A Cloud of Witnesses: PA Gathers for 20th Anniversary Commemorative Mass

A Cloud of Witnesses:  PA Gathers for 20th Anniversary Commemorative Mass

Archbishop Hebda blesses the PA students as he processes out of the commemorative mass in the chapel this past Monday.

Pulling into the main drive at Providence Academy, the eye is naturally drawn to the architectural center of the school. The light in the cupola, as the sanctuary lamp in the chapel beneath it, stays lit year round. Monday, October 18th, Archbishop Hebda celebrated mass, marking 20 years since the consecration of that chapel, the first lighting of the sanctuary lamp, and Jesus’ presence in the Tabernacle ever since.

In 2001 when Archbishop Flynn [of blessed memory] consecrated the chapel, Mrs. Melissa Krcil, Lower School reading and learning specialist, was a 3rd grade classroom teacher in attendance. “There was a lot of anticipation and unknown because not many of us had ever been to a consecration of a chapel before so we weren’t sure what to expect,” she recalled. 

Founding faculty member and Director of Academics and Curriculum, Mr. Michael Tiffany remembered, “Excitement and joy were in the room and among us; we knew [the consecration] would be remembered in history, so it was cool to be able to witness it.”

Krcil continued, “There were a lot of firsts that inaugural year, yet this stuck out as a very memorable event because it is the focus of why we are all here.”  She noted, “ To be able to take time to center us on Jesus, on our mission, amidst all the other firsts, was very special.”

In twenty years’ time, much has changed in the aesthetics of the Chapel, the school. “When we started,” Tiffany shared, “[the Chapel] was very bare bones; nothing was painted.”  He added, “Since the consecration, the footprint of the school has changed a great deal; some parts present now weren’t even part of the school when it was founded.”

But taking the time to stay centered on Christ remains a priority for the school, as was evident by the efforts put forth to organize Monday’s mass. With just over 200 students in 2001, the whole school fit in the Chapel with room to spare. With current enrollment at over 900, accommodating the current student body, along with faculty and staff, was a challenge.

Mr. Jason Peterson in action as he sets up the cameras to livestream the mass for students in other locations and for viewing by the Providence Academy community.

The reordering of schedules across all three divisions, facilitation of participation from all students and staff, and logistics of offering Holy Communion in the Chapel, Great Room, and classrooms where the ceremony was Simulcast, were just a few considerations in preparation for the Mass and the visit from the Most Reverend Archbishop.

With his characteristic generosity of spirit, Hebda reiterated the importance of sacred spaces. “We are Incarnational,” he observed. “We believe not only that Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament, but also in the Word proclaimed, in the Altar, and among us gathered as Christians.”

Sacred spaces like our chapel, “ground us as Catholics and help keep us focused on what is important. [Here] we join ourselves in history to the founders of our faith,” added Tiffany.

Though much has changed since the Eucharist was first received in the Chapel, that groundedness, that sense of center is of timeless, indeed eternal importance.  Here, Hebda hopes students are rooted in Truth, centered on Christ, and “receiving the foundation to face challenges in the world beyond.”

Conquering at Conference

In the main gym of Providence Academy, there are six banners hung along the east wall, each signifying a school in the IMAC Conference. On Thursday, October 14th, the PA Cross Country team took on the five other teams represented by those banners in the annual Conference Race at Battle Creek Park. Though a challenging course, of the 29 Providence runners who competed, 23 turned in their best times of the season and 14 finished in the best times of their career.

Unlike last year, where only a limited number of people were allowed to participate, this race welcomed back every runner. Coach Dan Hickel remarked, “It felt like we were back to normal. There was much excitement to just be together again with the runners who were doing what they love to do.”

Liz Burns ’23 and Brooke Kahrl ’27 smile as they run up one of the hardest hills in any race this year. (PAW Photo Credit: Dan Hickel)

In preparation for the race, Hickel said, “There was a lot more talk about teamwork, and how to get the team members to push each other to become better because it is a race we know, a race we’ve done, and a race that is a ‘finish line’ for the entire season.”

This is a very exciting race for the team, especially since it is near the end of the season. Aidan Flynn ‘24 remarked, “One of the first thoughts that came to me after I crossed the finish line was how crazy it is that the season is almost over. It’s sad that I will no longer be racing with some of these people, who I have been running with for years, ever again in a few weeks.” 

With the seniors leaving and many middle school participants on the team, Flynn is looking forward to stepping into more of a leadership. “I was so used to being one of the younger guys on the team, so now being one of the role models for the younger runners this year is a change for me.,” he reflected.

Flynn continued, “I try to make the younger runners feel the same way as my role models did me when I was their age.” 

One of these role models is team captain and senior, Emma Kelly ‘22. She commented on the race night itself, “This year, the weather was beautiful, I know the course, and being a senior gave me a new perspective.”

Kelly placed second, and per the awards ceremony tradition, she was called up to the stage to receive her winners’ t-shirt. She remembers, “It felt really good to walk up there as a senior, after placing the highest I’ve ever placed in that course, looking back and seeing how far I’ve come.”

The boys team says their team prayer before heading to the start line. (PAW Photo Credit: Dan Hickel)

Overall, both the girls and boys teams placed fifth in the conference, but as Hickel noted, “The main goal was to have all the runners reach their personal goals. [The coaching staff] didn’t care how we placed as a team but wanted the runners to feel like they had grown since the first race. We are happy with their times, their growth as individuals, and as a team.”

Sleek Senior Spike

 When the class of ‘22 graduates, the Lady Lions volleyball team will have some shoes to fill.  Lady Lions volleyball coach and former collegiate competitor Ms. Erika Greene describes the six seniors on this year’s squad as having “strong leadership and energy roles” as well as being “great contributors to the team.”  Those qualities were clearly on display last Tuesday night October 12 when the Lady Lions hosted their last home game of the season against Mounds Park Academy. The lady Lions fell 0-3 but not without a fight, putting their record at 7-10 headed into sectionals.

Senior night started off the traditional way with a prayer, the national anthem, and recognition of each senior by name. As the younger players cheered from the sidelines, Maria Counts, Paige Meadows, Elle Wiederholt, Kylie Onserio, Anna Leuer, and Liz Mogere made their way to the front center of the court. The team’s seniors surely felt the crowd’s appreciation of their hard work this season and throughout the careers at Providence.  Even though the Lady Lions didn’t walk away Tuesday night with a win, this season has still been one to remember and brought cause for celebration of other accomplishments.

Kylie Onserio ’22 winds up to serve against Mounds Park Academy on Senior Night at PA Tuesday, October 12.

Greene emphasized, “One our goals this year was working on consistent team playing rather than individual playing.” The Lady Lions not only met this goal but surpassed it. Their collaborative efforts on the court led to their winning second in Conference and going into Sections this November. These players not only showed Greene they were capable of reaching their goals, but demonstrated several different things throughout the season such as lessons on determination, energy, and leadership.

Lady Lions stand in pre game huddle getting ready to put up a great fight against Mounds Park Academy in their last home game of the regular season.

Another triumph of this group is the acceptance of everyone on the team. The varsity squad represents 8th through 12th graders; with such a wide age range, team bonding can be challenging. Looking back over the season and the team’s dynamic, Greene said, “I was surprised at how close the team was off the court.” The girls could often be seen talking, laughing, and hugging in the halls throughout the school day.

Connections, respect, and collaboration may not come naturally to players across so many grade levels, but this group of girls only saw each other as part of the same team, rather than divided by grades.

Meadows’ encouragement, advice, and hope for all the younger players is to, “ just soak up every single moment of the sport you love, but also all aspects of school.” She continued, “Providence provides so many opportunities that come along with meeting some of the best people, and everyone should take those opportunities.”

Meadows concluded, “As far as volleyball goes, continue to build tight bonds with your teammates in all different grades because it brings a new aspect to your life that you will cherish forever!’

Senior Sentiments: A Splendid Start for Seniors

“I still kind of feel like I’m a freshman,” commented Maria Counts ‘22.

Although this may be a sentiment among many in the Class of 2022, they truly were Seniors as of September 1st, and are determined to make this year memorable. 

From planning out of school activities to making the most of regular school days, the first month of their senior year has already been special. 

Seniors Paige Meadows, Eleanor Young, Kylie Onserio, Liz Trubeck, and Ava Wasserman smile with their juice and coffee at the “Senior Sunrise” on September 1st.

12th graders kicked off the first day of school with a “Senior Sunrise” on Wednesday, September 1st. The Class of 2022 met at Hamel Hill at 6:15am to catch the sunrise. They wanted to be at one place as a class for the first moments of their final year together. Organized solely by members of the Senior class, students brought bagels, juice, coffee, balloons, and blankets. 

“I loved it. It was so fun to have an activity for just the seniors outside of school.” reflected Sophie Koch ‘22, who initiated the event. 

There is even talk among seniors of watching the sunset on the last day of school as well, in order to start and end the year together as a grade. 

Seniors Alex Rynders, Matthew Narog, Lucas Priemueller, Mac Clark, Sam Trombley, Joseph Uzelac, and Jack Lindberg take advantage of the new Senior Keurig between most classes and call themselves “The Brew Crew.”

Not only are Seniors enjoying outside of school activities, they are also relishing the many merits that come with being a Senior at Providence Academy. They love spending study halls on the couches in the Atrium, having a Senior snack locker, Senior sweatshirts, a Senior Keurig, and leaving for and from lunch 5 minutes early. 

These merits give Seniors a sense of accomplishment. They put in all the hard work to now be able to enjoy the privileges that come with being closer to adulthood. 

Matthew Narog ‘22 proudly commented, “It feels good to be a Senior. You get to enjoy Providence for being Providence and reap the benefits of the past 3 years.” 

Seniors Maria Counts, Anna Heaney, Nathan Hemmesch, Sidney Borland, and Elle Wiederholt enjoy studying and drinking coffee during their pink period study hall. “It’s so relaxing to have the opportunity to just have a coffee during study hall,” remarked Counts.

As much as seniors enjoying new merits, they are also ramping up participation in school activities, creating a more connected and exciting atmosphere among 12th graders. 

For example, the Class of 2022 has been giving their all on out of uniform days. During homecoming week, many Senior guys went so far as to wear capes, sashes, and tights for the pink themed out of uniform day.

Jack Lindberg ‘22 enthused, “I love pink! Plus, we thought it would be funny. It’s senior year, why not go all out?”.

Seniors Mary Rillens Lee, Kristin Welch, Ellie Millerbernd, Olivia Eck, Elle Wiederholt, Ava Wasserman, Liz Trubeck, Emma Wohlwend, Sophie Koch, and Grace Wikenheiser pose in their gold and white to capture the excitement at the Homecoming game on Friday, October 24th.

Additionally, Seniors have been pulling out all the stops when dressing in theme for Football games this season. From Hawaiian leis at the beginning of the season to covering themselves from head to toe in gold glitter for the Homecoming game, Seniors are making their last year one to remember. 

Although Senior year can be stressful and many may be ready to leave for college, PA Seniors are still determined to enjoy the school year. It’s an exciting time when students are on the edge of closing one chapter and beginning the next.

“There’s a certain excitement about Senior year. Not only because of what’s in Senior year, but also what’s beyond Senior year,” reflected Senior History teacher Mr. Ian Skemp.

Reading into the School Year

Sitting, studying, and searching. What do all these words have in common? They are the key ingredients for having a great time in Mrs. Krista Wiederholt’s library. Although it was sad to see Mrs. Claire Commers leave, especially after nineteen years of being Providence Academy’s only librarian, it is always nice to welcome a new face. Wiederholt is following in Commers’ footsteps with her love of reading and fun new additions that help make reading a fun experience. 

Besides Mrs. Wiederholt, Allegory (a crocheted bookworm), is a new and welcome addition to the library.

Wiederholt has always loved going to the library and has always loved books. She believes her passion for books started with her grandma when she was very young. Wiederholt would lead story time with her at the public library in her hometown. She would even tag along with her grandma when she led story time at the nearby assisted living center. These early experiences cultivated her love of books now. 

Like her love for books, Wiederholt’s love for Providence isn’t new either.  As a PA parent with two daughters that have been attending for four years, she is not completely new to the PA community. In fact, Wiederholt remembers being impressed by the library when touring the school.

“One of the main reasons I wanted my children to go to PA was because of the library,” remarked Wiederholt.

When the librarian position became open, she reflected, “I just feel like it really spoke to me and was the right fit for me.” 

Along with a new face in the library, some fun new displays have also appeared, including a doll house, reading mats for individual reading time, and the saint book shelf. Young library goers are perhaps most excited about Allegory, a book worm that hides in a different spot every week and shows the children where they can find new books to read. 

“I love Allegory,” glowed Wells Martin ‘31. “It is always so exciting to read the clues and search for him each week.” 

Martin is not the only one who is enjoying the new additions to the library. The rest of the Lower School takes delight in the cozy atmosphere. 

“The children never want to leave,” stated fifth grade instructor Mrs. Beth Reopelle. “They love being read to, picking out a new book, and taking a break from the [rest of the school] day.” 

From hanging out with their friends to sitting in a comfy chair and reading their next favorite book, the library offers a variety of engaging activities for students of all ages, thanks to Widerholt’s enthusiasm and efforts.

“I am most looking forward to getting to know the kids as well as the library and helping them pick out great books,” concluded Wiederholt.

Wiederholt reads her one of her favorite books to a group of fourth graders.