Practicing, Playing, and Performing: Band Students Go to All-State

Most know what it means to go to State in a sport: nail-biting matches, high emotions, and lots of school spirit. Few are aware, however, of the fine arts equivalent: All-State Band. Rather than a competition, this is a cooperative group of musicians from all around Minnesota. Students audition by submitting recordings featuring a range of scales and etudes (short songs) that are technically challenging to test their skills. Those lucky enough to be admitted had the opportunity to play music at a higher level and perform in the famous Orchestra Hall. 

On Saturday February 19, Providence Academy Upper School students, Gretta Martin, ‘22, Nathan Fish, ‘23, and Ella Flynn, ‘22 were Providence’s representatives for the All-State ensembles. The students worked so hard learning how to play the clarinet, trombone, and flute and were finally able to celebrate all they have accomplished in their musical careers thus far. 

The All-State Band takes a bow after an amazing performance.

“I enjoyed getting to meet other people who love playing the clarinet as much as I do,” glowed Martin, ‘22. “My favorite part was going to Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. It was really cool getting to warm up and perform in a space where professional musicians play.”

This past weekend was just the tip of the iceberg. Anyone in the music industry knows there was much more work put in beforehand. Students selected for All-State have been practicing for the performances since last May, when they learned they were selected. Participants also attended a five-day music camp at Concordia University, where they met their fellow bandmates, played as an ensemble, and got the chance to enhance their music skills. 

“I liked living on a college campus for a few days during All-State Band Camp,” stated Fish, ‘23. “It was really fun to see what it is like to be a college student.”

For the students, All-State was more than just a chance to play at a concert. This was a once-in a lifetime opportunity to experience music played at a high level. 

“All-State is a big deal.  It’s a huge honor, and I want to make sure PA students who are at this level are able to audition and participate. I also make sure their names are forever placed on the All-State plaque in the Performing Arts Center,” said Thomas Jones, Upper School Band Director.

Whether it be the new musical techniques they picked up, or the friends they met along the way, this was a weekend the PA All-State students will never forget.

Band students put their instruments together and prepare to perform in Orchestra Hall.

PA Welcomes: Amelia Santaniello

From learning about a journalism career to meeting a local celebrity, Providence Academy journalism students had a fun day on February 4, when Amelia Santaniello, WCCO’s nightly News Anchor visited their class to speak with students about day-to-day experiences in her field.

Santaniello has worked very hard over the years to get to the evening News Anchor position. She has lived and worked in Connecticut, Washington D.C., New York, as well as Pennsylvania. Twenty-six years ago she saw the WCCO position as a great opportunity to settle in one location, after traveling for much of her previous reporting career. Ten years into her time at WCCO, her husband, Frank Vascellaro, joined her as co-anchor, and the two became one of the only married news anchor teams in the country. 

During her visit to PA, Santaniello did more than describe her day-to-day life on the job; she walked students through how she worked her way up in the field against fierce competition. Her first job was a production assistant for WUSA in Washington D.C., in the reporter trainee program, where she did behind the scenes work, such as conducting interviews and writing stories for the news anchors to report. 

Santaniello speaks with the class about her rise to the News Anchor position at WCCO.

From there, she worked for WETM-TV in Elmira, New York, where she anchored the weekend news. Then she moved on to WNEP-TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania as a reporter and anchor. Lastly, before she made the decision to move to Minnesota and take her first evening news position, she anchored the weekend news at WTIC-TV in Hartford, Connecticut.

“I have moved around a lot over the years,” expressed Santaniello. “When I was offered the WCCO news anchor position, I thought it was the perfect place to settle down, get married, and have kids.”

Santaniello used her extensive experience in journalism to share wisdom with those students considering a similar path. She told the journalism class that news anchors have to be able to think on their feet, go with the flow, and be outgoing. She also warned that people in these careers need thick skin to ignore unexpected amounts of backlash. From receiving negative emails about her outfit to how she may have not covered a story well, Santaniello had to draw on personal strength to not let it affect her mindset.

“Something I never expected about my job is how thick your skin has to be,” explained Santaniello. “You just have to move on and not let it affect you.”

Santaniello’s relatable nature and personal stories made it easy for students to envision themselves in her position.

Journalism students listen intently to Santaniello’s presentation.

“I was really grateful to have the ability to put myself in her shoes and see how I would fare in her job,” stated journalism student, Ella Flynn, ‘22. “The most helpful part was when she listed skills that were extremely helpful in her career; that allowed me to think about what I want to do when I’m older.” 

Adam Schmalzbauer, Chair of PA’s English Department, also attended Santaniello’s presentation and recalled the impression she made on the students. “Amelia Santaniello served as an inspiration to the young journalists; she was a great source for learning about the journalism field.”

From giving great advice about finding a meaningful career path, to sharing her journey in the field, Santaniello had a clear impact on the students by helping them develop their picture of real world journalism. 

Hula Hooping, Hop Scotch, and Hot Dogs

The Sock Hop is known throughout Providence as a night filled with poodle skirts, leather jackets, and all things 1950’s. This event was in full swing Saturday night as Lower Schoolers danced the night away. It proved itself to be so much more than just a themed event, even though it was thought that it would be less popular after last year’s cancellation.

Mr. Wagner hands out lollipops to winners of the raffle.

The Sock Hop made a comeback! Despite concerns, more students attended than ever before. The event committee was expecting to have around 300 attendees and ended up having 450 people sign up to attend. It was the best turn out in Sock Hop history.

“Coming off the dynamics of last year, the Sock Hop simply gives kids the opportunity to be amongst others their age,” noted Mrs. Mallory Busacker, chair of the Sock Hop and first grade parent. “It gives them the chance to look up to and learn from older students, befriend younger students, and intermix with new and future friends.”

The number of attendees was not the only thing to come back in full force. Many familiar 50’s-themed decorations and activities brought life to the event. A conga line snaked across the retro-designed Great Room and Limbo and Hula Hooping contests drew a majority of the lower schoolers into the fun. In between all the festivities, Custodian Mr. John Wagner hosted a raffle that continued throughout the night and the winners received lollipops.

The Sock Hop not only cultivates community in the Lower School, but also gives students, siblings, and parents a night to enjoy themselves and spend time with peers outside of the classroom. They get to talk with friends about cool 50’s costumes and cheer each other on during coordinated games and activities.

Smiles from enthusiastic lower schoolers make it clear the Sock Hop was a raging success. Back row, from left: Axel Dattilo (1st grade), Wells Martin (3rd grade), Hunter Dattilo (3rd grade), Calvin Connelly (3rd grade), Kail Wiatrowski (3rd grade), David Sanborn (3rd grade). Front, from left: Peter Sanborn (Kindergarten), Fletcher Wiatrowski (Kindergarten)

 “I really enjoyed running around and spending time with my friends,” expressed third grader Wells Martin. “It was so much fun!”

“I have attended the Sock Hop every year,” glowed Mrs. Robyn Steinbrueck, First Grade Teacher.  “I love going because it is such a great family event.  Everyone dresses up, dances, and just has such a great time!  Mr. Wagner is an incredible DJ, and he really makes the event a lot of fun for the kids.”

Whether you end up a winner of the hula hoop contest or you are an older sibling hoping to join in on the fun, the Sock Hop is the perfect way to kick off Catholic Schools Week.

This Just In: Mr. Jaeger Now Permanent Director of Upper School

From building relationships with teachers to greeting people in the hallways, Mr. Kurt Jaeger, now permanent Director of the Providence Academy Upper School, made a great first impression in his first semester as the interim head of Upper School. Jaeger’s short term position was meant to be a bridge between Mrs. Harrington, former Director of Upper School, and a future face in the office, but Headmaster Dr. Todd Flanders announced in his “Headmaster’s Blog” on December 6, 2021, Jaeger’s position will now be permanent. 

Each day, Jaeger can be found talking with students in the atrium between classes and reading school announcements.

“Mr. Jaeger is such a great guy,” glowed Mrs. Kate Gregg, Upper School Administrative Assistant. “I have known him for years and have always had great respect for him. I was very excited to hear that he is now permanent.”

Jaeger could not be more qualified for his new role, given his long history at PA. He served as the Athletic Director for thirteen years and has taught in every division at the school. Jaeger has seen Providence through all of its changes and growth and even his family is deeply ingrained in the community. His children have studied at PA, and his wife, Mrs. Danette Jaeger, teaches third grade in the Lower School. 

“One of the best things about coming back to PA is reuniting past relationships as well as getting to know new faces,” exclaimed Jaeger. 

Jaeger is using his qualifications to make positive changes throughout the Upper School.  In his first semester as the Director, he began checking in with students in the hallways, talking to them at lunch, and communicating more with teachers. 

Mr. Jaeger stands with his 2001-2002 second grade class.

“My favorite aspect of Mr. Jaeger is his friendliness,” stated Olivia Menzel ‘22. “He always makes a point to ask me how my day is going.”

Jaeger’s important position at the school does not come without challenges. The spectrum of his responsibilities – from managing students and teachers to letting parents know that PA will be closing early due to snow – can seem daunting. But Jaeger accomplishes the tasks set before him with ease and compassion, and he cannot wait to see where his new job will take him. 

The PA community is very excited to see where Jaeger leads the Upper School; but one thing is for sure, it is in very good hands and its future is bright.

A Day in the Life of Mr. Jones

“From his energy to his cheerfulness, Mr. Jones is the best,” explained Macallister Clark ‘22, Providence Academy tuba player.

This sentiment is shared by many in the Providence community. Cheerful, caring, and highly competent are three ways to describe the Upper School Band Director, Thomas Jones. 

Mr. Jones assists Ms. Catherine Ratelle with the Upper School Choir during light blue period.

Since he started teaching at Providence nine years ago, Jones has had many different roles. Last year, he served as Middle School Band Assistant, as COVID spacing regulations required the band to be split in half. As a result, Jones taught half of the Middle Schoolers each day, while Middle School Band Director, Mrs. Nicole Clark taught the rest. Jones is also Upper School Choir Assistant this year, helping keep choir students engaged in the songs. He even teaches Lower Schoolers, giving individual lessons to fifth grade brass players on Wednesdays. 

In addition to these many responsibilities, Jones’s day is also filled with either lessons, monthly Aviation Club meetings, or weekly Upper School Jazz Band. In the afternoon, he will supervise his Upper School House Xi or Activity group depending on the day.  And after the 3:15 bell officially ends the school day, Mr. Jones will continue administering lessons or attending meetings. 

The bulk of Jones’s day consists of the individual music lessons. Every band student has the opportunity to meet with him for ten minutes a week. Because of this, Jones will administer anywhere from around nineteen to twenty-five lessons per day. Throughout the week he will teach at least ninety-five lessons. 

“I love working with each student individually,” glowed Jones. “It is so fun to see where each student is at in their musical journey and then be able to take that and comprise it into a band. It is the best part of my job.”

In between all the lessons, Jones gets to fulfill his main role of directing the Upper Symphonic Band for an hour. 

Mr. Jones teaches Gretta Martin ’22 a lesson after school.

“I love being a part of the Upper School Band,” articulated Gretta Martin ‘22, clarinet player. “Mr. Jones always has a positive attitude and makes every rehearsal memorable.”

Despite having an already full schedule, Jones still wants to do more. He likes working with the Symphonic Band so much he wishes he could have longer class periods. He also is advocating for a music course in which students could learn about all the different aspects of music as well as how it developed in different time periods.

No matter whether Jones is working with a student in a music lesson, conducting the band, or running the Aviation Club, the community can be sure that Jones will be on it with his usual energy and enthusiasm.