For more than ten years, the Providence Academy Upper School students have competed against each other in their Houses every fall to decorate the best-looking pumpkin! It is not only a fun fall activity, but it is also a great way for students to bond with their Housemates. This year, each House was challenged to create and decorate a scarecrow that looked like their House advisor in addition to decorating a pumpkin.

In the Upper School, students are grouped together into Houses, and will remain in that House throughout their high school years. There are separate Houses for both boys and girls, consisting of mixed grades. They meet every day for ten minutes before first period, and also every Wednesday during white period for bonding and group activities. House is a great way to meet students from different grade levels, and its ultimate goal is to build a strong community at Providence. 

Mrs. Jendro, Upper School religion teacher, house advisor, and student spiritual director, echoed this, saying, “House gives opportunities you don’t normally have to build friendships across grades.”

The pumpkin decorating contest has been a tradition for a long time at PA, and it is a greatly anticipated event by students. This year, the student House leaders decided on a Sci-Fi theme for the competition, so each House was challenged to come up with futuristic ideas revolving around space or aliens for their pumpkin. 

Brandon Sattler, ’24, Nicholas Damberg, ’23, and Bennett Hilberg, ’24, members of Mu House, skillfully carve their pumpkin. PAW Photo Credit: Julia Holton and Gabby Rampetsreiter

Upper School Administrative Assistant Mrs. Gregg, Upper School Director Mr. Jaeger, and Upper School Dean Mr. McElroy judged the pumpkins based on imagination, creativity, and adherence to the sci-fi theme. The scarecrows were judged based on creativity and resemblance to each House’s advisor. 

ETA house wins the pumpkin decorating contest with their creation of ET Phone Home. PAW Photo Credit: Julia Holton and Gabby Rampetsreiter.

Mrs. Gregg loves judging every year, and this year was no exception. “I am so amazed every year by the creativity and artistic abilities of the students,” she commented.

Students consistently come up with creative ideas for the competition, but the best of this year included Eta House’s E.T. themed pumpkin and Beta House’s scarecrow, which was decorated to resemble Middle and Upper School English teacher Mrs. Teresa Claypool. With her face pasted to the top of the scarecrow’s frame and a perfect cardigan to match, the scarecrow was bound to win first place in its category.

Eta House member Clare Kistler was a major contributor to her House’s pumpkin, as she applied her artistic abilities to lead her House to victory. “I have taken art classes my whole life and have always enjoyed drawing and painting. It’s how I spend the majority of my free time. I’m currently in Studio Art 3 and really enjoy learning more. Mr. Santer is a wonderful teacher,” she remarked.

Members of Gamma house, Fiona Foster, ’25, Lily Regensburger, ’24, Elsbeth O’Connor, ’25, and Ellie Gagerman, ’25, work hard to carve their pumpkin. PAW Photo Credit: Julia Holton and Gabby Rampetsreiter

Beta House leader Kira Cmiel, ‘23, was eager to win this year’s contest. “Pumpkin decorating is a very fun activity that brings all of the House members together each fall. We looked forward to it this year,” she added.

House points were awarded to the House which decorated the best pumpkin and the best scarecrow. Throughout the school year, there will be many other opportunities for Houses to earn points, and at the end of the year, the House with the most points will win a prize.

No matter who wins each year, the pumpkin and scarecrow decorating contest will always be a great way for House leaders and members to have fun, get to know each other better, and demonstrate their creativity.