Fall Coffee House Showcases Student Talent

Coffee House in the Providence Upper School gives students a nice chance to unwind and also express their talents. This fall, 11 acts performed for the fall Coffee House, from a rock and jazz band, to pianists, to singers, and even violinists. 

The performances were undoubtedly the highlight of the evening, however the performers’ sources of inspiration and the significance of their talents also made an impact on those in attendance. 

Tabitha Roles, ‘26, explained, “Music is fun for me, and it makes me proud to sing a song and share my gift with others at the Coffee House. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to.”  

Ruby Marcotte, ’26, and Elizabeth Maiser, ’26 perform on the piano and cello.

With many veteran performers off to bigger stages, fresh new talent from PA’s Freshman class had the opportunity to join the lineup. Axewell Nyabere, a rookie performer, gave a unique piano solo performance titled “Strangers’ Echoes.” 

Axewell reflected on preparing for his performance, “I was nervous, but also excited because I had a clear end goal in mind.” 

Others like Maria Dailey, were no stranger to the Great Room stage. Dailey, who participated in Coffee House last year,  sang “Shrike.”  “I really love to sing and I hope to spread the joy I feel when I perform with the people in the audience,” she expressed.

For many students, the Coffee House provided a great way for the community to come together and make them feel supported. Aidan Flynn, ‘24,  sang “Lean On Me.” 

Jacob Olson, ’25, impresses the crowd with his guitar playing and singing talents.

“Outside of playing in the jazz band, this was my first time performing at Coffee House. I enjoy the support from the PA community that comes with performing, and the experience has helped me by giving me an opportunity to show friends and family something that I’m passionate about,” he noted.  

Nathan Ward, ‘24,  performed a piano solo entitled “Praise The Lord.” 

Ward said,  “I enjoyed the opportunity to perform for the Providence Academy community, and to have the opportunity to see and hear the talents of my peers.  There are so many talented people within our school, and Coffee House really provides a great way for us as a community to come together through music, as well as for us as students to support each other.”

Tune-ing into the Sacred Concert

The November 8th Sacred Concert, put on every year by the choir, and this year accompanied by the orchestra, is a concert in which students and families can praise God through voices and various instruments. In accordance with this year’s theme of meditation on scripture, every song was picked with scripture verses in mind. 

Mrs. Beth Wolfe, Strings Teacher, explained, “Music is a God-given gift, and a gift we should give away in the spirit of healing the world. When you play good music that has a sacred base, you get in touch with the creative energy of God.”

For many, the sacred concert is a chance to take a break from the busyness of their everyday life, and dedicate a moment to be grateful for what God has given us. Ms. Kelsey Wessels, Upper and Middle School choir teacher, said, “The sacred concert is special because it is not only a chance to celebrate the music God has given us, but to also celebrate Him.”

The orchestra plays while being conducted by Mrs. Beth Wolfe.

When it came to the choir and orchestra performing together, both Wolfe and Wessels loved that they had the opportunity to do so. 

“One of the positive aspects of playing together,” said Wolfe, “is that we can learn a lot from each other. The orchestra can learn how singers emote from their music, and the choir can learn from us about precision and what it takes to play together on a string instrument.” 

Having both the choir and orchestra play together was not only a special experience for these teachers, but also a great moment for the students. 

Nathan Ward, ‘24, a choir student, commented, “It was a really neat experience because it created a strong sound that was beautiful.”

Additionally, strings student Alyssa Condon, ‘23, enjoyed both playing with the choir and having the audience sing along.

Some highlights from the sacred concert were when the choir performed, ”Look at the World” by John Rutter, and when the orchestra played “Fantasia” by Tomas Tallis. In addition to this, there was a beautiful piece sung by the choir while two violinists played along. 

Wessels reflected, “The song ‘My Shepherd Will Supply My Need’ had a six part vocal split, so when the string soloists played at the same time the choir sang, it held together fantastically.” 

Following the concert, Wessels and Wolfe felt incredibly proud of their students, due to their hard work paying off. 

Wolfe commented, “Every concert is a surprise and every concert gives more than I thought it would. The choir and orchestra did so many things well that it’s a good base to have as our main goal and as a measuring stick for future concerts.” 

The Sacred Concert was a great experience for both the choir and orchestra, and they look forward to doing it again in years to come.

Honoring our Veterans Through Music

How can one truly define what we owe veterans? At the beginning of this year’s Patriotic concert, Symphonic Band Director, Mr. Thomas Jones, quoted, “A veteran–whether active duty, discharged, retired, or reserved–is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including his or her life.” 

On Thursday November 10th, the Providence Academy Symphonic Band, along with Mr. Jones, took the PAC stage for a night to remember all who have served in the military. The Patriotic Concert has become an annual tradition during the week of Veterans’ Day, and is a rewarding time to recognize veterans and their contributions to the United States. 

The night began with a prayer and introduction by Headmaster, Dr. Todd Flanders, thanking all of our veterans for their attendance and for their service to our country. The concert was filled with entertaining songs such as, “A Nation’s Prayer”, “Stars and Stripes Forever”, and “Thunderbolt”. The concert concluded with a fan favorite, “American Heroes”. As the song played, veterans in the audience were encouraged to stand when their branch’s song was played, to be recognized for their service. Finally, during the last section of “American Heroes”, the band played “America the Beautiful” and the audience beautifully sang along. 

Providence Academy believes that it is very important to put on this concert every year. Jones conveyed, “We are reaching a time in our country’s history where patriotic concerts are becoming less popular and this ideal of nationalism and patriotism is being lost. I think it is so important that we at PA preserve our heritage.” 

Jones went on to say, “We at PA are not endorsing one political party or another. What we are doing is saying that we are unified as a country and no matter what challenges we face, we are going to need to face them together.”

PA parent and Army Veteran, Katie Heubschen, remarked, “I am so honored that Providence takes the time to recognize veterans, and it is also very special to look around and see others who have served.”

The concert was a perfect way to celebrate the exceptional men and women who served our country and to show our true appreciation for their sacrifices.

Farewell Mrs. Harrington

Teacher, Coach, Director, Mother. Mrs. Kelly Harrington has assumed all those roles throughout her seventeen years at PA. And now, Harrington will embark on a new journey as Director of grades 6-12 at Hill-Murray School in St. Paul. Though she will be deeply missed, Harrington takes beautiful memories with her while she leaves an incredible legacy with all she has accomplished during her time within the ‘yellow walls.’ 

Harrington made the decision to move to Hill-Murray School on behalf of her family. For multiple years now, her three children have been at three different schools and it has become increasingly difficult to manage everyone’s schedule. 

“I really wish I could stay at PA,” articulated Harrington, “I love it here, and it is so hard for me to leave. This is a decision I had to make for my family and it is truly what was best for all of us.”  

Harrington has taught in all three divisions at PA–Lower, Middle, and Upper school–and has loved every part of it. She started her career at PA in the Lower School as a fourth grade instructor.

A warm memory from a cold day, Harrington recalled a funny present from Mr. John Wagner in her fourth grade classroom.  Wagner delivered a real snowman in her room while she was out. (PAW Photo credit, Kelly Harrington)

“She has always been my right hand,” commented Mrs. Nancy Galgano, Lower School Director. “She never stopped working, even when she was on her maternity leaves. I had to remind her what a leave was! She just cared so much about her job as well as her students.”

Harrington then coordinated pre-K for a year before moving to the Middle School wing, where she served as Director and history teacher. Her most recent title will be the last she holds at PA as Upper School Director.

Though known for her dedication to PA’s faculty and administration, Harrington has also made significant contributions to athletic programs, a natural outlet, given her passionate involvement in student life.  She has coached softball and volleyball in the course of her tenure at PA. 

In 2004, Harrington took the position of JV Volleyball coach with Physical Education teacher, Mrs. Colleen Carron, who began teaching at PA the same year as Harrington. They coached volleyball together for two years and then, in the spring of 2006, Harrington started the softball program while Carron was her JV team coach. Carron and Harrington have coached a total of five years together and become very close friends.

 “Though this is not the end of our relationship, what I will miss most about being around her often is her ability to make me laugh and her support through life’s ups and downs,” lamented Carron. “I will also miss her passion for students and their education; they have always been her priority.” 

Carron and Harrington have experienced a number of milestones in their lives throughout their friendship:  not only have they started two sports teams and a chapter of their teaching career together, they have also endured pregnancy at the same time.

Carron and Harrington (center) pose for a picture with their 2005-2006 Volleyball team. (PAW Photo credit, Kelly Harrington)

With children only fourteen days apart, Harrington and Carron have enjoyed sharing stories and experiences as they have journeyed through motherhood together while still investing in the lives of their students and their own professional development.

Carron recalled a funny story that neither she nor Harrington will ever forget. During a fire drill, then fourth grade teacher Harrington told her students not to talk. What she didn’t know was that there was a snake on her foot. Her obedient pupils did not tell her about the overly friendly reptile. Carron can still recall the expression on Harrington’s face when she saw her new companion.

A woman who has worn many hats, Harrington will be greatly missed by everyone in the Providence community. As she begins a new chapter, students and faculty alike wish her the best of luck in her next adventure at Hill-Murray. 

A New Tune: Christmastime in the Lower School

Every Christmas season, voices of Lower School students fill the Performing Arts Center during their annual Christmas concerts. Because of COVID-19’s restrictions, Lower School music teachers, Mrs. Maureen Woeltge and Mrs. Adrienne Johnson, have had to make some adjustments to these traditional festivities. 

Amidst the musical changes of this year is the new format of this year’s Christmas concerts. Rather than performing live in front of an audience of parents, each Lower School class recorded a video of some Christmas carols. Students recorded their songs six feet apart in the Performing Arts Center, with masks on. Some of these festive songs included Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, Silent Night, White Christmas, and Here Comes Santa Claus. The videos will be sent out to parents for an at-home viewing of the virtual concert. 

Mrs. Beth Reopelle, a fifth grade teacher and parent of fourth grader Camille Reopelle, commented, “Every adult can remember performing in concerts or Nativity plays growing up, and as parents, we long to have our children make those memories.” She continued, “I think that parents are encouraged to see Christmas through the eyes of a child as they watch performances.”

Students prepared for their concerts in creative ways that go beyond singing. Like the performances, classes are largely similar to those of past years, yet students rehearse six feet apart and there is minimal singing. Students also participate in musical games, one of which involves boomwackers, which are musical instruments that help students practice the rhythm of a song. Mrs. Woeltge, the second-fifth grade music teacher, reflected,“It’s challenging not always singing in class. We have some singing, it just is never the focal point.”

In another effort to keep the Christmas spirit alive, Mrs. Woeltge’s students are also learning about the Nutcracker and will have an opportunity for a Christmas sharing day, where students can share music with their classes.

Mrs. Woeltge’s fourth grade students rehearse during music class with boomwackers, which make up for the minimal amount of singing done in class.

Despite the difficulties of this school year, there is still a heavy presence of learning and fun in the classroom.  Mrs. Johnson, who teaches kindergarten and first grade music, stated, “My favorite part of teaching in general is watching the excitement of the students as they discover new songs, learn lyrics, play games and just plain have fun in the music room.”

Mrs. Woeltge leads her fourth grade music class in rehearsal.

Johnson also commented, “Lower School music classes are singing our way through the pandemic and having a jolly fun time singing holiday favorites.” Her classes are taking this time to discover new and exciting songs, one of which is called, “When Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney”, and has become a classroom favorite. 

Between Christmas carols and musical games, the Lower School is surely singing its way through the Christmas season here at PA.