The Holy Spirit Shining Through: PA Chapel adorned with new Stained Glass Window

First views of the new stained glass window, awaiting installation. PAW photo courtesy of Father Michael McClellan

Students sitting down during mass may have recently been second-guessing themselves or perhaps walking towards the altar noticing something a bit different, and with good reason. The PA Chapel, Chapel of Our Lady of Divine Providence, now holds a new stained glass window, depicting the Holy Spirit as a Dove, shining down on the chapel.

In addition to this visible reminder of an invisible reality, the new window also aids in one of the main purposes of a chapel, to gradually point one’s eyes up to God. The chapel accomplishes this best by the pews guiding worshippers to look towards the altar, then the altar leading them right to the cross and pediment, and now to the new beautiful stained glass window.

The idea of this project was sparked three years ago between Chaplain Father Michael McClellan and Chairman of The Board of Directors, Mr. Robert Cummins. Working to accomplish many goals for the chapel, this recent one was modeled after a similar window in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and re-made here by a stained glass window company, Gaytee-Palmer.

Even though this idea came easily, the process to get it here and the work to put it up was more difficult. Not only has this project, like most other things, suffered COVID-related delays, but it is also an intricate task by nature, even when things run on schedule.

Gaytee-Palmer installers working above the tabernacle earlier this month to put install the stained glass window. PAW photo courtesy of Father Michael McClellan

As one might imagine, installing a window that is itself a work of art, above a pediment, on an altar, above a tabernacle is difficult work. “They came in to do measurements and quickly realized that it was going to be harder than they thought”, recalled McClellan. The installers even had to put in a bunch of scaffolding to even reach the window but the students and staff agree the work was well worth it.

Now that the window has been installed and there are no other plans currently in the works for the chapel, it is important to reflect on the benefits of such additions. “The chapel provides a very rich and holy aesthetic when guiding us into the highest form of prayer,” noted Flanders. “When we are put in a more serious environment, we tend to have a more serious and enlightened understanding,” he continued. The window and other beautiful adornments are more than decorations, they are an invitation to prayer.

A place of worship shapes worship itself. The beauty of the chapel and its physical traits help to open minds to the beauty of the Faith. In reflection, Sam Trombley ’22 added, “All the physical things are there, what’s needed now is for students to be respectful and solemn when we come to Holy Mass. I hope students can [come to] understand the great joy and importance present at every Mass…but change happens slowly; one can only work on their own interior life and not let others bother them.”

From Blue Waters to Yellow Walls: Lobsters join the Upper School

The Providence Academy Track and Field Team is known for its competitive spirit, so it is unsurprising when new students join and show prospective talent. On Friday May 13th, three transfer students demonstrated their speed in a race after school coined ‘Lobster Fest’. The three students, Wallis, Claudius, and Da Pinchi, transferred from the prestigious local HiVee to race and amassed many fans by the end of the day.

Sam Trombley ’22 and Mac Clark ’22 make the new students feel at home showing them familiar faces leading up to Lobster Fest.

The transfers were initially invited to the school by Jack Lindberg ‘22 and Matthew Narog ‘22 with the approval of Upper School Administrative Assistant Mrs. Kate Gregg and the sponsorship of Upper School English Teacher Mr. Adam Schmalzbauer. The idea was hatched the night of PA’s Prom on May 7th and was swiftly put into action on the following five days to accommodate for the students’ peculiar needs. Luckily, Lindberg had prior experience with similar types of students and equipped Schmalzbauer’s room with a comfortable tank for them to stay in. “We did have some trouble finding the proper type of water,” commented Narog. 

Even with that difficulty, everything was ready to go for the 8:30 A.M. bell, but the transfers were nowhere to be found. They nonchalantly arrived around 9:30 A.M. to join their first class of the day: Senior Seminar. Fittingly, they became a part of a ‘fishbowl’ discussion on the book Persuasion by Jane Austen. “They learned about the dangers of vanity and the limits of persuasion,” explained Schmalzbauer. 

As they stayed with Schmalzbauer throughout the day, he got to know their character. He described, “Wallis was quite inattentive while Claudius was rambunctious. Da Pinchi was definitely a scholar and I predict that he would have had very good scores.” He continued, “I enjoyed having them in my class and miss them, but I understand that they had to return to their true home.”

Claudius, Wallis, and Da Pinchi (pictured left to right) soaking up knowledge from Schmalzbauer’s literature classes.

As the transfers prepared for their race at the end of the day, excitement built in the student body. Flyers had already been put up in days prior, but everyone, from Seniors to Freshmen to faculty, was buzzing with excitement on Friday. As soon as the last bell rang, a crowd swarmed in the atrium where the race was to take place. Mac Clark ‘22 and Sam Trombley ‘22 acted as security to keep the crowd at bay while Joseph Uzelac ‘22 announced the festivities. As Wallis, Claudius, and Da Pinchi paraded out, their weights and odds were announced. Da Pinchi was the favored racer, especially after eating five pieces of shrimp (compared to the others only having one), while Wallis was the underdog of the afternoon. 

Tension was high as the racers got ready and once the race commenced, the atrium erupted in encouraging yells. Although shrimp was placed in front of the competitors for motivation, the racers were not used to such a vigorous school day and were reluctant to move. In particular, Wallis refused to move and his coach Lindberg remarked, “It was just not his thing.” 

Lucas Priemueller ’22 displaying his overwhelming excitement as his coachee, Claudius, make his first move.

After a few slow-moving minutes, Claudis, coached by Lucas Priemueller ‘22, was declared the winner after moving the farthest, which was approximately one marble tile.

Priemueller explained, “He was quite prepared after going through some of Coach Hohenecker’s grueling workouts.” Da Pinchi came in second with his coach, Narog, explaining, “He is more a jack of all trades. He is not necessarily the best, but he can do many things.” Wallis, after moving nowhere, came in last. 

The atrium cleared out instantaneously and the racers were taken home to rest and take a …bath. Their experience at Providence was overwhelmingly positive and they brought good to the school.

Schmalzbauer explained, “They did a great job at demonstrating the powers of freedom to students.”  While they only appeared for one day, they helped close out the year with a laugh. And, although Wallis was the loser in the race, Lindberg made sure to say, “He was a winner in his taste.”

Woot Woot for WolfRidge!

For the first time in two years, Middle Schoolers were able to participate in the much-anticipated trip to WolfRidge, so it makes perfect sense that this was also the largest group Providence Academy has sent. 

“I didn’t really know how it was going to go”, explained Yuvraj Singh ‘28. Since hardly any of the present middle schoolers had gone during the pandemic, it was hard for the kids fully get a sense of the weekend’s activities. 

Although some were a little hesitant at first, they ended up loving the trip, largely because of much everyone could tailor the weekend to their interests. Each student got a choice of an itinerary for the day, roommates, bus mates, and clothes. 

“I think Wolfridge exceeded a lot of people’s expectations, it was more fun than I thought learning could be.” Singh remarks after looking back on his weekend.

The group having fun around a campfire they helped build!

Even if a student who has a chance to go in the future is a little skeptical, Mason Gregory ‘28 says, “Be open to everything, you never know what you might like.”

A lot of kids were wary about being away from home in a new environment, especially on Mother’s Day, but Vivienne Martini ‘29 regrets staying back, “After hearing how much fun everyone had, I do kinda wish I had just gone, but now I know for next year.”

From flint and steel to tree types and ages and a little historical background of the land, students learned quite a bit academically. However, they didn’t expect to discover more about their peers, even though teamwork was a big part of the weekend. Jada Lynn Preston-Harris ‘28 explained, “You should go with people you are comfortable with because it is a lot of fun with friends, it’s like a camping sleepover!” 

Students imagine what paddling around would be like if the lakes were warm enough to do so.

Although the lakes were too frozen to canoe, students got an opportunity to zipline, hike, and take many classes including ropes, Voyager History, geology, mammals, and astronomy. “I was worried it would be like school but pretty much everything we did was not just learning, it was fun too. It was a good balance” Preston-Harris follows. 

It’s safe to say that what they learned will stick with them for a long time, Melia Cmiel ‘26 recalls her time at Wolfridge a few years ago, looking at fossils and getting stuck on the zipline. Even this year’s group shares a distinctive memory: Matthew Tomashko ‘28 thinking a large rock was a bear at 2 am and waking everyone up with his fear-filled screams. 

The group collectively has one word of advice for future goers: “Don’t wear white crocs on a muddy hike- better yet- don’t even bring them!”

Honoring Our Lady: Annual May Crowning

“Mary is everyone’s mother and she deserves to be crowned,” altar server Henry Hilberg ‘29 explained.

This is the sentiment of many at Providence. The Statue of Mary is the first sight one sees when entering the building, standing quite literally at the heart of PA. And with a temporary outdoor shrine while the school awaits the construction of a permanent grotto, the PA community clearly holds a special devotion to the Mother of Jesus. So when Our Lady’s month of May rolled around, the Providence Lower School celebrated Our Lady in a special way with the annual May Crowning. 

Altar Servers William Robbins ´29, Benjamin Uzelac ’29, and
Anders Kaufman ´29 hold Mary’s crown during the May Crowning ceremony. PAW Photo Courtesy of Mrs. Kelly Roles

In front of the temporary shrine by the gates of the school, fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Kristine McElroy led students and teachers in singing “Bring Flowers of the Rarest” and “Immaculate Mary” and chanted The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Chaplain Fr. Michael McClellan led the students in prayer, blessed Mary’s crown, and two of the First Communicants from earlier this spring, David Lewin ‘32 and Alex Ellison ‘32, placed the blessed crown on the statue of Mary. 

The tradition of praying Marian devotionals and crowning a statue of Mary began in PA’s very first year.

Fifth-grade teacher and founder of this tradition Mrs. Beth Reopelle recounted the story behind May Crowning at PA: “I was able to start the tradition in my founding year, remembering my own time at Catholic school and wanting to pass that on to students here.” 

She continued, “We’re teaching them devotionals because we learn a lot of intellectual things, but it’s something for the kids to put into practice.”

This tradition proved to be very beloved. McElroy reflected, “My favorite part is just looking out at all the students surrounding our Blessed Mother with the beautiful flowers, with children singing and praying and honoring Her and giving all their prayers and love to Mary. I just think about how we all surround Mary and give that praise to Her.” 

Students bring in flowers to place in front of the Statue of Mary for May Crowning last Friday, May 5.

In addition to the ceremony, Lower Schoolers prayed the rosary in their classrooms beforehand to honor Mary and ask for Her intercession. Students also brought bouquets of flowers to place in front of the Statue of Mary in the front entrance of the school as more gestures of love. 

McElroy reflected on the day, “It’s a special way to honor Mary and I hope they remember that tradition as they grow older and continue their years through PA.”

The Great Gatsby Gala of 2022

The gala’s Bruno (bouncer) stands guard at the speakeasy entrance, making sure no “snitches” are allowed in.

“I like large parties. They’re so intimate.” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald in his 1925 novel, “The Great Gatsby.” This year’s annual Gala truly was a large party, with a record 370 guests attending the event that embodied the spirit of America’s “Roaring Twenties,” fitting for the 20th Gala.

From the black and gold decorations, champagne flutes, jazz music, and even a Juice Joint, the school’s mezzanine level and great room were decorated to dazzle like all things during the Jazz Age. All in attendance brought out their Glad Rags (party clothes) and came to celebrate with good company and a tasty dinner…sources say there may also have been some Giggle Water thrown into the mix.

This year’s gala planning was organized by the Gala Chair, PAPA representative and PA mom, Nichole Schelitzcke, and Providence’s Director of Development, Mr. Josh Anderson. 

Mr. Chris Wrede, Manager of Annual Giving and Events Faculty and PA dad, was Anderson’s right-hand man throughout the whole planning and execution of the gala. He remarks: “ I worked with silent auctions, donations, sponsorships, minute-by-minute needs of the day. It was a lot of setting up and closing shop afterward.”

All of the hard work and planning paid off, Wrede continued. “I would say this is the most successful gala we’ve had in the history of this school.”

After a night full of silent auctioning and live bidding, two fund-a-need projects: remodeling of the admissions and health office and a new serving station for Chef Morris´ ever-popular grill line, were accomplished.  The PA Headmaster, Dr. Todd Flanders, remarks in his Headmaster’s Blog post on May 2nd that: “Early returns show that the Gala brought in over $630,000 in gross proceeds, substantially more than any other PA Gala.”

Mr. Wrede and Mr. Anderson pose for a quick picture before rushing off to their many duties of the night.

Mr. Wrede remarks on how meaningful these donations are not only to the school but to himself. “The funds that are raised go straight into the operation of the school,” he says. “This is very important to me both as a staff member and as a parent, to know that these funds will end up right back in the school”.

PA mom and Gala attendee, Mrs. Maureen Flynn, described the night as one of the best galas she’s ever attended. She noted: “This year’s gala was beautifully executed and wildly successful in both attendance and generosity. You could tell a great deal of thought went into setting the theme with decorations and music.”

Dr. Elizabeth Schnobrich and Meghan Milovich enjoy some fun conversations in the Juice Joint.

Wrede also noted the generosity of the gala attendees, saying “Walking around, you got a real sense of excitement, love, passion, and commitment to the school, which was reflected in their giving.”

Fitzgerald said that “If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something generous about him”. The immense generosity of PA families has made the 2022 Annual Gala a roaring success, with the nifty celebrations going well into the night.