The reason for the season

Secularists have turned Christmas from a Christian-valued celebration of the birth of Jesus, to a commercial holiday.

Currently, 157 countries out of 196 celebrate Christmas. Although popular, Christmas celebrations happen differently across countries.

Here in the U.S., Americans associate this season with Christmas trees, eggnog, lots of presents and maybe Santa Claus. Christmas also enables families to come together to share presents and enjoy the company of both friends and family.

Providence Academy students similarly share in the popular Christmas tradition.

Grace Klassen ‘18 describes her typical Christmas as, “opening gifts, eating lots of food, and singing songs about loved ones, the winter, and mythical snowmen that come to life”

Many, including Christians, would argue that the joyful atmosphere of Christmas disproves the claim of the secular Christmas and emphasizes more on Christian values.

Nevertheless, these “secular” celebrations ignore the main focus of the holiday, the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Thomas Clark ‘18 similarly recognizes Christmas today as a more secular holiday.

“Sadly yes, [Christmas] has become more for present opening than for celebrating our Lord’s birth,” Clark said. “People have lost the sense of what Christmas is really about.”

Christians who continue to preserve the true significance of this holiday are also at risk of falling into the commercial mentality. Retailers use advertisements, among other things, to lure people into a commercial mentality that shifts the focus of Christmas from the celebration of Jesus’ birth to other “priorities”, for instance, shopping for presents.

How can Christians avoid this imposed commercial mentality and focus more on keeping Christ in Christmas?

Participating in Advent, the time leading up to Christmas, spiritually prepares Christians for the celebration of the birth of Christ and detaches Christians from the secular Christmas.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church teaches, “by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming”

Dr. Hippler and his family, participate in the crèche, a visible reminder of the series of events that lead up to the birth of Christ, our Savior.

He said, “up in our house, built over the fireplace is a mantle and there’s this big space where most people would put their T.V but that is where my wife would put the créche.”

“The créche is a big thing for us, putting in baby Jesus on Christmas,” Dr. Hippler continued.

Lastly, other than present shopping for others, Christians may focus on giving a very special or even personal, gift to God. Examples of these gifts include, giving something up or spending time with God daily either through reading his word or prayer. Involving others in these gifts, opens up a chance for a true Christmas celebration with Christ as the center of the holiday.

Finding a great dress: she planned, she searched, she shopped, she conquered


Finding a great dress can arise as a more challenging task than expected.

Girls have no option but to consider many aspects that might come in conflict with finding the perfect dress for either homecoming, prom or any other social event that requires a dress and heels.

Length, as an example, might make the dress hunt nearly impossible. Especially today, with new fashion trends, that promote shorter dresses for events rather than knee-length or even gown dresses.

“I’d want to feel good in something new and experience that,” said Megan Stewart ‘16.

Three phases that may help in finding a successful dress that’d not only keep up to fashion trends but also, simplify the dress hunt include planning, the first phase in the dress hunt.

“If I started looking for a dress three weeks before the dance, it would probably take me like a week to find one that I loved and fit PA’s standards,” said Maureen Burns ‘18.

Early planning allows time to figure out what type of dress a person would like and also time for shipping and other things that could possibly delay the arrival of the dress.

When planning also take into consideration the event which aids in determining a suitable dress.

Last September, the annual Homecoming Dance incorporated a semi-formal theme. Both male and female attendees dressed in perfect attire that blended well with the theme.

Dress planning leads a person to the second step in the dress hunt, the searching phase.

Erika Homan ‘19 recommends, “looking for a dress 2-3 weeks before the dance.”

Browsing through stores either online or physically narrows the extensive search to a group of likes and dislikes, which lessens the stress of finding a great dress.

A few stores that PA ladies suggest include Lulu’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom or Maurice’s. Online stores such as Rent the Runway also have great dresses.

After searching through a variety of dresses, conclude the dress hunt by shopping for the dress, the final step in the dress hunt. Dress shopping tends to become overwhelming because of the numerous selections of dresses available.

Isabella Halek ‘17 states, “it takes me a very long time to find a dress.”

Therefore, one should allow plenty of time for this phase. Shopping does not include walking into a store and finding the exact thing in mind. Stores might have something similar but not specific. Moreover, being opened minded to other dresses, reduces the amount of time spent shopping.

Paris B in her blog ‘My Women My Stuff’ says, “I like having a second opinion, especially if I’m feeling on the fence about a particular item.”

Bringing either a family member or friend with to the store smooths the shopping stage. They most likely understand your taste and know what things you dislike, therefore, would majorly contribute to helping you identify, which dresses suite work best.

These three steps not only ensures a time-saving hunt but also a more fulfilling experience that concludes the dress hunt with an incredibly suitable, maybe even perfect, dress for the event.

Life at PA as a foreign exchange student


Laura Jimenez
Laura Jiménez with her PA host family. (Submitted photo)

Providence Academy welcomed four new foreign exchange students from Madrid, Spain at the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

For three years, PA has had the privilege of receiving between four and five exchange students. This school year, the four exchange students Ana Carillo, Laura Jiménez, Cristina Arcones and Diego Jaureguizar joined the sophomore class.

According to U.S. news, “the number of foreign students coming to the U.S. increased by eight percent in the 2013-14 school year compared with 2012-13.”

Most foreign exchange students apply through a school program or an organization which offers studying abroad opportunities. Ana, Laura, Cristina and Diego applied through their school program, which gave them options to study in different American schools.

“The school gave us the opportunity to be an exchange student, said Laura Jiménez. “The only thing that we needed to have were good grades and behavior.”

Cristina Arcones
Cristina Arcones with her PA host family. (Submitted photo)

Studying abroad not only builds new friendships but also opens students to experiencing different cultures and aids in understanding themselves better. Taylor Caruso ‘17 first met Ana during the Spain trip that happened last summer in June.

“I got to know her pretty well before she actually arrived in Minnesota,” Caruso said. “I was not that worried [about being her host] because Ana and I kept in contact all summer.”

Life in Spain is different from the cold, busy and construction-full Minnesotan life. Madrid experiences dry weather all year round, and temperatures in the winter only drop as low as 46 degrees unlike the negative degree weather endured every winter.

Diego explains, “the only thing I miss is probably the weather we have in Spain, because it is less cold and more of a summer weather”

Other than the weather, Spanish culture is very different to Minnesotan culture.

“There are a lot of differences from the schools in Spain and in Minnesota,” Christina said. “The biggest one is that teachers go to the student’s class, the students don’t switch classes. Another thing is that Spanish schools usually finish at four or five, and we have an hour and a half for lunch and recess.”

Diego Jaureguizar
Diego Jaureguizar with his PA host family. (Submitted photo)

Here in Minnesota, depending on the school, public or private, school ends roughly between two and four o’clock. Most schools in Minnesota have students change classes to have a different setting or atmosphere.

Sports are another major difference between Spanish and Minnesotan culture. Here in the states, football is played by using hands to control the ball whereas in Europe the term football refers to what is mostly known as soccer and American football as rugby. The foreign exchange students have to adapt to this new culture of referring to soccer instead of European football.

Diego, Cristina, Ana and Laura have also experienced a few Minnesota specialities such as visiting the State fair and Mall of America.

“I went to the State Fair and Mall of America, which were so much fun,” Ana said. “And school football games, which we do not have in Spain, are lots of fun too.”

Ana, Cristina and Laura have all had one of their siblings go through the same exchange program. Cristina’s older sister, Lucia Arcones, came to Providence with last year’s foreign exchange group. Whereas, Ana’s older brother and Laura’s sister came two years ago.

Ana Carillo with her PA host family. (Submitted photo)
Ana Carillo with her PA host family. (Submitted photo)

“My parents asked me if I wanted to go and since my sister Lucia and the other exchange students had a great time, I accepted” said Cristina.

Providence would also like to offer PA students an opportunity to have a similar experience as the foreign exchange students. At some point this year, three tenth grade students will have a chance to go Spain and enjoy it’s amazing culture, as well as, experience life as a foreign exchange student.

Señora Joelynn Lahr states, “By the time [the program] is in print, students will learn more.”

Being a foreign exchange student is not easy, because a person may have to adapt to the lifestyle of a community. Alternatively, exchange programs open opportunities to experience new things which not only establish friendships but also inspires growth.