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Juniors make faith, personal connections on retreat

The second group of juniors recently participated in an overnight retreat at Mt. St. Francis. The retreat is a precursor to the Senior Retreat, with witness talks, small group discussions, and prayer activities.

Junior Alex Perkinson said he especially liked this retreat because it was led by seniors, giving him a more personal connection to the leaders compared to the retreats his freshman and sophomore years.

“We were able to hear accounts from seniors that we know, which puts into perspective that people really close to us also have the same problems and experiences,” Alex said. “It was a good experience to listen to their input.”

Junior Ceci Rush said she and her classmates were able to get to know each other better.

“During Junior Retreat, you branch out and get to know your classmates on a different level,” Ceci said. “You talk to the large group multiple times about your faith and things in your life you want to improve. Junior Retreat was a different level of bonding and connecting with your classmates and God.”

Alex also experienced that connection in his small group.

“Even though it was kind of difficult to open up about things, I learned that everyone has their worries, and it feels better talking about them,” he said. “In my group I didn’t know a few people, but in the end I feel like I learned more about them and it felt good that they listened to me too. In the end, the retreat has definitely impacted my life.”

Ceci also enjoyed the opportunity to let go of things that bothered her, such as in an activity in which they wrote all their stresses and things that created negative feelings – and then threw the papers away.

“This showed that we can get rid of our problems and turn to God for guidance,” Ceci said. “Also opening up to other people (to whom) I usually don’t showed me how safe of an environment it was and how amazing everyone there is.”

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Students explore political leadership at Lugar Symposium

Juniors Maria Popson, Andrew Henderson, and Claire Reyes attended the Lugar Leadership Symposium at the University of Indianapolis in December and are grateful for what they learned. The day began with an address by former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and a photo opportunity afterwards. The students then chose two breakout sessions to attend.

Claire attended sessions on immigration and the Me Too Movement, which she found to have a lot of similarities to our Green Dot program because of its emphasis on being an active bystander in order to stop others from being treated unjustly. She said she also learned a lot from the immigration session, which she chose because her parents are immigrants.

“I have a much better understanding of the immigration process,” Claire said, adding that she found especially interesting the differences in modern and past immigration policies and processes.

Maria and Andrew attended a session on politics in the 2018 primaries and the upcoming 2020 primary. Maria said attending the session was informative and she now feels more comfortable discussing the political process and structure. She also learned a lot in the session on North Korea, which explained the history of the country and its relations with the United States.

Andrew said the sessions, including one on U.S. leadership in the world, provided new insight for him, especially on our country’s responsibilities as a world leader. He is interested in history and enjoys learning about government and politics, and he plans to implement some of what he learned about leadership.

“We learned how we can be leaders in our community by having healthy debates,” Andrew said. “It was a leadership opportunity, and I’m going to use my leadership skills in my community.”

The students also said they enjoyed meeting other teenagers from around the state, and Maria recognized several from other leadership events she had attended.

“More people should go,” Claire said. “It was a lot of fun.”

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Pioneer Profile: Wrestling standouts ready for postseason

Senior Noah Liter, who also played PHS Football, has been wrestling since he was 12 years old, starting at his dad’s encouragement. For Providence Wrestling, he competes in the 145-pound class and is seeded third in the Southern Indiana Wrestling Conference. He said he is happy he tried this sport “because some of my best memories come from wrestling.”

Question: What are you looking forward to in the postseason (which is Saturday, Jan. 26, at Jeffersonville High School)?
Answer: In the postseason I’m looking forward to see if all of our hard work and dedication has paid off.

Q: What is your favorite subject?
A: My favorite school subject is biology because I’ve loved learning about life on earth since I was a little kid.

Q: What has been your most meaningful service project in high school?
A: The most meaningful service project I did was helping the elderly at Hampton Oaks Assisted Living.

Q: What is the best thing about being a Pioneer?
A: The best thing about being a Pioneer is that it’s a close-knit community that cares for one another.

Junior Chase Aldridge, who also plays PHS Football, missed most of last season after a serious injury at the end of his freshman season. He couldn’t wait to come back, having started wrestling in the fourth grade. This year he is ranked first in the conference in the 126-pound weight class and has a 28-3 record.

Question: What do you like about wrestling?
Answer: I love the one-on-one aspect of wrestling and the tough practices.

Q: What are you looking forward to in the postseason?
A: I’m looking forward to competing with high level wrestlers and seeing how far I can go this postseason.

Q: What is your favorite subject?
A: My favorite subject is Algebra 2 with Mr. Mullis.

Q: What has been your most meaningful service project in high school?
A: My most meaningful service project has been fasting and sleeping outside in a cardboard box while serving food to homeless people at Holy Family.

Q: What is the best thing about being a Pioneer?
A: The best thing about being a Pioneer is how close we are as a school and being a close community.

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Ivy League grad schools feel like home for 2 alumni

Most of our alumni earn a bachelor’s degree within a few years of their Providence graduation, and many of them continue on to graduate school to pursue professional careers, from medicine to law. These alumni are just as discerning about which is the right school for their desired program as their parents were about choosing Providence. Two recent alumni have chosen Ivy League schools to complete their schooling, in part because of the community atmosphere that is similar to what they experienced as Pioneers. Corby Burger ’12 is pursuing a juris doctorate degree at Cornell Law School at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and Derek Wenning ’14 is pursuing a doctorate in economics at Princeton University in New Jersey.

Question: How did your major evolve from pre-med at DePauw to law school?

Corby Burger: When I first got to DePauw, I planned on majoring in biochemistry. I wanted to go to medical school after graduation or maybe get into the research side of things. I enjoyed my pre-med courses and got pretty good grades. Things changed when I took a comparative politics course during the second semester of my freshman year. The course boiled down to a single question: “What is a State, and what purpose does it serve?” I loved the challenge of answering such a vast, all-encompassing question; a question with no “right” answer. In the hard sciences, you try to answer questions about how the world works. In the social sciences, you’re not only asking how the world works, but you’re often trying to decide how the world should work. What is fair? What is just? Who should make these decisions in our society? I was hooked on the ambiguity inherent to these normative questions, and eventually I changed my major to political science.

To me, political science is the ultimate liberal arts major. It required me to synthesize history, psychology, philosophy, economics, statistics, and a host of other fields in order to formulate and defend my arguments. I entertained notions of going to grad school for political science, but I didn’t want to stay in academia. I wanted to be closer to the action, I wanted to see the results of my work in the real world, I wanted to work on behalf of others, and I needed a career that would allow me to help support my family.

Law school was the obvious choice. 

Question: How did you choose your undergrad and grad school major?

Derek Wenning: I enrolled at IU-Bloomington as a physics major, which I quickly found out was the wrong decision. I had always loved math, so I switched my major to mathematics in my second semester with the intention of becoming an actuary. This route forced me to take an introductory microeconomics course. After doing very well in the course, I decided to challenge myself and enrolled in the honors intermediate microeconomics course the following fall semester. It was this class, taught by Dr. James Walker, my eventual thesis advisor and good friend, that really opened my eyes to what economics was and how it could be used to understand the institutions around us and rationalize the human behavior that these institutions incentivized. Dr. Walker, as well as a handful of other phenomenal professors, inspired me to work my way towards enrolling in an economics Ph.D.

Q: Describe the process of choosing your graduate school.

CB: After I graduated from DePauw, I worked as a legal intern in the Office of the Prosecutor for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. I helped put together a case against former Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladić for genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of the laws of war. I had a fantastic experience at the ICTY and was fortunate enough to befriend people from all around the world. I loved being a part of the prosecutorial team, and I left The Hague confident in my decision to pursue a career in the law. Now the hard part was trying to get accepted into a top-tier program.

I applied to a number of different law schools, but with only three weeks left before the beginning of the 2017 semester, I was still on the admissions waitlist at all my top schools: Cornell, Columbia, NYU, and Georgetown. I had offers from Vanderbilt, George Washington, UCLA, and a few others, but I knew I had to do something to get a spot at one of my top choices. Be it right or wrong, where you go to law school matters. Your choice of law school greatly affects the range of opportunities you’ll have when you graduate. I knew I wanted to work in New York when I graduated from law school, so I needed a law school that would allow me to break into the NYC legal market.

At the time, I was living with my parents in New Albany. I was working in quality control at Globe (a New Albany business with strong ties to Providence). I was thankful to have a job and for the opportunity to spend more time with my parents, but now that I was back in Southern Indiana, my goal of attending a top-tier law school seemed incredibly far away. I was tired of sitting around, twiddling my thumbs, waiting to hear back from these schools. I felt I needed to make my own luck, so I decided to visit each of my top-choice schools and see if I could somehow get myself off the waitlist. It took me two planes and two buses to get to Ithaca, N.Y., but when I finally arrived, I had the pleasure of meeting with the director of admissions. We talked about why I wanted to come to Cornell and the reasons why Cornell stands apart from other elite law schools. Cornell Law only has around 600 J.D. students, which is small when compared to a place like NYU, which has something like double the number of J.D. students. I wanted a place that would feel like home, in the same way that DePauw and Providence felt like home – a tightknit, collaborative community where I could forge friendships with my classmates and build relationships with my professors.

Fortunately, I received a call from the Cornell Law dean of students just three days before orientation began. She let me know that I’d been admitted off the waitlist. I packed my bags and made the move to Ithaca. I think I can safely say that, even before I knew where I had been admitted, Cornell Law was my first-choice school. But in all honesty, my final decision on where to attend law school was relatively straightforward: Cornell was the “best” law school that I got into. Cornell took a chance on me, and ever since then I’ve been determined not to waste this opportunity.

DW: I applied to a total of 11 schools: NYU, MIT, Northwestern, Princeton, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UCLA, Caltech, Brown, Cornell, and Stanford. I was accepted at Princeton, San Diego, Caltech, Brown, and Cornell, and waitlisted at NYU and UCLA (I removed myself from these after committing to Princeton).

In the spring, Princeton flew me out to visit along with the other accepted graduate students, and I got to meet several professors and current graduate students, as well as sit in on courses and seminars and tour the campus. I made my decision to commit before I even left to come back home, and for a couple reasons.

First, both professors and students had such a friendly and relaxed demeanor. From what I understand, this isn’t always common in top Ph.D. programs, as professors are heavily focused on their research and other graduate students are trying to outperform their peers to get the most attention from busy professors. This was not the case here. On the contrary, professors at Princeton are always happy to speak with you when you need them. The interactions between the students are less competitive than other schools and instead prefer to collaborate with each other. These are the kind of peers that are desirable both in research and in life.

Second, Princeton’s faculty encompass a very wide range of topics, and virtually anything one might want to study or research can be accomplished here. This was especially attractive to me, since my research experience was limited, and I knew my own future research agenda was likely subject to change (and, as it turned out, it has).

Q: How do you like the school? What is it like attending an Ivy League school?

CB: I have had a fantastic experience at Cornell Law thus far. I’m endlessly impressed with the quality of education I’m receiving. It’s been a privilege to learn from professors who are leading experts in their respective fields. More than a few times I’ve taken courses with professors who have actually written the textbook we use in class.

My fellow students are smart, ambitious, and passionate about what they do. I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime, and I’ve built relationships that are sure to be invaluable as I move forward in my career.

In winter, Ithaca, is cold. Really cold. But the harshness of the upstate winter is made bearable by the beauty of Cornell’s campus. A series of plunging gorges divide the campus, with waterfalls that stair-step down to Cayuga Lake. The campus is dotted with imposing siltstone buildings, with more than a few boasting rising bell towers. Ornate libraries provide some relief from the elements and make the long days and nights spent studying a little more tolerable. The law school itself is gilded with history and prestige, but it gives off an aura of openness and amiability.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to find success in my studies. I’ve been on the Dean’s List a couple of times, and I’m an associate on the Cornell Law Review. The Law Review is Cornell’s flagship legal journal, and it’s read by practitioners and academics around the world. I help to edit, refine, and source-check the articles published in the journal.

The real highlight of time at Cornell has been competing in moot court competitions. Moot court is a tournament-style competition centered around appellate-level oral advocacy. Basically, you get up in front of a panel of judges and present your argument as to why the law should be a certain way. During your presentation, the judges ask questions and pose hypotheticals that challenge your position.

During my first year, I was fortunate enough to win the 2018 Langfan First-Year Moot Court Competition. A majority of the first-year class competes in this tournament, and it was my first opportunity to put the skills I had developed in the classroom to use on a real legal problem. Winning Langfan meant so much to my family and me, as it reaffirmed my belief that I could find success in pursuing a career in the law.

This past semester, as a second-year law student, my partner and I won the 2018 Cuccia Family Moot Court Competition. Both second- and third-year Cornell Law students compete in the Cuccia tournament, and we faced some really outstanding competition from our classmates. During the final round of the tournament, my partner and I had the extraordinary honor of arguing before U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. I argued for 15 minutes before a panel of five federal judges, led by Justice Sotomayor, who peppered me with questions during the course of my presentation. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime moment. I’m happy to say that my partner and I prevailed in the final round and won the Cuccia Cup.

DW: I love it. My expectations that formed following my initial visit have certainly been met and continue to be surpassed daily. The campus, which was founded in 1746, is full of life and stories, which I am fortunate enough to hear about (and see!) frequently. This adds a lot of value to living here. There are also many opportunities to enjoy the arts other than the gothic architecture, such as jazz recitals and theatrical performances.

The academics are the perfect level of challenging; not unbearable, but certainly a full-time job. Seminars, in which professors and researchers are flown in to give presentations on their frontier research, are especially useful and are perhaps my favorite part of the academic lifestyle. They have exposed me to new ways of thinking and state of the art research I may not have discovered otherwise.

Surprisingly, (attending an Ivy League school) is pretty similar to my experience at IU (minus roughly 30,000 students). There is the familiar bustling of life that IU had, with a fraction of the student body involved in sports, a portion involved in the community, and then the happy-go-lucky few that are just here for school and parties. Of course, I don’t notice this as much as I did when I was at IU since undergraduate life and graduate life don’t intertwine very often, but overall, it feels like a fairly normal place.

Q: What are some of the highlights of your education journey? Was there a teacher at PHS who helped you see that you could accomplish your goals?

CB: I wouldn’t be where I am today were it not for my family. My parents – John and Sherrie Burger – worked tirelessly so that I could attend Providence. I’m a first-generation college student, and my parents were convinced that a quality education was my ticket to a better future. If you asked my mom and dad today, they’d tell you that their investment in my Catholic education was worth every penny. I wholeheartedly agree, because I know that I’m where I am today because of the lessons I learned – inside and outside the classroom – at Providence High School.

I had an incredible roster of teachers and coaches during my time at Providence. I could go on and on about almost each and every one of them. I have to credit Ms. Judith Manning with helping me become the person I am today. When I first met Ms. Manning, I was a restless, over-talkative, somewhat mischievous sophomore. I enjoyed school, but I didn’t give my classes the full attention they deserved.

Ms. Manning instilled in me a sense of agency, and she taught me to carry myself with pride in everything I do. She helped me to understand that anything done half-heartedly is only half-done. She taught me how to find joy in learning something new. She instilled in me a love for history and politics, and this ultimately blossomed into my interest in the law.

Most importantly, she taught me to dream big and she taught me to have faith. She helped me to see obstacles not as intimidating or limiting, but as challenges to be overcome. It sounds cheesy, but I actually remember a moment, one day after class, when Ms. Manning told me that I could do anything I wanted to in life. I laughed and jokingly rolled my eyes. She looked at me, not a shred of doubt in her eyes, and she said, “No, I’m telling you, you can be anything you want to be.” I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but something changed in that moment, and it still motivates me to this day. Why not dream big?

I’m proud to attend an Ivy League institution, and I’m proud of the work that I put in to get here. But with that said, attending Cornell is just another step in the process. I’ve got a lot of work to do if I want to realize my full potential as an attorney, and, more importantly, even more work to do in trying to be the best person I can be.

I’m thankful to have an opportunity to share my story. I would love to see more PHS kids go to Ivy League schools in the coming years. I don’t think Providence students shouldn’t see the Ivies as out of their reach. The students at these types of “elite” institutions are smart, they’re hard-working, and they’re ambitious; but I knew plenty of kids at Providence with these same characteristics.

DW: I certainly have many highlights along my path. At Providence, I can name a few, namely (a) having the second highest score amongst all seniors in the district on the Math Team, and (b) being awarded the Sister Joseph-Louise Mathematics Award my senior year.

At IU, my proudest moments came my junior year after I had done an independent study on auction theory, which culminated in a paper comparing the efficiency criterion of two auction designs as they related to spectrum licenses. I presented this paper at two conferences. For the first, held at Bowling Green State University (BGSU), I was awarded second place presentation, and for the second, the Jordan River Conference at IU, I was awarded best undergraduate paper. Presenting my work in front of a room of other economists really solidified my desire to do research.

Two PHS teachers in particular stand out to me. The first was Stephanie Mauk, who taught calculus at the time. Senior year was around the time I became seriously interested in academic work, and she pushed me that year to my full potential. The second was Scott Hutchins, from whom I took AP chemistry. While I didn’t go down the chemistry route, Mr. Hutchins was an excellent teacher and would always talk to me about interesting applications of the material we learned after class. He was a large influence on my interest in research.

Q: What is your expected graduation date and your career goals?

CB: I’m a second-year law student at Cornell. I’ve got three more semesters to go before I graduate in May 2020. I’ve decided to pursue a career in litigation. This summer, I’ll be working for a well-regarded law firm in New York City as a summer associate. Hopefully, if I can prove my worth as an associate, I’ll be asked to return to the firm for a full-time position after I graduate.

DW: The norm for economics Ph.D. candidates is slowly transitioning to graduating after six years – two years of course work, and four years of research. This puts my expected graduation date at May 2024. My hope upon completion of my degree is to work in academia, specifically as a professor, so that I can pursue a career in research. Of course, the academic job market is viciously competitive, so backup plans include working for the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, or Federal Reserve.

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House of Spirit leaders focus on unity, fun

Seniors Ross Reyes and Alyssa Perkins share the duties of senior executive delegate for the House of Spirit, and their different approaches blend well for the success of the House. Ross is the resource for House members to come to with questions, and Alyssa brings ideas and tries to make the meetings fun.

Alyssa said her leadership style was inspired by Abbi Hamm ’16, who was the executive delegate when Alyssa was a freshman.

“Abbi was really energetic and involved,” Alyssa said. “I think it’s cool that I can take on that kind of role for the freshmen so they can feel comfortable. I also try to be fun and energetic to make things entertaining.”

Ross is good at planning, and he helped match House members’ skills and interests to place them in the best spots for the Guerin Day competition in late September. He previously was the sophomore and junior delegate for the House. He is a member of the Quick Recall team, which finished up its regular season last week, and was in Honk!, Providence Singers, and Popcorn Players. Next semester, he will have a role in Freaky Friday, the spring musical.

Alyssa is new to House leadership but not in being a leader. She is a cheerleader, and those skills come in handy as she works with the House. She recently presented an idea for the House to do a Valentine’s Day service project in which the members will sell candy grams to benefit the American Red Cross. She said she is enjoying her House leadership role and building unity in the House.

“I enjoy how the classes are coming together,” she said.

Ross said he likes helping students express their ideas and having input into school activities.

“I like to be involved with what we’re doing,” he said.

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Freshman tries hand at broadcasting

Freshman Will Harper loves sports and hopes to make it a career in some form, although he doubts he will be playing. Instead, he wants to work in broadcasting as a way to share his interest in sports statistics and results. He already has a good start by being an intern for GLICOD Communications, which broadcasts local high school sporting events.

Will volunteered for the opportunity when he heard about it in the school announcements earlier this fall and has traveled with GLICOD to help with its live stream of football and basketball games. He generally operates the scoreboard but sometimes has operated the camera.

He said the job is fun but isn’t necessarily easy.

Freshman Will Harper keeps the virtual scoreboard up to date during a GLICOD live broadcast of a basketball game.

“It can be challenging trying to correlate what’s on the iPad (used in the broadcast) and the digital scoreboard with the actual scoreboard (on the field),” Will said. “I like it though.”

During football season, he was in the pressbox at Providence, New Albany, and Floyd Central, and several Louisville high schools. Even if he didn’t like what he was doing, he said it’s worth it for the view.
“It’s probably the best viewpoint in the whole stadium,” he said, adding that some pressboxes are less comfortable than others, with some not even having windows.

He recently operated the virtual scoreboard for the Providence-Meade County Boys Basketball game. Keeping up with the rapidly ever-changing score in a basketball game is more challenging than football, and the broadcast team’s iPad had a few glitches, but overall, he said, the experience was still fun. He especially liked helping broadcast a Providence game.

“I like watching Providence,” he said. “It’s cool to watch them and help out GLICOD at the same time.”
Will said he sees the internship as good practice for his future and he plans to continue as long as he can.
“This (broadcasting) is something I want to do,” Will said. “I want to get an early start to see if it’s actually what I want to do in my career.”

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Athlete Profile: Swim & Dive

This issue’s Pioneer Profile focuses on three members of the Swim & Dive team: Senior Tanner Carver, a second-year diver who is translating his gymnastics experience on the diving board; senior Harry Green, a third-year swimmer who also loves tennis, and sophomore Faith Middletown, a lifelong swimmer who competes in triathlons.

Senior Tanner Carver
Tanner is a second-year diver who is taking advantage of years of gymnastics training. He recently gave up gymnastics due to injuries and has also joined the Bowling Team. He plans to join the Track team in the spring.

Question: Why did you first start diving?
Answer: I wanted to start diving because I thought it would be something fun to try because I had never been involved with a PHS sport because of gymnastics.

Q: What do you like about it?
A: I prefer diving way more than swimming, so it is obviously my favorite event, but I love my teammates more than anything. But my favorite part about the sport itself is that it is very similar to gymnastics in the idea that we try to make the seemingly impossible look aesthetically pleasing and easy.

Q: What are you looking forward to this season?
A: I’m looking forward to regionals this year because I have a pretty good shot at state.

Q: What is your favorite subject at school and why?
A: My favorite subject, although I view them all about the same, is economics because I really loved taking IUS Econ because it was so unlike traditional thinking.

Q: What has been your most meaningful service project in high school?
A: My most meaningful service project was probably helping out at the homeless shelter as a freshmen.

Q: What is the best thing about being a Pioneer?
A: My favorite part about being a Pioneer is honestly just the community we have here because I believe that’s what really makes the Pioneer experience a reality, is all the wonderful people we have and continuous support we have for one another.

Sophomore Faith Middleton
Faith has been swimming since kindergarten and has been part of other swim teams and participated in triathlons. Now she is in her second year on the PHS Swim & Dive team. She generally competes in the medley relay, 200 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, and the 400 freestyle relay. She also is on the Girls Soccer and Track teams but her main focus is swimming, and she is on a year-round swim team outside of school.

Question: What do you like about swimming?
Answer:
I love swimming and I always have. I find the sport very therapeutical as well as fun. I enjoy the competitive energy of the sport. I love everyone on the team…we are like a family. My favorite stroke is free mainly because it comes to me the easiest. 

Q: What are you looking forward to this season?
A: This season I am looking forward to improving my strokes and times as well as spending time with my favorite team!

Q: What is your favorite subject at school and why?
A: My favorite subject in school is art. I love art because it allows me to try things that I would usually never do as well as use my creativity to create really cool things.

Q: What has been your most meaningful service project in high school?
A: The most meaningful service project I have participated in was at the Griffin Street Recreational Center. During this project I helped watch over younger kids after school. This was very meaningful to see how other people that are less fortunate than us live.

Q: What is the best thing about being a Pioneer?
A: The best thing about being a Pioneer is the lifelong friendships I have made and the school spirit.

Senior Harry Green
Harry is in his third season on the Swim team and competes in the 50 freestyle and the two freestyle relays and swims the backstroke in the medley relay. He also has been on the Boys Tennis all four years.

Question: Why did you first start swimming?
Answer: I started swim because my friend Bryce was also going to try it out my sophomore year.

Q: What do you like about swimming?
A: I like all of the close friendships I have made on the Swim team, and it has truly been a great experience. There is nothing like hitting the wall and coming up and seeing that you have come in first place. I am looking forward to being more of a leader and making new friends with some of the faces I haven’t met yet.

Q: What is your favorite subject at school and why?
A: I really liked my chemistry classes that I have taken at Providence because I loved learning everything new about it and Mr. Hutchins was a great teacher.

Q: What has been your most meaningful service project in high school?
A: The most meaningful service project I have done at Providence is when we went and helped people at the soup kitchen in downtown Louisville for sophomore retreat and got to connect with people who just needed a friend.

Q: What is the best thing about being a Pioneer?
A: The best thing about being a Pioneer is how close I am with all of my classmates. There isn’t any other student section in the state I would want to be cheering alongside with, and it continues in the classroom. Even when I’m struggling with calculus, I have a friendly face willing to help me.

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Two seniors earn spot in sacred art exhibition

Seniors Joe Gryboski and Ally Seifried had the honor of having their artwork accepted into the Our Lady’s Gallery juried exhibition of high school sacred and devotional art. Their pieces were on display last weekend at the gallery at Our Lady of the Greenwood Church in Greenwood, Ind., for its Gala Open House.

The students each submitted a ceramic prayer box made in last year’s Ceramics class as part of an assignment to create a clay box inscribed with their favorite Bible verse. Ally chose the verse 1 Corinthians 16:14 “Let all that you do be done with love” to be inscribed on her round, teal-colored box adorned with pink ribbons and buttons.

Joe chose to inscribe Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” on his geometric shaped box because “it is the one that I think of when I compete in sports,” he said.

The students said they were honored to be asked to submit their work for the exhibition and even more so that it was accepted.

“I felt very proud because I can positively represent the school in a unique way,” Ally said.

Joe was especially proud that his work was accepted because he never considered himself artistic but took art classes last year as a release from his rigorous schedule.

“It is really cool that Mrs. Burden remembered my artwork and told me that it was good enough to submit into an art show,” Joe said. “Even if my art doesn’t win anything, I think that it’s awesome that it was accepted.”

Art teacher Mrs. Donna Burden said she chose Joe’s and Ally’s pieces to submit because she remembered their pieces from the class offered last year.

“I thought their prayer boxes were very beautiful and would strongly represent PHS for this Catholic artist show,” Mrs. Burden said. “I was thrilled that both artists were selected. The show is made up of students and professional artists throughout Indiana, and a wide variety of mediums (were) on display. I’m very excited for Joe and Ally’s work to be a part of such an amazing and growing show!”

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Junior learns leadership skills at Rotary weekend

Junior Bryce Hutchins recently was selected to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), a leadership program coordinated by local Rotary Clubs. He was one of three students sponsored by the Clarksville Rotary and the only Providence student.

Bryce said he learned various leadership skills and strengthened his self-confidence during the weekend program earlier this month.

“I learned about myself and that it’s good to step outside of my comfort zone and sometimes I need to take control of the situation and be a leader,” he said.

Before attending the program, he would often find himself recognizing that something needed to be done in a situation, but he was reluctant to take the initiative. Through the projects and games he took part in at the RYLA program, he now feels more confident in responding to such situations, “even when I feel a little uncomfortable,” he said.

Bryce said he can implement several of the leadership skills he learned on his sports teams, which include Baseball and Boys Basketball. Having gone through the RYLA program, he now realizes that his coaches saw him as a leader. On different occasions, his coaches had pulled him aside to talk to him about doing his part in being a leader on the team. Now he recognizes that he has those skills after his teachers nominated him to take part in the RYLA weekend.

Bryce said he is grateful to the Rotary Club, which sponsored the program, and to the teachers who nominated him.

“I was really glad to have the opportunity, and it was good to meet new people and get out of my comfort zone a little bit and learn some things about myself,” he said.

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Mrs. Holifield brings scripts to life

Mrs. Ellen Holifield’s job as theatre teacher, Performing Arts Department chairperson, and theatre director means many long days. Just like a coach, she is busy many evenings and some weekends as she preps her cast for a show. She teaches Theatre I, Advanced Theatre, Musical Theatre Production, and Tech Theatre this semester. She is directly responsible for the production of the spring musical and the Deanery musical as well as the holiday theatre troupe, the Popcorn Players. But her hand is in every show that goes on a Providence stage.

It’s a job she has loved all of her 18 years here, starting right after she earned her bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from Murray State University. (She has since received her master’s in teaching from Spalding University.) Her Musical Theatre Production class, which she co-teachers with Mr. Ron Breedlove, just completed its run of Honk!, but she is already at work finalizing the cast for the spring musical, Freaky Friday. The show will start vocal rehearsals soon, and after Christmas Break, the cast will be hard at work to prepare for the March 8 Premiere Night.

A Q&A with Mrs. Holifield

Question: What do you enjoy most about the productions you oversee?
Answer: I enjoy the entire process of the production. Watching it begin from just a read-through of the script to the final product is always very enjoyable. Seeing the students embrace and develop characters and relationships within the show is great. I always start with a vision of what I think a show will be like, and directing it to come alive is very exciting.

Q: What do you like about teaching theatre?
A: I really enjoy sharing my passion with students. I enjoy working with students who may be new to theatre and taking a class for the first time — it is nice to see them appreciate it and realize that theatre can be fun. I especially enjoy working with the more experienced students, the ones who are a little older and have already discovered their love for the art form. It is fun to collaborate with them and help them grow into strong performers.

Q: Do you have a favorite subject?
A: I enjoy all of the classes I teach. The Musical Theatre Production class that we added a few years ago is fantastic!

Q: Now that you are a PHS parent and teacher, what does that add to the dynamic?
A: All three of my daughters have grown up in the Theatre and coming to Providence, so it is very comfortable for them. My oldest daughter, Mara, is a sophomore. I enjoy having her at school with me. Tessa is in seventh grade at St. Anthony and can’t wait to come to Providence. My youngest, Emma, is in fifth grade at St. Anthony.

Q: What are your goals for the Performing Arts Department as department chair?
A: I would like to see the performing arts continue to grow and strengthen. I would like for our students to continue to gain confidence and experience through the Theatre Program. I would like to continue to produce new works as well as rediscover some older ones. It is great for the students to experience a well-rounded repertoire of shows.

Q: What are you looking forward to with Freaky Friday?
A: Freaky Friday is a brand-new release, so it is very exciting to do something new and to be the first in the area to produce it. Freaky Friday has quite a few roles, which will feature many students. The music is fun and catchy, and the story has a great message. We’ve already auditioned, but I’m still in the process of casting. I can’t wait to get started!

Q: How has PHS Performing Arts grown during your tenure?
A: The performing arts have always thrived at Providence; that was one thing that drew me in. The dedication of our students has always been inspiring, and that has not changed. In my time at Providence, I have really seen the spaces evolve. When I started, the Little Theatre was in Room 209, and now we have an amazing [Ray Day] Little Theatre, where I am able to teach and our students can perform. Also, when I started, the spring musical was in the Koetter Gym, where we had to build a stage along with the scenery that went on it, then carpet, curtain and light the space in order to transform it into a theatre.

Now, we have an amazing facility, The Robinson Auditorium. It’s beautiful, and we are actually in the process of upgrading that. A new curtain was just installed, and now we are in the process of upgrading the lighting system as well. It should be done by our Christmas Spectacular (on Dec. 9). We are also working to upgrade the sound system and install marquee boards. It is so exciting to see the changes!

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: I love being a Providence Player!

Note: The Robinson Auditorium is receiving new theatre lighting technology in December to bring the facility up to date since it’s opening more than a decade ago. Upgrades include state-of-the-art energy efficient LED lights that will be less costly to run and easier to maintain. Providence Players will also enjoy being on stage under lights that produce much less heat.

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