Two PA Seniors Opt to Join NET Ministries Next Year

Grace Garvey '14 and Colleen Irwin '14 join other future NET members at a retreat. Submitted Photo.
Grace Garvey ’14 and Colleen Irwin ’14 join other future NET members at a retreat.

Today marks “College Shirt Day” for seniors – a day where the class of 2014 dons apparel advertising to the PA community which college or university they will be attending next year. But Grace Garvey ’14 and Colleen Irwin ’14 are torn.

For Garvey and Irwin, picking out a shirt isn’t as simple as just deciding between a t-shirt and a sweatshirt from their chosen colleges, because next year they won’t be attending college at all – Irwin and Garvey have decided to postpone their college enrollments to join NET Ministries next year.

“It’s kind of weird,” Garvey said. “I always thought I would go to college next year, but really what’s one year?”

The decision to join NET was complex for both soon-to-be PA alums. Joining NET Ministries is a large commitment, as a NET team member spends nine months of his or her life away from home, staying with multiple host families around the country. The process is completely voluntary, and members receive only a small stipend each month for necessities. But despite the difficulties of the life of a NET member, Irwin and Garvey ultimately decided to serve on a team next year.

For Irwin, she felt an outside influence regarding her decision to join NET.

“I felt called to a year of service,” she said.

Garvey chose to join for similar reasons, saying “I just felt so blessed that I’ve gone to Providence and had these awesome opportunities in my life, so I felt like I need to give back somehow.”

Garvey also includes “the awesome impact the Providence NET Team has had in my life” as a major factor that influenced her decision to join NET.

The two future “Netters” will have to undergo five weeks of training, starting August 14th. Then they will be assigned to a team – either a school team like Providence’s, a home team that stays at a NET center, or a traveling team that visits churches and schools around the U.S. One year of NET service lasts from August until May, and NET members receive two weeks off at Christmas.

NET members give retreats, sometimes up to hundreds of them in the 9-month span, working to spread excitement about the Catholic faith to young people.

“I’m just really excited to spend a year with my team, with my brothers and sisters,” Garvey said.

Garvey also mentioned how it’s possible she will be serving on a team with some familiar faces next year, as she could possibly be put on a team with either Irwin or the three current PA NET members who will be returning for a second year at NET Ministries. Additionally, current PA Netter Grace Rogers will be taking on a leadership position at NET.

Regardless of what team she is put on, Irwin says she plans on having an exciting and memorable year next year.

“I’m excited to share my faith and meet other people who are excited about faith,” she said.

After working with NET, Garvey plans to attend the University of Notre Dame in 2015 and Irwin plans to attend the Culinary Institute of America.


To Buzz or not to Buzz? PA Students’ Thoughts on Caffeine

Melissa Ivens '14 smiles with her morning cup of coffee. By Rachael Maguire
Melissa Ivens ’14 smiles with her morning cup of coffee.
By Rachael Maguire


From the student who is rarely seen walking into school without a Starbucks cup to the student who avoids coffee and energy drinks at all costs, PA students’ caffeine habits encompass all the extremes and everything in between. Here’s a breakdown of the main arguments PA students have for and against loading up on caffeine to make it through the school day.

The Pro-Caffeine Arguments:

The main argument among PA students for drinking caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, or energy drinks is that simply put, a daily dose of caffeine helps students stay alert throughout the school day.

“Coffee definitely helps me wake up in the morning,” said Eva Sullivan ‘14, who said she drinks around five cups of coffee per week plus at least ten cups of green tea.

Many other students agree that coffee is a good quick-fix for not getting enough sleep. For example, Scott Stankey ‘14 says the amount of caffeinated beverages he drinks depends entirely on how much sleep he got the night before, meaning on average he drinks three cups of coffee per week, and caffeinated tea on the days he doesn’t drink coffee.

“But I don’t drink on the weekends,” he said.

Nick White ‘14 agrees with Stankey about caffeine helping him stay awake during the school day.

“If I get six hours of sleep, then it helps,” he said. “If I get nine hours then it doesn’t. If I get too much sleep it just makes me jittery.”

Other pro-caffeine arguments include the purported health benefits of certain caffeinated beverages.

“Energy drinks are bad for you, but coffee is good for you,” Sullivan said. “It has antioxidants and caffeine speeds up your metabolism.”

The clear favorite when it comes to PA students’ caffeine fix is coffee, though it’s not completely uncommon to see a student carrying a Monster or Red Bull to first period. Other students, like Meghan Onserio ‘15 opt for a lower-caffeine beverage like tea.

“I drink at least three cups of chai tea per week,” Onserio said.

By Rachael Maguire
By Rachael Maguire

The Anti-Caffeine Arguments:

“I have never had coffee, ever,” said Andrew McIntyre ‘14. “I’ve never felt the inclination to drink it, and there are a lot of bad consequences of coffee.”

McIntyre lists some of the concerns many PA students have concerning caffeine consumption: it could cause unnatural sleeping habits, addiction, or a ‘crash’ later in the day.

“I don’t think coffee is good for you in the long-term,” agreed Maria Vogel ‘15, who puts the number of caffeinated beverages she drinks per week at zero.

Patrick Buehler ‘14, a self-identified “highly effective teen,” also rarely consumes coffee or any other type of caffeine.

“Do the espresso muffins at lunch count?” he asked.

Buehler puts the total number of cups of coffee he’s had in high school at less than 10, but says he drank more than half of those just in the 2013-2014 school year, his most stressful year to date.

“I’ve done just fine without it,” he said. “But it has saved me after some very late nights.”

A less common argument against caffeinated beverages, specifically coffee, is simply an aversion to the flavor.

“Coffee smells good, but it tastes horrible,” said Grant Gardner ‘14.

“I can’t stand the taste and I don’t like the smell,” agreed Jenny Walz ‘14.

Opinion: Why does anyone choose to live in Minnesota?

Photo courtesy of Google Images
Photo courtesy of Google Images

If you had asked me in the fall, I would have told you that winter is my favorite season. As soon as the leaves turn orange I’m craving that magical first snowfall and everything that comes with it: sledding, ice skating, Christmas, cozy winter sweaters, hot chocolate, and happily constructing snowmen.

But now, it’s March. The snow, depressingly brown from dirt and pollution, has lost its magic. Christmas has passed, my sweaters are a little too cozy from drinking all that hot chocolate, and I have yet to build a snowman. While most months of the year I’d tell you winter is my favorite season, four long months into it I’d like nothing more than for it to end.

I’m pretty sure most Minnesotans would agree with me. We have one of the longest and coldest winters in the country, and while it’s fun at first, it gets old fast.

First, there’s winter driving. I’m sick of sitting in my car for 10 minutes waiting for it to warm up, or worse, using that time to scrape off my car in the bitter cold. I’m tired of my tires spinning out at every intersection, and the creeping feeling of shame I get knowing I’m holding up the entire line of cars behind me as I desperately try to get my decade-old Honda to inch forward. I’m sick of the mini-panic I get every time my car starts to fishtail or alarmingly keeps sliding forward even when my foot’s slammed on the brake. Leaving the house in winter is not only an inconvenience, but a hazard for us Minnesotans, which is probably why we all end up going stir-crazy this time of year.

Next, there’s the fact that once the jolly Christmas season is past, everyone just becomes lifeless and irritable. Colds, flu, headache, coughing, sneezing, plus the “winter blues” all makes for a not-so-enjoyable community. Conversations become pessimistic and repetitive, as nearly everyone feels the need to complain loudly about the cold, or the snow, or the fact that they’re “as pale as Edward Cullen.”

Even the sun’s brief appearances bring no respite, simply reflecting off the snow, amplifying transportation problems by blinding drivers. When it does come, it appears pale like we Minnesotans do, a depressing shadow of its full gloriousness on display in summer.

I think each fall when I’m eager for winter to come I must forget that winter lasts from the first snowfall in November to the thaw in March or April (or in some cases, May). Do we realize that we spend between five and seven months of our year huddling for warmth in our oversized jackets and slipping on ice patches? It surprises me how many people choose to live in a state that spends half its year under a dense blanket of snow. And yet, we have all chosen to live here, and now we’re stuck here for the next two months, slowly watching the snow melt into slush, before we can once again enjoy green grass and bright sunshine.

Spring Break could not come sooner.

Ace Your Love Life: Teacher Advice On Finding Your Soulmate

Band teacher Mr. Jones proudly displays the wedding photo he keeps on his desktop.
Photo by Rachael Maguire

Ah, Valentine’s Day. A day of candy, crushes, romance, and occasionally, an acute reminder of just how single you are. So, when surrounded by the fickleness of high school love, do you ever wonder whether there’s one person you’re meant to be with out there? In other words, the painfully cliched “soulmate”?

In looking for an answer to this dramatic, heart-wrenching question, it’s best to go to those who have experience and are willing to teach it. As it turns out, for this job there’s no one better than Providence Academy’s finest: the teachers.

When it came to advising students on life’s questions of romance and courtship, Mr. Ian Skemp, History teacher, reflected on his own story with self-effacing modesty.

“Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how I did it. It just happened,” said Mr. Skemp. “The best advice I could give is…something that I read somewhere: ‘Love may be unconditional, but relationships have rules.”

He noted that not every couple is a reasonable match, and advised students to “have dealbreakers.’”

Mrs. Mary Sue Walker, college counselor, agrees with this low-pressure approach.

“I think, soul mate…that’s a lot of pressure,” she said. “Let’s equate this to the college search. I think there are probably a lot of people in the world who would be good partners in crime.”

Dean of Students Mr. David Harman addressed PA students specifically when he said, “Wait til after high school. Although that’s counter-culture here. A lot of people at Providence pair up now and end up getting married, but that’s not my experience.”

Like the other teachers, he mentioned that personality compatibility was an important component for his own relationship.

“We amplified each other’s identities,” he said. “There was no sacrifice of who you were.”

Mrs. Catherine Berry, Upper School guidance counselor, gave advice on character traits to look for in the perfect future “soulmate,” saying, “It’s somebody who makes you feel totally secure with who you are. You don’t have to try to be somebody else.”

Band teacher Mr. Thomas Jones believes that while personal compatibility is important in looking for a soulmate, strong relationships must also include elements of virtue and Christ.

“If you’re gonna find your soulmate, and this is gonna sound cliche, but it’s the truth, you need to find someone who loves the Lord first and finds joy in putting the needs of others before themselves,” he said.

Finally, Director of Upper School, Dr. Kevin Ferdinandt, doles out a healthy serving of his love advice.

“Wait for the right person would be first. In the depths of your heart, in the depths of your soul, in the depths of your spirit you will know,” he said.

This begs the question: how do youngsters know that what they feel is truly in the depths of their being?

“By its fruits,” Dr. Ferdinandt replies. “Is there peace, is there joy and is that joy more than infatuation?”

Dr. Ferdinandt also struck at a practical aspect of living with your soulmate: if your love is well-fated, you will be able to stay sane even when your partner is acting crazy: “Make sure you know what their worst is and that you can manage it.”

Dr. Ferdinandt closed with a remark befitting of a Providence Academy Upper School Director:

“Be open to the possibility that one true love relationship may be only with God.”

Lila Anderson contributed to the reporting and writing of this story.

Finals Moved to Before Christmas Break Next Year

After many meetings and much deliberation, the administration has decided to move first semester exams to before Christmas Break beginning the 2014-15 school year. This decision comes after much prompting and support from the student body, the Upper School Student Council, and teachers.

The administration has been working for a long time to come to this decision. Mr. Michael Tiffany, Academic Dean, listed the main reasons for the change, saying that many other schools in the nation have finals in December, and that Providence may gain many benefits from a similar system.

“Student interest is a big reason,” said Mr. Tiffany. “Another one is the challenge we have to make the time after break but before exams productive.”

Currently, there isn’t really time for quizzes and tests in the two week span between Christmas Break and final exams, and Mr. Tiffany says students have complained that sometimes teachers teach new content that is assessed for the first time on the final.

A main reason Mr. Tiffany cites for the new finals schedule is student workload over break. While the administration advocates for no homework over breaks, Mr. Tiffany says, “We recognize that retention may lapse over break, and as a result some students choose to study anyway.”

Having finals take place before break would leave a “true” break for Christmas – one with no homework or impending large assessments.

While moving finals before break mitigates these difficulties, one problem the administration is currently running into is the division between semesters. Moving finals before break and ending first semester at that point would leave a large discrepancy in the lengths of the two semesters. Mr. Tiffany says solving for the division between semesters is a “work in progress.” The administration is considering ending first semester before Christmas Break, but is also exploring other options.

A second concern with the change is the fact that finals will now coincide with a time usually brimming with band concerts, choir concerts, and Christmas parties. However, again, the administration has anticipated this critique.

“We will move the concerts up enough so they won’t conflict with the week of exams,” said Mr. Tiffany. In addition, Director of Upper School Athletics, Mr. Kurt Jaegar, may take similar action regarding athletic events around the same time.

Besides the change in dates, the logistics of finals will remain very similar to the current system. While the exact dates of finals and the number of review days has yet to be worked out, Mr. Tiffany says “I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up a lot like we’ve been doing.”