PA Hosts First “Super Soccer Saturday”

On Saturday, September 10th, Providence Academy and the Lions’ Soccer Booster Club hosted its first ever “Super Soccer Saturday” to celebrate the sport and Youth Soccer Day. 

The day was packed with fun, running from 9:00am to 12:00pm, with Lions games afterwards. 

The first activity on Super Soccer Saturday was an intramural soccer clinic for the “Cubs” (students in grades 3-5), and both boys and girls varsity team members volunteered to help the coaches run the program. It was a great experience for the aspiring PA soccer players to learn from the upper schoolers, who shared their love of soccer with them. 

Girls varsity soccer player Tatum Janezich, ‘25, said she volunteered not only to receive service hours, but also because, “I enjoy working with kids! It’s cool to help share the experience of being a soccer player with the younger ones.” 

Towards the end of the clinic, all of the younger soccer players broke into two teams—a girls’ team and a boys’ team—and played a very lively, but shortened game of soccer. Both teams even came up with their own chants to cheer each other on. The Middle School mini-scrimmages began shortly after the Cubs’ clinic, with both the girls’ and boys’ teams each playing an exciting match. 

The “Cubs” wrap up their clinic with a scrimmage. PAW Photo Credit: Maddyn Greenway

The players were not the only ones able to participate in the Super Soccer Saturday experience. Parents were able to watch their children play soccer while also enjoying the “Minnesota Carnivorium” food truck stationed at the fields and also the concessions. Even the varsity and JV girls’ teams gathered in community for a brunch that morning, to bond and fuel up before their own games against Wayzata High School and Heritage Christian Academy.

The girls’ junior varsity team played an exciting game against Wayzata High School, but unfortunately didn’t pull off a win. The boys’ varsity team faced off against Heritage Christian Academy, winning their matchup 2-1. And finally, the girls’ varsity team, who also took on Heritage Christian Academy, came out ahead with an 8-1 win.

Varsity boys’ goalkeeper Ben Martin, ’23, makes an impressive save. Photo credit: Jodi Lewis.

After the varsity game, to celebrate Youth Soccer Day, all youth players who wore a club or school soccer jersey received a free treat from the concession stand, which they could enjoy while they watched the Lions’ games. Many of the lower schoolers remained at Providence after their own soccer concluded to participate in this celebration and to cheer on the Lions.

The varsity Lady Lions in action on Mithun Field. PAW Photo Credit: Maddyn Greenway.

Fifth grader Annie Lee, who attended the Cubs’ Clinic, said that her favorite part of the day was, “The girls’ varsity game because my sister is on the team and I love watching the high schoolers play!” 

Overall, the PA Soccer Booster Club’s first Super Soccer Saturday was a success and a great experience for all players—lower, middle, and upper schoolers.

There is a possibility that this event will continue in future years, as Girls’ Varsity Head Coach Paul Cronin noted, “We would absolutely do it again. This is the first time we’ve done an event like this. It was very inspiring to see the older players serve as such good role models for all of the aspiring young players.” 

Perhaps the lower school students will someday be teaching young players how to play the sport they love, as varsity team members.

Lions Football Wins Home Opener

Blue, gold, and pink! The Providence Academy football team came out with an exciting win Friday September 9th, on their home turf, with cheering fans dressed in pink to support the Tackle Cancer mission of raising money for cancer research.

The Lions get ready for kick off against Spectrum High School. PAW photo credit: Gabby Hankel.

The PA Lions’ football team took on the Spectrum Sting on Mithun Field for a thrilling second game of the 2022 season. The players were anxious to get on the field for their first home game of the season, striving for a win to make their record 1-1. The team delivered, to the delight of their fans, with a 20-0 score. 

“We took the loss hard last week and all we did was prepare, prepare, prepare,” wide receiver Joseph Bergault, ‘25, remarked on the win. 

Spectrum’s defense caused a Lions touchdown to remain elusive throughout the first quarter, with the score remaining 0-0, but  Captain Stormy Knight, ‘23, pulled off the first touchdown of the game in the second quarter. 

From then, touchdowns were scored by Captain Eddie Dossantos, ‘23, and Colin Capouch, ‘25. 

“The game got off to a slow start,” mentioned quarterback Eddie Dossantos, “but things picked up as we went on. Boys played well and hard and we came out with a W.”

The team’s supporters were decked out in pink to support the Tackle Cancer mission. Providence annually fundraises at one home game to help further cancer research. Along with raising money, it is also tradition to wear pink clothes and accessories to support the cause. 

Student fans, decked out in pink to support “Tackle Cancer,” wave “goodbye” to Spectrum High School, as the Lions wind down their win, 20-0.

The players were not the only ones ecstatic for the home opener. The fans, including those from the team’s co-op schools–Heritage Christian Academy, Maranatha Christian Academy, and West Lutheran High School–packed the stands and were extremely active in cheering on the Lions throughout the game. 

“I think we have really great team spirit,” exclaimed PA student Katelyn Clements, ‘24. She continued, “Everyone is joining in the cheers and is really rowdy.” 

The Providence community shined on the field, along with the players and coaches. Providence’s dance team performed during halftime, which energized the fans for the second half. It was also the annual Youth Night, where youth athletes were able to accompany Providence players onto the field during the announcement of the starting lineup. 

The Lions’ participate in their traditional “thank you” to the fans for their support during the game. PAW photo credit: Gabby Hankel.

The home opener built anticipation for the upcoming season, and the energy on Mithun Field and in the stands proved that the Lions have immense support behind them. With the Homecoming game on September 31 and the excitement surrounding upcoming theme games, the Lions’ season will surely be one to remember.

Building a Community and Remembering Lives Lost: Providence Academy Commemorates 9/11

John 15:13 is not only a verse often quoted by Providence Academy Headmaster Dr. Todd Flanders, but also one that calls to mind the events of September 11, 2001. 

The verse reads, “Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his own life for his friends.”

Flanders explained, “It reminds us that we are called to show honor to those who sacrifice their lives,” which is exactly what PA students did on September 12, 2022 during the annual 9/11 commemoration. 

American flags lined the campus, representing each life lost in the attacks, a tradition that began in the early 2010’s with the help of the Lions for Life group. 

“There are 2,977 flags, and each one set up by students represents one life lost that day,” explained Lions for Life president Rylie Schoenfelder, ‘23, who has been involved in setting up the memorial for the past four years.

Lower and Middle school students respectfully watch the Plymouth Fire Department enter the Providence campus during the September 11th Commemoration. PAW Photo Credit: Amelia Madden

In front of the flags stood every PA student and faculty and staff member watching Plymouth’s own first responders drive through.

“When you turn the corner and see everyone standing out there in remembrance, it’s very humbling,” stated Plymouth traffic control officer Anthony Elia, who first came to the PA memorial six years ago. “It’s huge to see everyone’s respect for the profession, which boosts all of our morale as officers.”

Despite this part of the ceremony being the most anticipated by the officers as well as the community, both inside the yellow walls and throughout Plymouth, it was actually the result of an impromptu idea in 2015. 

“Initially, the fire department called and asked if they could go through the campus to look at the flags because they’re quite iconic. So, I had the faculty bring everybody out to surprise and honor them while they drove through,” Flanders revealed. 

Liam O’Connor, ’24, Jonathan Munene, ’24, and David Bakke, ’24, watch the Plymouth Fire Department drive onto campus. PAW Photo Credit: Amelia Madden

Although it is important to focus on first responders during this time, 9/11 was significant for veterans as well. 

11th grade US history teacher and former Army Armor Officer, Mike Guardia, expressed this saying, “I felt the Global War on Terror would be a war unlike any other. Following 9/11, we were no longer training to fight a conventional enemy.”

For Guardia and other veterans who have risked their lives protecting us, the PA memorial proves itself to be powerful. 

“Veterans will drive up and around the campus this weekend, and they weep to see our students honor all of the lives lost,” described Flanders. 

Even though tragedy can often tear apart communities, 9/11 did the opposite.

Dr. Flanders felt it was important to gather students in an effort to show them, “their lives are about more than just themselves. We decided to call the middle and upper school to the chapel that day, to inform them what was going on, and to lead them in prayer.” 

In a similar way, PA’s commemoration continues to bring the community together each year.

“Everyone came together after 9/11, and that’s kind of the feeling that you get when you come out to Providence for the memorial,” noted Elia. 

As 9/11 shaped the country, it also shaped Providence Academy after its occurrence on the sixth day of the school being open. 

On that day, Flanders released a note to families saying, “As the aftermath of this tragedy unfolds, faculty and staff will be available to help students to think about the events, and to try to understand matters that are, admittedly, very hard to understand.”

PA security officer Dale Duerksen, his wife Vicki, and granddaughters Emma and Everley patiently wait for the officers to turn into school. PAW Photo Credit: Amelia Madden

President of the Board and PA parent, Mr. Bob Cummins, emphasized the importance of keeping this tradition saying, “It’s especially significant for young people to remember and to understand what went on.”

No matter how many years pass, Providence Academy students will never forget what happened on September 11, 2001, because as stated by Flanders, “There is something true, good, and noble about doing this.” 

Star Readers Stand Out in Lower School

“There is no substitute for books in the life of a child,” said Mary Ellen Chase,  one of the most influential New England authors of the twentieth century. Providence Academy believes, just as Chase did, that reading is an essential part of every student’s education, particularly in their lower school years. Students have a designated period almost every day for reading, as well as weekly trips to the library. From books about dragons to classics such as “Sherlock Holmes” and “Robinson Crusoe,” lower schoolers have access to a variety of literature that can fuel their imaginations and their love of reading.

Mrs. Galgano poses with her basket of star pins and medals on her way to award more students for their diligent reading.

This is where the yearly Director’s Reading Challenge (DRC) comes into play. The challenge is tailored to each grade’s reading level, usually requiring that students read a certain number of minutes each night or a certain amount of pages each month. Lower School Director Mrs. Nancy Galgano, began this program about twenty years ago as a challenge for the lower school class she was teaching at the time. 

Galgano explained, “I had special books that I ordered and when a student reached a certain level, they would get to keep a book from my own collection. Then at the end of the year, students would get a little prize for reading a certain number of nights each month.”

All of that changed because of one student who truly loved to read. “There was one boy who read every single day of the year,” Galgano recalled. “For that boy, I started giving out the medal because it was an extraordinary commitment and because it was so extraordinary, it was an inspiration for other students, who began to do the same thing.”

Mrs. Galgano and Mrs. Jaeger had out the iconic medals to those who successfully completed the 2021-22 Director’s Reading Challenge

Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Sarah Evens, is one of many teacher who play an essential role in the reading journey of lower schoolers. She underlines the importance of the DRC in leading students towards a lifelong passion. “I believe [the challenge] creates that love of reading because it becomes like a habit,” Evens explained.

“It changes the mindset from having to read to wanting to read by putting the choice in students’ hands.” Evens continued. 

Galgano agrees with Evens, noting, “We make it a challenge because it’s mostly voluntary, so it excites the kids and motivates them. [The incentive] makes reading more fun!” She continued by saying that even though the ultimate prize may be a medal or a star-shaped pin, “The reading challenge is not meant for people to get a medal, but to build the habit of reading, which is so important to their future.”

Mrs. Simons’s Kindergarten class smiles with their first-ever Director’s Reading Challenge medals

While some lower school students may identify the DRC as another piece of homework, third-grader Thomas O’Grady finds this a delightful part of his life. “I like it because you get the pins and the medals, but my favorite part is that I get an excuse to read,” he commented. 

As a student who is known for reading all the time, sometimes even in class, it’s no surprise that O’Grady truly loves reading. “I like that characters get to go on cool adventures. In my favorite book “Dragonwatch”, the two main characters get to fight evil dragons to protect humans, and I know that won’t ever happen to me, so I like reading about it,” he said.

With another successful year of the Director’s Reading Challenge coming to an end last Friday, it is more important than ever to remember the power that reading has in shaping a child’s future, and that nothing can substitute it.

Floating Away with Physics

Connor Shore ’22 smiles while holding the balloon during the inflation process

The advanced physics class decided to cap off their year by launching a high-altitude balloon last weekend. The launch was the first of its kind in the history of the class and the capstone of an entire experiment centered on gathering data on cosmic ray muons.

High altitude is required to detect the muons and therefore necessitates a balloon capable of withstanding the elements at a high altitude. Muons are created when cosmic rays (high-energy protons) collide with the nuclei of atoms in the upper atmosphere. These muons are extremely unstable and usually decay before they reach the earth’s surface making them much harder to detect. By using a balloon to lift the detector into the upper atmosphere, more muons can be detected before they decay. 

“By raising the detector thousands of feet into the air, we can get much more accurate data than if we just simulated the muons using a computer program,” noted Christopher John Festin ‘22.

Christopher John Festin ’22 makes final adjustments to the gyroscope before launch

The project required weeks of building and preparation. Needing a balloon, the muon detector, and a way to track the entire package, there was plenty of work cut out for the Advanced Physics class. 

“I feel that since we have such a small class (12 people) we can really specialize on what we want to work on in the project and get things done,” added Matthew Narog ‘22. 

The launch day was an entire event for the physics students. The day started with a trip to Mr. Plusinski’s father’s cardiovascular clinic, Northern Cardiovascular Clinic in Edina where the students learned about the physics of ultrasounds and other medical equipment. After a mini physics lesson, the class drove out to Montgomery to launch the ballon. 

“It was cool to see how what we were learning in class can be applied to the real world” commented Mary Rillens Lee ‘22, who is interested in a career in the medical field. 

After a few attempts to launch the balloon, the third time was the charm. The balloon quickly rose up into the air and began its flight. Within a few minutes, the balloon was completely out of sight and was being tracked by the onboard GPS

Matthew Wooden ’22 celebrates when the balloon successfully launched on the third try.

After a staggering five and a half hours of flight, the balloon finally landed in upper Michigan less than five miles from lake superior. 

“Mr. Plusnski sai MAYBE the balloon would make it all the way to Iowa, now it is sitting 300 miles away in upper Michigan,” remarked Macalister Clark ’22 on the astonishing distance the balloon traveled. 

The class quickly made plans to retrieve the balloon over the long upcoming weekend in order to collect the data stored inside the detectors for next year’s class to analyze.