Essential Workers Within PA

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, working from home has become the new norm. But there are some who continue to go to work during these strange times. While a student’s work is predominately academic, many PA students are employed by essential businesses.  They now find themselves balancing school from home with their usual work with additional fear of health risks. 

Helena Peppin ’20 works almost every day at her local Target. Peppin remarks, “I cannot imagine my life without going to work; I think I would go crazy if I did not go”. 

Like so many others, Peppin had gotten used to her daily routine: get up, go to school, go to work, return home which has now adapted to: get up, sign into school, go to a longer work day, return home. 

Essential worker Helena Peppin ’20 poses with her fellow employees.

“Sometimes work can get a little scary when customers come in in masks and gloves; it is hard not to get intimidated”. Despite some fear, Peppin continues to work up to 12 hour shifts doing everything from online orders to restocking shelves. 

For Kelsey Friesz ’20, work has continued, but changed. Friesz’s Starbucks location was temporarily closed in order to ensure the health of the workers and customers. However, Friesz did not let this stop her from working. She took a job as a personal shopper as well as a cashier at Target, not only qualifying her as essential worker, but demonstrating work an essential part of her own routine. 

“Working is a necessity for me; not having a job was not an option” Friesz laughed while recalling Starbucks being closed. Both Friesz and Peppin take into account the dangers of working. One can spot them both “masked up” at their local target.

Illustration portrays various essential workers “masked up” for work.

Parents and students alike feel the tension brought on by new working conditions. One PA parent noted, “I get scared when my kid leaves for work. I was told to stay home to stay healthy, but we need workers”.

Every day health care, maintenance, grocery, and even food service employees put their health at risk going to work in order to help those in need and keep things moving, even at a slowed pace. Within the PA community there are doctors, nurses, professionals and so many more who are helping those around them without fail. To those and the loved ones that support them, PA says thank you.


A Lion’s Valentine

Monica Rampenstreiter “20 poses with her rose.

“Will you be my Valentine?” Whether asking a friend, potential valentine, or current valentine; the students and faculty of Providence Academy have a more discreet way of asking this age old question. The PA Student Council has come up with a creative way to let that special someone know that they’re appreciated- even if they never find out who sent the message. 

So how exactly does this work? A student must simply  go to the Atrium to find a friendly Student Council Member leading up to Valentine’s Day. Then, the bashful gift-giver 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 (pun intended or not is up to them), cupcake, a rose, or all of the above! All that’s left after that is to anxiously wait until February 14th, when the Student Council member will hand deliver the gift. Simple.

As early as a week in advance, the PA community can purchase various treats to be sent anonymously to their Valentine. Or wait until the very last minute to make their decision.

Student Council member AJ Hedberg ’21 begins passing out roses to students at lunch.

Senior Vice President William Horinek 20’ commented, “ A variety of people buy a variety of gifts; just because they bought something does not always mean they are in a relationship”. Horinek went on to say plenty of friends buy each other gifts just to say “Hey, I appreciate you”. 

The Student Council also uses this opportunity to thank many different members of the PA community on behalf of the study body.  There are so many people who make life at Providence easier, including school nurse Mrs. Maureen Murphy and Upper School Counselor Mrs. Kesney McCarthy. This year, the Student Council dedicated the remainder of the roses to the Statue of Mary at the entrance of PA.  

Mrs. Peterson shared her love for the event noting it is fun and secretive. Peterson admitted students often come to her requesting that she purchase their valentine a gift in order to ensure it is a secret.

Maddy Young 20’ received an anonymous valentine and described the experience, “It made me feel loved and appreciated, just a nice reminder that I am surrounded by people I love and that love me”.

The Drone Age


(Bottom right) A PA drone soars through the obstacle course!

The latest technology is the latest addition to the variety of clubs at Providence Academy. Drones are not only new to the everyday person, but also to the students and teachers at PA. Mrs. Sheehan and Mr. Hickel co-supervise the Drone Club, a program run by the company Hydra FPV a self-proclaimed “drone sports entertainment technology”.

The idea is certainly catching on, quickly drawing student participation. From humble beginnings, starting with a two school initiative last year, the program now boasts 18 schools.  The club includes building a personal racing drone and flying it at various

PA students focus in on their VR sets at the competition on Saturday January 25th.


During lunch one day, Hydra FPV paid PA a visit and showed off their incredible drone flying skills to attract middle and high school students to join. They were beyond successful, particularly with the middle school. The 20 spots available filled up quickly. Hickel admitted to having to turn away students, but promised growth for the program for next year. With such a new program, there is an incredible opportunity to grow. The club had their first official competition on January 25, having built their drones only days before. 

Hickel supervised and assisted students in building their drones then cheered them on at their first race. Hickel noted, “[It was] fun to see how the matches run so now the club can focus on preparing for the next match”. 

A four way split scree projector shows the point of view from each drone as it flies through the course.

The club gave everything they had at the competition, but they admitted there is still a lot to learn. Max Peckenschnieder ‘20, one of the few Upper Schoolers in the club, said he loves the club because he gets to share his experience with the middle schoolers. Peckenschnieder shares his pure excitement to dive headfirst into flying and pilot practice. He stated, “It is a different kind of fun than I am used to”.

Peckenschnieder is a D1 committed Track and Field runner, so Drone Club offers a change of pace- literally. By allowing students to explore the new and exciting world of technology through everything from assembly to flying of drones, the club offers a new outlet to athletes such as Peckenschnieder.  Here to stay and ready to grow, the Drone Club is truly flying PA into the new age of technology.


Smarter Than Smart

From the pacemaker to the iPhone, technology has changed drastically improved in the last 50 years. Through the use of technologically advanced machines, one can even stay technically–in the most literal sense–“alive”.  Modern medical advancements such as life support and cancer screenings help doctors save lives every day.  Video calls facilitate face to face conversations with people on the other side of the world. Without such modern advancements, where would society be?

Mimi Meadows ’20 Maddy Young ’20 and other seniors enjoy the benefits of technology while studying for finals, a common scene during this time in the semester.

Modern communication allows for people to connect with those they otherwise would rarely see.  Take, for example, Providence Net Team member Christian, whose family is Texas. Christian expresses that having loved ones in Texas and living in Minnesota can be difficult. A day in Minnesota for Christian varies drastically from the day his loved ones have in Texas; it’s easy to feel as distant as they geographically are. Christian explains, “Social media helps me catch up on what I miss;if I miss them I can just look at a picture or a quick update on Facebook.”  From Facebook updates, to video calling, nowadays, one can stay connected with anyone they need to with a click of a button.

PA science teacher Mr. Dan Hickel experienced similar benefits from technology while spending multiple years learning and teaching in Hawaii. Hickle can sympathize with the difficulty of maintaining relationships over a long distance. During his years in the Pacific time zone, Hickel would plan “FaceTime dates” to simply sit down and catch up on life with loved ones in Minnesota. Modern airfare also eased the difficulty in spending so much time apart; if he needed to be home, he could hop on a plane.

These conveniences not only apply to relationships, but to career advancement as well. Professional growth available through the many advents of new technology for companies and individuals alike is immense. The efficiency of online applications alone can benefit the entire job search process and help a person seeking gainful employment find a job sooner than many would have dreamed a short decade ago. An interview can take place via Skype or Facetime, taking a matter of seconds to connect nationwide, or even across the globe.

John Wooden ’20 uses the computer lab in the back of the physics classroom to calculate velocity.

As far as technological advancements in the classroom, schools incorporate a variety of machines to enhance their learning strategies. At Providence Academy, students have access to Chromebooks and computer labs whenever necessary. Teachers have access to their own computers and chromebooks as well as projectors within their classrooms. Mrs Killion, the FACS teacher at PA, uses an elmo–a video projector–to show her students the different techniques for everything from stirring to stitching. 

From conveniences to vital care, technology can improve the quality of life, even save lives when used properly. Some say if we wish to envision a world where we did not have technology today it would be a world where we were trying to invent it.

Not So Smart

Smart: the word to describe the new age of technology. Smart speaker, smart car, smart phone, smart watch. All of these things are meant to add convenience to the modern person’s  life. But are these supposed conveniences truly helping people–namely students–learn to be attentive in and out of the classroom? Are smart devices actually making us smarter?

William Horinek ’20, Max Peckenschneider ’20, Katherine Busch ’20, Sam Fritz ’20, and Megan Rothberg ’20 come back from honors Biology discussing their last test rather than checking their phones.

Screen usage in teens is at an all-time peak due to recent developments in technology. Due to such advancement, devices are not only convenient but seemingly necessary in everyday life. According to Common Sense Media, the average teenager can spend up to nine hours a day on their phone. That is merely the time spent on a phone; it does not include laptops or iPads. A brief survey taken at PA finds the average student here spends roughly four hours on their phone and all students surveyed agree they spend more time in front of a laptop writing papers than checking social media on their phone. 

William Horinek ‘20 said, “During the school year my time is consumed by school work and focusing in class. In order to do that, I have to put my phone down”. Horinek continued, “I find myself not even wanting to check it during passing period because there is simply no need”. The rigorous class schedule combined with being surrounded by friends has left this senior perfectly satisfied without the use of his phone.

Hailey Hoehenecker ’20 enjoys a screen free passing period at her locker.

While it is a common rule in many schools to not be allowed to have a phone on your person, PA takes it a step further in abolishing the use of smart watches on campus. For instance, Wayzata’s policy for “all electronic communication devices”, is dependent on individual teacher preference, whereas at PA only laptop and iPad usage is governed by teacher discretion; other devices are simply not permitted. The PA Student Handbook says, “electronic devices, including watches with WiFi, cellular, or bluetooth capability, are not to be used during the school day and must be turned off and stored safely in a student’s locker.” Although this rule may feel like an inconvenience to many students, it can help limit screen time, a growing concern of many parents and educators. 

Dan Hickel, a science instructor at PA, says the usage of laptops and iPads can be easily abused. Hickel understands that “advancements in technology have caused it to become so mainstream many schools find it nearly impossible to not allow it during the school day”.  He sees, however, the long term benefit from the restricted use of devices at PA.  “The little things PA does to reduce the amount of distraction will form disciplined students,” he concluded.

It is no doubt to students’ advantage to be attentive to classroom instruction during the day, without the distraction of handheld technology. In doing so, future PA alumni are better prepared to contribute the same attentiveness in future vocations and occupations.