Senior Sentiments: The Last First Week

“I can’t believe we’re actually seniors,” remarked Erin Brown, ‘24. 

While Brown’s sentiment may be common among the Class of 2024, they really are seniors, and have already made their last first week “fun,” “memorable,” and “a great time for everyone.”

The senior class kicked off the year with “Senior Sunrise,” heading to Hamel Hill at 6:15 AM to enjoy donuts, juice, and each other’s company. Gracie Griep, ‘24, explained that this event was, “a good opportunity to have fun, make new memories and get close with your classmates…It was great to start the year right next to the people who have made my high school experience amazing.”

Aidan Flynn, ’24, poses on the red carpet for the final time.

After catching the sunrise, the seniors made their way to PA to take one final and “nostalgic” walk on the red carpet. “My mentality in regards to my senior year has been directed towards taking in experiences, even if they are small. So, I had to pause to soak the moment in – that it would be my last time ever on the red carpet as a student at PA,” reflected lifelong Lion, Aidan Flynn, ‘24. 

The next few days of school consisted of adjusting to new schedules and getting used to senior privileges, which include senior sweatshirts, study halls in the atrium, and leaving class a few min early for lunch. “I love having study hall in the atrium because I will be enjoying the fireplace this winter,” explained Brown. 

The Class of 2024 wrapped up their last first week with a PA Lions Football game, and for seniors on the team, this was their final home opener. Tight End Trey Albertini, ‘24, explained that the game was “bittersweet. I’m glad I got this far but I wish the journey could last a bit longer.”

The Class of 2024 cheers on the Lions Football team from the front of the student section. PAW Photo Credit: Anika Austvold

Albertini’s sentiment was not only true for his senior teammates, but also for his classmates in the stands. “It’s a rollercoaster of emotions seeing these guys out here after all of the hard work they’ve put in over the past four years, but it’s really great,” remarked Louie Wehmann, ‘24. 

The dedication of the seniors is part of what led the Lions to victory. However, Albertini is certain that the team will be just as successful after they graduate. “The Class of 2024 has done a lot for the program, but I know that the Lions will be as good without us, hopefully even better,” he explained.

The senior class is ready to leave a lasting legacy at PA, even if this year seems “crazy,” “sad,” “terrifying,” or “awesome.” As Wehmann explains, “the Class of 2024 hopes to be an example that the following senior classes can look fondly upon, and I’m hoping that we can be an example to the younger grades as well.” 

PAW Feature Photo Credit: Sammy Lewis

A Director Like No Other

Are you curious about what a day in the life of Providence Academy’s beloved Upper School Director, Mr. Kurt Jaeger, looks like? The PAW was, and we decided to follow him for a day to see for ourselves all that he does for our school. Spoiler alert! Our biggest takeaway is that Mr. Jaeger dedicates his career to helping students and forming strong relationships with them.

This is Mr. Jaeger’s third year as Upper School Director; however, he has had many roles in the PA community, which include: Senior Development Officer, Dean of Activities, 2nd grade teacher, religion teacher, 6th grade history teacher, and Director of Athletics. 

Mr. Jaeger starts his day bright and early at 6 a.m. by making sure everything is in order for the day before he leaves for work. He double checks his email and communicates with Mrs. Gregg with any last minute news. Then, he arrives on campus around 8 a.m and his busy day officially begins. Each day is different but they generally consist of a mixture of standard meetings, hiring new teachers and faculty, observations of students and teachers, answering phone calls and countless emails, attending 12th grade senior speeches, and being present within the PA community. 

Above all, Mr. Jaeger’s main focus is on student life. He makes sure to be in the hallways during passing periods to ask how students are doing. He also blocks out time everyday to stop by at lunch to connect with students.

“By talking with students you get a lot of good feedback,” he said. And with a smile added, “It’s surprising how if you ask these questions, you learn things you need to know.”

Mr. Jaeger checks in to see how students’ days are going at 11th and 12th grade lunch

Mrs. Sarah Hogan, Director of College Counseling and Alumni Engagement and a colleague of Mr. Jaeger commented, “Mr. Jaeger is a quintessential principal, approaching his day-to-day work with students, faculty, and families with a servant leader mindset, knowing full well that students are in the process of formation, and that they and their teachers and staff mentors both need positive, unwavering support to be successful. Mr. Jaeger, like any great principal, is a very good listener, knows the names of all of the Upper School students, and stands prepared to tackle any conflicts that might arise.”

Mr. Jaeger says that his favorite part of the job is the opportunity to interact with students. Being student-centered and forming bonds is very important to him. When Dr. Flanders asked Mr. Jaeger if he was interested in the position of Upper School Director, Mr. Jaeger said that he wanted students to know who he was and for them to feel comfortable with him and what he does at PA. 

Another aspect of his job is that Mr. Jaeger prioritizes his relationship with the faculty. He relayed, “I want to be someone who works with them, not someone they answer to. At the end of the day, we all have the same job, which is to help the students and set them up for success.”

Harrison McGill, ‘25, shared, “He is truly a remarkable principal. He is always so kind and I appreciate how he is out in the hallways everyday to ask how our day is going.”

Even after school hours, Mr. Jaeger plays an active role in our PA community. He not only supports his own children, but also attends and supports various concerts, games, and other activities at school.

However, every job has its challenges. When asked what was most challenging about his job Jaeger said, “If you want to be popular and well liked all the time, administration is not for you. When you are the one who ultimately makes decisions, at any time people will be unhappy with what you do. However, you need to be willing to make decisions and stand behind them even when people don’t agree with you. As long as you know that you are acting for the best, you need to follow through. I find that people will respect your decision even if you don’t agree with them.” 

He admits that finding the balance between academic expectations and creating an enjoyable high school experience can be hard. Mr. Jaeger said that he loves his job and is extremely thankful to be a part of Providence Academy. Likewise, we as students are so thankful to have him as our beloved director.

A Peek Inside Pre-K

Providence Academy’s Pre-Kindergarten classes have days full of learning and fun. Each day in Pre-K focuses on growing the students’ love for learning through structured lessons and open play.

The PA class of 2036 has two classes: Mrs. Raymaker’s and Mrs. Kennedy’s classes fill their days with math and reading groups, recess, special enrichment classes, such as Spanish, music, library, and art, and more to develop their social skills and education. 

Paula Nagimesi and Jensen Baker ,’36, play with the doll house in Mrs. Kennedy’s classroom.

“We work together, with Mrs. Kennedy’s class, as a Pre-K team,” Mrs. Raymaker explained. This helps not only the teachers, but also the students, as they are able to interact with other children their age and be surrounded by those that aren’t in the same class.

After the Pre-K’ers arrive for the day, they join the rest of the school in prayer offered by Providence Academy’s Headmaster, Dr. Flanders. They start their day with literacy, which focuses on developing writing, rhyming, listening, and comprehension skills through mnemonic projects, stories, and songs. Depending on the day, each morning also includes a special enrichment class.

Senõr Donohue, Spanish teacher for Pre-K – 2nd grade, comments, “Watching the Pre-K move from no knowledge of Spanish to a base understanding fills me with joy because I am able to inspire young students to learn the language I have grown up speaking.”

Following morning recess and snack, Pre-K has math as a class, which is centered around building number sense. This includes using “ten frames” to learn place values, dice games, number recognition, and more. 

Grayson Rudich, Cole Budish, and Louis LeJeune, ’36, play with Legos in Mrs. Raymaker’s classroom.

Center time is the students’ opportunity to pick from any of the numerous stations around their classroom. Before lunch and in the afternoon, the Pre-K’ers can build Legos, use Wiki Sticks, read, play with the pretend kitchen set, and more. 

When asked her favorite circle time activity, Gemma Barron, ‘36, said, “I love Wiki Sticks! I can make circles and cakes!” 

At lunch time, students eat their lunch from home or the delicious option from the school’s main line, in their classrooms. After another recess, snack, and rest time, Pre-K has an afternoon activity. These range from projects to build memory skills and motor development, to having small groups about faith. Learning about faith is a major aspect of each day in the pre-kindergarten classrooms. With their religion curriculum, “Who Am I?”, the students get to learn prayers, stories from Scripture, virtues, and are introduced to the Saints. 

The Pre-K teachers work hard throughout the year to prepare the students for the rigorous lower school curriculum. The teachers focus on each day being structured like a kindergarten day, rather than like a daycare, so the students are fully prepared for their futures at PA.

PA Junior Competes at Speech Nationals

Providence Academy’s multi-talented Anika Austvold, ‘24, competed in the National Speech 2023 Tournament in Chanhassen, Minnesota. To receive this honor of participating in the tournament speech contestants must either receive two bids from judges or win the Minnesota State High School Speech Tournament. Austvold received two bids after her jaw dropping speech performance.  

Austvold and Pia Leiseth, ’23, feel accomplished after placing at a speech competition. PAW Photo Credit: Megan Simonsen.

Austvold has been on the PA Speech team since ninth grade. Over the past three years, she has grown more confident on the stage. At first, Austvold was nervous about the competitions, as talking in front of a crowd can be intimidating especially when being scored by judges. After much practice, she now performs with ease.

“I joined speech because I thought it would be a good way for me to learn how to talk in front of people,” Austvold explained. 

When the speech season starts contestants pick a category that allows them to speak on a topic of their choice. Per usual Austvold took part in the “Original Oratory” category. Her speech was titled,”Expectations vs. Reality.” It took her three weeks to write the speech as well as more time to fine tune it. Austvold’s topic was based on an idea that she is able to relate to. 

“While creating my speech I try to find jokes and base most of my speech off of how I can make people enjoy it,” said Austvold.

It was no surprise that her speech blew the judges away, as Austvold is a very gifted writer. This year at the Providence Academy Word (PAW) Austvold has taken on the title of Editor in Chief. She is easily able to stream words together and paint a picture for her audience. Her role as Editor allows her to guide others while they perfect their writing skills. 

Austvold commented, “My favorite part about journalism is being able to learn about all the things that go on around campus, it gives me a different perspective.” 

Austvold and Kira Cmiel, ’23, smile at the line of people waiting to sign up for Letters of Love at the Club Fair. PAW Photo Credit: Olivia Trader, ’23.

These aren’t the only things Austvold devotes her time to. She is heavily involved in the PA community as she partakes in many extracurriculars and clubs, including being the Kappa House leader, Vice President of Letters of Love, a tennis player, a Girls Scout, and a volunteer at various organizations. 

“Nationals was definitely an experience. There were so many speeches and different styles of presenting. It was really overwhelming because I was going against a lot of people who had titles, such as state champion,” commented Austvold.  

Austvold celebrates homecoming with Kappa House. PAW Photo Credit: Amy Fredrickson

It is an extreme compliment to be awarded a ticket to speech nationals. This year only 2,000 students were invited to the tournament. Austvold’s category was comprised of 200 students. Throughout the season Austvold put a lot of time and effort into perfecting her speech, but she was still surprised when the opportunity to attend speech nationals was presented to her. The chance to prove her skills on a bigger stage was rewarding for Austvold.

Austvold gave it her all at speech nationals and ended up placing 102nd. Next year she hopes to once again showcase her expertise on the stage allowing her to add to her ever growing list of accomplishments.

Newcoming Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Providence

On Friday, April 14, Providence Academy held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Providence. The much-anticipated shrine is currently being built, and, when finished, it will provide a beautiful place to pray for the intercession of the school’s patron. 

Headmaster Dr. Flanders commented, “As we’ve seen the devotion in the school to our Mother and our faith, the idea of expanding our opportunities for prayer presented itself. The goal of the shrine is to deepen our faith in the mystery of Christ and provide a special opportunity to pray for the intercession of our Blessed Mother for our school, our families and our personal needs.”

Father McClellan blesses the space for the shrine and prays for all those who will use it in the future.

At the ceremony, students and parents excitedly gathered as the land was blessed for its purpose, while the PA Chamber Choir sang Marian songs. Additionally, Flanders acknowledged all those who helped plan the shrine, commenting, “We would like to thank some parents and the parent association who advanced the idea of having a specific place to honor Mary in the school. We thank our founding family, Mr. and Mrs. Cummins, who worked on a beautiful design for the Marian shrine that is very special. We also give special gratitude to them for helping see this plan through.”

Once completed, the shrine will provide a place where people can come at any time and pray for the intercession of Our Lady.

Delaney Flanigan, ‘25, shared, “I am really thankful for another way to honor Mary at the school and I am so excited for it to be finished!” Mary is our mother, too, and now students and parents have a place where they can come to her with their intentions.