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!”

Presenting… Pippi Longstocking

Pirates, robbers, and lively children. On January 21st and 22nd, a cast and crew of 37 Middle Schoolers brought these characters and so many more to life during their hit production of Pippi Longstocking.

Middle Schoolers are notorious for having a lot of energy, and their production was no exception. Pippi Longstocking was a very fitting choice for these young actors and actresses, as the play portrays a young protagonist filled with vivacity and the story has an overarching theme of adventure.

Zoe Glassmann, ’27, as Pippi Longstocking, teaches her friends how to have true fun in school.

“It is great to be with people who are so hard-working and really like theater,” said Vivienne Martini, ‘28, a newcomer to the Middle School Theater Department.

But this excitement didn’t come without challenges. Last year’s sole production Treasure Island was performed via radio only, with the cast telling the story into microphones rather than performing it on stage. Because of this, the only students who had been in a previous play were the eighth graders. 

Director Mrs. Melissa Simmons agreed wholeheartedly, “This was the first PA show for our 6th and 7th graders, which means our 8th graders had to really step up as leaders- which they did!”

The complete cast and crew smile for a post-production picture.

The sixth and seventh graders were not the only ones who had to adjust to a new format of theater. Everyone – cast, crew, and in between – were a part of the Middle School Theater Department’s very first musical. 

Throughout this process of learning, the students proved themselves to be extremely dedicated. Along with practicing after school nearly every day and perfecting an hour-long show, they even came to school on their day off on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to have an extra day of practice. At the end of this long process, nearly every seat in the house was filled with parents, grandparents, friends, and many of the students’ peers. 

Amelia Hilberg, ‘22 commented, “It was fantastic! The set was amazing. They are very talented Middle Schoolers, especially considering it was their first musical. Oh my gosh. It was High School quality.”

If you are interested in seeing another Middle School production, watch for more news about the Middle School One Act, coming this spring. Updates will be on the ebulletin at providenceacademy.org.

Christmas Cheer For All This Year

Headmaster Dr. Todd Flanders opened the annual Upper School Choir and Band Concert by saying, “It’s no secret that at Providence Academy, Christmas is a big thing. I mean, we put it on a billboard…” 

Christmas is celebrated in a big way at PA, not only because it honors our Lord and Savior’s birth, but it is a time for all the students and teachers to come together and participate in fun activities filled with the Christmas spirit.

Even students from other schools know Providence goes above and beyond during the holiday season. 

A co-op athlete from Heritage Academy, Lisey Langhus ‘24 says, “I can’t wait to see what the school looks like, all decorated. I just know it is so fun there during Christmastime.”

The PA community is grateful for the fact that we can be open about our faith and celebrate during the Christmas season. This is partially why everywhere you look, you will find wreaths; large trees complete with lights, ornaments, and garland; poinsettias; Nativity scenes; and many other ways showing that Christmas is not just about presents. 

Even in the library, the Christmas cheer is apparent with this special arrangement of holiday books and a Nativity scene.

These decorations stay up well into the new year to serve as a reminder that the Christmas season is not over on the 26th. Mrs. Nancy Galgano, Lower School Director explains, “Especially with the younger kids, we really do try to teach them early on the real reason behind Christmas. It is all about preparing for Jesus, who came to give us grace.”

Along with traditional methods of celebrating, the Lower School is especially active during this time, with their annual caroling during the last hour of school before break, Advent prayers, Jesse trees, crafts, Christmas concerts, and an all-time favorite celebration of St. Nicholas. Each child puts out a shoe overnight on the 6th of December for St. Nick’s Feast Day and comes back the next day to receive a special treat in his or her shoe.

Santa greets a class of kindergarteners by the fire on the last day before Christmas break.

Santa even makes an appearance every year at Providence to surprise the little ones! There are also multiple charity drives to help those who may be less fortunate, making sure they also have a blessed Christmas. The Hat and Mitten Drive has been very popular for years, and the school receives so many donations of winter accessories that multiple, mini-Christmas trees are adorned with the donated items before they are distributed to those in need. The Toys for Tots pile under the tree in the Great Room overflows, requiring the path around it to be cleared several times a week. The festivities don’t even end in December: after the break, on the Feast Day of the Three Kings, each classroom gets blessed by Father McClellan to celebrate the Epiphany. 

While the Lower School is drawing pictures of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the stable, the Upper Schoolers have final exams, but they still find ways to show some Christmas cheer during this time with the school choir caroling throughout the halls, students decorating hallways, Secret Santa gift exchanges, an ugly sweater competition, “story time” with Mr. Skemp before finals, and last but certainly not least, Mass, to let us remember why we can celebrate this lovely time in the first place. 

Newcomers Notes: Teachers can be New Kids, too

With the first month of school coming to a close, newcomers to PA — students and teachers alike — are settling into the swing of things. This is especially true in the Middle School, where the division welcomed three new full time teachers this year. With their love for faith and learning, English teacher Ms. Ashley Croteau, Math teacher Mrs. Annie Smith, and History teacher Mr. Peter Kennedy fit right in here at PA.

Croteau, who previously taught at a school where open professions of faith are not allowed, exclaimed, “ Finally being able to share my faith here has been an AMAZING change!”

Croteau’s decision to become a teacher was guided by prayer and contemplation. She is relishing the opportunity to attend Mass at school and pray with her classes.

Croteau prepping her students for their upcoming test on nouns.

In her free time, Croteau loves to read and write, very fitting for an English teacher, but she also loves to hang out with her Youth Group friends and go to her cabin with family. 

Croteau first heard about Providence from Middle School Science and Religion teacher Mr. Eric Duffy, who praised his Providence teaching job. So when PA posted an opening that aligned with her specialty, Croteau applied without hesitation. 

Smith was attracted to Providence for the same reasons: the strong foundations of faith and the high level of education. Though always drawn to teaching, she didn’t always like math.

Smith helping her students solve a math problem on the board.

“I used to cry over math word problems in Middle School!” Smith recounted.

Despite this, her love of teaching has been there from the beginning and her love of math has grown with it.

After teaching at a relatively small all-girls school outside of Washington, D.C., Smith commented on the benefits of working at a larger school, “The homecoming football game has been a highlight for me so far, we didn’t have that at my old school,” she enthused.

Like Smith, Kennedy also previously taught at a small school, teaching Gym, History, and Library. Going from teaching three different subjects to solely history is a nice change of pace for Kennedy, as is having his very own room.

Kennedy’s history and civic background runs in the family. When he was in middle school, his dad was elected as Congressman and their family traveled and took a trip out to Washington D.C. 

Kennedy had been hearing about PA for years; his cousins went to the school right as it opened, and many Providence alums were in his college classes. He had always loved working with kids, whether as a camp counselor or teaching during his study abroad in Spain. So, after two years in business, Kennedy decided to switch careers and teach.

Kennedy poses with his prized world map.

Contrary to popular belief that teachers live at school, Kennedy spends most weekends watching soccer, cheering on the Green Bay Packers, or around a campfire with his family. 

Though to road to PA looked different for these three new faculty, one thing they all agree on is how great the other teachers and students are here. 

Smith noted with gratitude, “[Providence] has a strong foundation of faith and strives to teach its students how to think about the world around them”.

PA Prom 2021 is a Full House

Chips were down but spirits were high last Saturday evening during “Casino Night” at PA.  Extensive effort and collaboration between student council, upper school administration, faculty, and custodial staff delivered a fun-filled memorable evening for upperclassmen.

Prom is undoubtedly the most memorable dance of a typical school year for Providence Academy students. This year, that’s more true than ever, as it was the only dance. All year, students waited anxiously for news of the upcoming night in the wake of other canceled events. But, in the spirit of keeping life as close to normal as possible, and thanks to extensive collaboration in the PA community, Prom was held for the first time in two years.

Kristin Welch ‘22 commented in anticipation of the event, “Most schools didn’t even have prom this year so I think anything we have is going to be a fun first prom for the juniors and seniors.” 

With Providence standards for student conduct as well as COVID regulations to uphold, in addition to the logistics involved in hosting Prom on campus, nothing could be left up to lady luck. Student Council and faculty put in hours of work planning, while monitoring a very fluid public health situation. Staff and student council members set up decorations, food, music, prizes, tickets, and scheduled eating times for social distancing, to ensure the evening was a success. 

This year’s theme, Casino Royale, was unique compared to past themes in that it encouraged activities other than dancing. Raffle tables were set up around the perimeter of the Great Room with large tables in the middle for card and casino games. It worked perfectly to have the setup in the Great Room, leading outside to the courtyard, allowing half the space to be mask-free for eating and dancing. 

A.J. Hedberg ’21 and Seamus Healy ’21 play a game of blackjack while Mr. Skemp watches the fun.

Betting on good weather, a large tent was pitched for a dining space to eat a quick dinner from the My Burger food truck. The courtyard also housed the DJ booth, with Mr. John Wagner playing both classic and contemporary songs from a student-selected list.  S’mores, snacks, and yard games completed the affair

Even teachers dressed up for the event. European and US History teacher Mr. Edward Hester wore a kilt, complete with all the traditional Scottish accessories.  Hester’s attire was much talked about among students in anticipation of Saturday evening.

He commented, “If the students are going to dress up, I might as well have fun with it too.”

US and European History teacher Mr. Hester with his kilt, watching the festivities.

Other than the venue change and mask requirement, a noticeable difference was the initial lack of dancing. Perhaps this was due to the original thought that dancing wouldn’t be allowed, or the wide variety of alternative activities available that drew people away from the dance floor. 

Alumnus Charlie Rossman ‘20 commented, “My heart goes out to the seniors this year; I remember (and probably will never forget) how much fun my [junior] prom was.”

Imagining dancing wouldn’t be permitted, Rossman continued, “Prom itself is a dance, so the fact that [students] could have a fun night planned even without that big aspect is great.”

Although prom was atypical, it was still a blast, with yard games, a fun socially distanced food option, professional-grade photo booth pictures, poker and other card games, raffles with great prizes, and much more. 

“I am so glad that we can end such a tough year with one fun night together”, remarked Student Council Member Emma Kelly ‘22.