school to operate in their facility. In 1956, Mrs. B.R. “Etna” Parrish came on board teaching Grade Three and serving as principal. She held this position for thirteen years. Grades were added each year until the school accommodated Pre-Kindergarten through Grade Six.

Moody Hall OpeningThe school grew in numbers, and this resulted in the expansion of the physical plant. With the help of a matching grant from the Moody Foundation, an 8-classroom facility, Moody Hall which included a workroom, faculty lounge, small library, and four offices was dedicated in May of 1967. At the dedication Bishop Richardson; The Reverend Roger Cilley, Rector of Trinity Church; Mrs. Mary Moody Northen; and the newly appointed Headmaster, The Reverend George Magoon, were on the program.

Following the departure of Headmaster Magoon in May 1970, Dr. Elizabeth “Budgie” Hollamon was appointed Headmistress, a position she held for twenty-four years. During this period the school grew in stature, reputation, and size. Dr. Hollamon was instrumental in securing membership in and accreditation for Trinity in the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS), and the Southwest Association of Episcopal Schools (SAES) – an organization which she helped to establish. In 1982, Trinity added Grades 7 and 8. In 1983, the Preschool (PK4-K) moved to a renovated, newly acquired facility across Tremont Street. In 1990, given the growth of the Preschool, Kindergarten moved back across the street to Moody Hall. A newly renovated facility was prepared for the Middle School across Winnie Street. Randall Hall featured computer and science labs, a math classroom, a teachers’ workroom, a darkroom, and girls’ and boys’ lavatories. In 1992-1993, five new “temporary” classrooms, a locker room, and teachers’ workroom were built on property adjacent to Randall Hall. In the same year a program for two-year-olds was initiated at the Preschool.

BudgieFollowing the departure of Dr. Hollamon in 1994, The Reverend Dick Cadigan was appointed Headmaster. At that time Trinity Episcopal School had four divisions: Preschool (PK2-PK4), Lower School (K-4), Intermediate School (5-6), and Middle School (7-8). In 1995, the configuration changed: Preschool (PK2-PK4), Lower School (K-5), and Middle School (6-8). During the 2000-2001 school year, additional property was purchased, and permission was gained to buy and close the portion of Winnie Street that had divided the Trinity campus.

The Reverend David Dearman was appointed Head of School in July 2002. By early 2008, the school’s Board of Trustees decided to pursue renovations to the campus. The school's building committee, under the leadership of Trinity alumnus Billy Sullivan, developed plans to renovate the cottage structures at the middle school campus as well as to enclose the campus with permanent fencing for added security. The Lower School and Middle School were connected via underground fiber-optic cable, allowing enhanced communications abilities within the school, and a sidewalk was built to assist foot traffic between these same campuses. Renovations were completed the summer of 2008 for an approximate cost of $500,000.

In September 2008, Galveston was hit by the third most destructive hurricane in United States history: Hurricane Ike. While the winds were Category 2, the size of the storm produced an unanticipated storm surge like that of a Category 4 storm. An estimated 80% of all structures on Galveston Island were flooded including every 1st floor classroom at Trinity Episcopal School. Trinity was able to re-open on October 20 with 171 students, or about 71% of pre-storm enrollment. At the time, the school was fortunate to have a school parent, Ed Rismiller, whose construction company specializes in institutional construction. Repairs on campus began quickly after the mandatory evacuation was lifted. Unlike the two schools that failed here in the 19th Century, the present Trinity Episcopal School was able to rebuild and have the financial ability to continue as a fully accredited school thanks to the Church Insurance Company of Vermont, Fidelity Insurance, FEMA, and to the generosity of good folks all over the country. The greatest heroes of the day were the faculty, staff, students, and parents who worked tirelessly on the recovery of Galveston Island including those who were dealing with recovery at home as well as at work.

In February 2012, the school formally dedicated the middle school cottages as Hollamon Hall in memory of former headmistress Elizabeth "Budgie" Hollamon.

Also in 2012, The Moody Foundation Trustees approved a grant for the school to fully fund a new activity center for the school at a cost of $2.7 million. The building, named The Robert L. and Ann Moody Activity Center, was completed in 2013 and provided sorely needed indoor space for athletics, performances, and other large group events.
Moody Center


New PropertyIn February 2014, the Moody Foundation Trustees approved a grant enabling the school to purchase the property on Church Street formerly occupied by a drive-through banking operation and to develop the same as a fenced playing field. The Sealy & Smith Foundation agreed to sell the property to the school and to be responsible for addressing environmental issues. Later, the Galveston Foundation joined the project expending funds to restore curbs and sidewalks as well as to adorn the playing field with park-like amenities. Demolition of the banking facility began during the summer of 2014. The City of Galveston also helped by permitting the use of the alley along the site; this will greatly enhance safety making Trinity Field a contiguous part of the campus. Trinity Board of Trustees member and chair of the Board's Property Committee, Jere Pederson, worked steadfastly to make this happen. Trinity began using the new field with the opening of the 2015-2016 school year.

Trinity Field

The Board of Trustees called Mr. Mark Ravelli to begin duties as Head of School beginning July 1, 2017, following the retirement of The Rev. David Dearman. -DCD
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