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Memorial service held at Northwood High School to honor Mr. Trifaro

Posted Friday, June 18, 2004

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On June 11th, many people gathered at Northwood High School for a Memorial Service to honor the life of Chatham Principal Mike Trifaro. Reflections by students, faculty members, and friends were shared with the audience. A former student of Mr. Trifaro's wrote "Tribute to Life" which was read by her mother, Reverend Carrie Bolton. "The Students Reflections on Trif" was written by Peyton Holland, Salutatorian of the Class of 2004.

Cards for the Trifaro family can be mailed to the following address:

Mike Trifaro Family (Attention: Beth Snider)
Chatham County Schools
P.O. Box 128, 369 West Street
Pittsboro, North Carolina 27312

[Ms. Snider will deliver all correspondence to Mike's family.]

Mr. Trifaro was one of the most influential people in my high school career. He taught me to believe in myself and to have confidence in myself even when the pressures of teenage life made it difficult. He took time to talk to me, to affirm my intellect, and to address my insecurities. Because of him, and others like him, I ventured to aim higher, seek deeper, and reach for a surer future.

It saddens me deeply that he is not here. But I refuse to discount the good that he has done in my life. I will not uproot the seeds he has planted. They will continue to bring forth life. His last lesson to me, although unspoken, is that our lives are valued more than we may recognize. Someone’s hope, courage, sense of self is connected to our words and our presence. We matter, and we must go on for these reasons, and it is through this truth that he will continue to live, in some way, in my spirit. Mr. Trifaro, my tribute to you…for life.

Philathia Bolton
June 10, 2004
your former student, Northwood High Class of 1998

Good morning. Today is a day that none of us expected to be sharing together in this way. It would be an understatement to say that this is a painful day, but even though our hearts are aching we mustn’t allow it to keep the fond memories that we have from bringing some joy to our hearts. Today we are gathered here to remember and honor the life of a man who touched the lives of every person that walked through the doors of Northwood High School and has left an everlasting mark on our community. Mr. Trifaro loved this place and every student and staff member here. You could see it in his eyes when he would sit down and talk with you or when you would see that friendly smile spread behind his mustache as he passed by and said hey in the hallway. There was no question as to how much he cared about making this a safe and enjoyable learning environment and that he wanted to do everything he could to help the students be successful not only in the classroom, but in whatever they choose to do in life. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot of time talking and working with Trif this year and in every conversation we shared, I couldn’t help but notice his genuine desire to please others and to do anything and everything he could to lend someone a helping hand. I knew if I ever needed anything, all I had to do is go knock on his door and he would do anything he could for me. I could go talk with him about whatever was on my mind and he would always listen so sincerely and offer any advice he had that could be of assistance. When you’re a teenager, it is sometimes hard to find grown-ups who you feel like understand you and that you are comfortable talking with, but I don’t believe there is a student at this school who did not feel like they could go to Trif with anything. He was our principal, but he was also our friend. He has been there to cheer us on at basketball, soccer, and football games, to support us at all the dance recitals and musicals, and to be the first one to congratulate us when we won a competition or were elected to an office. He was loyal to each and everyone of us and was never afraid to show how proud he was of his kids. As students, we could have not been any more fortunate than to have such a fine administrator with such a kind and fun loving heart. Like any good friend, if we were having a down day he would spring into action with some catchy joke or witty remark that would always put a smile on our faces. And what would a good friend be if they didn’t pull your leg every once in a while either. I remember one day this past year, Trif came over the intercom in my classroom and called me to the office in a real serious voice. The whole way up there I was thinking, man what did I do, I hope I haven’t done something wrong that I don’t know about. After a long walk, I finally I got to his office and sat down in his chair and he said, “Mr. Holland, we know you’re involved.” I thought, Good Lord, what am I involved in. But before I could whip the dumbfounded look off my face, he said “ You’re involved in everything. That’s why you are being awarded with this plaque” and he just busted out laughing and I couldn’t help but to crack a little smile. He was really a kid at heart, I guess that’s why we all got a long with him so well. We felt close to him and there was a connection there that few principals are ever able to establish with their students, I believe it’s called love.

Back on graduation night I challenged the seniors to take the initiative to be an example and to make a difference in someone else’s life. It is evident by looking around the school today and by looking out in the audience that Trif has made a difference in countless lives. He was the example and he left his footprints, not only along the halls of Northwood High School, but in the hearts of every person who was fortunate enough to know him. The Senior class and the students of Northwood High School are proud to have to have been lead by such a man as Michael Trifaro and we are eternally grateful for all that he has done to prepare us for our futures and to help us develop into who we are. We are honored to have had Trif in our lives and will always cherish the lessons we learned and the times we shared. Out in the hallway, just a few minutes ago, Mr. Pendergrast said something that I am sure sums up how everyone at Northwood feels; he said, “No matter how old you get, you are never to old to have a hero, Trif was our hero.” Thank you Mr. Trifaro, we love you and will always keep you in our hearts.

By Peyton Holland
Class of 2004, Salutatorian

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