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. 

Ten Track and Field Athletes Compete in South Dakota

A select group of the Providence Academy Track and Field Team competed in the 98th Howard Wood Dakota Relays at the beginning of May. The Howard Wood Dakota Relays are located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Each year around 3,000 middle and high school student athletes compete. The meet consists of boys’ and girls’ standard track and field events along with two special events that vary from year to year. 

Brooke Hohenecker, ’24, poses for a picture after receiving her medal. PAW Photo Credit: Amy Hohenecker.

This year the special events were the girls’ 200 meter dash and the boys’ 800 meter dash. In order to compete in the special events student athletes must receive a bid. Brooke Hohenecker, ‘23, the reigning Minnesota State Class 2A 200 meter dash champion, was invited to race in the girls’ 200 meter dash at Howard Wood Dakota Relays. 

Ten PA Track and Field athletes were given the opportunity to take part in the Howard Wood Dakota Relays because of their qualifying times throughout the season. 

“When we got notice that Brooke was invited to run the girls’ special 200 event, I thought, ‘Well let’s try to get more kids in,’” explained Head Coach Amy Hohenecker. 

At the meet, three girls competed individually and made it to the podium, finishing in the top eight. Brooke Hohenecker took seventh place in the girls’ 100 and 200 meter dash. Maddyn Greenway, ‘26, came in third in the girls’ 300 meter hurdles. Kylie Hartel, ‘26, achieved eighth in the girls 400 meter dash. 

Along with these fantastic results in individuals: Brooke Hohenecker, Hartel, Greenway, and Abby Daughtery, ‘25, went on to take first place in the Class A girls’ 4×400 meter relay. Although this was their first time being grouped together in a relay, the girls showed that they have no problem adapting. In addition to the challenge of running alongside new teammates, the girls were positioned to run in the first heat. Participating in the first heat often means that the team won’t make it through the next three heats, but if there is anything to be learned from this track and field team it is that they can overcome whatever is thrown at them. 

Maddyn Greenway, ’26, Kylie Hartel, ’26, Brooke Hohenecker, ’24, and Abby Daughtery, ’25, hold up their trophy in triumph. PAW Photo Credit: Amy Hohenecker.

“[What makes a good relay team is] having good handoffs and all the techniques, but in reality just trusting your teammates because anything can happen,” said Brooke Hohenecker. 

The boys also did well in their events. Abu Tarawallie, ‘25, placed 32nd in Discus. The boys’ relay team ran the 4×200 meter relay where they took thirteenth place. The relay team consisted of Jimmy Theim, ‘23, Isaiah Bluford, ‘23, Grant Heim, ‘24, and Kachi Anyamele, ‘24. 

These boys showed their strengths and skills at such a high level. 

Heim commented, “We could have done better but getting in front of a big crowd was definitely beneficial for the long term.” 

This meet was a full circle moment as Coach Hohenecker also competed at the Howard Dakota Relays from 1986 – 1989. She has been on the coaching staff of the PA Track and Field Team for the past ten years, and head coach for the past eight years. Over the seasons she has grown the program immensely. PA’s Track and Field Team is known for their exceptional worth ethic which can be credited to Coach Hohenecker. She pushes her team to be the best they can be because she wants to watch them succeed.  

“I always ask for them to give me their best effort, whatever it is, just give me your best effort,” commented Coach Hohenecker. 

The PA Track and Field Team never seems to come home empty handed. They are constantly setting the standard for their opponents. The team works extremely hard which continues to pay off for them. With success at a big arena like the Howard Wood Dakota Relays, the team will no doubt carry on with accomplishments throughout the rest of their season.