PA Upper School is Pumped for Pumpkins

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.

Generations of Love

On October 13th and 14th, Providence Academy hosted the annual Grandparents’ and Special Persons’ Day. Over these two days, PA welcomed nearly 800 guests to campus between lower, middle, and upper school. Although the days were still filled with tours and time spent with grandparents, some significant changes were made to the event this year.

Mrs. Nancy Galgano, Lower School Director, ensured that grandparents had time in the classroom and a chance to see how specialist teachers with classes such as Music, French, and Spanish worked with students. This way guests were able to experience a real classroom setting, and also had time for photo opportunities with their grandchildren in a designated photo area.

Sr. Donohue, Lower School Spanish Teacher, shows grandparents and special persons what language skills kindergarteners have been learning so far this year.

Mrs. Jennifer Newman, Assistant Director of Development, shared, “Our student body is growing, and yet PA wants to continue the tradition of grandparents experiencing a segment of the school day with their grandchildren. So, many of the changes were made to help give grandparents and special persons a wonderful classroom experience with their grandchild or student in a way that allows them to be comfortable.”

To entertain their guests, Mrs. Amy Hohenecker’s fourth grade class presented an acrostic poem that they had written describing why they love their grandparents, and handed out gifts. They later showed what they have been working on in music by singing some songs and performing on their recorders. 

Jack Huegel, ’24, with his grandfather, at a special interest session led by Upper School Physics Teacher, Mr. Plucinski.

Guests came from near and far to celebrate this memorable day. All the way from New York, Marie Scinicariello, grandmother of Audrey Scinicariello, ‘31, shared,“It is wonderful to be in such a beautiful school and to see that Audrey has such a lovely teacher. Just being here is a blessing.”

The following day, the upper school had their own day to celebrate their grandparents and special adults. This year, Mr. Jaeger and Mrs. Gregg brought back an “interest” session opportunity for grandchildren and grandparents to attend together and then ended the day with a Fine Arts concert including Strings, Choir and Band.  

Student Mary Smyth, ‘24, reflected, “I think it’s important to celebrate Grandparents’ Day because grandparents are always asking how school is and wondering what you are doing. This way they can get to see it for themselves and live a day in your life.”

When students of all ages were asked what their favorite part of the day was, the overall response was getting to spend time with their grandparents. Newman added, “Grandparents and special persons have a deep love for their grandchild or student. It is a joy and a privilege to provide the opportunity to celebrate it.”

Game, Set, Match

After finishing third in the MN State Class A Tournament last year, the Providence Academy Girls’ Tennis team came back wanting to add a state championship to their collection. After a hard-fought season, the Lions swept through sections, and on October 26th, they played their hardest and took home the fourth place trophy in the Class A State tournament.

On the morning of Monday, October 10th, the team traveled to the Gustavus Adolphus College campus to play in the section tournament. In order to get ready for a full day of tennis, the team listened to music and got hyped on the ride down. After an all day battle, the girls returned home with the title of Section 5A Champions, and a ticket to the state tournament. 

Grace Ardnt, Marie Heyda, ’23, Skylar Bartz, ’23, and Koral Horstman, ’23, smile from ear to ear holding the section champions trophy. PAW Photo Credit: Leightyn Ferrell.

Along with the team winning the section championship, First Doubles players Lisey Langhus, and Katelyn Clements, ‘24, competed in the individual sections tournament the following day. Langhus and Clements came home with another championship medal and a state ticket for individuals. Along with them, First Singles player, Annika Harberts-Ott, ‘24, placed second in the section, also qualifying her for the individual state tournament. 

Anni Harberts-Ott, ’24, drives a backhand down the line. Photo courtesy of MSHSL.

In the excitement of taking home two championship medals Clements commented, “We came, we saw, and we conquered.” 

Harberts-Ott reflected on sections saying, “The best part of the matches was having my teammates by me and being able to cheer each other on.” 

Following their section championship, on the morning of Tuesday, October 25th, the upper school students attended a brief ceremony to introduce the team, pray for the Lady Lions and send them off to victory with the Providence Band drumline playing. As the team exited the PA building, middle school students lined the hallways to offer their support.

While thinking about the sendoff, Brooke Hohenecker, ’24, exclaimed, “I thought it was really special that the tennis girls were able to be sent off by the whole school. It was a special moment for them as they have put so much work into their season.” 

After their sendoff, the team loaded the bus and headed to InnerCity Tennis to play in the state tournament. 

The Lions won their first match against Luverne 7-0, and moved onto the state semifinals the next day. 

Marie Heyda, 23′, smashes a volley at the net. PAW Photo Credit: Delaney Flanigan.

“The whole team dominated,” Langhus remarked.

The following day, the girls watched the sunrise from the bus on their way to compete in the state semifinals. The Lions fell to Rochester in their match, moving on to compete for third place later that day. 

After the match, spectator Lonaiah Ferrell reflected, “It was really exciting to watch everyone play. There were some scary moments, but the team held it together.” 

However, in a turn of events the Lions ended up falling to Litchfield, putting them in fourth-place. 

Although the team missed out on the championship, Head Coach Bryan Turunen commented, “I feel really happy for this team. They worked hard all year. They played to their ability, and they deserved to be there.” 

The Lady Lions rally together after moving onto state semifinals. PAW Photo Credit: Alyssa Wilkins.

In the days following the team state tournament, Clements, Langhus, and Harberts-Ott, competed in the individual state tournament. Clements and Langhus fell to Breck, taking eighth place in the doubles tournament. Harberts-Ott also fell to Breck, taking fifth place in singles. 

Despite the outcome at State, all the girls still had a triumphant season to remember, filled with wins, laughs, and good memories. They can’t wait to get back to work and make an appearance at next year’s state tournament.

From Football to Formal, PA Takes on Homecoming Week

Homecoming week is one of the most anticipated events of the school year for all ages. From dress up days to pep fests, Providence Academy students had one busy and exciting week! 

The Upper School had plenty of out of uniform opportunities, with a new theme each day. On Monday, the students wore outfits inspired by different holidays based on their grades. The freshman theme was Valentine’s Day, the sophomore theme was St. Patrick’s Day, the juniors’ was Halloween, and the seniors’ was Christmas. 

Madelyn Steele, ’32, Quinn Sampson, ’32, Margaret Collins, ’32, Gabriella Campbell, ’32 and Bette Stephens, ’32 happily display their spirit wear and out of uniform shoes for Homecoming week.

The students also competed in a hallway decorating competition on Monday. Fifth graders voted on each Upper School grade level hallway’s decor at the end of the week. It was a tough choice, but the freshmen ultimately walked away with the win, earning an out of uniform day during finals. 

On Tuesday, students were invited to wear their “Sunday Best” for Mass. House leader, Lily Regensburger, ‘24, explained, “We were really excited that our idea for ‘Sunday Best’ was approved by the administration. It was fun to see everyone’s participation and also their respect for our Upper School Mass.” 

Chase Millerbernd, ’24, Patrick Newman, ’24, and Ronan Donohue ’24, show their west coast flair for homecoming. PAW Photo Credit: Maddyn Greenway

Wednesday, the high school was full of Hawaiian shirts and socks with sandals, as students participated in a “Tacky Tourist Day.” Alena Rossini, ‘23 commented, “It was so exciting to see my grade go all out on the theme!” 

Wednesday night was the annual Powder Puff flag football game. The junior and senior girls faced off in an intense game, which resulted in a senior win, despite the efforts of the juniors. Inga Nelson, ‘24, said, “Our class was underprepared but will do better next year!” 

Thursday’s theme was the always popular “Jersey Day.” “Jersey Day is my favorite theme because I can show support for my favorite teams and find out others’ favorite teams as well,” emphasized Alec Santelman, ‘25.

On Friday, everyone was dressed in either “West Coast” or “Wild West” attire. Some students wore jeans, boots, cowboy hats and flannels, while others wore “jorts,” chains and other oversized outfits. 

“My favorite part of homecoming week is the dress up days, because it is a fun opportunity to not wear our uniforms,” expressed Annabelle Whitaker, ‘25.

On Saturday evening, Gym A was bursting with excitement for the annual Homecoming dance. This year’s theme was “Out of this World,” with the gym decorated with stars and all things galaxy related. Prizes were awarded to six winners after the dance: Best Dressed went to Alyssa Condon, ‘23, and Peyton Bartz, ‘25; Best Dance Moves went to Miles Mueller, ‘24, and Bryn Brueggeman, ‘26; and Life of the Party went to Patrick Newman, ‘24 and Kathy Mogere, ‘26. 

“I’m very honored to have received this award and to have lived up to the Newman name,” said Newman.

The junior class Powder Puff team bands together after a tough fight against the seniors. PAW Photo Credit: Anika Austvold

The homecoming fun was not just for the Upper Schoolers, but for the entire school. Middle school students also had the opportunity to dress up for themes like “Blue Out,” “Sunday Best,” “History Day,” and were allowed to dress in PA spirit wear. 

In the lower school, students were allowed to wear spirit wear and their gym shoes all week to celebrate! 

The entire school attended the annual Homecoming Pep Fest on Friday afternoon. Students were able to participate in “Minute to Win It” games, Tug of War, and Musical Chairs. The Providence Academy band, lead by Mr. Thomas Jones, played many lively songs to get the crowd fired up as well. 

Friday night, the boys’ varsity football team, led by quarterback Eddie Dossantos, ‘23, beat Breck 17-6. Both touchdowns were scored by Josue Riley, ‘23; and Ryan Hutt, ‘23, successfully made both kicks for extra points, in addition to a field goal for the Lions.  

The fans made it a fun and memorable end to the week, dressed in plenty of white and gold, and of course the PA student section’s traditional team spirit added to the win!  

Another Senior Victory

The term “Friday Night Lights” has become synonymous with high school football. However, on September 28th, Providence Academy junior and senior girls brought fans “Wednesday Night Lights” for the 17th annual Powder Puff game and bonfire. 

“It’s a really fun part of student life during Homecoming,” reflected Upper School Director and former Athletic Director, Kurt Jaeger. “It’s a fun tradition for students, faculty, and others to look forward to, and probably the biggest event during the week besides the real game.” 

Quarterback Leightyn Ferrell, ’24, practices a play deigned by the Philadelphia Eagles. PAW Photo Credit: Anika Austvold

The juniors and seniors took the tradition very seriously, from Sunday afternoon practices to plenty of smack-talk throughout the week. The juniors took plays from NFL coaches’ playbooks, even using headsets and breaking clipboards after failed score attempts. 

Coach Trey Albertini, ’24, poses after breaking a clipboard following a senior touchdown. PAW Photo Credit: Anika Austvold

“The very best part of Powder Puff is the back and forth between the grades,” explained Upper School religion teacher, Angela Jendro.

The juniors were the underdogs of the game, however according to coach Anthony Fahnlander, ‘24, they had “more speed and focus than the seniors.”

They even pulled off the first touchdown of the night, with an impressive catch by Avery Lampe, ‘24, in the end zone. After that, the rivalry between the grades turned flag football into tackle football. 

Five intense touchdowns followed from Grace Counts, ‘23, Bridget Healy, ‘23, Carly Bixby, ‘24, and Skylar Bartz, ‘23. 

Despite the juniors’ countless efforts to pull through, the seniors ultimately won 38-12.

“We came back, we took the lead, and didn’t look back from there on,” emphasized coach Alvin Mokua, ‘23, following the senior victory. “We put in some trick plays that really confused the defense, and we played with heart,” added coach Nate Dierberger, ‘23. 

The juniors, however, had a different perspective on the outcome. “It was embarrassing,” exclaimed announcer Max Igbanugo, ‘24. 

The seniors roast marshmallows together to celebrate their win. PAW Photo Credit: Anika Austvold

Leaving the battle on the field, the seniors and juniors ended the night with a bonfire, music, marshmallows, and lots of laughter while reflecting on the game. Powder Puff 2022 was definitely one to remember.