Welcome Back to Journalism!

It’s that time of the year again! The air becomes crisp, the once green leaves fade into bright and unusual colors, and the world begins to look like something out of a romantic painting or the poems of Robert Frost. The school year is starting, and that means that a fresh crop of journalists are ready to bring their creativity and interests to the PAW.

Tess Klammer

One of two newcomers to PA on staff, Tess Klammer (‘24) is thrilled to debut her writing talent for the PA school paper. “I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I find it fun,” she enthused. When she isn’t busy playing the trumpet or reading Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Tess is an avid Disney fan who is partial to the villains as well as Peter Pan.

Jonathan Munene

What’s better than having one new student who’s also a freshman on the PAW staff? Having two new students who are freshmen on the PAW staff! Jonathan Munene (‘24) joins the journalism class with a bright smile on his face and a passion for improving his writing and the readership of the PAW. “I’m looking forward to getting people interested in what I’m writing about,” he stated. Outside of the pressroom, Jonathan participates in the robotics club as well as playing violin in the PA Consortium.

Olivia Eck

After a year of honing her critical thinking skills in debate, Olivia Eck (‘22) is excited to be joining the ranks of the journalism class as one of the four new journalists. Similar to journalism, debate requires gathering information to present to an audience, making it perfect for a former debater. Aside from her intellectual curiosity and pursuits, Olivia has a deep love of cupcakes, running her own cupcake business; travelling, with plans to join the Language department for their trip next year to Ecuador; and coffee. 

Emma Speier

Rounding out the newbies for 2020-21, Emma Speier (‘22) joins the PAW staff after hearing great reviews from her peers about the class. “I just can’t wait to write my first article and see it on the website,” she admitted excitedly. Outside of her exploration of the journalistic world, Emma enjoys hanging out with friends and family, playing tennis, and reading fiction, specifically the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series.

Gretta Martin

After a triumphant year of chronicling the life and times of our beloved Lower School and covering admissions events to boot, Gretta Martin (‘22) returns to the PAW staff for another great year. “I enjoyed last year, it was a great way to learn about the events happening on campus,” she stated. “It’s also a great opportunity to learn important life skills like interviewing,” she added. When she isn’t busy playing the clarinet for band, Gretta enjoys playing with her dog, Millie, and reading historical fiction.

Stephanie Oschner

Most people associate journalism with hard deadlines and candid journalists, but Stephanie Oschner (‘22), has a brighter memory regarding the process. “I enjoyed the inside jokes we had as a class and the fun topics we got to cover, so I’m looking forward to more of that this year,” she commented brightly. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys babysitting, knitting, watching Riverdale and Gilmore Girls, and making friendship bracelets. However, it isn’t all fun and games for Stephanie. She also has a fear of roller coasters, to the point where she actually passed out on the infamous Renegade at Valley Fair.

Emma Wohlwend

There’s nothing like giving back to the community at PA, whether it’s through Lions for Life or PACMAN, and Emma Wohlwend (‘22) is excited to be back in journalism and chronicling it all. “It’s great to be able to enjoy school events while also being able to cover them for the PAW. It’s a win win!” she enthused. Some of her favorite sports to watch for Providence are girls’ soccer and basketball. However, in spite of her deep enjoyment of the humanities of writing, Emma has a special place in her heart for math, namely calculus. “In math there’s always a clear answer, and there’s no room for ambiguity,” she explained.

Adrianna Azarian

As one of the PAW’s two junior editors this year, Adriana Azarian is no stranger to the PAW. “I really like writing, specifically creative writing, it’s a great hobby, and a mark of a well rounded individual,” she shared. When she isn’t busy covering the latest PA scoop, Adrianna enjoys history class, specifically US History with Mr. Hester. “I’m a proud American, and it’s great to learn about our country’s history,” she said proudly. Outside of school, she also likes to play with her dog, Daisy.

Ella Flynn

Rounding out this year’s PAW staff roundup is the second of the two junior editors, Ella Flynn (‘22). “I’m a big grammar nerd, so I’m excited to geek out about writing this year as an editor,” she stated. In her free time, Ella enjoys reading anything she can get her hands on, as well as playing her flute with the PA Symphonic band, jazz band, and pit orchestra. She is a proud Ravenclaw, and has a different favorite color for each of her moods.

And of course, no edition of the PAW would be complete without a senior editor. In this case, the very writer of the article herself! But that’s not important. It’s safe to say that with a cast of characters such as these lovely journalists, it’s going to be a good year.

When There’s a Will There’s a Way for Seniors at PA

For many highschoolers, senior year dangles like a carrot, helping underclassmen trudge through three years of various difficulties, eager to take that victory lap. Although many fond memories are made throughout their experience, the memories made during senior year are often the fondest. Senior prom, graduation, and class parties are among the anticipated gatherings of that culminating year.  With the current pandemic, however, many of these cherished events have been put on hold or have been cancelled altogether, much to the dismay of all involved. Providence seniors, however, are making new–and just as lasting–memories.

Father Michael McClellan, Chaplain, and Dr. Todd Flanders, Headmaster, prepare to hand off a gourmet meal to seniors at the Drive By Banquet, Tuesday May 27. PAW photo courtesy of Mrs. Kelly Harrington

Abby Collins ’20 commented. “Personally, I was done with all of my college stuff in March. So I told myself that I could relax a little and enjoy the rest of senior year. Well, be careful what you wish for. I have a little more time to relax but I can’t spend the rest of my senior year with my friends, the way I wanted to”.

In an effort to make senior year memorable in spite of unfortunate circumstances, Providence has made adjustments to the scheduled events and ceremonies to ensure that not a moment of fun is unnecessarily lost.  “The kids just want to be together and celebrate. It’s difficult to honor that and keep everyone safe at the same time,” senior mom Heidi Heim shared.

Seniors have been doing many things to keep in touch and keep the spirits of graduation up. Just this past Tuesday, May 27, the traditional senior banquet was held online after a drive through victory lap where students picked up their gourmet meal to-go. Providence has also made good use of lawn signs for all of the graduating seniors, as well as ensuring that the iconic senior cut outs are still made and sent.

Perhaps the biggest change of all will be the graduation ceremony itself. But, pursuing what Dr. Flanders calls “the art of the possible”, PA will make use of the front lawn and the parking lot for the ceremony and distribution of diplomas, taking the extra measures necessary to comply with current health guidelines and restrictions of gatherings.

Band director Mr. Thomas Jones is already working to have “Pomp and Circumstance” ready for the procession. Jones will gather several band students in the Symphonic Band Honors program to send in recordings of the iconic tune, which he’ll compile in order to make a unique arrangement for the seniors.

These unprecedented times do call for unprecedented creativity, and maybe even a silver lining or two.  Justin Kim ’20 commented, “I like the idea of doing graduation outside. It could be especially nice with good weather”.

Here’s to clear vision, better days ahead, and a silver lining in every cloud for the class of 2020, virtually the best class ever.

Putting Providence in the rear view, but hopefully finding their way back to visit, soon, the class of 2020 gears up for a final send off, next Friday’s first ever PA parking lot graduation. PAW photo courtesy of Mrs. Kelly Harrington

Power Up!

When most people hear the words “volleyball game”, a specific image comes to mind. Matching uniforms, lobbing a ball over a net, the occasional bad call or a close game, and the perfunctory handshake at end of the match.  Why, one might wonder, did the PA gym host a mighty cross between a ninja and the Black Panther, a Macaroni penguin who’s in it to win it, a leprechaun with a sparkly fedora, an individual by the moniker of DJ Salad, and a swashbuckling pirate during last Wednesday’s “volleyball game”?  The answer can only be the annual Junior-Senior boys volleyball match-up in celebration of Catholic Schools Week.

During this beloved tradition of the upper school during CSW, Junior and senior girls volleyball players take it upon themselves to preen, prep, and pump up the boys in their respective grades to take it to the court and in the words of Freddie Mercury “Play the game, play the game, play the game, play the game”. With the short preparation just just to practices prior to the school day, however, it’s out of their hands and it’s anyone’s game.

Seniors make some noise at the beginning of the annual Powerpuff game- the only place in the world where Hawaiians, Uncle Sam, and a leprechaun team up to play volleyball. PAW photo courtesy of Maddie Anderson

That being said, it isn’t necessarily the game that people come for. “We go more so to be entertained by all the yelling and weirdness that ensues,” Liv Bissonette, ‘22 commented.

Weirdness, indeed. While there is a somewhat legitimate game underway, the showmanship is what draws people into the game year after year. With outlandish costumes, bizarre team rituals, and an overall rowdy atmosphere, students get excited for Powerpuff for the sole reason of seeing what the juniors and seniors have up their sleeves this year.  The players live up to fans’ expectations; at one point, a senior pirate proceeded to steal the ball and flee into the throng of frenzied spectators.

Of course, the “themes” of the teams aren’t always purposeful. This year’s juniors made an inadvertent literary connection with their attire, evoking the likes of Piggy, Ralph, and Simon with their tattered garments and war paint. Whether they meant to or not, this year’s junior team would have fit right in with the motley crew of island boys in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.

“We actually didn’t plan it that way”, Alex Doucette, ‘21, admitted. “One person showed up with a shredded uniform; the rest of it followed”.

The seniors weren’t as uniform with their visual “theme”, but it didn’t take away from the fun, quirky atmosphere that their appearance provided. Invoking everything from Uncle Sam to Hawaiian inspired attire, the seniors’ outfits were here, there, and everywhere, and the only true unifying factor was the enthusiasm for the game and the odd, hissing ritual that was performed before the match. What did it mean? One can only wonder.

Senior boys advance towards their adversaries while hissing, with a tactic no doubt intended to intimidate the 11th graders. PAW photo courtesy of Maddie Anderson

Beyond all the antics, the Powerpuff game has a lasting impact on its players. Not only do they get memories to last a lifetime expressing themselves through sports and costumes, but some are even inspired to continue pursuing volleyball, though perhaps with more structure and less costumes.

“Powerpuff made me want to do volleyball in college,” Ikemonso Ayika, ‘20, reflected, “It’s also just a good way to have fun with fellow seniors without getting benched.”

Cheers erupt from the senior sidelines as they successfully score another point. PAW photo courtesy of Maddie Anderson

Great Things Come in Small Packages

Kindness.  No one could have too much of it. Whether it’s a large thing, like a generous donation to charity or just a smile in passing in the halls, selfless gestures have a way of brightening people’s days, no matter the size. For those who wrongly think kindness is a luxury only adults can offer, the Providence Academy lower school recently turned this belief on its head during annual kindness week January 13-17.

Lower school students spread kindness through the halls of PA with small acts of kindness from reading stories to giving out cards to middle and upper schoolers and slipping them under teachers’ doors. With earnest smiles and a joy that exceeds their size, lower schoolers used their time and gifts to make the world a better place and cheer up the student body post Christmas break blues.

Kindness cards aren’t the only way for lower school students to recognize goodness in others. The virtue board in front of the lower school office offers a place for teachers and staff members to recognize virtuous actions in the lower school

Lower school director, Mrs. Nancy Galgano, was more than happy to elaborate on the beginnings of this now beloved week in the lives of PA students. “It started as an idea from some of the current eighth graders,” she remembered, “they would have been in third grade at the time. They wanted to do something kind for their friends and classmates, and ever since, it has grown into an entire week of stories, poems, and projects all reflecting kindness.

It doesn’t take long to see the  positive impact. When walking through the hallways of the lower school, one is greeted with a plethora of drawings from each grade reflecting a different aspect of kindness. Younger students made kindness themed collages while older students wrote poems on the topic, both seeking to capture the one thing in life people can’t get enough of: kindness.

One lower school student reflected on the week of doing good deeds and focusing on kindness. “I think that it’s a good reminder to everyone, especially in the middle of the year.”

Lower School students enjoyed complimentary compliments during kindness week; either sharing a kind phrase with others, or taking the words to heart themselves.

Amidst end of semester projects, college meetings, and the general mid-winter slump many experience in late January, a little kindness goes a long way. A particularly stressed upper school student was able to spare a smile after receiving a Kindness Card. 

Such acts may not  seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but they have the capacity to lead to more kindness. One upper school teacher who found a Kindness Card under their door was so moved that they wanted to spread the good feeling, proceeding to stick it on a student’s desk before class. Several cards have changed hands several times, leading to a good feeling all around the upper and lower schools.  

Whether they are upper, middle, or lower schoolers, the students of PA really know how to promote and promulgate kindness through the school. It radiates in the hallways, and shines through the small things that happen each and every day, whether people see it or not. As St. Theresa of Calcutta once said, “There are no great things; just small things with great love.” 

Much Ado and John Hughes

When many people think of Shakespeare, they think of words they’ve never heard, guys with feathered hats in poofy pants, and jokes that go right over their heads. They might assume it’s “boring” or that only people with “class” can understand what’s happening. However, those who typically find themselves lost amid Shakespeare’s world but attended the Upper School fall play earlier this month had a pleasant surprise. Much Ado About Nothing got a fresh take–or at least a wardrobe change–set in a high school setting circa 1985. 

Costumes looked like something out of a John Hughes movie, and the music–from “Careless Whisper” to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”–brought a familiarity to some parents in the audience. Not a word of the dialogue was changed, but the entire set and costume design looked like something that wouldn’t be out of place in The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, or Sixteen Candles. With huge hair, mall bangs, gaudy eye shadow, and clothes that brought back fond memories for parents, Shakespeare takes on a new life and becomes something a new generation can almost relate to.

Benedick (Ikemonso Ayika) warns his friend Claudio (Adam Huser) against falling into the traps of love as the nosy Messenger (Val Fish) takes studious notes in the background (PAW photo courtesy of Debra Spears).

The show featured several songs any mixtape in the eighties would have featured, including the iconic “Thriller” dance performed by the entire cast, and a curious variation of “Eye of the Tiger” by the male cast. Soulful leading man Claudio (Adam Huser, ‘20) and comical Benedick (Ikemonso Ayika, ‘20) even paid tribute to Claudio’s dead girlfriend Hero (Aly  Marshall, ‘23) with a rendition of “Purple Rain”. While the tunes to all of these were recognizable to anyone in the audience, “Purple Rain” and “Eye of the Tiger” were paired to the original Shakespearean lyrics written into the script, remaining true to the original text while still taking a more modern angle that makes these stories both universal and timeless.  

At prom, Claudio accuses Hero of being disloyal after allegedly watching her confess her love to someone else. He confronts the principal Leonato on the matter as the rest of the student body watches in horror (PAW photo courtesy of Debra Spears).

Emma Ellings, ‘21, who played the role of Don John’s charismatic sister Don Pedro, reflected on the effects of using eighties music in the show, “It kept audiences paying attention and helped them follow the story better”. 

Besides the songs, there were a lot of eighties’ “Easter Eggs” scattered throughout the show that kept people on their toes and looking at the stage. Fans of “Stranger Things” noticed that the costumes vaguely resembled the get-ups worn by the characters in the show, and the dance at the very end of the show was almost a  direct callback to the movie “Footloose”, complete with a half circle that allowed cast members to “strut their stuff” in the center and ending with the iconic lift from “Dirty Dancing”, performed by Adam Huser and Aly Marshall.

After her cousin is disgraced, Beatrice is comforted by Benedick, during which they confess their love for each other and resolve to make things right (PAW photo courtesy of Debra Spears).

“It was great to try and find all of the little hidden “eighties” gems throughout the play,” a Providence parent enthused. “It made the experience fun for all”.

Overall, the play was not as big of a success as some of the musicals, but it still had a good draw thanks to its clever twist.The eighties theme brought in a new aspect to a timeless story, as well as a new audience for the theatre department. Although not an incredibly popular show, this year’s Much Ado was definitely an unforgettable one.