Work hard, play hard. That's Trini Hoffman's approach to work and life. “I live my life this way, and I hope that it rubs off on the kids,” says Hoffman P '00, '06, Mercersburg's director of student activities. “You work hard during the week, and then during the weekend, you play hard. You have fun. You let go.”
Hoffman plans anywhere from 150-170 weekend activities a year for the students. These events might include everything from bingo nights and dance parties on campus to off-campus trips to local Hagerstown, Maryland, and further destinations like New York City.
“I hope [students] have fun, and it's like a release for them where they can just be themselves and they don't have anything to think about,” Hoffman says. “Just having fun and spending time with friends.” For new students, she hopes her events are a way to meet others on campus and form new, lasting friendships.
“I try to have as much on campus as off campus so that it can reach the students who maybe aren't comfortable going off campus or don't have permission to go off campus. Because of my experience, I've learned what works and what doesn't, and if the kids have a real experience, they're more likely to keep attending and keep excited about it.”
The ideas for events often come from the students themselves: campus clubs, dorm prefects, the Student Activities Committee, the entrepreneurship Springboard class, and the Student Council. Hoffman estimates that over the course of the year, nearly half the student body is involved in offering ideas. Some of the events are designed for the whole school and others might only appeal to a small group, and Hoffman says that's OK. The (Pennsylvania) Renaissance Faire is a perfect example of a small trip with big rewards. “I know that feeds into just a small audience, but the kids who go are just glowing when they come back,” says Hoffman. “I just hope that the variety of [events and options] continues.”
Hoffman measures the success of her activities in several ways: the smiles on the students' faces, how they interact with one another, whether they stay for the whole event. “I'm very fortunate because the kids really are very kind, and when they say, ‘Thank you, Trini, this was awesome. Can we have another?’–I know whether they've enjoyed it or not. I try to pay a lot of attention to that.” Hoffman also tries to ask the students regularly about what they like and don't like.
“In my opinion, you can't create a fun-filled, full activity without passion,” she says, and she has brought this passion to her role since joining Mercersburg in 1994.
As Hoffman looks toward the future, she will retire at the end of this academic year, but she hopes the foundation she has established will continue: “I hope that in the future, the person who carries it on has the passion, true passion for just seeing kids having fun, and it's not just a job to them. Because I think that shines through. I think kids pick up on that stuff very easily and quickly. I think if the kids know that you legitimately want them to have a great time and a good experience, I think they'll buy in.”