What Do You Meme?

Yodeling Boy, Salt Bae, and Dark Kermit.  Confused Math Lady, Snapchat Hotdog, and Guy Fieri.  Arthur, Dwight K. Schrute, and Confused Mr. Krabs.

The world of memes has taken the Providence Academy Upper School by storm, leaving students with what PA Junior Gabby Munger described as a “meme-orable” experience.

For most people who are in “Generation Z”, memes are a part of everyday life.  But for those who aren’t deeply inundated with meme culture, the idea can be challenging to grasp.  Because of this, it’s hard to get a working definition for a meme, but the House Leader Meme Day presentation defined a meme as, “An idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”.

In more simple terms, a meme is a picture or short video clip that most young people find funny or relatable; they share it with their friends on social media until the image has been viewed by millions of people online.

Evelyn Hemler ’21 does her best impression of “Kris Jenner Learns Something New”

Because memes are such a large part of the unique culture of America’s young people, it is no surprise the the 2018 House Leaders wanted to incorporate this into the Upper School House Week.

Thanks to the dedication of the Senior House Leaders, who worked tirelessly to meet with administration to approve the event, Meme Day was a great success at PA.  As evidenced by the unusually high levels of student participation, Grace Klassen ‘18 said that the theme day accomplished its goal of creating camaraderie between classmates and teachers in the House system.

Anna Kral ‘19 wore punk clothing and a long, flowing cape to embody the “Dark Kermit” meme, which depicts a hooded Kermit the Frog attempting to sway normal Kermit to do something mischievous.

Kiara Monette ’18 and Amanda Ihle ’18 coordinate their costumes to parody the “Dark Kermit” meme

One of the most popular costumes of the day was “Arthur”, the famous character from the early aughts cartoon.  An animated clip of Arthur clenching his fist in frustration has gone viral among teens, and many copy the motion when they are irritated or annoyed.  Seniors Clare Hillen and Kate Murphy both dressed up as Arthur for Meme Day; both agreed that the hilarity and simplicity of the Arthur costume influenced their decision to dress as the cartoon aardvark for Meme Day.

AJ Hedberg ‘21 had one of the most ornate meme recreations, dressing as Dwight K. Schrute from the hit TV sitcom The Office.  His attention to detail with accessories and mannerisms did not go unnoticed by the student body.  “He went all out and he even wrote down some of Dwight’s catch phrases and used them sporadically throughout the day.  That’s dedication,” said Val Fish ’21.

AJ Hedberg ’21 shows off his best Dwight K. Schrute impression for Meme Day        photo courtesy of Mrs. Winegar


Seniors Grace Van Dellen and Juliet White wore mannequin heads and a sweatshirt, recreating a popular meme.

“I dressed up as the mannequin head in a sweatshirt meme because I think it is the funniest thing ever. Literally all you need to do to appreciate it is google ‘mannequin head supermarket’ and you will understand my obsession. Also, a fun bonus to this meme is that Dr. Flanders wasn’t familiar with it, so I got to introduce him to this fantastic piece of modern culture,” said Grace.

Seniors Grace Van Dellen, Claire Christianson, and Juliet White pose as “Mannequin Heads”                                     photo courtesy of Mrs. Winegar

Even teachers and administrators got in on the Meme Day fun.  Art teacher Mr. Santer dressed up as “Yodeling Boy”, complete with a cowboy hat, bow-tie, and guitar.  House Administrator Mr. Blonski also participated, wearing a watermelon rind and goggles on his head to recreate the “Watermelon Head” meme.

Mr. Blonski, the Upper School Dean of Students, as “Watermelon Head” meme.

Students had a blast seeing their peers and teachers dress up, and overall the day was a major success.  Seeing an army of 90s era Dwayne “The Rock” Johnsons, “Sweatshirt Boys”, and “Salt Baes” definitely makes an otherwise serious day of school more lighthearted and fun.

Julia Dailey ’21 impersonates the “Take On Me” meme

“When I found out about Meme Day, I was so pumped! I thought it was a brilliant idea to show spirit and enthusiasm, especially because memes are the universal language of our generation. I think it went really well. It seemed like it was the most involved any spirit day has ever been,” said Kate Murphy ’18.

Senior Zach Fritz noted that although he won’t be around to see it, “Providence should for sure host another Meme Day next year.”

Students’ love of Meme Day definitely proves that a shared experience, joke, or feeling always has the power to unite.

Oh The Places They’ll Go!

When most people think about the quintessential senior year experience, they usually think of fun memories with friends, senior privileges, and an overall sense of community with their class.  Senior year of high school is a time for making memories with your friends and enjoying your last year of high school.  But, it’s also a time for planning and making decisions about the future.

For many students, the college decision process is easy and rather painless.  However, for some students, indecision can add stress and worry to an otherwise fun and carefree point in the high school experience.  At Providence Academy, seniors have a wide variety of opinions about their decision-making process.

41 Seniors were surveyed from April 17th – 23rd, and results show the different ways in which seniors made their college decisions.  The deadline for choosing a college is May 1st, which means that PA seniors now have their college plans finalized.

Out of the seniors surveyed, only one student is taking a gap year; the other 40 are heading off to a college or university in the fall.  This is not surprising, considering PA is a college-prep school renowned for sending students to elite colleges.

Although almost the entirety of PA’s senior class is planning on attending a college or university next year, the process for how students choose colleges differs dramatically.

Paris Edwards ’18 made her college decision all the way back in June 2017.  “I had 5 colleges on my list and I submitted a college day tour for ISU (Iowa State University). When I went there and saw the Memorial Union and the gym and the dorms, I just had that feeling. I felt at home and not overwhelmed with everything going on. I saw myself going there and walking down those halls and sleeping in those dorms. I found my niche, ” said Paris.

Paris may have been one of the earliest to decide where she will attend school next year, but there are plenty of other students who also chose their schools early in the year.  Out of the seniors surveyed, nearly 27% had chosen a school before March.

Although many students made their decisions easily and quickly, there are also many students who found decision-making to be a bit more challenging.  Many seniors, like Isabella Benson, sometimes feel stressed or unsure of how they will make their college decision.  About 42% of surveyed seniors said that their college decision was hard or seemingly impossible.

Isabella is taking her time to decide.  “I’m only 18! To think that I’m making a decision that affects not only the next four years but my life is terrifying but exciting,” she said.

There are a multitude of factors that seniors must keep in mind when choosing a college, which indubitably can make this process challenging.  Among the surveyed senior class, the three most common factors that influenced seniors were class and school size, school location, and programs offered at the school.

When attempting to weigh their options, it can be easy for students to get bogged down.  “Oftentimes, seniors have no idea what they want or where they want to be and therefore have to wait until the last second to commit,” said Isabella.

It is also important to remember that there are always people to help students during the college decision process.  Family, friends, PA College Counseling, and faith are support systems that students can rely on and utilize during this stressful time in their lives.

Seniors listen to a panel at PA’s “College Day” session
photo courtesy of Mrs. Winegar


Although it is difficult, choosing a college gives seniors a better understanding of the process overall.  Emmaly Smith ’18  advised, “Take your time and don’t feel pressured to go to a certain school. This is your life and you’ve got plenty of time. Keep in mind you won’t know it’s the right decision until you are brave and go for it.”

When it comes to weighing scholarships, determining size and location, and balancing the opinions of others, the college decision process can seem daunting.  Just remember that no matter how stressful, hard, or long the process seems, it will all be worth it when you get to explore a whole new chapter of your life at a college that you make your own.

The college decision process may be winding down for the Class of 2018, but PA’s juniors, sophomores, and freshmen are just getting started.  Check out PAW writer Michael Straszewski’s article on the PA 2018 College Fair, which was held on Wednesday, April 25th.

Click here to see more information from the Class of 2018 Senior Survey!

PA Pi Day


Every year, in the middle of March, people across the country celebrate the above infinite string of numbers. This celebration has the power to unite both math lovers and haters alike.  National Pi Day, March 14th, is a day solely devoted to the appreciation of arguably the most important irrational constant in all of mathematics.

If a traumatic math past has caused you to shy away from pi, March 14th provides a great opportunity to learn a little bit more about what pi is. Upper School math teacher Mr. Firchow explained, “Pi is defined as the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter. In other words, in any circle, 3.14 diameters will ‘fit into’ its circumference.”

Besides its mathematical purposes, there are many fun applications of pi that we can use in our everyday lives. Middle school math teacher Mrs. Quinn said that there is a reference to pi in Kings 7:23 in the Bible. Math teacher Mrs. Ostaffe suggests looking into NASA’s “Pi in the Sky” challenge for some more mathematical fun. Also, if you’re looking to find a specific string of numbers among pi’s infinite digits, Mr. Firchow said the website “Irrational Numbers Search Engine” is a good place to look.

Honors Calculus I students celebrate Pi Day with pie

At Providence Academy, celebrations of this holiday took place across Middle and Upper School math classes. Math teacher Mr. Firchow arguably takes the cake when it comes to Pi Day festivities. Mr. Firchow’s classroom is notorious for its “Pi-Chain”. Every Pi Day, Mr. Firchow’s students cut out the digits of pi, sign them, and tape them up on the wall. This chain, which has been building for years, is now nearing 1200 digits. Mr. Firchow is optimistic when it comes to the Pi Chain, and is excited to continue to wrap the digits around his classroom.

“There’s a very rich history of trying to determine pi more and more accurately. Currently, over 20 trillion decimal places of pi are known, so we have a bit of a ways to go for the pi-chain,” said Mr. Firchow.

Jack Zhao ’19 adds digits to Mr. Firchow’s “Pi-Chain”

Unfortunately, not every math student was so lucky. Because of the snow day, some students actually spent their Pi Day taking a test.

Mrs. Ostaffe said, “Unfortunately for my students (most of them anyway) we are ‘celebrating’ with a test! With Spring Break around the corner it was the only that day that would work this week for a test. Ironically, however, the test is on trigonometry and formulas (including area and circumference of a circle). So we will, in fact, be working quite a lot with Pi that day.”

However, if mathematical pi still doesn’t appeal to you, there is another way to celebrate March 14th. Instead of celebrating by learning more about the mathematical constant, many students and teachers chose to celebrate Pi Day with pie!  In math classes and upper school Houses alike, Wednesday periods were spent relaxing with friends and eating mountains of various circular foods.  While many Houses chose more traditional pies for their 3.14 parties, Epsilon and Xi Houses choose to bake pizzas during the period.

House students relax during white period as they talk, eat, and watch movies.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re celebrating March 14th because of your love of math or because of your love of sugar. Pi Day at Providence is as much about fostering an appreciation for pi as it is about creating a day for students to relax, especially during the hectic week before spring break.

Lambda House leader Clare Delmore summed it up well saying, “Pi Day is special for students because it gives them a chance to relax and eat pie which are two things that we don’t normally have time for in our crazy schedules. Honestly, what makes it special is getting time to unwind with friends.”

House Happenings

Freshmen nervously sit in the gym bleachers, whispering to their friends as seventeen upperclassmen slowly walk up to a microphone.  Each leader reads between four and six names while the freshmen anxiously wait to hear theirs.  Many mispronunciations later, all of the freshmen are standing on the gym floor behind a banner.  They have just been inducted into a House, where they will attend dozens of meetings throughout the year with a group of upper school students of all ages.

House is a time-honored tradition at Providence Academy, and it is one of the things that makes the school special.  However, participation and general feelings surrounding House differ dramatically.  With a new group of senior House leaders and a new administration, the House system is looking forward to upgrades in the future.

House at PA is a bit of a controversial topic, especially when it comes to the pros and cons of the system.  While some Houses are very involved with planning events, winning challenges, and bonding with other House members, other Houses pride themselves on their indifferent attitudes towards Wednesday white period activities. Brynn Lampe ‘18, House leader of Beta, thinks that some students see themselves as ‘too cool’ to participate in House.

With this issue in mind, the House leaders and Mr. Blonski, the administrative Head of House, are working tirelessly to find new ways to inspire and motivate students.  One idea that ended up sweeping across the upper school was the possibility of reshuffling Houses next year in an attempt to increase participation.

“We have to think of nontraditional methods to solve the problem,” Mr. Blonski said.

However, after consulting with the senior House leaders, Mr. Blonski decided to scrap the idea, at least for next year.

Eta House leader Sidney Kirchhof ‘18 said, “As House leaders, we shot it down right away because House’s overarching mission is to build community and if you’re ripping away that community […] it’s going to be a disaster.  We did acknowledge that there is a problem with engagement in Houses […] but we ultimately decided to fix those issues now rather than throw it all away.”

Now, the House leaders are hoping to spend time helping next year’s House leaders in order to increase participation.

“If House leaders energize their group […] then the kids are going to want to have fun with it,”  said Sidney.

House leaders are traditionally selected by administration, but that could change in the coming years.

The House Board in the Atrium, which notifies students of the House point standings

Although it is a lot of responsibility, House leaders seem to be crucial to the entire House system.  “House leaders are the core of this thing,” Mr. Blonski expressed. That being said, many House leaders would like even more opportunities to make decisions in the future.

“If House were to change next year, I would want a better opportunity for House leaders to do just that — LEAD!” said Zeta House leader Grace Klassen ’18.

All differences aside, both Mr. Blonski and the House leaders have the same goal in mind: a student-run system with the purpose of uniting the upper school student body.  Mr. Blonski echoed this statement, saying, “House belongs to the students and my ideal would be almost if I were a spectator.”

Although House has some areas in need of change, it is the underlying spirit of the system that moves administration and the House leaders to work hard to make these changes.  Although it is open to change, the House system itself is deeply steeped in tradition.

“[House] is a way of making Providence our home,” Mr. Blonski said.  House leaders Sidney and Brynn both agree that House is a unique way to meet people in other grades, allowing the upper school to have a deeper sense of unity and camaraderie.

“It’s supposed to give students power to make decisions…but it’s contingent on participation,” said Mr. Blonski.  House is a really interesting model, but for it to achieve its goal, it needs the help of every single upper school student.

If students want a better House experience, it is up to them to make it happen.  Talk to your House leaders if you have ideas for activities, and let them know what’s working and what’s not.  But, most importantly, participate!

The next time you have a Jeopardy tournament, lightning basketball game, or cliché party game during your Wednesday white period, give it a try; your participation could have a big impact on the House experience for years to come.

Ending CSW With a Bang!

The team runs out on the court.  The pep band is blaring “Final Countdown” while the stands full of people yell with excitement.  This clearly isn’t your typical high school basketball game.

On Friday, February 2nd, the PA Girls Varsity Basketball team had a stellar performance against their opponents to cap off a great Catholic Schools Week for the entire PA community.

Catholic Schools Week is traditionally a time when schools across the country come together to celebrate the value and benefits that come from being a Catholic school.  Beyond this, it is a week for schools to have fun and show off their school pride.

One way this is traditionally done at PA is Spirit Games.  During Catholic Schools Week, students are encouraged to support the Lions by attending games throughout the week.  On Tuesday, the Spirit Game was Boys Basketball, on Thursday the Spirit Games were Boys and Girls Hockey, and the Girls Basketball game on Friday was the finale of a great week of sports.

Lauren Kettler ’20 lines up to shoot a free throw at the Girls Basketball Sprit Game

Spirit Games are very unique because students are actually barred from taking exams during Catholic Schools Week, and many teachers give students a light homework load to celebrate the week as well.  Caroline Heine ‘18 attended the Girls Basketball game at the end of Catholic Schools Week, and said, “[These rules] are the only reason I didn’t have to do homework on Friday and was able to go to the game.  Also, there were many other events that would not have been possible for me to go to without the homework rules.”  Smaller amounts of homework throughout the week helps students support their peers at Spirit Games and have new experiences that they might not have otherwise been able to have.

Another group of students who were out supporting the Girls Basketball team was PA’s own Pep Band.  These students play in the Upper School Symphonic Band and play at sporting events throughout the year to make games even more exciting for the players and fans.  Point guard Hailey Hohenecker said that the pep band’s tunes help her and her teammates get excited and focused during their games.

Members of the Upper School Pep Band who played during the CSW Girls Basketball Spirit Game

But the pep band members themselves were influenced by the spirit and excitement of Catholic Schools Week.  Trumpet player Kylie Walgrave ‘18 said that the school pride at Spirit Games really makes the pep band better.  “I think the pep band really does help rally the players and the crowd which makes the overall experience more exciting and enjoyable,”  she said.

In the end, Spirit Games are a very important part of the festivities of Catholic Schools Week, and the supportive student fans and pep band members help make the event even more special.  Hailey Hohenecker thinks the Spirit Games are a crucial part of the Catholic Schools Week experience.  She said, “It’s a great feeling when you know your school is behind you, backing you up with support.  When people get excited and you can hear them cheering for you, it makes you really motivated and it helps up your game and get your teammates ready to go!”


PA Girls Basketball players ready to rebound after an opponent’s free throw


With the combination of a great atmosphere and lots of talented players, the Girls Basketball team won their game against St. Paul Academy and extended their record to 12-9.  Make sure you support the PA Lions basketball teams; both the girls and boys teams have special games at the Target Center on Friday, February 9th.