PA’s construction could mean less parking availability

As Providence Academy students drive into school this year, they will look to the west and see a fenced off parking lot and bulldozers digging up the ground. In July, PA took its first step in the long awaited construction project. The financial gifts from PA families and the Make Your Mark – Build The Pride capital campaign made the construction possible.

The expansion is due to be ready by the end of the 2012-2014 school year, and will connect the current building to the future performing arts center.

The expansion will house a conference room, a gathering space for Middle Schoolers, office space for middle school and development staff, and a TV studio for the production of PA communications, student classes, and Providence eLearning products.

The construction has caused the west parking lot, mainly used by upper schoolers and parents, to shrink considerably in size and is likely to cause problems for those planning to park there. In addition, seniors will find it difficult to find a spot in the senior parking lot because the only access to the lot will be via the east driveway by the softball field.

As the class of 2014 is the largest graduating class in PA history, seniors will struggle to park in the north lot because spots will be more limited than they ever have been before.

Brenna Smith ’14 and Heather Leuer ’14 say they believe both the size of PA’s senior class and the construction will cause problems. They say they wish temporary parking would be available to better fit the needs of the seniors and the teachers that will be parking in the senior parking lot this school year.

Until then, though, they plan to arrive earlier at school to find a place for their cars.

“My plan is to get there early, grab some popcorn, and watch people fight,” Leuer said.

PA expands college counseling program with new hire

New college counselor, Mr. Brian Estrada

This year, Providence Academy welcomes a new college counselor. Mr. Brian Estrada comes to us from Hanover, New Hampshire and brings with him nine years of admissions experience.

Born and raised in Texas, Mr. Estrada attended Texas Christian University after high school. As a baritone player, he planned on majoring in Music Performance but graduated a Political Science major.

“On my first day of classes as a TCU music major, I went to music theory and ear training and I had this gut feeling that ‘the other people in this room are much more passionate about music than me,’” he said.

Though disheartening, Mr. Estrada assures us that he played in the marching band all four years.

After his time at TCU, he attended Indiana University where he earned his Masters in Education and shortly after was hired in Nashville, Tennessee.

In Nashville, he worked for Vanderbilt University as an admissions counselor for 4 years starting in 2004. Shortly thereafter he moved to Hanover where he represented Dartmouth College for 5 years.

When asked why he decided to enter the world of college admissions Mr. Estrada said, “It seemed like the most interesting. The job of a college admissions representative is tied very closely to the goals of an institution.”

He was also attracted to the travel, application review, and public speaking necessary in the field.

As an admissions rep, Mr. Estrada read at least 15,00 essays. Though he can’t recall one essay as being the most memorable, he does remember a few that stood out as very funny, poignant, or confidential.

Though he does not carry the formula for creating the perfect admissions essay, Mr. Estrada is excited to begin working with Providence Academy students.

He first visited Providence in 2007. When at Vanderbilt he recruited from Minnesota and was invited by PA Director of Admissions, Mrs. Sarah Hogan, to speak at Junior College Night.

“As a Catholic admissions counselor, my first thought was, ‘How did I not know about this place?’… As an admissions counselor visiting a beautiful school with great students, I had very strong feelings for Providence even as I left for Dartmouth,” said Mr. Estrada.

Now settling down in Minnesota, Mr. Estrada has already begun working with students. This year he will meet with 25% of the seniors and 50% of the sophomores.

Both Mr. Estrada and Mrs. Walker are hopeful that the addition of another counselor will allow the expansion of the College Counseling program to freshman and sophomores as well.

Cyberbullying at PA

Cyber-bullying is a growing problem in our world today, and Providence is no exception. - Tone Deinema
Cyber-bullying is a growing problem in our world today, and Providence is no exception. – Tone Deinema

Despite cyber-bullying not being a topic regularly at the forefront of Providence Academy chatter, don’t be fooled; instances have occurred.

“There have been a few occasions where members of the MS Support team have been contacted by parents to help guide them (the parents) through situations where they feel electronic devices have been misused,” clarified Mrs. Debra Spears, Dean of Students for the Middle Schoolers.

Mrs. Catherine Berry, Upper School Counselor, similarly stated, “Yes. Every year we have a few reported cases of students mistreating each other online.”

Providence Academy is aware of the issues teenagers are facing today in relation to being tormented by means of technology, stating explicitly in the Providence Academy Handbook; “Using electronic means to engage in cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking, cyber-harassment, etc. is unacceptable and prohibited both on and off campus.”

Despite PA making it publicly known that any form of cyber-bullying is not allowed on, or off of school grounds, students still get a “false sense of security” from phone applications such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, “and don’t think before they post,” stated Mr. Steve Cunningham, Middle School Director.

Indirect tweeting. Rude comments made on youtube videos. Hate pages. If you are a member of a social networking website, or frequently browse the internet, you most likely have come across these forms, among many others, of cyber-bullying.

Mr. Cunningham says that if an episode of harassment through means of technology did occur at PA, “we would follow our electronic use policy and work with parents and law enforcement to address the issue. What steps would be taken would very much depend on the context of the situation and the accuracy of the information we are working with.”

The actions taken to stop cyber-bullying once it has been reported, can be tricky for schools to maneuver though. If a case of cyber-harassment happens outside of school, does the school have the authority to step in, or would reprimanding the student, or students, be a violation of free speech?

In the past, this dispute has been brought to the court’s on numerous occasions, and with mixed results.

In January 2012, three student “cyber-speech” cases made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. In one of the cases, Kowalski vs. Berkeley, student, Kara Kowalski, used MySpace to bully a fellow student. After being punished by her school, she sued the school district. In this case, the Supreme Court supported the school’s actions, citing, Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District, another Supreme Court case concerning “a student’s First Amendment rights.”

The conclusion of that case, was that schools are allowed to “regulate speech that interferes with or disrupts the work and discipline of the school.”

Despite the favorable outcome for the school district in Kowalski vs. Berkeley, other school districts have been ruled to have “failed to demonstrate it could reasonably forecast that the student’s words would cause substantial disruption in school” and therefore have not been able to take authoritative actions against cyber-bullies.

With 78% of teens owning a cell phone, 93% either having a computer or access to one at home, and 95% using the internet, according to, for teenagers today, staying connected with friends and family is possible anytime and anywhere.

For that reason, Providence in the past has held “numerous workshops” designed to educate parents on the technology their children are using, and how to monitor it efficiently.

Nevertheless, educating parents on how to manage and monitor their child’s technology is only one step towards the prevention of cyber-bullying. The children and teenagers using the technology, according to, should “Get familiar with what bullying is and what it is not.”

Students can prevent cyber-bullying by “focusing on healthy face to face relationships with peers, classmates, and family members,” says Mrs. Emily Semsch, MS Counselor.

Treating others with respect, keeping online settings on private, only allowing friends and followers that you know personally, and remaining respectful and positive online, are all strategies for preventing yourself from being a target.

If you do become a target of cyber-bullying, Mrs. Semsch recommends to,“Keep it. Don’t delete it. Do not respond. Follow through with authorities.”

As for how to deal with the psychological discomfort that can arise from being bullied? Charlie Warner ’13 shared his advice.

“People are a lot ‘braver’ online than in person. If someone won’t say it to your face, it’s not worth worrying over.”

Finally, next time you become frustrated at someone, keep the “twenty-four hour rule” in mind before impulsively putting whatever angry thought you have “out there for the world to see,” advised Mrs. Semsch.

Or, keep in mind Paige McAuliffe’s ’14 thoughts on cyber-bullying; “It’s a complete waste of time.”

Steve Forbes Visits PA

Mr. Steve Forbes spoke to PA students earlier this month. - Submitted photo
Mr. Steve Forbes spoke to PA students earlier this month. – Submitted photo

“I hope you’re missing a class you wanted to miss.”

This was the opening statement of Steve Forbes’s May 1 speech at Providence Academy.

PA students, teachers and parents queued to meet the editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine (and two-time Presidential candidate) after he spoke that morning on matters economic, social and entrepreneurial, with what the audience regarded as candidness.

“I thought he did a great job connecting with the students,” said Mr. Michael Maglich, Member of the Board of Directors. “I thought it was great how he mentioned he wasn’t a good student.”

Forbes reinforced that no one has a perfect life.

“No matter how good you are, you’re gonna get hit by curveballs as you go through life,” Forbes said. “You’re gonna get hit by things for which there is not a playbook.”

Alex Dobos ’14 said that she felt comforted by Forbes’ reassurance that no one is “master or mistress of the universe.”

“It makes you feel good if you’re not a genius,” she said.

Among various other topics, Forbes gave opinions and anecdotes about his famous family, entrepreneurship, and the benefits of a free market–including morality.

“Free markets are based on a moral foundation,” said Forbes during his speech, “because you succeed only by meeting the needs of other people…it’s not greed, it’s exchange.”

After a majority of students had wandered back to class, Forbes gave the PAW an interview, commenting on several issues relevant to students at PA and beyond.

One such topic was college.

With the “bloat in tuition,” Forbes predicted a fundamental change in the American college education.

“I think you’re gonna see a radical change in how all of that is done in the next generation,” he said.

He mentioned a rise in online degree programs, even at places like MIT, and suggested cutting the time for a Bachelor’s degree: “Why not do it in 3 years?”

Regarding the generation itself now coming of age, Forbes is decidedly optimistic.

“I look to you guys for a slew of new inventions and innovations.”

Additionally, Forbes speculated about a generational “change in what you might call social philosophy”, that the “nonsense we’ve gone through in recent years” will inspire a return to Constitutional principles.

One thing that will never revert to its origins in print, he says, is his own field: journalism.

“What you might call a model for the media world is…shattered,” he said.

Forbes publishes about the number of articles online every day that it once did per biweekly magazine.

Because of the protean nature of modern journalism, Forbes said that income for news sources like Forbes has decreased, at least in traditionally lucrative areas.

“Advertising revenue is very hard to come by,” said Forbes.

In another vein, Forbes said that private education like PA has capacities public school doesn’t.

“I think there’s a much sharper focus on purpose,” he said. “In terms of inculcating values, public schools are very restrictive in what they can do.”

Uniforms, according to Forbes, allow students to focus on learning.

Forbes commented on what he called “fiefdoms” during his speech, a reference to isolated feudalism. He said that uncommunicative, entirely separate departments have emerged in places like the Department of Agriculture and Sony, which negatively affect the organizations.

“You see it in academia all the time: ‘English will not mix with science,'” he explained.

With regard to schools, he said, this might be fixed in two ways: leadership within, and “course offerings that will go across barriers.”

Just because of academic divisions, he said, “it doesn’t mean it’s a self-contained world.”

Cum laude replaces valedictorian at Senior Awards Banquet

The verdict is in.

As of Monday, May 20, the decision on whether the awards of Valedictorian and Salutatorian were to remain for the Providence Academy graduating class of 2013 were made. In a private meeting the Friday before, Upper School Director Dr. Kevin Ferdinandt gave the power of the decision over to the six senior students who held the highest academic GPAs.

They were presented with a unique opportunity: either they could keep the awards of Valedictorian and Salutatorian, or they could opt to relinquish the awards, simultaneously losing the opportunity to gain them themselves.

Dr. Ferdinandt asked them to consider the proposition, discuss the situation with their parents, and then reply by email with their vote by Monday. A two-thirds majority was needed for the prolongation or abolition of the awards, and four out of the six students voted to dissolve the awards of Valedictorian and Salutatorian.

There will be no Valedictorian or Salutatorian at this year’s graduation.

Providence Academy, along with the abolition of Valedictorian and Salutatorian, is implementing a new awards program immediately this year. The awards of cum laudemagna cum laude, and summa cum laude will be awarded to students whose academic successes have earned them recognition. They are based on meeting certain class and GPA specifications.

At this year’s senior awards banquet on May 29, 19 students graduated “with honors.”

Cum laude were Alex O’Neill, Charles Christianson, Nick Bohlke, Eric Richelson, Susanna Trombley, Mackenzie Braun, Kasia Paprocki, Laura Clark, and Rosie Simonse.

Magna cum laude 
were Greg Morey, Charles Warner, Maxwell Baird, Margaret Clipperton, Joe Heck, and Ashlen Hagelberg.

Summa cum laude 
were Nicholas Heise, Julia Hengel, Clare Burns, and Patrick Gage.

According to Dean of Students, Mr. Michael Tiffany, the implementation of these three brackets of awards would be to “reward them for trying their hardest the entire time”.

The criteria that accompanies the cum laude award is that one has to have a high GPA, or if the student is not a math or science student so they are barred from honors courses, then they must have strong grades in the humanities as well as a high GPA.

A student must have taken at least six honors classes to be awarded the magna cum laude and eight honors classes to be awarded the summa cum laude. All along with impressive cumulative GPAs.

According to Headmaster Dr. Todd Flanders, the introduction of the new awards will be beneficial to Providence Academy, rather than the “zero sum game” he spoke of in The PAW’s last meeting with him on the issue.

“We don’t want anybody here to graduate with hard feelings,” said Dr. Flanders.

The other reason behind the change was a perversion of student vision. That is that students would work in Upper School primarily for the award, perhaps missing out on other extra-curricular opportunities and advancements.

The approach PA has taken is more democratic, appealing to the students, and even though the Valedictorian and Salutatorian positions would surely have been abolished for the graduating class of 2014, it would immediately affect the Seniors of 2013.

“We think we need a clear majority to say we’d like to suspend those,” Dr. Flanders said. And a clear majority was what he had- four out of six of the top academic students voted to abolish the awards. However, other students present at the meeting, such as Clare Burns ’13, feel disappointed with the results.

“I understand why they’re doing it, and I guess I would support it next year, but I don’t think it’s fair that they dropped it on us this year,” Burns said.

The six seniors were given this proposition a week before school ended, making the possibility of a substantial change quite sudden.

Several other award winners were recognized at this week’s awards banquet. Kasia Paprocki and Max Baird received the Fine Arts awards; Ryan Tapani and Nathalie Ratliff, the Athletics awards; and Patrick Gage and Ashlen Hagelberg, the highest awards of Faith Knowledge and Virtue.