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Senior receives Lilly Endowment Scholarship

Senior Sophia Hottois is one of four local recipients of the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, entitling her to four years of full tuition at any Indiana college as well as a $900 stipend for books and other expenses. Sophia said she feels honored to receive the scholarship and is deciding between Indiana, Butler, and Purdue universities.

“I feel extremely honored and blessed to receive this scholarship to ease my family’s hardships and make all my hard work truly mean something,” she said, adding that her mother has been undergoing treatment for a rare form of cancer and is no longer able to work.

Sophia played Volleyball and is the senior executive delegate for the House of Humility, a Student Ambassador, a Eucharistic Minister, and a member of the National Honor Society and Honor Council. She plans to major in pre-law and political science with the intention of going on to law school.

She said she wants to become an attorney in order to help others.

“I want to help people who can’t advocate for themselves,” Sophia said. “I think people should always have someone fighting for them.”

Sophia said she enjoys helping others and has accumulated more than 100 service hours, most of them since the summer after her sophomore year when she represented Providence at the HOBY Conference. She enjoyed attending so much that she trained to return as a junior facilitator. Her local service to organizations like In Heaven’s Eyes and St. Vincent DePaul met the nonprofit’s service requirement.

Because of the pandemic, the 2020 HOBY Leadership Conference was held virtually, and Sophia was glad to be a part of it.

Attending the 2019 conference “helped me recognize my own style of leadership, how I work in a group of people, and how I can contribute to the community based on what I know about myself,” she said. She was happy to help those in her small group learn those same things during the virtual conference.

The two-day virtual conference was held via Zoom, with the large group sessions featuring 150 people on the call at one time. The attendees then broke into small groups of about five people. Sophia supported the efforts of the adult leader by sharing a positive attitude and enthusiasm during their sessions.

Sophia said being chosen as a HOBY junior facilitator and Lilly Endowment Scholar is validation of her efforts to “show how dedicated (she is) to making the community a better place.”

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Four juniors named Indiana Rising Stars

Four juniors recently were named Indiana Rising Stars, recognizing them as the top in their class academically, Mercedes Benjamin, Maddie Beyl, Dallas Bonnet, and Zach Van Wie. This non-competitive recognition program sponsored by the Indiana Association of School Principals honors high school juniors for their academic achievement in order to increase their visibility and scholarship opportunities.

Mercedes is a member of House of Humility, Book Club, Drawing Club, Providence Singers, and theater. Her favorite school subject is math “because I excel at it, and I enjoy learning the basic principles for most everything around us,” she said.

Being named a Rising Star is a validation of her efforts and motivation to continue working on her long-time goal of becoming valedictorian of her class, Mercedes said. Keeping this goal in mind has helped her stay focused during virtual learning.

Dallas is the junior executive delegate for the House of Truth, a Student Ambassador, on the Girls Tennis team, and a member of Quick Recall and Book Club. Outside of school, she rides horses and competes in horse shows. She loves to read and write, which makes English her favorite school subject, especially “looking at different writing styles and seeing themes play out across story lines,” she said.

Dallas said she is grateful to be named a Rising Star because it’s a recognition of her hard work. Her goal is to travel the world, and working hard in school is one step to achieving her dreams, she said.

Zach is a member of the House of Humility, Quick Recall, Math Team, and eSports Team. Like Mercedes, math is his favorite subject “because there is always a definitive answer with no room for error,” he said. He is encouraged to continue working hard by being named a Rising Star.

Zach kept up his efforts during virtual learning by “participating in class and giving my full attention to the teachers. Although virtual learning has been hard, it has pushed me to find different ways to learn and succeed,” he said. He has been motivated primarily by his goal of becoming valedictorian.

“I am a competitive person and being valedictorian would be like winning a championship,” “School for me is almost like a sport, where I compete against myself and my friends.”

Maddie  is a member of the House of Justice and loves math because “there is a solidarity and sureness that comes with working with numbers that make finding answers rewarding. In addition, there is so much you can do with math, and the calculations that can be made are intriguing and interesting to me.”

Succeeding in high school is way to ensure her future, she said, keeping her motivated when she is tempted to slack off – or go back to bed during virtual learning. She stayed focused by keeping to a schedule and getting dressed as if class was in person. She also balances making the most of her time, such as starting her homework when instruction ends before the block does – and during virtual learning giving herself a break from screen time and getting exercise. Being named a Rising Star is an acknowledgement of all her efforts.

“It’s so rewarding to be acknowledged for the hard work and stress that come with succeeding in difficult classes,” Maddie said. “It makes it all worthwhile.”

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Sophomore learns entrepreneurship through clothing brand

Sophomore James Manning is learning a lot about what it takes to own a clothing brand. He started his own business, Broken Club Clothing, in February 2020 as an outlet for self-expression and a way to help others who may also be struggling as he does with anxiety or other physical or mental challenges.

The business got off to a slow start, but James considers it all part of the learning process. His first product release – a line of T-shirts and hoodies featuring his Heartbreaker design of a heart with one side in blue and a jagged edge separating the other half in aqua blue – sold only 12 pieces, mostly to his friends. But he spent the last year focusing on his mistakes in order to learn from them to make sure his next clothing drop, Crying but Your Tears Are Snowflakes, will do better.

“I had to take a step back and really look at the choices I made for my project, so I could learn for my next release,” James said, which also meant he didn’t have time to focus on promoting the Heartbreaker line. “I anticipate those numbers changing, knowing what I know now. Experience is the best teacher.”

James said he learned some basic marketing skills that will help his next release, such as creating a demand for the product by doing several tease posts to build interest and excitement. He also researched his social media following to learn more about their interests in order to attract others with similar interests to his brand, @broken_club_clothing.

He also spent more time working on the design. His first clothing drop came about in a month, from design, to having a local print shop print the design on three different shirt styles, and to offering them in an online store. This time, he spent almost a year on the clothing line.

The Crying but Your Tears Are Snowflakes design was inspired during a visit to his mom last Christmas when she was in the hospital in Florida. To help him deal with his anxiety, James listened to his favorite artist, guardin, with the song “Snowflakes” on repeat. The name for his newest clothing line came from a line in the song that really resonated with him, James said.

“I really grabbed on to his lyrics in that song, particularly, ‘crying but your tears are snowflakes,’” he said.

After spending the spring reflecting on how to improve his marketing for his next clothing drop, James started designing his Snowflake idea in July 2020 and finished it in December. He is now working with a local printing shop to adhere his design to various pieces of clothing. He said he hopes this drop is more successful as he plans to implement what he learned over the last year.

James’ biggest hurdle is having enough time to devote to his business. Most of his time goes to school and homework, and his free time is dedicated to creating more designs, researching, planning, estimating costs, or marketing.

Creating and planning are important elements to a successful business, and James is devoting what time he can to both. Even though he is only on his second clothing drop, he has created about 10 other designs. Some will never go beyond his computer, but some have been sold to other small clothing brands, including Energy Never Dies and Bubblenumb by musician Jumex.

James also has hopes to expand beyond clothing such as designing jewelry and resin pieces. He would create the design and find a craftsman to bring his jewelry ideas to life while creating his own resin pieces.

I have SO much planned for the future of Broken Club. I want to do more than just clothing,” he said. “I really enjoy helping people so I hope one day, when my brand gets bigger, I will be able to donate money to charities.”

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Sports Spotlight: Wrestling

This issue’s Sports Spotlight is on Wrestling and features freshman Eli Theobald and junior Roy Shrout. Eli is wrestling for the first time and has had good success already, which prompted first-year Head Coach Brad Davidson ’03 to nominate Eli for his “incredible progress as a first-year wrestler in our program. He is a fierce competitor and continues to be extremely coachable.” Roy is team captain, and Coach Davidson nominated him because “he has spent much of the off-season improving his technique and skills, and I believe it will pay off for him when we wrestle in the state tournament at the end of January.”

Eli Theobald, freshman, 106 weight class, House of Spirit, Football, first-time wrestler

Question: How did you get started wrestling?
Answer: I got started by talking to Coach Davidson towards the end of the football season, when wrestling was about to start.

Q: What has been the highlight of your season so far?
ET: The highlight of my season so far was placing fourth in my first-ever tournament.

Q: What do you enjoy about wrestling?
ET: The thing I most enjoy about wrestling is how it’s always a dog fight from the start to the finish.

Q: How are you making the most out of the season in spite of its challenges?
ET: I’m making the most of the season despite the challenges by putting in the work to make it feel like a normal season.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
ET: My favorite part about being a Pioneer is the community and how close everybody is with one another.

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
ET: My favorite school subject is English because we have a really good teacher who can teach that subject very well, and I have a lot of friends in that class.

Q: Coach Davidson said that you have shown great progress in your first year. What do you like most about competing?
ET: The thing I like best about competing is seeing who can work harder.

Roy Shrout, junior, 170-pound weight class, second season, House of Spirit, Football (two seasons), Spring Musical (2020)

Question: What has been the highlight of your season so far?
Answer: So far, the highlight has been being voted to be the team captain.

Q: What is your goal for the season?
RS: My goal for the season is to be a semi-state qualifier.

Q: How did you get started wrestling?
RS: For as long as I can remember, my dad has been trying to convince me to wrestle, and after my freshman year and my first year of football, I decided to give wrestling a shot to see if I liked it or not. After about two weeks into it, it was very difficult, but I really enjoyed it.

Q: What do you enjoy about wrestling?
RS: What I really enjoy about wrestling is the challenge it provides. It pushes you to do and achieve things that you had no idea you could.

Q: How are you making the most out of the season in spite of its challenges?
RS: I am making the most out of this season by treating every practice like it might be the last of the season. I have already missed two matches due to being quarantined. So I have given my best effort every practice like I could be quarantined at any time.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
RS: My favorite part about being a Pioneer is the smaller community, which lets me get to know a lot more people than I would at other schools. Also the support of athletics and other extracurriculars is another thing I like about being a Pioneer.

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
RS: My favorite school subject is math because it comes easy to me and I find it exciting to learn about.

Q: Coach Davidson said that you dedicated much of the postseason to conditioning and training. Why was that important to you?
RS: Conditioning and training for Wrestling was definitely a big part of my postseason. I did this because last year I really enjoyed the sport but was not very competitive, and I wanted to change that this year.

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From uncertainty to hope: Alumni lead in vaccine effort

“… Receiving the (Pfizer or Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community. In this way, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.” Statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Last Tuesday, Jeremy Wilt ’92 experienced hope for the first time since the pandemic began last March. He received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and this week will have his immunity from COVID-19. As a nurse practitioner with privileges in several area hospitals, he witnessed a new energy among his colleagues as he waited in line at Clark Memorial Hospital to receive his shot.

“The room was filled with people eager to get the vaccine,” Wilt said. “The moment was very magical and uplifting, and one of the most exciting times at work in over a year.”

He experienced only a few side effects from the vaccinations. After the first, his arm at the injection site felt sore for about 18 hours, and after the second, he experienced what’s being called vaccine fatigue, or extreme tiredness for about 24 hours after the injection. His renewed outlook is the best side effect, however.

Like many healthcare professionals, our alumni among them, Wilt has struggled with the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first days of the initial spread of the virus in the United States, the rapidly changing guidance and regulations from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization started the uncertainty, just as the healthcare workforce was trying to get a grasp on how to treat patients with the virus. There was also the fear of running out of personal protective equipment. As healthcare providers gained more control on implementing those regulations and the supply of PPE was shored up, there was still the uncertainty of who might have, spread, or catch the virus. 

Wilt, his wife, and their daughter had COVID-19 in February, although at the time they had no diagnosis. Wilt took a week off work with a sore throat, loss of the sense of smell, and a day with a high fever. In April, his family was tested for antibodies, and he was able to confirm his suspicions that they had had it. Soon after, he donated convalescent plasma in an effort to help others. 

For Wilt, gaining long-term immunity from the virus brings a mix of emotions as he considers life without the pall of contagion hanging over him, he said. Like many healthcare providers, he feels it is his civic duty to demonstrate the effectiveness of the vaccine and the need to protect the community. He also was eager to set an example to others. On a personal level, he looks forward to being able to gather with his extended family again, something he hasn’t done since Christmas 2019. Even more, he looks forward to no longer being viewed as a pariah.

“Just the thought of being officially immune and safe from the virus, being able to wear my uniform out in public before I go into work … and people thinking ‘He’s vaccinated’ instead of ‘He’s infected,’” Wilt said, adding that he’s had patients, strangers, friends, and family take a step back from him when he answers yes to their questions if he has worked with COVID-infected patients.

As a member of the healthcare community, Wilt is proud of the strength of human endurance the community has demonstrated, he said. He also is grateful to see hope among his colleagues after those months of uncertainty, stress, and pain from dealing with so many patients sick or dying from the disease.

“My heart hurts for everyone who lost loved ones and ways of life during these times,” he said. “I just hope the vaccination provides a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Chelsea (Cox) Dodson ’07 also sees that light. A nurse manager for Medical Surgical Services at Clark Memorial Hospital, she oversees nurses and other staff who deal with COVID-positive patients. Like Wilt, she also had a mix of emotions about receiving the vaccine. Having recently recovered from COVID-19, she was uncertain if having those antibodies would have an impact when she received the vaccine, she said.

Happily, Dodson had no adverse reactions to either dose other than minor aching in the arm in which she received the vaccine. Her reaction instead is pride — in Clark Memorial for being the first hospital in Southern Indiana to receive the vaccine and herself to be among the first to be inoculated, she said. Dodson was originally scheduled to get her vaccination on Dec. 16 but two days ahead of schedule, her department learned the initial date had been moved up. She and the director of her Med Surge unit then chose to get their vaccine that first day to “Pioneer the way for our team.”

She also wanted to provide an example to the public.

“By me taking the vaccine and protecting myself, it means I’m also protecting my family, friends, and the community,” Dodson said. “I want to show people that the vaccine is safer than having COVID.”

One of her duties in assisting in management of a 160-person department is to ensure the employees are informed about the latest research and regulations on the virus. That meant continually staying abreast of the news and medical publications to keep up with the ever-changing developments, strategies, and regulations.

“You could never truly have a break from it,” Dodson said. “It affected people’s lives constantly.”

As the healthcare community and now those age 80 and older are gaining immunity, like Wilt, she sees hope for the future.

“This is the beginning of the end of COVID,” Dodson said.

Like Dodson, Marla (Goodman) Beeler ’94 received the vaccine after having COVID in recent months. Beeler, who is the wife of President Victor Beeler ’94 and a nurse practitioner in a thoracic and vascular surgery practice, wondered if she needed the vaccine so soon after having recovered. Not knowing how long the antibodies would protect her from another infection helped her decide that for the good of her patients and her family she would get the vaccine.

“So to protect my patients, my family, and myself, I decided to get the vaccine,” Beeler said. “I really felt an obligation to protect. That’s what the vaccine does. It protects the recipient and the public from spread of COVID. In turn, that protection allows us as healthcare providers to continue caring for the sick. When we’re at home sick, the public suffers.”

Beeler also has felt the weight of the uncertainty of the virus, its spread, and its effects on individuals and the community at large. As more people receive the vaccine, she hopes that burden lessens for everyone.

“In an era when information is a smartphone away, it was really hard for society to grasp that we’re facing something the world has never seen before and doesn’t have any information to help accurately predict its course,” Beeler said. “My hope for 2021 is to have a year with less uncertainty and healthier families who can enjoy being with each other safely.”

Hannah Fontan ’12, a travel nurse now working in a Post Anesthetic Care units throughout The University of Colorado Hospital system. She has spent more than two years on assignments around the country before settling in Colorado in mid-2020. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, her future was promising. With the higher pay rate and living stipend travel nurses receive, she was saving money for her July 2020 wedding to Evan Hutt ’12. She was assigned to UCLA Santa Monica when the pandemic began, working with post-surgery patients. Suddenly, she discovered that most surgeries are considered elective and her future looked bleak.

“This was the only time in my career I was fearful of losing my job,” she said.

Fontan and Hutt postponed their wedding until this July in an effort to protect their family and friends, and she struggled to find a new assignment. She finally received one from UCHealth and works a several facilities connected to the hospital and often treats COVID patients. For her, receiving the vaccine on Dec. 19 and Jan. 9 brought an immense feeling of gratitude, particularly that she was part of the UCHealth team and eligible to be among the first to receive her doses.

She took the vaccine not only for herself but to be part of the larger effort to end the pandemic, she said.

“I feel I’m doing my part of everyone that won’t or can’t get it (the vaccine),” she said, “for the people who have gotten sick or died, for my family, friends and community. I got it for the people I love and for myself.”

These alumni would be further reassured to know one of their fellow alumni is among those responsible for Hoosiers to receive the vaccine. Katie (Gatz) Hokanson ’05 is leading the state’s efforts to get those vaccines to the broader population. As director of trauma and injury prevention for the Indiana Department of Health and COVID-19 hospital vaccine branch manager, she works with hospitals to provide updates on the vaccine’s rollout by the federal government. She also assists with hospitals’ vaccine clinic setups and the state’s vaccine scheduling system.

Just as information and guidance developed rapidly in the early days of the pandemic, so it is with information from vaccine manufacturers and the federal government. Hokanson often finds that the plans she has developed suddenly need to be adjusted. Despite those challenges, seeing healthcare workers and now Hoosiers age 80 and above receiving vaccines brings a sense of relief and pride.

“All of us at the state Department of Health have been waiting on this moment for a long time,” Hokanson said. “To see shots in arms and smiles through masks was an overwhelming moment for me. Seeing healthcare workers achieve immunity and our older adults being eligible for vaccine gives us the energy to keep moving forward.”

She encourages anyone who is eligible to register for the vaccine and looks forward “to the day when the COVID-19 vaccine is as widely available as the flu and shingles shot,” she said. “That is when we will know the pandemic is nearing the end.”

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Students keep up giving spirit this Advent

Being on virtual learning for the last four weeks of the semester didn’t dampen participation in the Advent Angels Project. For the last few years, Providence has adopted several needy families identified by New Albany Deanery parishes, with each House taking a different family. This year, to maintain social distancing, the students and parents could contribute donations online or sign up for specific items to donate. A few members of each House then shopped for any remaining items using the online donations, and others gathered to wrap the gifts. This year, more than $1,000 was donated to help these families.

House of Justice senior executive delegate Katie Huff said she is seeing stronger participation this year with students having the chance to donate online. She hopes her House makes its 100 percent participation goal this year, a goal it missed last year.

“It is easier for some people to just go online and donate some money instead of finding time out of a busy schedule to go shopping or wrap gifts,” Katie said.

Katie said the Advent Angels Project is one of the most important events the Houses put on, in part because it allows everyone to get involved but also because of its purpose – to help those in need have a good Christmas.

“The holidays are a very stressful time of year, especially this year, but it helps to know that we are helping in an extremely important way,” she said.

Katie said she wasn’t as involved in the project last year but this year has put more into it.

House of Integrity sophomore Grace Purichia and her sister Maggie Purichia ’20 get a start on wrapping Advent Angels gifts.

“Wrapping gifts makes me happy because it reminds me of Christmas time,” Katie said. “I personally feel like when I can go out and do something and really make a change, I feel more involved.”

House of Integrity senior executive delegate Anna Purichia also likes that the project inspires every member of the school community to commit to a single cause.

“The Advent Angels Project is so important to both me and my House because it is something that brings everyone together during the Christmas season, and everyone does this in order to help a family have the Christmas they deserve,” Anna said. “Doing things like this make everyone feel so happy.”

Anna said she misses being able to go shopping with a large group of House members, but she is still grateful they can help others in need.

“It does make me sad we aren’t able to do things the exact same way as we are used to, but as long as we are helping people during the Christmas season, that is all that matters,” Anna said.

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Popcorn Players, Providence Singers go virtual

When in-person extracurricular events were restricted by the Clark County Health Department, the Popcorn Players and Providence Singers got creative in how they bring their holiday cheer to audiences. To make sure everyone could enjoy their performances, both groups will now record videos that will be posted to the school’s Facebook page.

Junior Sarah Boehm said she will miss performing as a member of Providence Singers at each Deanery school, but videotaping it has its advantages.

“Since the performance won’t be live, we can redo it as many times as it takes to make it perfect,” Sarah said. “Also, we may be adding some special effects to jazz it up.”

The group also is taking advantage of rehearsals as an opportunity to improve.

“In the past my favorite part about Singers has been going on tour and getting to perform for all the little kids who can’t wait for Christmas,” Sarah said. “However, since we couldn’t go on tour this year, I really enjoyed how the program challenges us to be better performers. Mr. Breedlove always encourages us to experiment with different styles of music and try out for solos even if we are out of our comfort zone.”

Sarah is looking forward to performing, even if it’s only in front of a video camera. Her favorite song this year is “Seasons of Love,” especially the final verse, which she finds apropos for its lyrics “you can pour your soul out singing a song you believe and tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang. Sing it anyway.”

“I think this goes along really well with what’s going on this year,” Sarah said. “We may not be able to perform for a live audience, but that’s not going to stop us.”

Sarah is a member of the House of Faith, a Popcorn player, and is a member of the Cross Country, Swim and Track teams.

Junior Jack Kaiser’s favorite song this year is “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and like Sarah, he is still enjoying the experience of being a Providence Singer.

“I like that I can be myself around the other people in Singers, and I love singing so it feels perfect for me,” Jack said. “I love that I can express myself vocally and also entertain others while doing so.”

Jack is in the House of Courage and is a member of Boys Golf, Quick Recall, and Esports.

Some Singers, like seniors Emma Keeney and Aaron Burke, are also in Popcorn Players, which is filming its performance and creating “Popcorn Players: The Movie.” Instead of an in-person visit, the troupe will send its video to each of the Deanery schools.

Emma said she loves being in Popcorn Players and the chance to make others smile and laugh.

“We come to every rehearsal with full energy ready to just be on stage with our friends,” she said. “I like that we don’t shut anybody down if they have ideas about a script; we try to incorporate all of them and it always turns out really well. I also love how fast paced it is. We have only completed three rehearsals, and we are almost performance ready.”

Emma said she most enjoys the skit “Buddy the Elf” because each of the actors have a role, unlike other skits which may involve only a few of the actors.

“It is very fun to act out and I am happy to be in it.”

Emma is in the House of Courage and active in theatre.

Aaron also said that skit is his favorite because the group has been able to include funny dialogue from the movie on which it’s based. Being able to work together to make memorable scenes is what he enjoys most about Popcorn Players.

“I enjoy working with my castmates to create a story and displaying that story for audiences to see,” said Aaron, who is senior executive delegate for the House of Loyalty, a Student Ambassador, a member of the Pro-Life Club, and treasurer of both the National Honors Society and the St. Anthony Youth Planning Team.

Not seeing and hearing the audience’s reaction will be different this year, but the group is determined to put on a fun show just the same.

“The audience will be able to enjoy a joyful, energetic, and soulful performance from the comfort of their living rooms,” Aaron said.

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Sophomores deepen faith, relationships on retreat

Sophomore students took part in their class retreat led by the group NET Ministries the week before Thanksgiving. The students enjoyed the opportunity to deepen their faith and bond more closely with their classmates. Held in the Administrative Corridor with students breaking into two separate day-long sessions, the retreat included skits, small group sessions, adoration, and witness talks.

Sophomore Nathan Huynh said he liked all the activities because together, they helped him draw deepen his faith and his relationships with his classmates.

“I was able to know Jesus better through all the skits they did,” Nathan said. “This retreat helped me know my classmates better because we were able to create good memories through all the activities we did together.”

Sophomore Brooklyn Stemle said the skits were her favorite part because the lessons they taught demonstrated God’s influence on our lives. Even if others reject you, “God will always love and want you,” she said. “He always is by our side.”

Following up those skits with small group discussions helped too, and she particularly liked when her group read Bible verses. She felt comforted by the discussion on how God the Father talked to Jesus and on Jesus’ work of salvation, which is still ongoing.

“Today, Jesus continues to show us that we are loved unconditionally, and he forgives us for our sins,” Brooklyn said.

Sophomore Cody Jackson said he liked how the leaders brought a high level of energy and worked to keep everyone involved, but his favorite part was meeting in small groups. He learned how to successfully interact as part of the group while also growing his faith. More importantly, he learned more about his classmates, which helped them grow closer.

“Our small groups gave me the ability to better understand how people communicate with each other,” Cody said. “I look forward to future retreats at Providence.”

Sophomore Savanna Gohmann said the retreat day was a fun way to focus on her faith journey. She also liked the small group discussions, which helped her see “a new side of my classmates,” she said. “We were all very comfortable with each other and outside of our shells by the end of the day.”

She also enjoyed the time for adoration of the Eucharistic, which was not only peaceful but helped her feel closer to God.

“This retreat was a very eye-opening experience and taught me many things,” Savanna said. “I’m overjoyed that I went and got to experience this God-loving relationship with all of my peers.”

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Junior turns love of clothes into online business

Junior Rachel Burns is well on her way to being an entrepreneur. This holiday season, she is turning her love for wrapping her family’s Christmas gifts into a small business opportunity by offering a gift-wrapping service for extended family and family friends. She hasn’t had any customers yet but expects to as the holiday draws near. But she has been busy with her other business, an online clothing boutique targeting teen girls and young 20-somethings she named Monhegans.

The online boutique has been open about a month, and Rachel is excited to have to purchase more clothing to stock it. The week of Black Friday, during which she offered discounted prices, brought in several sales from her friends and a few from customers outside her circle.

“It’s mostly local, but it’s starting to spread out some, but not much,” she said. “I’ve only had it for a month.”

Opening the online store, which features tops, bottoms and dresses in the $20-$30 range, took several months as she acquired a business license, created a website and Instagram account, and bought clothes through a wholesaler. The most difficult part was getting the business license, she said, adding that it was also scary to spend so much money, all which she earned through her babysitting job.

Although she hasn’t totaled up her startup costs because she spent the money over time, buying inventory especially meant spending more money than she ever had before, Rachel said. But once she got past the legal requirements, running her business has been fun.

“I like working, and I love clothes,” she said “I’ve always wanted to work in a store when I was little.”

Now she has her own store, in a room in her basement dedicated to holding her inventory and boxes for shipping. She hasn’t had to ship too many items and instead delivered her friends’ orders personally. She hasn’t tracked the time she has put into her boutique, especially because it hasn’t felt like work.

She enjoyed designing her website, using Shopify to choose a template and modify it for her needs. And she enjoys shopping for more inventory, choosing clothes that she knows girls her age will like but that aren’t ones she has seen sold at other stores.

Having an online boutique fits in with her friends’ buying habits since they usually buy online rather than in brick-and-mortar stores, Rachel said. When her friends buy something, they usually text her to ask what sizes she has available or the size she recommends. Customers also can use the sizing chart on the website.

Rachel said she is pleased with sales at this point, especially since Monhegans – a name she chose from a book she once read, The Miracle on Monhegan Island by Elizabeth Kelly – has only been open a month. She hopes her business succeeds and that she can grow it as she finishes college.

In the meantime, she’s grateful for the support of her friends and family, including her mother, DeAnn (Kaiser) Burns ’82, who took her idea for starting the boutique in stride.

“She wasn’t surprised” when she told her, Rachel said. “She liked the idea, but she thought it was something that I would definitely do.”

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Sports Spotlight: Dance Team

This issue’s Sports Spotlight is on the Dance Team, which performs at home Football and Boys Basketball games. Coach Debbie (Popp) Miller ’87 nominated junior Addison Mills and sophomore KB Merchant for this feature. Of Addison, Coach Miller said she “has shown great leadership and positivity and is a great role model for the younger team members. I can always count on her to step up and be an encouraging voice with awesome ideas!” Of KB, Coach Miller said, “KB shows up with high energy every time – for both practices and performances. She is a true performer, and I love the excitement and fun that she brings to the team!”

KB Merchant, sophomore, second season, House of Integrity, Providence Singers, theatre

Question: What was the highlight of your fall season?
KB Merchant: The highlight of my fall season was when we performed at the first game. It was extra special for me especially because my 1-year-old nephew, Beckham, got to watch me dance for the first time, and he loved it. The first game of the season always has this excitement and joy, that you don’t get at other games.

Q: How did you get started in dance?
KBM: I’ve been doing dance for about eight years, ranging from tap and musical theatre to jazz. I was also on my dance team at St. Anthony’s for five years. I have been doing theatre and musical theatre since I was 8 years old. I love to sing and play music. I have been doing Providence theatre since 6th grade.

Q: What do you enjoy about Dance Team?
KBM: What I enjoy about Dance Team is being able to entertain the crowd. Especially if our team is doing really good, or even if we’re not, it can maybe cheer them up and give them a good smile. I’ve always loved entertaining.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
KBM: Everything – the school, the people, the experience. When I’m at PHS, I feel like I’m at home, and it’s just a nice feeling knowing that you go to school somewhere that feels like a family.

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
KBM: Hands down, theatre. Theatre is my heart, so I look forward to theatre and musical theatre class every day!

Q: At this point, do you plan on doing dance in college?
KBM: I want to major in musical theatre, so dance is a major part of it. I don’t know necessarily if I would be on a dance team in college, but I do plan on using it for the rest of my life.

Q: Coach Miller said that you bring good energy to your performances. What do you like about performing?
KBM: I love making people happy. That’s all. Seeing people smile, especially at such a difficult time, is the best feeling ever. Knowing that you can, at least for a moment, make them feel pumped up and part of the experience. And the rush of school spirit.

Addison Mills, junior, third varsity season, House of Truth

Question: What was the highlight of your fall season?
Addison Mills: I think the highlight of my fall season was just being able to perform and do what I love most, which is getting the crowd excited for football and of course dancing with my best friends. With COVID-19 going on, our season was definitely uncertain, so we had to go in there with an open mind and be prepared for whatever challenges we might face. We ended up performing more than I thought, which is never a bad thing, and now I’m just ready for basketball!

Q: How did you get started in dance?
AM: I have been doing dance since 2013, so almost 8 years. I started at St. Anthony’s, where Debbie Miller was also my coach, so she’s seen me grow through elementary to now my junior year of high school.

Q: What do you enjoy about Dance Team?
AM: At Dance, I really enjoy being with my friends and knowing we’re all going to go out there and perform something we’ve worked so hard for. Watching the crowd cheer along and get excited for us gives me the warmest feeling in my heart to know everyone else is just as ready as we are.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
AM: My favorite part about being a Pioneer is the community I’m surrounded by. All of the friendships I’ve made along the way have shaped me into who I am today, and I’m truly grateful for that. The teachers and staff are also so amazing and so helpful, which means I’m surrounded by great role models.

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
AM: I would say this year that World History is my favorite school subject. I’ve always been super interested in history mainly because I’d hear old stories from my family. I also really enjoy having Mrs. Koetter as my teacher because she’s hardworking and expects the best out of us but is also understanding and so, so helpful.

Q: At this point, do you plan on doing dance in college?
AM: Dancing in college is something I’m definitely interested in but not for sure about.

Q: Who has been your role model in being a good leader?
AM: Our assistant coach Brianna Brooks (’16) is definitely one of my biggest role models. When I started dance, I was shy and really just in my own bubble, but she taught me how to grow out of that. Every practice, every performance, every fundraiser, she was there to guide me through and help me focus on the positive. I slowly but surely became an overall more optimistic person, which made it a lot easier to come to practice and get everyone else excited for it. 

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