Planning a stellar prom, making the fifth floor of Main Hall super spooky, and generally ensuring that the hours spent outside the classroom are just as full as the time spent inside the classroom—these are just some of the responsibilities of Trini Hoffman P ’00, ’06. As Mercersburg’s director of student activities, Hoffman plans roughly 120 weekend activities for students throughout the course of the year–everything from dances and bingo nights to trips to New York City or Georgetown and more.
“It’s a job that keeps you busy every day doing different things,” says Hoffman. “It’s exciting, and it’s creative. I love working with the kids to come up with new ideas. It’s rewarding when you see the kids having fun.”
Hoffman’s role has always been about creativity and joy, but when the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to return home in the spring of 2020, Hoffman really had to think outside the box. She transitioned to finding ways to host online activities, and when students returned to campus that fall, quarantine rules meant that students stayed in their dorm rooms or socially distanced outside. All of these changes required Hoffman to add roughly 50 activities to that original 120 to ensure students had plenty to do.
“With COVID, everything had to be on campus,” she says. “So, I had to become more creative and have more and different activities so the kids wouldn’t get bored. [I needed to] give them an experience of fun whether it be online, whether it be a smaller event and dividing grades [to socially distance].”
Some of the online COVID activities included in-house scavenger hunts, out-of-your-closet fashion shows, and coffee with your pets. Some of the on-campus quarantine activities included paint afternoons where Hoffman would create a sign-up sheet, and for anyone who signed up, she would take supplies to each student’s dorm room, and then everyone would sign into Google Meet to paint together.
“We had some good things if you wanted to join in,” Hoffman remembers. “When we could finally go outside, I bought some basketball nets for the parking lot so we could stay socially distanced. COVID was tough. It kept me so busy.”
The 2021-2022 school year started to feel a bit more normal, but no less busy for Hoffman. In addition to weekend activities, she coordinates the student-run clubs on campus, and each club is responsible for planning at least one school-wide event every year with Hoffman’s help. Hoffman also works with the Entrepreneurship Springboard class for seniors in the fall and winter to help students create events and bring them to completion. With the exception of Declamation, Hoffman organizes all the Irving-Marshall Week activities, and she also teaches Project Wayfinder, a program primarily for 10th- and 11th-grade students to help them identify their passions and goals in life.
While Hoffman is just one person planning student activities, she is quick to point out the many people on campus who step up to make these events possible. “I have a support team when I need it through maintenance and the folks in the technology office,” she says. “Those people are huge for me. I really appreciate them. When I need electricity hooked up, when I need an electrical board, when I need a hose brought and hooked up, or if I need tables and chairs, they help me out.”
She can also count on faculty members to jump in and make sure an event runs smoothly. “When you work at a place like Mercersburg, everybody needs to help everybody,” she says. “Be there for your colleagues. If they need help, help them. So many faculty help me, and I couldn’t do it without them, and I so appreciate it. In return, I want to help them. We all need help to keep up with the daily and nightly rigor [of boarding school].”
Students–including the Student Activities Committee (SAC) and Student Council–also play a role in making these events happen. This past year the 11th-grade class council hosted three school-wide events, and Hoffman is excited to work with them more closely in the coming year. She also appreciates the help she receives from her student assistants. In 2021-2022, those students included Devin Rotz ’25 and Bube Osaji ’22.
“Over the winter term, I found Trini to be one of the most caring and considerate people that I know,” says Rotz. “Though she makes you work hard and can be very specific in her work, she is always there to support you and listen to you no matter what. Hard work–those two words can describe what it is like setting up, building, and executing events with Trini. Being her intern taught me a lot about the time, effort, and care that goes into the events almost every weekend. Learning from her is the thing that I enjoyed most from the experience because she has such a creative mind; she makes everything look easy!”
Hoffman, a Mercersburg native, has been a staple at the Academy since 1994, and as she heads into the 2022-2023 school year, she will also be looking toward retirement when the year wraps up. But before Hoffman officially hangs up her decorations, she’s got lots more fun to create. As campus becomes more and more normal in the coming year, Hoffman wants to bring back many of the activities she hosted during the pre-COVID days, including the Main Hall haunted house, the paint dance, the Goodwill fashion show, Big Bucks Bingo, and more.
“Without a doubt, Trini is the most fun person I have ever worked with,” says Coleman Weibley, assistant dean of students. “She brings a sense of positive energy to everything she does. Trini is also one of the most selfless people I know, always thinking about others and putting them first. She is extremely dedicated to her work and always thinks about how to make the most of an event or experience for our students. I am blessed and thankful to have Trini in my life.”
“Mercersburg has treated me very well,” Hoffman says. “I’ve loved my time so far at Mercersburg. I like the kids and working with the kids and seeing them laugh in a different light. I like when the alums come back, and [I love] keeping in touch with kids. Mercersburg has a lot of great people. When the kids come in, they have these ideas but no idea how to implement stuff. I love working with them to get to something they will remember for a lifetime.”