Finals: A Survival Guide

Finals, the most dreaded time of the school year. Finals season is tense, stressful, and exhausting. What if I told you they didn’t have to be? With these study, meditation, and organizing tactics, finals don’t have to be so troublesome.

Studying for finals can get hectic, and with spring sports you can get crunched for time. With these 10 tips from FastWeb, studying will be efficient and worthwhile.

  1. Create your own study guide. I know it’s fun to collaborate with friends and divide the workload, but it is harder to retain information that you didn’t write and understand.
  2. Ask for help. It’s so easy to do and every teacher at PA wants to answer your questions.
  3. Start early. This will enable you to keep your mind clear and away from the worries of cramming. 
  4. Take breaks. Use the Pomodoro Technique to make your studying tolerable. I find that 20 minutes is too short to be productive, so I study for about an hour or until I get tired of studying before I take a break. You can adjust as you feel fit.
  5. Sleep! Everyone is told to but no one ever follows this simple but effective tip. Sleep is an absolute must.

    Not you if you follow these tips
  6. Make a study schedule. It makes everything so much easier if you have a schedule to follow. Sometimes when you don’t know where to start, a schedule will help you figure out your starting point and will keep you productive. Senior Clare Delmore agrees, “Start studying for the bigger tests a couple days before. Plan out what you should study each night and then keep to that schedule. There is no need to start more than a week in advance.”
  7. Teach someone else the material. This method of studying is extremely efficient. By teaching one person and helping them understand material, you also get the benefit of reinforcing the information you already know.
  8. Switch up the subject. By switching the subject that you are studying every so often, you won’t burn yourself out and give up.

Dr. Jeff Biebighauser, a literature and Latin teacher at PA, believes that “a well-written final shouldn’t require a whole lot of studying, especially in the weeks before the exam.  Students have been working hard all semester. They should be able to trust that their acquired knowledge will carry them through.”

 Clearing your mind is very important for focus in studying and in taking the actual exam. Using meditation, you can achieve more in an efficient way. Benefits of meditation include:

  1. Lower heart rate
  2. Less perspiration
  3. Slower respiratory rate
  4. Less anxiety
  5. More feelings of well-being
  6. Less stress
  7. Deeper relaxation

Dr. Biebighauser is also a “big believer in a breathing exercise called ‘square breathing.’  Count to four as you’re filling your lungs, hold that breath for a four-count, breathe out for a four-count, rest for a four-count, repeat.  This can be psychologically and spiritually centering, and it lowers physiological indicators of stress too.” He continues, “hydration is also really good for you.  In order of helpfulness, breathing > water > tea > studying > coffee > soda > thoughts about college admissions.”

As you can see, many or all of these benefits from meditation are extremely useful for studying and taking finals. Five apps that help guide and teach meditation are:

  1. 10% Happier
  2. Calm
  3. Headspace
  4. Simple Habit
  5. OMG I can meditate

Using an app guides your meditation, giving you an idea of what you should be doing, instead of blindly trying to make up a meditation on your own.

Finally, organization skills are key. A messy and cluttered study area will waste time and leave you feeling confused and overwhelmed. Organizing materials, the space itself, and the desk will make it easier to find study materials and to know when assignments are due. An article from WikiHow gives a great guide to keeping your study space a focused environment. 

Remnants of senior studying

Studying for finals this year will be a breeze with these tips. Keeping a clear head and your area organized is important for studying and peace of mind. Get some sleep and get studying!

General tips for finals

More helpful apps for finals

Friday the Thirteenth

People all over the world have superstitions about Friday the Thirteenth, including students at Providence Academy. Some students had special plans for the thirteenth (watching horror movie, hanging out with friends, coffeehouse, etc) while others believed Friday the 13th isn’t significant at all.

How did this superstitious day come to be? One common idea on the origin of Friday the Thirteenth is associated with the Knights Templar. Malcolm Barber who writes about the history of the Knights Templar in The Trial of the Templars (2 ed.) reports that King Philip was in debt to the Knights Templar from his war with the English, and decided to take matters into his own hands. He began pressuring the church to take action against the order, as a way of freeing himself from his debts.  He arrested many of the members from the Templar on Friday the 13th, therefore, making it unlucky or a day of unfortunate fate. Others say Judas Iscariot being the thirteenth to sit down at the Last Supper makes thirteen an unlucky number, and Jesus was crucified on a Friday.

Members of the Knights Templar being burned at the stake

Ironically, Friday the Thirteenth is statistically the safest Friday of the year. Fewer traffic accidents, fires, and thefts occur on Friday the Thirteenth. Justin Kim ’20 said that Friday the Thirteenth is just a normal day and there is no need to be extra cautious.

Kim did not have any special plans for the suspicious day because “nothing bad has ever happened to me [on Friday the Thirteenth]”. He watched a scary movie in the spirit of Friday the Thirteenth, but nothing more.

Image result for blumhouse truth or dare movie poster
Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare came out on Friday the Thirteenth

Mr. Hester does not believe in the superstitions because they give people something to obsess over; something he considers sinful. He cites the Catechism, which says that superstitions are perverse, excessive, and a sin against the first commandment. Indubitably, some people strongly believe that Friday the Thirteenth shouldn’t be a superstitious day.

However, Mrs. Simonson’s Friday the Thirteenth prayer was missing from her prayer book. Spooky…

Whether you believe in the superstition or not, the next Friday the Thirteenth will be celebrated on July 13, 2018. Friday the Thirteenth is a superstitious day that is going to stay.


Spring Break 2018

Spring break is an event the entire school, students and faculty alike, look forward to. A break from the workload brings comfort to the minds of many.

However, not everyone has the same reason for loving spring break. The info graphics show students’ favorite parts of spring break. Some students are going outdoors and relaxing by the pool. Others are having a blast outside from running a triathlon to surfing. One student is getting her wisdom teeth out over spring break-ouch!

No matter your plans (or lack of them), students are guaranteed to enjoy their time off. Whitney Onyambu ’18 remembers previous spring breaks as, “some of the best times of my life.”

Click HERE for this year’s spring break poll. For last year’s poll click HERE.



The Amazing Race: Tips and Tricks to Help You Win 200 Chipotle Dollars

Come one come all to the Amazing Race (not to be confused with the TV show, the Amazing Race). This race is Providence Academy’s version, where students are challenged to take pictures and videos of teammates doing unusual tasks for points. These points earn the winning team a $200 Chipotle gift card.

All upper school students are invited to join, but unfortunately the deadline to sign up has already passed, so if you haven’t already signed up, next year will have to be your time to shine.

The NET team has organized this competition and they plan to show off the racers’ pictures and videos at the reveal party on March 9th. There will be food and fun for all members of the Amazing Race.

Some favorite challenges include: the full court shot (you must get the basketball in the basket from the other end of the basketball court), sending a thank you note to someone in administration, taking a selfie with Father McClellan, doing a flash mob, eating a meal with chopsticks, doing a 90 second plank in the grocery store, and many more.

James Schoenfelder ‘20, one of the racers, said the key to winning is to get started early.

Another tip, from Ikemonso Ayika ‘20 is to “talk about [the race] as little as possible to make people forget [about the race].” Could this be the key to winning a $200 Chipotle gift card?

Ikemonso Ayika challenges Tyler Cao to a thumb war in the flash point sale.

NET team member Tyler Cao (AKA Game Master Moo) said that organization was important for winning. Teams should divvy up tasks that can be done individually, and find a time to meet with the rest of the team, in which the team does the other tasks together. He also said the personal challenges are a great way to rack up points for your team.

Personal challenges are different challenges per week with a different NET member hosting each one. The NET team brainstorms ideas and picks their favorite one from the list to host. This tradition started a few years ago “to keep racers on their toes,” Kaylee Robbins (a NET member) said, “as well as adding new challenges for racing teams that needed them.”

This year, the NET team added a “flash point sale” in which each day of the last week of the race has a different opportunity to get points. The tasks are as follows:

Tuesday – Beat a Netter in rock, paper, scissors (10 points each time)
Wednesday – Beat Netters in a thumb war (10 points each time)
Thursday – Arm wrestling in the NET room (10 points each time)

Friday – Come eat one doughnut in the NET room 🙂 (20 points)

Ikemonso Ayika racks up points for his team in a push-up contest.

The Amazing Race is currently in the final week, and final pictures and videos need to be sent in by March 5, so the NET team can declare a winner. Some students conveyed a wish that the Amazing Race end after spring break so they could have more time and the possibility of completing the elusive 500 point challenges. Tyler said the 500 point challenges were made to be impossible, and racers agree. So far, the Blue Elephant team is ahead with 50 points, but the rankings could change at any time.

The Amazing Race brings joy to the hearts of many upper school students, and surely will bring joy to future high schoolers. May the odds be ever in your favor.

CSW Wild Reflections

Catholic Schools Week is back this year, and it’s warmer than ever. The “Escape from Winter” theme brings us out of the frigid outside weather and into a tropical paradise. To go along with the fun exotic theme, the Upper School Student Council came up with a tropical animal and a virtue the animal conveys for each day this week.

Celia Raney, sophomore student council representative, hand-picked each animal and wrote the description to go with it. Her goal was to illustrate how each animal symbolizes each virtue. The idea was that the student body should practice the given virtue each day. Unfortunately, they were unable to announce the virtues over the loudspeakers; however, they are listed here as they would have been announced. 

Image result for Catholic schools week logo


Monday’s animal of the day: Butterfly

Starting off the week is a butterfly, which represents hope. A butterfly represents hope because they emerge from their cocoons with new life. Similarly, let’s have hope that we can have a fun and special Catholic Schools Week!

Tuesday’s animal of the day: Dolphin

The animal of the day is a dolphin, which represents the virtue of kindness. Dolphins are social and friendly animals. Today, let’s focus on being kind to one another.

Wednesday’s animal of the day: Lion

The animal of the day is a lion, which symbolizes courage. Lions are brave and not fearful. Today, let’s have the courage to do what is right.

Image result for providence academy lion
Providence Academy’s mascot is a lion

Thursday’s animal of the day: Turtle

The animal of the day is a turtle, which symbolizes perseverance. Let’s try to keep working hard this school year.

Friday’s animal of the day: Hummingbird

The animal of the day is a hummingbird, which symbolizes peace. As we get ready for the weekend, let’s remember to be content with God’s plan for us and compassionate with each other.

Connecting virtue to a more mundane idea makes virtue easier to understand and also more fun to practice. Focusing on a different virtue each day gives students a fun variety to their week, and helps them appreciate virtuous behavior.

“[the animal theme] sheds a different light on virtue” Charlize Pedregosa ’20 commented.