The Holy Spirit Shining Through: PA Chapel adorned with new Stained Glass Window

First views of the new stained glass window, awaiting installation. PAW photo courtesy of Father Michael McClellan

Students sitting down during mass may have recently been second-guessing themselves or perhaps walking towards the altar noticing something a bit different, and with good reason. The PA Chapel, Chapel of Our Lady of Divine Providence, now holds a new stained glass window, depicting the Holy Spirit as a Dove, shining down on the chapel.

In addition to this visible reminder of an invisible reality, the new window also aids in one of the main purposes of a chapel, to gradually point one’s eyes up to God. The chapel accomplishes this best by the pews guiding worshippers to look towards the altar, then the altar leading them right to the cross and pediment, and now to the new beautiful stained glass window.

The idea of this project was sparked three years ago between Chaplain Father Michael McClellan and Chairman of The Board of Directors, Mr. Robert Cummins. Working to accomplish many goals for the chapel, this recent one was modeled after a similar window in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and re-made here by a stained glass window company, Gaytee-Palmer.

Even though this idea came easily, the process to get it here and the work to put it up was more difficult. Not only has this project, like most other things, suffered COVID-related delays, but it is also an intricate task by nature, even when things run on schedule.

Gaytee-Palmer installers working above the tabernacle earlier this month to put install the stained glass window. PAW photo courtesy of Father Michael McClellan

As one might imagine, installing a window that is itself a work of art, above a pediment, on an altar, above a tabernacle is difficult work. “They came in to do measurements and quickly realized that it was going to be harder than they thought”, recalled McClellan. The installers even had to put in a bunch of scaffolding to even reach the window but the students and staff agree the work was well worth it.

Now that the window has been installed and there are no other plans currently in the works for the chapel, it is important to reflect on the benefits of such additions. “The chapel provides a very rich and holy aesthetic when guiding us into the highest form of prayer,” noted Flanders. “When we are put in a more serious environment, we tend to have a more serious and enlightened understanding,” he continued. The window and other beautiful adornments are more than decorations, they are an invitation to prayer.

A place of worship shapes worship itself. The beauty of the chapel and its physical traits help to open minds to the beauty of the Faith. In reflection, Sam Trombley ’22 added, “All the physical things are there, what’s needed now is for students to be respectful and solemn when we come to Holy Mass. I hope students can [come to] understand the great joy and importance present at every Mass…but change happens slowly; one can only work on their own interior life and not let others bother them.”

A Grand Day For Grandparents

While warmer weather has certainly taken its time coming to the Midwest this spring, a warm welcome was easy to find on the PA campus during the annual Grandparents’ and Special Persons’ Day. On Friday April 22nd Providence Academy Upper School hosted the first Grandparents Day in 3 years! Over the course of two days, between Lower, Middle, and Upper School divisions, PA welcomed nearly 700 guests to campus. Schedules were packed with welcoming and engaging events from start to finish.

Mckennah Anderson’25 seen in a heartwarming greeting with her grandma.

After grandparents were greeted by their students in the PAC lobby and given corsages, each division offered a glimpse of the curriculum, with a spin on lesson plans so guests could engage with current student material.

Lower schoolers worked on art projects, performed a fun Minnesota song, and shared Minnesota facts. Middle school students worked on logic puzzles in math, interviewed Granparents in History to learn “where [they] were when…”, and showed off translation skills in Latin. Upper schoolers put on mini theatrical productions, engaged in debates, and even gave Grandparents and special persons a tutorial on how to use graphic calculators.

PA Faculty Mrs. Claire Roden expressed “We were happy to have such a great turnout, but number of attendees did present some challenges.” Custodial staff worked overtime to make sure classrooms had enough seats while faculty and students parked off site to free up spaces and give special persons red carpet treatment. To help accommodate guests of honor, parents, staff, and even students volunteered to help with photo booths, set up, and tours around the school.

Historically, special guests have enjoyed a famously delicious PA Lunch. One drawback about welcoming so many PA community members on site at the same time is that the PA Great Room couldn’t entertain so many people at once.

Wrede lamented, “Unfortunately, due to the number of people, we had to do away with lunch and take a more coffee and pastries approach.” The inability to dine with guests is certainly a bummer for students and guests alike, but it’s likely that the upward trend in attendees will continue in the future.

With the increase in numbers, staff are looking into other ways to keep the day special and improve the experience for all involved. Looking ahead Mr. Wrede said, “I’m hoping in later years lower school students will perform in some way for their grandparents in the PAC.” He added, “I would love to bring back the opportunity for teachers and specialists to interact with grandparents.”

Ellie and Chase Millerbernd with their grandparents Michael and Barb Stence.

First-grade teacher (and PA parent), Mrs. Sarah Millerbernd is no stranger to the events of Grandparents’ Day. “My parents have come to visit for Grandparents’ Day for 14 years, but I think this year was more special due to not having it these past couple of years.”

Millerbern reflected, “I think it is very important for Grandparents/special persons to see where these kids spend a majority of their time every day.”

Mrs. Carol Berg, grandmother of Clare Kistler ’24 echoed her sentiments. Berg shared, “The best part of being here was getting to spend time with Clare in such a beautiful place.” Kistler is new to PA this year and enrolled in Moral Theology as well as Studio Art II.

Clare Kistler with her grandparents Mr. and Mrs. Berg visiting with a family friend (and PA parent) Mrs. Jennifer Tomaschko

“My grandparents really enjoyed talking to Dr. [Arthur] Hippler because my uncle attended Thomas Aquinas College with him, but I really enjoyed showing them the Art Studio,” Kistler remarked.

“We love to see how far the school goes to make us feel welcome and loved. The beauty and faith of this school gives us hope,” concluded Berg.

A Snowball of Sled Races

While many may be down and disappointed about the snow lingering as we approach spring, students at Providence Academy are taking advantage of the cold weather through the annual sled races. On Wednesday, March 9th , sleds lined the snow for the second time in Providence history, guaranteeing competitive matches and memorable moments.   

Bree Ongoro ’23, Kira Cmiel ’23, Rylie Schoenfelder ’24, and Grace Petzold ’23 on the sidelines watching the finals races before going in to enjoy some hot cocoa. Photo Credit: Anika Austvold

“The sled race gives upperclassmen a chance to bond and get to know the underclassmen”, said House Leader Helen Foley ‘22. 

Head of Boys’ Houses Mr. Blonski stated that the initial idea for the sled races was an opportunity for all talents to shine. Not only did freshmen have the opportunity to beat seniors, but those who are more artistically than athletically inclined could still tie for House Points. Artistic ability, planning skills, and creativity are essential for Houses to get points for sled decoration. 

This year, students took creativity to the next level. There are not any specific rules on what you can ride as your “sled”, so students were happy to fill in the blanks. The snowy soccer field was filled with bins, tubes, snowboards, and even bikes as parts of different House sleds. 

Foley supported students’ ability to be creative saying, “I would even say that Houses shouldn’t be disqualified if they don’t decorate their sled, It’s a perfectly valid and strategic decision to not decorate in hopes your sled will be faster”. 

House leader Ronan Flanigan ‘22 agreed, “If there was one thing I could change it would be that anything goes and can qualify to race.” 

Time will tell if these considerations will take effect for future rules governing the races. To date, there have still been great memories made. Once students put their creations on the starting line, life-long memories began. 

Members of Xi house crossing the finish line during the finals to bring home the unexpected win.

Many have committed to memory the image of classmates faceplanting or being thrown from a sled pulled right out from under them.

Flanigan reflected, “My favorite memory was last year, watching all of the freshmen come up with ideas for designs.”

Though the winners of the design contest have not yet been announced, the bar for ingenuity and creativity has certainly been set for future sledders.

A Concert to Remember

“Yankee Fanfare”, “Songs of Soldiers”, “American Heroes”. “The Star Spangled Banner”, “Lincoln at Gettysburg”, “This is My Country”: These are songs that one thinks of as patriotic, which was fitting for the Providence Academy Veterans’ Day concert Thursday, November 11. This year, Providence was able to hold its heartwarming Veterans’ Day concert for the first time since COVID restrictions. 

The concert began with a short introduction from Headmaster Dr. Flanders, thanking veterans not only for their attendance, but also for their service. Each of the songs played have different special meanings on the field, but a true fan favorite is “American Heroes,” the concluding song of the concert. This medley contains a hymn from each branch of the military. As the song played, veterans in the audience were encouraged to stand when they heard their branch’s song, in order to be recognized for their service.  Then, in the final portion of “American Heroes,” the band began to play “America the Beautiful” and sang along. 

Even though the band rehearsed these songs day after day, it’s hard for students to grasp the effect they have on those who have served our country.

Michael Johnson, Providence dad and former Master Sergeant of the Air Force, said, “The first time I heard the Air Force song outside of serving was at a Providence Academy band concert. The patriotism was part of the reason I chose this school for my family.” 

The way music has different effects on people is truly beautiful. Songs can represent so many different things and even people. Johnson has a friend who was in the Air Force band and played “Taps” whenever a soldier passed away. “Music represented a lot and tied people together even in differences,” said Johnson.

Upper school band director Thomas Jones and the Providence Academy band stand for recognition after the final song, “American Heroes” at the Veterans’ Day Concert November 11.

Even some Providence alumni who served in our military played in past concerts themselves. Susanna Trombley, a Captain currently stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina used to play clarinet for Providence Academy’s band, and her picture hangs on the Wall of Honor located in the Great Room. “I think it’s especially important that students are taught these songs because it’s teaching kids there is a meaning behind this music and it teaches them not to take everything for granted since there was such a big sacrifice for our freedom,” commented Trombley.

The hearts and minds the band touched last Thursday was truly a sight to see, and the concert showed our appreciation, love and respect for veterans. 

Sleek Senior Spike

 When the class of ‘22 graduates, the Lady Lions volleyball team will have some shoes to fill.  Lady Lions volleyball coach and former collegiate competitor Ms. Erika Greene describes the six seniors on this year’s squad as having “strong leadership and energy roles” as well as being “great contributors to the team.”  Those qualities were clearly on display last Tuesday night October 12 when the Lady Lions hosted their last home game of the season against Mounds Park Academy. The lady Lions fell 0-3 but not without a fight, putting their record at 7-10 headed into sectionals.

Senior night started off the traditional way with a prayer, the national anthem, and recognition of each senior by name. As the younger players cheered from the sidelines, Maria Counts, Paige Meadows, Elle Wiederholt, Kylie Onserio, Anna Leuer, and Liz Mogere made their way to the front center of the court. The team’s seniors surely felt the crowd’s appreciation of their hard work this season and throughout the careers at Providence.  Even though the Lady Lions didn’t walk away Tuesday night with a win, this season has still been one to remember and brought cause for celebration of other accomplishments.

Kylie Onserio ’22 winds up to serve against Mounds Park Academy on Senior Night at PA Tuesday, October 12.

Greene emphasized, “One of our goals this year was working on consistent team playing rather than individual playing.” The Lady Lions not only met this goal but surpassed it. Their collaborative efforts on the court led to their winning second in Conference and going into Sections this November. These players not only showed Greene they were capable of reaching their goals, but demonstrated several different things throughout the season such as lessons on determination, energy, and leadership.

Lady Lions stand in pre game huddle getting ready to put up a great fight against Mounds Park Academy in their last home game of the regular season.

Another triumph of this group is the acceptance of everyone on the team. The varsity squad represents 8th through 12th graders; with such a wide age range, team bonding can be challenging. Looking back over the season and the team’s dynamic, Greene said, “I was surprised at how close the team was off the court.” The girls could often be seen talking, laughing, and hugging in the halls throughout the school day.

Connections, respect, and collaboration may not come naturally to players across so many grade levels, but this group of girls only saw each other as part of the same team, rather than divided by grades.

Meadows’ encouragement, advice, and hope for all the younger players is to, “ just soak up every single moment of the sport you love, but also all aspects of school.” She continued, “Providence provides so many opportunities that come along with meeting some of the best people, and everyone should take those opportunities.”

Meadows concluded, “As far as volleyball goes, continue to build tight bonds with your teammates in all different grades because it brings a new aspect to your life that you will cherish forever!’