Written by: Ellie O’Connor & Annabelle Whitaker

Starting on January 29th, Providence Academy Students took part in Catholic Schools Week, giving students opportunities to celebrate their faith and serve their community in a fun week of school. Students from Pre-K through 12th grade were able to come together and enjoy what it means to attend a Catholic school. Being able to celebrate education under the light of faith is a gift that’s greatly appreciated by all students. Catholic Schools Week is an opportunity to come together participating in a nationalized event.

The tradition of Catholic Schools Week began in 1974 by the National Catholic Educational Association and has been commemorated ever since. Providence Academy has celebrated this week since opening in 2001. Being that this Catholic Schools Week was the 50th anniversary, PA students focused on the spiritual side of CSW while also showing pride for PA.

“It’s easy for all of us to forget that we have freedom of religion in school, which is not the norm around the world. So during Catholic Schools week we take the time to remember that, and also Jesus Christ’s presence in the Tabernacle,” Sister Amelia commented on the importance of Catholic Schools Week.

Monday morning was a pleasant surprise for the upper schoolers as they were greeted with donuts in the atrium. Seniors Aiden Flynn, ’24, Sandra Alb, ‘24, and Charlie Willinghanz, ‘24, all members of the House Council, were super excited to serve their classmates donuts to kick off the week. This tradition has always been a hit with the Lions as everyone enjoys a donut to energize them on Monday morning. All upper school students showed support for their school by wearing spirit wear and CSW shirts.

During the week, fifth graders met with their second grade buddies to play games, read together, and celebrate Catholic schools week.

Upper School students pack food at Feed My Starving Children for kids in Haiti.

On Tuesday afternoon, the upper school gathered in the Great Room for Mass. Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors all celebrated the CSW Mass together. PA students all appreciate practicing their faith, all in one space.

Wednesday was service day for the upper school. For the first half of the day, students had heaps of options for volunteer work. Many Lions took a trip to Feed My Starving Children to assemble meals. 57 MannaPack boxes were assembled and will be sent across the globe to help hungry children of third world countries. Another option for service was making tie blankets for Mary’s Place and Sojourner, two local shelters. Students were given the opportunity to chat with friends as they crafted fun colored blankets for those in need. Students who have a more crafty side created Valentine’s Day Cards. Providence’s Letters of Love Club made a grand total of 300 cards, all to be sent as words for encouragement to the Children’s Hospital.

“I think Valentine’s Day and Catholic Schools Week are big holidays for Letter of Love’s organization as a whole, since it focuses on love. So, it was very good to see all of the freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors express their creativity, draw cute pictures, and write really sweet notes,” expressed Letter of Love President, Anika Austvold, ‘24.

After the service part of the day, students had a multitude of options for an afternoon of fun. Upper school students chose between Way Cool Cooking School, rock climbing at Vertical Endeavours, bowling at Bowlero, watching Jersey Boys at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, ice skating at Plymouth Ice Arena, and having fun at Urban Air.

Caroline Dierberger, ’27, Abby Koch, ’25, Anika Austvold, ’24, and Kiera Marshall, ’25, prepare pasta at Way Cool Cooking School.

At Way Cool Cooking School, students chose their favorite meal to prepare for the “Chopped” competition. A group of junior girls (Olivia Ryan, ‘25, Anna Neil, ‘25, Caroline Stephenson, ‘25, Amelia Madden, ‘25, Brooke Honecker, ‘25, Delaney Flannigan, ‘25, and Mckenna Schaffer, ‘25) won the main meal section with their gyros – italian style sandwiches- and the sophomores (Penbrooke Wiederholt, ‘26,  Peyton Grande, ‘26) won for dessert with their delicious cupcakes.

“My favorite part about the cooking class was winning. I have never made a gyro before so it was all new to me, but I really enjoyed it,” said Olivia Ryan (25)

An outing to Urban Air was another popular choice as 80 students signed up. At Urban Air, students bounced on trampolines, climbed through obstacle courses, scaled the ropes courses, and bought snacks in the food court. Students also gathered around the basketball hoops that overhang the trampolines, to watch dunking competitions between the boys and girls basketball teams.

“Me and my friends crushed the guys team at basketball and it was so funny bouncing around with everyone on the tramps,” said Maddyn Greenway, ‘26.

On Thursday, upper schoolers dressed in their class colors. Seniors wore white, juniors orange, sophomores purple, and the freshmen wore red. In addition to class colors, the junior and senior boys faced off in a powerpuff volleyball match. The senior team dressed in all white and conversely, the junior boys wore all black.

“As usual the seniors came to win. We crushed the juniors; they just can’t get on our level. We’re naturals at volleyball,” expressed Sammy Lewis , ‘24.

Middle School students celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit at US Bank Stadium.

Junior volleyball players Anna Neill, ‘25, Ellie Gagerman, ‘25, Mckenna Schaefer, ‘25, and Fiona Foster, ‘25, coached the junior team. Senior volleyball players Kiernan Albertini, ‘24,  Annika Bruce, ‘24, Mary Smith, ‘24, and Lily Regensburger, ‘24, led the senior team to a 2-1 victory! On Friday, the upper schoolers wore jerseys of their choice as a part of the dress up day theme. The activities of the day began after school was dismissed. Students were invited to cheer on the girls basketball team in their game against Maple Grove. Though the girls lost, they put up a good fight, with the final score being 90-96.

“The game was really fun! It was fun to have a good atmosphere and a big student section,” said Providence’s starting point guard Maddyn Greenway, ‘26.

After the game, the second annual CSW “Casino Night” took place. This event consisted of a multitude of games such as black jack, poker, house, uno, and even cornhole. The event provided beverages, chips, and candy. A student band named “Good Question” and composed of  Jacob Olson, ‘25,  Flynn Jacobs, ‘25, Nolan Semsch, ‘25,  and William Hilberg, ‘26, performed their favorite songs for the audience. A crowd favorite was “Piano Man” by Billy Joel, which had even Mr. Thomas Jones, Upper School Band Director, singing along. The event also had a raffle which included Beats headphones, a JBL speaker, Red Robin gift cards, Top Golf gift cards, and Panera gift cards.

Catholic Schools Week at PA was a roaring success, as always. The Lions enjoyed a week filled with fun, friends, and family. From the donut surprise on Monday morning, to the thrilling evening at casino night, the Lions cannot wait for next year’s Catholic Schools Week.