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.

PA senior spends summer on island adventure

Anna Clipperton '14 spent much of her summer swimming with sea turtles while working as a scuba instructor in
Anna Clipperton ’14 spent much of her summer swimming with sea turtles while working as a scuba instructor in the British Virgin Islands.

Anna Clipperton ’14 spent the majority of this summer in the British Virgin Islands as an intern for SeaTrek, a scuba diving, sailing, and marine science summer program for middle and high school students. The trip, which lasted seven and a half weeks, was packed full of hiking, diving, sailing, snorkeling, nightly science presentations, and much more. Clipperton was one of the staff leaders of the program, after having been a student in the program last summer.

“I loved the program so much last year,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be a staff member this year, because the staff was my favorite part about the voyage when I was a student. They were their own little family and I wanted to be a part of that family.”

As a staff member, Clipperton’s schedule was even more packed than the students’. Each morning she would get up at around 6:30a.m. to make sure breakfast was cooked and morning chores were done before the students got up an hour later. Then she would help lead a hike or a dive before lunch, and then the entire “fleet” would sail to their next destination in the British Virgin Islands. After lunch, the students would have snorkeling time or free time before dinner and a science presentation.

“My favorite memory of my internship was when our fleet went to a place called Diamond Cay,” said Clipperton.

At this island, the fleet glimpsed no less than twelve sea turtles while on a snorkel Clipperton was leading.

“I had seen turtles before but never in that quantity,” she said. “The water was only about 8 feet deep, so we could easily free dive down and be right next to them.”

Clipperton currently plans on turning her back to back summers at SeaTrek into a three year run, returning next year as long as her schedule allows it.

Clipperton's fleet of ships sailed around the British Virgin Islands for seven and a half weeks.
Clipperton’s fleet of ships sailed around the British Virgin Islands for seven and a half weeks.
Scuba dives to sites like this were an integral part of the summer program.
Scuba dives to sites like this were an integral part of the summer program.
This was Clipperton's second year spending her summer with the SeaTrek program, and she hopes to return next year as well.
This was Clipperton’s second year spending her summer with the SeaTrek program, and she hopes to return next year 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.”

Boys’ baseball, hanging in there

In close game against Delano May 29th, the Providence boys’ baseball team lost their first section game. The Lions cannot lose another game, or they will be eliminated from the tournament.

After two successful section games, the number two seeded Lions played the number one seed Delano, in the sub section finals. The Delano Tigers had an early lead in the bottom of the third inning, scoring four runs. PA rallied back with their own four runs the next inning, tying the game. The score went back and forth throughout the game. In the end, Providence lost by three runs, with a final score of 9-12.

In baseball, to be eliminated from the tournament, you have to lose twice. On May 30th, the Lions had a chance to remain in the section tournament, when they played Mound-Westonka, winning 3-2. On Monday June third, the boys will be playing against Dassel-Cokato.

In the regular season, the boys had a record of 5 wins and 4 losses.

“I feel like this season started off slow, but as we progressed, we learned how to dominate as a team,” stated Nick Pruden ’14.

Because of their early season losses, the boys learned from their mistakes what they needed to improve on.

“We needed to improve on getting focused before games,” says Pruden.

Over the season, a team gets gradually closer and more comfortable with each other.

“We have bonded as a team, throughout the wins and losses, but mostly the wins,” stated Jesse Barron ’15.

By their first section game against Brooklyn Center, the boys came into the game with a new attitude, determined to win. The result was a 11-0 victory.

“We won 11-0. We had a no hitter going into the bottom of the seventh,” states Barron.

The baseball team also defeated Fridley in the second section game, winning 3-0.

After these games, the boys fell to Delano, but then regained their strength to win the next two games.

The section games were important, but the boys had fun playing in one particular regular season game.

“My favorite game this year was Breck, because who doesn’t like beating Breck,” stated Pruden.

Nine seniors were a part of the Providence baseball program. Next year, the six remaining players will have to get used to a whole new team.

“I am really going to miss my senior buddies next year,” states Pruden.