Thinking *Outside* the Box: Middle Schoolers enjoy second semester Stretch Activity

Change isn’t always a bad thing.  Even difficult changes sometimes prompt more positive ones in their wake. A year of mask wearing, hybrid learning, social distancing, and many other changes to Middle School life at PA , may have been the catalyst for a positive, popular change in students’ midday schedule. For the last month, middle school students have been getting to go outside for 5 minutes after lunch. This Stretch period, as it is being called, was originally proposed by MS teachers.

“Teachers were looking for a way to give students a mask break and to take advantage of a few free minutes at the end of lunchtime,” commented Middle School Director Mr. Kyle Rickbeil, who was happy to oblige the request if logistics lined up.

Because of the increasingly good weather, middle school students have been able to take advantage of the opportunity for fresh air most days since the end of April. 

Originally, the hope was was to have middle school students spend time in the gym, but unfortunately scheduling didn’t permit the plan. However, when the weather got better, it was a perfect time to implement this unique outdoor addition to the day.  

“If we had enough teachers to supervise the middle school students, then why not?” continued Rickbeil. 

At the end of April, the plan took effect and will continue through the remainder of the semester, weather permitting. Each day, a different middle school grade is allowed to go outside.

Stretch is basically the equivalent to a brief recess for the middle school students and it gives them the time to “stretch” from sitting all day. This also allows students to get exercise outside of gym class. It also gives them the ability to interact with their friends without masks and have some quality time outside.

After finishing lunch, middle school students can use the Stretch activity to relieve stress from the day before continuing afternoon classes.

Mrs. Hannah Wegner, 6th and 8th grade instructor is delighted to help facilitate this opportunity.  She noted, “Students often come into [the class period immediately following lunch] with high energy, but still I think Stretch enables them to focus more quickly.”

Wegner added, “The afternoon can get very long and by pink or purple periods the students are either very antsy and do not want to sit still, or they are starting to get sleepy and their brains are saturated.”

Teachers agree, Stretch has been a good way for middle students to get out, exercise, and socialize. The students are able to get moving, which can help them focus throughout the rest of the day. Given the spaced seating at lunchtime, it allows students time to socialize with more of their friends and simply enjoy the weather and fresh air. 

Stretch period gives students a much needed break from their regimented schedule, to finish the school day–and school year–strong.

Late Night Out (or in) with the Addams

Mae Monette ’21–in the character of Wednesday Addams–draws her bow to shoot an apple off of Lucas’  head, played by Bobby Hughes ’21.

Going to watch a play is one of the most enjoyable activities in the world. At Providence especially, the Drama program takes great pride in their productions. But even theatergoers may be in the dark when it comes to all the work leading up to opening night. In addition to the hours of practice put forth to memorize lines–to say nothing of music rehearsals and costume design–the performance itself demands a certain poise under pressure that many would find impossible to uphold.  This year’s Spring production, The Addams Family, is a perfect example of those typical preparations, and then some.

“[In the year of Covid] We changed a couple of big things; instead of a traditional musical [with a lot of movement] it’s a concert,” director and theater teacher Mrs. Simmons remarked.

The entire cast lines up to take a well-deserved bow on the PAC stage at the end of dress rehearsal last week.

The distancing guidelines prompted adaptations that allowed Providence to move forward with the production, rather than having to cancel altogether. Changing from a musical template to a concert version not only meant omitting dancing in this year’s play, but also eliminated the need for multiple set designs since there won’t be any scene changes.

Without any dance numbers, with fewer songs, and particularly in the absence of scene changes, the audience will find the welcome addition of a narrator.  Val Fish ’21 paints verbal scenery, calling the audience members to imagine various backdrops throughout the play.

“It was initially confusing to me that this character was added; I thought the projections would be sufficient,” noted the veteran member of performing arts.

“But Lupe Addams [the narrator] provides another source of dark humor in this production and forms a kind of solidarity with the audience, unabashedly pointing out the unfolding eccentricities,” Fish reflected.

Many actors find the concert version less stressful because they are allowed the use of their script throughout the play. But even with a script on stage, performers try to memorize most of their lines, and the time invested adds up quickly, especially during tech week.  Rehearsals could last until 9:30 PM as the cast runs tirelessly through every song with the full pit band and a practice run of all the lighting and sound effects.

Commenting on his methods for rehearsal, James Herrera ’23 shared, “I go to a quiet spot in the house or outside and usually go through the entire script once, seeing how it goes, or I go to specific parts of the scripts where I had big trouble in singing or acting.”

Main cast members like Herrera have to do blocking rehearsals, or dialogue practice, in their place on stage. The blocking rehearsals push actors to polish their teamwork, one of the more difficult components of a group production.  “You have to make sure your parts fit in with the other parts,” said Mae Monette ‘21, another member of the main cast.  Timing, rhythm, and vocal blending were some of the main focal points last week.

Characters play their part convincingly not only with what they say, but what they wear as well. “Costumes are a key part in telling the story and signifying to the audience certain things about a character,” commented Sarah Huebschen ‘23, a member of the cast and design team. The design team goes through extensive research to find the perfect costume for each member of the cast.

After weeks of preparation, efforts culminated in a private showing of the Addams Family last Friday night.  There won’t be any public showings of the play but it will be available for viewing (for $20) beginning later this week and through the rest of the school year.  The link will be published in the Ebulletin.

Last Layup! Providence Boys Basketball Celebrates Senior Night

John Paul Luedke ’21 going for a shot against Bears defenders during the senior night match up on Saturday, March 6. (PAW photo courtesy of Mark Bloom, All Sport Photography) 

Senior year is full of “last times.” From final Homecoming games to final drives to school, seniors carry the mixed emotions of excitement and sadness as they move on to the next stage of life and leave high school behind. Saturday, March 6 was yet another last for senior boys basketball as they played their last game at Providence.

“Playing at home for the last time was bittersweet. It’s tough leaving a sport you have played your whole life,” remarked Sam Schroeder ’21.

Basketball is a really big part of many players’ lives. If it’s to connect to classmates or follow dreams of collegiate or pro-athletics, the sport impacts their lives in many ways. Through wins and losses these graduating seniors stuck it out with with the sport they love to the end. Many players grew up playing basketball, and several of them have played together for all four years of high school, and so a departure is like leaving an integral part of their life behind.

Not only was this a bittersweet moment for the players, but also for the fans who have rooted them on since day one.

PA mom, Mrs. Jackie Schroeder commented, “I was a little sad, but I also realize this is just a chapter in Sam’s life that is coming to a close; another chapter will begin and new adventures will come out of it!”

The basketball season has been one of hard work and team growth, the team unity grew with each game.

Providence’s Paul Pellegrene ’21 powers past his Blake opponent during the March 6th home game, Senior Night for PA.  (PAW photo courtesy of Mark Bloom, All Sport Photography)

Paul Pellegrene ‘21 shared, “This year I felt our second match up against [St. Paul Academy] was when we felt most like a team. It was a good win over a school that beat us earlier in the season.”

With each practice and game, Coach Steve Brown sought to instill the values of self-discipline, competitiveness, and positive self-esteem. With these values, Brown hoped that each player realized his potential for success.

Though this season has been one of progress and bonding for the Lions, it has also come with many challenges presented by COVID-19. However, the boys have risen to the occasion despite the struggles.

Brown noted, “We have had injuries and battled quarantines, but I couldn’t be more proud of the effort that these young men have displayed this year.”

Though hard-fought, the senior night game sadly ended in a loss for the Lions. But Brown had a different take away for the team as a whole. “We are 11-7 heading into section play,” he summarized, “[The team is] confident that they can make a run in the playoffs. It’s been a very successful season.” 


Will you be my valentine? Valentine’s Day at PA

Whether boosting a good friend’s spirits, revealing a crush, or sharing affection for a current Valentine, PA Upper School Student Council has a long standing tradition of celebrating February 14. Given the long President’s Day weekend with an extra day off last Friday, February 12, the Great Room was abuzz a few days earlier than usual with talk of potential crushes as members of the Student Council passed out Crush cans, cupcakes, and roses.  

So how exactly does this work? A student must go to the Atrium to find a Student Council Member leading up to Valentine’s Day. Then, the person who wants to get someone a gift must fill out their form, deciding who will receive the gift, if they would like to be anonymous, and what they would like to send, be it a Crush can, cupcake, a rose, or all of the above! All that’s left is to anxiously wait until February 11th, when the Student Council member will hand deliver the gift. 

Student Council member Will Wehmen ’21 delivers Valentine gifts to Grace Wikenheiser ’21 last Thursday during lunch. PAW photo courtesy of Emma Wohlwend ’21.

Valentines tradition has been going on for so long there isn’t really anything to plan. But the Student Council is putting in the effort to make the purchase cash free. A lot of students would have participated but didn’t have cash so making the switch would help a lot for some students.

“As student council president I want to make student life more fun,” said AJ Hedberg ’21. Students enjoy the sentiment and find it uplifting to receive a gift.

Teachers also appreciate the sentiment.

”I think it’s a sweet tradition,” said Mr. Ian Skemp, Upper School History teacher and Student Council faculty advisor. 

Student Council president AJ Hedberg ’21 prepares to hand out flowers and Crush cans Thursday, February 11. PAW photo courtesy of Emma Wohlwend ’21.

Though the tradition has been here for a while, not everything is perfect. If a gift is delivered to the wrong recipient–which doesn’t happen often–Student Council has extras on hand to remedy the situation. What if your valentine has an allergy? Not a problem! Student Council will do the work for you and make sure hypoallergenic alternatives are available. Next year the Student Council is working to make purchasing these holiday treats cash free and possibly add new flavors of soda as well.

“It’s so uplifting to see the student council working so hard to make school life more fun,” Mr. Skemp shared.

The holiday is a great way to give a gift to the ones you care for. Many students look forward to the opportunity to show appreciation during the school day to people they love. The emphasis on giving to others makes Valentines Day one of the more memorable days of the year at PA.


Bus on the Move

In a year of compromises and cancellations, one thing that has been consistently going strong is the Providence bus system.  Despite the nature of COVID-19 transmission and the enclosed space on a bus, Providence has been able to continually offer reliable transportation to its students. This is largely thanks to the efforts of the Director of of Director of Transportation, Mr. Eric England, and his staff.

The bus waits patiently for student to arrive

“There has actually been a spike of people taking the bus this year, “said England  Students have noticed some changes from last year such as assigned seats. Many of them don’t mind the assigned seats, but would still like to sit with different people sometimes. The almost universal change that happened even including buses is wearing a mask. In a small condensed bus wearing a mask is a real hassle and some students find it difficult to keep them on.

Some students in Providence use the same buses as students in Wayzata, so some days Providence families are responsible for transporting to and from Providence on the days that Wayzata is not in session in person. Wayzata district provided busing only runs on the days that Wayzata schools are meeting in person. The  Wayzata Director of Transportation, Mr. Rich Enda, and Mr. England  had sent an email at the start of the year that relayed all the information.

There actually hasn’t been any physical changes made to the school bus so it is the same bus as previous years, which adds a sense of familiarity in this weird time period. Many people in this time where many things are uncertain rely on the steady state of bus for reliable transportation that Providence provides.

“Riding the bus this year isn’t that difficult,” said a student from Providence Academy.

Providence has done a good job keeping the bus Covid free and mitigating the spread of Covid. Providence overall has kept school normal. Even through this tough time in history Providence makes school feel normal.