Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Patriots’ Club at Trinity High School Unites Students in Service and Patriotism

Efforts Result in Statewide Teacher and Scout of the Year Awards

Eagle Scout Chris Adam has a motivating outlook on life.

If you’re unhappy about something, “You can sit and complain about things and hope for them to be better, or you can get up and do,” Chris says.

So when he saw the lack of an outlet for students his age to serve veterans and express their patriotism, Chris took his own advice, and decided to “get up and do.”

At the start of the 2019-2020 school year, and with the backing of school leadership, he started the Patriots’ Club at Trinity High School. The purpose of the service-oriented club is to bring students together to honor the sacrifices of men and women in uniform while sharing in their loyalty to country.

The club’s mission: “To unite interested members of the student body in doing substantive and good work in our communities; while fostering solid relationships between the students of Trinity High School and our community’s veteran and civic organizations. Our club focuses on patriotism and community responsibility, and providing worthy service hour opportunities; while our goal is to help support veterans, active duty soldiers, and patriotic focused organizations and endeavors; making a positive impact in our community and America.”

The Patriots’ Club is not affiliated with, nor does it promote, any political affiliation. “It’s just people from my generation who want to make the community a better place by giving back to other generations who fought and served so we could have the freedoms that we do,” Chris told The Catholic Witness.

The impact of the club’s activities has reached far and wide. Service projects this past school year have included the donation and assembly of Christmas care-packages for troops overseas; assisting a local American Legion in the placement of wreathes on veterans’ graves at Christmas and American flags for Memorial Day; and a food drive to benefit the Lebanon VA Medical Center.

In its inaugural year, the club drew upwards of 50 Trinity students. Its mission and activities are a perfect fit for Trinity’s service-oriented approach to education, which, for instance, requires seniors to complete service hours that align with the Corporal Works of Mercy.

“Our Patriots’ Club is centered on giving back to the community and giving back to veterans’ organizations,” Chris explained. “Even if it’s just in one small part of Central Pennsylvania, we’re still about giving back, and that’s what makes a lasting impact on people. I’m really happy to be the leader and harbinger of that.”

The club’s moderator is Michael Creavey, who teaches 9th Grade Theology at Trinity. Creavey is a former Commissioned U.S. Army officer from 2006-2014 and member of the 28th Infantry Division of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. He was deployed to Iraq in 2008 and concluded his service in Operation Rochambeau in France.

“I was supremely impressed with the attitude that Chris and the other officers and members of the club embodied in being willing to take on something new that has within it such high aspirations of recognizing patriotism,” Creavey said. “In Catholicism, there is a real connection between patriotism within our civic duties and the Fourth Commandment of honoring your father and mother. If I’m living a respectful, loving and charitable attitude toward my parents, I’m going to be more likely to live that way with my siblings, with my street, with my school, my county, my state, my nation.”

“In the Patriots’ Club, we’re approaching everything from a culture of Catholicism and the Gospel imperative for us to live out the works of mercy and our dedication to Christ. In our case, we’re doing it with a specific focus on showing love, respect and support for the veterans who have served our nation,” Creavey said.

Rick Olson, Post Commander of VFW Post 477 in Carlisle, said he was “overjoyed that Trinity accepted the Patriots’ Club and is so earnest in its approach, even with the activities they’ve done so far.”

“Patriotism is largely forgotten, and even sometimes rejected, in society today,” Olson said. “Mike Creavey expressed to me how it important it is to nourish and promote the virtues of sacrifice and dedication to our nation. The Patriots’ Club is intended to do just that.”

Michael Neff, Post Commander of American Legion World War I Memorial Post 109 in Mechanicsburg, has been impressed by the efforts of the club, which is still in its infancy. The club worked with the Post in placing wreathes at Christmas and American flags for Memorial Day on the graves of veterans.

“Being a veteran and seeing Chris’ efforts and the efforts of the young men and women in the club is inspiring. To see young people showing this kind of respect is a breath of fresh air. They’re the future leaders of our communities, and it’s been a real pleasure to work with them,” Neff said.

“I know that I could make a phone call to anyone in that group if one of our veterans needed their grass cut, or snow shoveled off their sidewalk. I know the members of the club would be willing to come out and help. We hope to continue working with them in the future,” he remarked. “I find real comfort in knowing that there are young men and women like Chris and his club who care about us and what we have to share.”

Teacher and Scout of the Year

The focus of the Patriots’ Club is the men and women in uniform, and the promotion of patriotism. But the club’s far-reaching impact, engagement and consistent program of service projects have turned the heads of many veterans and veterans’ organizations.

For his efforts with the club, Creavey received the Pennsylvania VFW’s “Teacher of the Year Award.” Through the award, the VFW recognizes “exceptional teachers for their outstanding commitment to teach Americanism and instill patriotism in their students.”

The VFW also bestows the annual “Eagle Scout of the Year Award.” This year’s honor was given to Chris.

“The award is for a Scout’s exceptional citizenship in school, in Scouting and in the community. Christopher has knocked all three of those out of the park,” Olson said.

As it turns out, Olson nominated Chris, who in turn nominated Creavey.

“Mr. Creavey is an integral part of our school,” Chris said of his teacher and club moderator. “In my freshman year, he was a substitute teacher, and every day that I went in, I knew it was going to be a really good class. He was always good at communicating with us and making us feel welcome.”

“Freshmen Theology is a class all freshmen are required to take. He is really an important part of what Trinity is as a community,” Chris continued. “He’s a nice guy and very good at introducing students to what Trinity is as a whole. What he was able to do with helping me start the Patriots’ Club and to mentor and guide me was helpful and beneficial. He also willingly shared his experiences with us of being actively deployed in the military. He’s the best candidate, in my opinion, to have as a club moderator.”

“Mike is one of the most innovative teachers I’ve ever encountered, and so passionate about what he does for students. I’m sure the students must absolutely love him and his class,” Olson said of Creavey.

Genuinely humbled by the “Teacher of the Year” award, Creavey said he hopes the attention it has garnered inspires others to live out their faith.”

“I think it’s a very dangerous path to try to detach our faith life from our civic life,” he said. “When you get into the dichotomy of thinking that what’s going on in the world is something we can set aside because we want to just focus on getting ourselves to heaven someday, that’s not seeing the whole picture. The Lord clearly wants us to live out our faith, to live out our commitment to Him. That involves caring for each other, standing up for those who are being tyrannized and beaten down.”

“When it comes to this award, I see it as confirmation that God wants me to take seriously my role in these young people’s lives and bring my own lessons learned to them in the classroom,” Creavey continued. “It’s about bearing witness to them on the importance of living out my faith in my workplace, in my relationships and in my community. We can help people see that a little bit better through his club and the awards that bear witness to who we have become because of the heroism and influence of others who have inspired us.”

A Scout’s Honor

Currently a rising senior at Trinity High School, Chris earned the rank of Eagle Scout following the completion of his truly remarkable Eagle Scout project, “Liberation Pointe,” at the United States Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle.

The memorial is dedicated to those who fought and gave their lives in the D-Day invasion at Normandy in World War II. It features two life-size bronze statues of soldiers and five walls representing the beaches where soldiers landed. The project was dedicated in November of 2019, following a nearly two-year process in which Chris amassed an astounding 2,000 hours of work and upwards of $200,000 in donated material and labor.

In esteemed recognition of the stunning memorial, “Liberation Pointe” was named the Glenn and Melinda Adams 2020 Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award, a national title from all of the Eagle Scout projects in the country. Chris’ project advanced through council, state and regional levels to earn the prestigious national title, which was presented in May during a ceremony at the Army Heritage and Education Center.

For Olson and his fellow veterans, Chris’ national recognition comes as no surprise.

“When he first came to our VFW post, he was 14 years old, speaking to our membership about what he hoped to accomplish through his Eagle Scout Project. To see it come to fruition and the manner in which he unveiled it was just breathtaking,” Olson said. “Our veterans think very highly of Christopher because he is genuine, through and through, in his honor of them.”

“As if it wasn’t enough to accomplish what he did as an Eagle Scout, he then went on to initiate the Patriots’ Club at Trinity and is leading the way in involving fellow students in an effort that is being forgotten in a lot of places. I couldn’t be more proud of him than if he was my own son,” he added.

Like Creavey, Chris humbly deflects the accolades, and re-directs it to the men and women who have worn the uniform.

“The message I want the award to carry is not about me at all. I don’t want the project to be about me. I believe that this award was given to me to honor the sacrifices that these men have made,” Chris said of his national recognition.

“Patriotism is important to me because people have sacrificed so much for our freedoms and the ability for us to be able to do what we can as Americans,” Chris said. “That kind of patriotic belief of supporting them and supporting what they’ve done for us, I see it kind of slowly dwindling from people in my generation…. It’s appalling to me to see that there are people who don’t really care about what goes on and kind of take their freedom for granted. Being able to bring myself and other members of the community – my friends and classmates, the Trinity community and the community at large – together to honor their sacrifice, I felt like it was necessary for me to do.”

(Photos courtesy of Trinity High School and Michael Creavey.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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