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Three early Pioneers celebrate milestone jubilees

By Ray Day ’57, archivist

Three former Providence High School teaching Sisters are celebrating milestone jubilees in 2020. Two of them joined the Sisters of Providence in September 1960 and one in 1940.
Students in attendance between August 1965 and May 1968 may remember math teacher Sister Mary John (photo at right, from 1968 yearbook). Today, this Chicago native is known as Sister Mary (photo at left). She ministers as a volunteer at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice and as a spiritual director at Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods. She is celebrating 60 years with the Congregation.

Sister Ann Carita (photo below left, from the 1978 Providence yearbook), native of Indianapolis, entered the Congregation in September 1960. She was a math teacher at Providence during the 1965-1966 school year. No sooner did we get to know her and she was gone – only to return five years later in the fall of 1971. Many changes were occurring in religious orders at that time in history. When she began the 1973-74 school year her face was the same but her name was different. She was now Sister Nancy Reynolds.

Sr. Ann Carita/Nancy brought other changes to Providence. Her love of all sports took flight when she became our first “Sister-coach.” Beginning during the 1972-73 school year, she coached the first-ever Girls Cross Country team for two years. From 1973 through 1978, she coached the Girls Tennis team – an outstanding group of girls who finished the next three seasons undefeated. Under her leadership, the girls won sectionals in 1975, 1976, and 1977. They also earned the regional title and were state finalists in 1976.

Also during her time at Providence, Sister Nancy (photo at right) considered helping Dottie (Galligan) Zipp ’69 with Girls Basketball, “but I went into officiating rather than coaching that sport,” she said. Sister also served as statistician for the Football team for a number of years, and Coach Gene Sartini dubbed her “The Sideline Nun.” Today she resides in Louisville, ministers as a canonical consultant and serves as prioress of the Carmelite Nuns in Louisville. Sister Nancy is celebrating 60 years in the Providence Congregation.

Sister Mary Roger Madden, pictured at left and a native of Decatur, Ill., joined the Sisters of Providence in September 1940, a full 80 years ago. She served Providence for just one year, 1964-65. Regretfully the very thin 1965 yearbook does not contain a photo of her, and I’ve not been able to determine what subject she taught while here.

My search of the Providence archives reveals 125 Providence Sisters have served at Our Lady of Providence High School. Additionally, many members of their Congregation also taught at several Deanery grade schools or ministered at Providence Retirement Home and Providence Self Sufficiency Ministries, Inc. at Guerin Woods in Georgetown, Ind. Former Holy Family School teacher Sister Marie McCarthy (1965-1967) is celebrating 60 years. Former Holy Family School teacher Sister Winifred Mary Sullivan (1958-1960) is celebrating 75 years. Also, Sister Annette Schiff ministered from 1991-1993 as a receptionist at the Providence Retirement Home, then located on Spring Street in New Albany.

We at Providence extend our sincere congratulations, as well as prayers of thanksgiving, for their service to southern Indiana.
Early Pioneers indeed!

1 – Recent photos courtesy of the Sisters of Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods website
2 – Congratulatory messages may be sent to: 1 Sisters of Providence, Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana 47876

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Fall show debuts Friday to limited audiences

The fall show Walk Two Moons debuts this weekend, with showings to exclusive audiences on Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. The audiences are limited to family and close friends of the cast in order to maintain social distancing in the Robinson Auditorium. Click here for a cast list. Read More.

Walk Two Moons by Tom Arvetis is based on the book of the same name by Sharon Creech. The title refers to the Native American saying, “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.” The play delves into the memories of 13-year-old Sal as she tells the story of the disappearance of her best friend Phoebe’s mother, with the characters exploring conspiracy theories, painful realities, and light-hearted moments.

Despite the restrictions, the cast members say they are excited about and grateful for the opportunity to perform, especially after having had the second weekend of the spring musical canceled in March.

Senior Rosie Kempf, who portrays Salamanca ‘Sal’ Hiddle, the play’s narrator, said she is not taking the chance to be on stage again for granted.

“I’m just looking forward to being able to perform while we still have the chance,” Rosie said.

She said she is enjoying her role because she gets to portray someone with a greater imagination than her own. She primarily relates to the character through Sal’s close relationships with her family and friends and likes that the character overcomes a difficult childhood by using her experience to help her friend go through a rough patch.

“It’s made her tough,” Rosie said.

For senior Mara Holifield, who plays Phoebe Winterbottom, her role is meaningful because it closely relates to her real life.

“I get to be best friends with my real best friend,” Mara said.

Senior Victor Beeler, who plays Phoebe’s father, Mr. Winterbottom, as well as the Sheriff, said he likes his role as Phoebe’s father, even though it’s a more serious role than ones he has played in the past. His character has “a lot of intense moments” as he tries to deal with various crises, so Victor has to imagine himself as an adult and how he himself would handle those situations.

Senior Kieran Kelly also plays two roles, both very different. Mr. Birkway is Sal’s energetic English teacher, while John Hiddle is Sal’s dad, who is dealing with the death of his wife. In the fast-paced show, there isn’t much time between his characters’ appearances, so he needs to get into each one without much lead time.

“They’re both two extremes, and I have to figure out how to switch between them quickly,” Kieran said. “I try to picture what’s going on in the heads of both characters and figure out their place in the story and apply that.

Overall, the cast is enjoying this time preparing for the show and spending time together.

“I’m looking forward to just being able to be with my friends on stage, to meet some juniors I didn’t get to be in shows with last year, and having fun time in theater,” Kieran said.

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September Scholars lead in world language, science

This month began the recognition of our scholars and leaders, starting with world languages and science. The September Scholars are as follows:

  • French: Freshman Margaret Gahagen, sophomore Henry Lovan, junior Tyrone Davis, and senior Rebekah Berg
  • Spanish: Freshman Sawyer Elias, sophomore John Walthers, junior Allison Mercer, and senior Kieran Kelly
  • Science: Freshman Kate Simmons, sophomore Avery Miiller, junior Hayden Vissing, and senior Grant Dierking

Here are Q&As with most of them:


Rebekah Berg, senior, French IV ACP, House of Integrity, volunteer at the Kentucky Humane Society, began taking French sporadically in second grade and more focused since seventh grade

Question: What do you like about the French language?
Rebekah Berg: I believe the French language is fairly easy to learn. It is one of the romance languages, which is similar to English. I like how some of the words are cognates, which is the same word in English.

Q: What do you like about French class?
RB: We are all a family. I’ve taken French with these girls since freshmen year, and we are all very close, and I feel like we can all get through one last year together.

Q: When did you first become interested in taking French?
RB: I first became interested in French, honestly, because I loved how the words were pronounced. They were all pronounced so beautifully with the classic French accent. Also, French is one of the most widely known languages, and if one day I possibly travelled to France, or to Europe in general, I would be able to understand and speak with some of the natives from that country.

Q: How are you making the most of this school year?
RB: I’m making the most of this school year by studying hard and trying to stay positive and open to change. With COVID, you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so if you are on a tight schedule and routine, it’s nearly impossible to keep it with all the changes, but I try to make the most out of what I can and stay positive through it all!

Tyrone Davis, junior, French III ACP, House of Faith, Football, started taking French as a freshman

Question: What do you like about the French language?
Tyrone Davis: What I like about the French language is how unique and different it is from English and a Spanish, but also how these languages also share history with each other and come from the same roots.

Q: What do you like about French class?
TD: What I like about French class is learning about the history and it’s culture, and comparing it to the American culture and how we do things.

Q: When did you first become interested in taking French?
TD: I first became interested in taking French when I was on the D.C. trip in the eighth grade. Mrs. Lennon was my chaperone, and she talked to me about the classes she teaches. I also did not want to take Spanish, because I knew a lot of other people were already taking it. I figured French would be something different from the normal.

Q: How are you making the most of this school year?
TD: I’m making the most of this school year by studying and touching up on all of the French verbs and conjugations. I’m really hoping I could visit France sometime.

Margaret Gahagen, freshman, House of Justice, Honors French I, Children’s Show, Girls Soccer

Question: What do you like about the French language?
Margaret Gahagen: One thing I like about the French language is how it connects back to the arts.

Q: When did you first become interested in taking French?
MG: I have wanted to take French for as long as I can remember because of my ballet background.

Q: How has taking French helped you outside of class?
MG: French has helped me understand a lot of words in ballet, things like “pas de deux” (a dance for two people) and “entrechat quatre” (a jump where you beat your legs four times) make a lot more sense because now I know that “deux” and “quatre” are numbers.

Q: How are you making the most of this school year?
MG: I am making the most of this school year by being grateful that I am able to go to school and all of my extracurriculars.


Kate Simmons, freshman, House of Humility, Biology, Girls Soccer, Girls Basketball

Question: What do you like about science in general?
Kate Simmons: I like science because I feel like there is a wide variety of topics in science that you can learn about. 

Q: What has been your favorite science class?
KS: My favorite science class is biology because I like to discover new things about life.

Q: How has taking science helped you outside of class?
KS: Science helps me outside of class by understanding more about life and things that surround me.

Q: How are you making the most of this school year?
KS: I am making the most of this school year by taking nothing for granted and working hard.

Avery Miiller, sophomore, House of Faith Sophomore Delegate, Honors Chemistry and Anatomy & Physiology, Girls Soccer, Girls Tennis, Honor Council.

Question: What has been your favorite science class?
Avery Miiller: My favorite science class thus far has been Anatomy because Mr. Purichia makes it a very interesting course and learning about the body is interesting to me.

Q: What do you like about science in general?
AM: What I like about science in general is how it’s a tool to understand the world around me.

Q: Do you plan to pursue science as a college major or career?
AM: I’m not sure if I will pursue a degree in science, but this year I have taken an interest in anatomy, which has broadened my view on science. With this being said, I might consider a degree in life science.

Q: How are you making the most of this school year?
AM: I am making the most of this school year by trying to stay optimistic about the future. I’m looking forward to resuming to normal life, but proceeding with caution. We are all doing our best to get through this time with the help of each other.

Hayden Vissing, junior, House of Truth, AP Chemistry, Baseball

Q: What do you like about science in general?
Hayden Vissing: I like science because it allows me to learn the reasoning behind many of the processes in our lives and it is very interesting.

Q: What has been your favorite science class?
HV: My favorite science class that I have taken has been chemistry because I like working with the specific elements and using them in formulas.

Q: What has been your favorite assignment, project, or lab in science class?
HV: My favorite lab that I have done so far was the titration lab that I did in Chemistry class last year. I liked being able to handle the reaction myself and to see the reaction and results form right in front of me.

Q: How are you making the most of this school year?
HV: I am making the most of this school year by doing the best work that I can while at home and by continuing to work hard when we are in the classroom.

William “Grant” Dierking, senior, House of Integrity senior executive delegate, AP Physics, Honor Council, Eucharistic Minister, Lector, Student Ambassador, Drawing Club, ProLife Club, Math Team, Quick Recall team, Providence Singers, Spring Musical, and Boys Golf.

Question: What has been your favorite science class?
William Grant Dierking: Physics has been my favorite science class because I enjoy applying math to real life phenomena.

Q: Do you plan to pursue science as a college major or career?
WGD: I plan to major in engineering because of the joy I have experienced in my physics courses.

Q: How are you making the most of this school year?
WGD: I am making the most of this year by trying to maintain academic excellence while also being very active in the Providence culture through game attendance, extracurriculars, and student leadership. I am also branching out to make new friendships in addition to the close ones I already have.

Q: How has taking science helped you outside of class?
WGD: Science has helped me outside the classroom by improving my problem-solving abilities and by giving me a better understanding of the world around me.


Sawyer Elias, freshman, House of Justice, Honors Spanish I, theatre, Volleyball, has taken Spanish since first grade

Q: What do you like about the Spanish language?
Sawyer Elias: To me, Spanish is a really intriguing language. I love how it has different and more respectful versions of words. I find it really cool that there are different ways to say the same word.

Q: When did you first become interested in taking Spanish?
SE: I first became interested when I started taking it in first grade. We played Spanish bingo a lot, and I loved learning new words.

Q: What has been your favorite assignment in Spanish class?
SE: My favorite assignment so far has been when we had to have a conversation with our partner in full Spanish. It was a fun challenge.

Q: What do you like about Spanish class?
SE: What I like about the class is how fluid it moves from one lesson to another. When we start a new lesson, we don’t start from scratch on a new subject but instead build upon what we already know.

John Walthers, sophomore, House of Justice sophomore class delegate, Honors Spanish II, Boys Golf, started taking Spanish in junior high at OLPH.

Q: What do you like about Spanish class?
John Walthers: I like Spanish class because Mrs. Belmonte is really nice and very patient as we learn.

Q: When did you first become interested in taking Spanish?
JW: I decided to take Spanish because my sister really liked the language when she was here, so I thought I’d try it as well.

Q: How are you making the most of this school year?
JW: I am making the most of this school year by trying to attend a lot of BLUE Days when we are in session in the building. This helps to keep me keep current with all of my classes and teachers.

Allison Mercer, junior, House of Courage, Spanish IV ACP, Volleyball previous two years, has taken Spanish since sixth grade

Question: When did you first become interested in taking Spanish?
Allison Mercer: I first became interested in taking Spanish in high school in seventh grade because I had already taken it before and knew I liked it.

Q: How has taking Spanish helped you outside of class?
AM: I want to have the skill of being bilingual going forward in life so that I can speak to more people and be able to know the language of popular travel destinations. It will also help me later in life when I am applying to jobs.

Q: How are you making the most of this school year?
AM: I am making the most of this year by focusing on my grades and school work more than anything. Even though tickets are scarce this year for games, I still want to enjoy that aspect of high school every chance I get.

Kieran Kelly, senior, House of Integrity, Spanish IV ACP, theatre, Swim Team, and Quick Recall, started taking Spanish in fourth grade

Question: What do you like about the Spanish language?
Kieran Kelly: What I like about the Spanish language is that it challenges you to think in a way that you normally don’t have to in English. I think learning another language is really good for your brain.

Q: What do you like about Spanish class?
KK: What I like about Spanish class is that we don’t only learn about grammar, but we also learn about words and phrases that Spanish speakers would be likely to use, and we also learn about the culture of Spanish-speaking countries in order to gain a better perspective.

Q: How has taking Spanish helped you outside of class?
KK: Spanish has helped me outside of class because I can communicate with more people effectively, and eventually will help in that it is possible for me to get a better job because of the fact that I took Spanish.

Q: How are you making the most of this school year?
KK: I am making the most of this school year by not taking anything for granted and making the most of every moment. I’m also doing this by being a part of all the extracurriculars I like.

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Sports Spotlight: Boys Tennis

This issue’s Sports Spotlight features Boys Tennis seniors Michael Hamm and Landon Kruer. Coach Scott Gurgol nominated Michael because he has “played most of his career at Number 1 singles and faced the toughest competition. He’s been clutch coming through with big wins to secure 3-2 match victories (Memorial, Columbus East, Borden). His presence at the top of the lineup allows me to be creative with the lineup behind him.”

Of Landon, Coach Gurgol said: “He’s been our most consistent point scorer at Number 1 doubles his junior and senior season. He’s had four different partners, and he gets the job done. He’s also been flexible and played singles in some key spots to help the team earn victories.”

Michael Hamm, senior, fourth season/seven years overall, No. 1 singles, House of Justice

Question: What are you looking forward to in your senior season?
Answer: I am looking forward to having a great season with the team and winning this year’s sectionals. Also just getting to know the underclassmen and showing them how to act when they become seniors and how they can be a leader.

Q: How did you get started playing tennis?
A: I got started to play tennis [because of] my dad. My dad introduced it to me when I was very young, and we always watched the Grand Slams when they were on. Then I tried to play it, and I loved it.

Q: What do you enjoy about tennis?
A: The thing I most enjoy about tennis is just you’re on your own, well in singles that is. If you mess up, it’s not your team that messes up, it’s you. You make your own shots, and you have all the pressure on yourself.

Q: What do you like about playing No. 1 singles?
A: The thing I like the most playing one singles is that it is very challenging to play against people who are better than you and you’re just on the court by yourself. You have to keep composure is the most challenging thing when you’re on the court.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
A: My favorite part about being a Pioneer is how close we are to each other. Covid has made it very hard this year to be with my friends, but we still manage ways to hang out while being cautious.

Q: How are you making the most of school this year?
A: I’m doing all that I can to hang out with my friends and getting used to have to wear masks in the classroom.

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
A: My favorite subject in school is Anatomy because I like learning about the human body, and I love Mr. Purichia.

Landon Kruer, senior, fourth season/fifth year overall, No. 1 doubles, House of Spirit Senior Executive Delegate, Honor Council, Baseball

Question: What are you looking forward to in your senior season?
Answer: I am looking forward to winning sectionals with my current partner, (junior) Jake Rodski.

Q: How did you get started playing tennis?
A: I started tennis in the eighth grade after some of my friends asked me to play.

Q: What do you enjoy about tennis?
A: I enjoy the competitiveness of tennis and the pressure that comes with each point. It makes you concentrate and be the best you can be in tough situations because one point can win or lose you the match.

Q: What has it been like to adjust to different partners and how has it helped you grow as a player?
A: I have had to adjust to every partner because every one of them has a different way of playing and a different level of talent. It has helped me as a player because my game has gone from one way of play to many, so I can be more versatile and use more skills on the court.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
A: My favorite part of being a Pioneer is that our school has a family feel to it and that you know everyone, student and teacher alike.

Q: How are you making the most of school this year?
A: I am trying to stay positive and hope for better times in the future in order to make the most of wearing masks and social distancing.

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
A: My favorite school subject is AP Government because I enjoy learning about how our country and government were formed and how it has changed and stayed the same over time.

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Young alumni open businesses despite pandemic

It’s tough enough opening a small business in any climate, but doing so in the middle of a pandemic is even more challenging. Yet inventive, determined people, such as the three young alumni featured here, continue to turn their ideas into money-making ventures for the sheer love of sharing their passion with the public. Their businesses range from a part-time hobby to a large-scale sporting adventure club.

Monetizing a crafting hobby
Becca Hellinger ’15 has always loved to do crafts. At Providence her favorite classes were art, and she loved spending time working on various projects. But once she began nursing school at Indiana University Southeast, her studies kept her from spending much time at. After earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing in May, she promised herself she would return to doing things she loved as a personal reward, she said.

She started making decorative badge reels and epoxy tumblers for herself and then for friends as a way to destress after her night-shift job as a nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Norton Children’s Hospital. Coming home after a long shift and working on craft projects has become her favorite way to unwind.

“I love how I can go into my basement and start working on something and everything else in my mind melts away,” Hellinger said. “I lose track of time and stay up way too late quite often, but it’s worth it to me to have that outlet to unwind at the end of each day. I also love the happiness and excitement on people’s faces when I deliver their items. I love being able to make something personal for them to bring a little more joy to their day when they see it. Their excitement makes my heart happy.”

The idea for selling her creations came when friends who received her gifts suggested she sell them. In June, she started a Facebook page, Becca’s Craft Creations and Personalizations, and began taking orders. Since then, she’s had a steady stream of orders from coworkers and friends. For now, she plans to limit her orders to local delivery to avoid shipping.

She spends a couple hours each day either crafting for herself or working on orders. It takes five days to complete an epoxy tumbler because of the curing process, and she can make up to eight at one time, thanks to additional turners her dad made for her.

Hellinger said she plans to continue nursing full time and maintain her business as a hobby. Even though she loves crafting, she loves her career too.

“This is a tough job (working in the Pediatric ICU), but I love how rewarding it can be,” she said. “I not only care for children during some of their worst days, but also for their families.

Being able to see the kids go from very critical to walking out our doors is definitely a highlight I love. I can’t see myself working in another profession.”

Turning family tradition into marketing opportunity
Collin Rauck ’15 also is turning his hobby into a business. Whitetail Bloodline, which he co-owns with a friend who shares Rauck’s passion for hunting, “is a hunting brand that aims to promote hunting and conservation that has been passed down throughout our bloodline,” he said.

The business is still in the early stages of development and for now offers a merchandising line of hats, hoodies, shirts, and decals. Next up, Rauck and his business partner, Gavin Sodders, plan to post videos of themselves hunting to the Whitetail Bloodline YouTube channel. Future plans include starting a podcast focusing on hunting tips and strategies.

Rauck and Sodders began formalizing their longtime dreams of owning an outdoor company just as the spring quarantine began. Despite the shutdown, the two moved forward with their plans. Merchandise sales opened in late August, and the pandemic has meant shipping delays, but orders are coming in. The two continue promoting the brand and their love of hunting and the outdoors on the business’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

Although it may seem like a crazy time to start a business, Rauck said he and Sodders were ready to launch their business despite the climate. After all, hunting can be a solo sport, and they are both looking forward to the fall season opening soon.

“We’ve both been hunting since we could basically walk, and we both are very thankful for our dads being the biggest influence in getting us into hunting and the outdoors,” Rauck said.

Old family farm now a sporting club
Jack G. Koetter ’14 also has launched an outdoor activity business, but of the three profiled here, his is the only full-scale business. The Sporting Club at the Farm, located on 740 acres along the Ohio River on River Road in New Albany, offers a variety of outdoor activities, mainly focused around shooting and archery, with plans to expand into hiking, corporate outings and more.

Koetter left his job as foreman with his family’s business Koetter Construction in order to launch The Sporting Club. As assistant manager, he oversees daily operations and handles property management. It’s been a busy year for Koetter and his business partner, Bobby Brooks, who is a cousin to Koetter’s wife, Catherine (Emerson) ’14.

Brooks shared his vision for the river-bottom land one of his relatives was selling, and Koetter saw the potential for the old farm. The two began work on the property in July 2019, and The Sporting Club opened this past June – delayed from the original April opening because of the statewide quarantine. He also is using his former construction business skills to restore the nearly 150-year-old farmhouse into a pro shop and clubhouse.

“It has been seven days a week, daylight to dark getting us to where we are now,” Koetter said. “And I have to thank my wife, Catherine Koetter, for allowing me to spend countless hours away from her and our three young kids,” Summer, 4; Jackson, 2; and John Kayce, 8 weeks.

Business has gone well this summer, with families, individuals, and organizations coming out to enjoy clay target shooting, archery, fishing, and hiking. The facility also offers events, banquets, and weddings.

“These are some of the things we do to keep the lights on but our mission and our ‘why’ is to get kids in the outdoors,” Koetter said, noting that organizations such as the National Archery School Program and Scholastic Clay Target program use the facilities. “(We want) to get kids that maybe aren’t the star quarterback or pitcher or maybe don’t have a father figure in their life to get them outside and teach them that there is more to life than just video games and give them a chance to be a part of a team or talk about God. That’s something that is very near and dear to our hearts.”

Koetter said that despite the full-time effort needed to launch a business, he is grateful to see how families and children are enjoying the farm and its offerings.

“The opportunity to bring the business to our community that has an economic impact and to share our passion for the great outdoors has been a dream come true,” Koetter said. “I have to thank my business partner, Bobby, for including me on his idea and to give the glory to God for putting our families together and assembling our team to get this business to where we are now.”

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Freshmen bond during first retreat

Last week, our freshmen participated in a day of reflection with community building activities, small group sharing, faith sharing witness talks from others, and prayer. The activities were held at Providence and facilitated by a group from CYO Camp Rancho Framasa. The students enjoyed their first Providence retreat experience, even with social distancing and mask wearing.

Freshman Quentin Hesse said he had fun during the community building activities, which focused on communication. When communication broke down, his group failed and ended up arguing. But when they worked together, they solved the task.

“We had to communicate with each other and pay close attention to complete and accomplish the goal,” Quentin said. “Our groups had to work together and be patient with one another in order to cohesively complete the task. We had to listen to one another’s advice in these games as well. … When we listened and worked with one another, we were able to get the job done.”

Freshman Erin Popson agreed.

“This made us have to speak with one another and problem solve based on what the others told us,” Erin said. “By working together on these activities, we became closer as a class, a team, and a spiritual family … [It] helped us understand how important communication is when we’re in a relationship with God.”

The witness talks and small group discussions also helped the students see their faith in a new light.

“The one that stuck with me the most was that I should put God first in my life,” Quentin said. “As a lifelong catholic, I had already known that this should be something I should do in my life. On the retreat I felt a connection to put God first. It made me realize that I should not only notice that I should put God first, but I should act this way in my life.”

Erin saw the day as an overall positive faith experience.

“The freshman retreat was an amazing experience, allowing me to meet and connect with the others in my class,” Erin said. “Overall, it helped me to understand the ways God speaks to us and how we must respond if we wish to be closer with Him and have Eternal Life with Him in Heaven.”

Freshman Evan McCombs said he liked connecting with his classmates in a new way.

“We really got to know our classmates,” Evan said, adding that he liked how the retreat leaders brought fun into the faith experience. “I definitely had a lot of fun at the retreat.”

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Freshman enjoys helping others learn

Freshman Ada Kitch misses being able to do her volunteer work with students at Kenwood Elementary School near Iroquois Park in Louisville. Last year as an eighth grader at Holy Family, her godmother, Aimee (Hess) McDonnell ’96, who teaches English as a second language at Kenwood, invited Ada to help out with Kenwood’s Culture Club, which celebrated diversity and acceptance while also helping students with their conversation skills.

Ada started working after school with two of McDonnell’s ESL students. The boys are refugees from Africa whose family immigrated to the United States through Kentucky Refugee Ministries after their village was attacked.

Ada’s mom would take her to Kenwood after school, and she would play games with the boys and talk to them to help them improve their English skills. Sometimes they would tell stories in English using cards with pictures of various objects. Other times, she would play their favorite game of soccer with them. Then she would ride with McDonnell as she gave the boys a ride home to the Churchill Downs area.

McDonnell said Ada was an asset to the Culture Club and its goal of playing games and having fun while listening to and speaking English.

“She was a natural and made learning English fun for them,” McDonnell said. “She was able to form a bond with them that allowed her to connect with them even after COVID.”

Ada said she learned so much while helping the boys improve their English. Her eyes were opened to the living situations of those in poverty. She learned of the atrocities the young boys witnessed in their hometown – and how it’s normal for them to wake up to the sound of gunshots in their new neighborhood on any given night. Despite those painful memories and the differences in their life experiences, the boys were thankful for so many things and kept a positive attitude.

“I realized how privileged I am,” Ada said. “I never had a life like they do (living with a large family in a small house). I’ve always been content, and I realized how unthankful I am. The little things that make them so happy, like going to the park, can be boring or no big deal to my family.”

Her family and McDonnell’s family also began collecting items to donate to the boys’ family – and any other of McDonnell’s students who needed help. Sometimes they donated food; other times they donated outgrown clothes or sheets and pillows.

When schools were closed due to the quarantine last spring, Ada missed working with the boys. McDonnell set up a program she named WakeUp Call in which volunteers from St. Margaret Mary Catholic School and Sacred Heart Academy could provide the same help Ada had been doing but virtually. The goal was for the volunteers to call ESL students to give them a chance to speak English as well as “help with homework, play games virtually, and just be a bright spot in their day,” McDonnell said.

“Speaking and listening in English is so important to an ESL student’s progress,” McDonnell said. “The WakeUP call program gives them the opportunity to engage in English, even if no one in their home speaks English.”

Ada began working with a young girl in the WakeUp Call program, calling and checking on her every day. Talking on the phone and checking on her progress with her parents was more challenging than helping with the Culture Club, she said, especially since the girl’s parents didn’t speak any English. Once school was out, Ada called a few times to check on her but really missed never having the chance to see her in person.

McDonnell will start up the WakeUp Call program again next month instead of the Culture Club. Ada is eager to help again, even if it’s only over the phone.

With JCPS starting its school year virtually, it will be several weeks before she would have the opportunity to volunteer in person again. But if she is given the chance, she would.

“I really like the fact that (helping others speak English) can change their lives,” Ada said. “It feels good to help people and make their lives better.”

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Sports Spotlight: Girls Soccer

This issue’s Sports Spotlight features Girls Soccer. Coach Brett Bass ’12 nominated seniors Kayce Quinn and Anna Isler. Kayce fought back from an injury to serve as goalkeeper, and Anna is a key motivator for the team with her vibrant sense of humor.

Of Kayce, Coach Bass says: “The hard work she’s put in after her knee injury last year is just truly amazing. It’s been a long journey for her, but all her hard work has paid off, and it’s been a true joy to watch.”

Of Anna, Coach Bass says: “She’s just a joy to be around, as a coach. She always brings a smile to the team and can get us all laughing. Her work ethic behind that humor is what makes her special. When the time comes, she gives the team everything.”

Anna Isler, defender, second season, House of Courage, Providence Singers, Popcorn Players, spring musical

Question: What are you looking forward to in your senior season?
Answer: This season I’m looking forward to playing with my awesome teammates, getting to know everyone better, and I’m looking forward to making memories.

Q: How did you get started playing soccer?
A: I thought it looked really fun, and I wanted to be more active in my school.

Q: What do you enjoy about being on the soccer team?
A: I really enjoy laughing and playing with my teammates. Every one of them is so interesting and fun to be around. Playing alongside them is always great.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
A: My favorite part of being a Pioneer is the experience. I feel like since I’ve been at Providence, I’ve been able to thrive academically and creatively. There are so many opportunities for us as students, so there’s always something to do.

Q: How are you making the most of school being socially distanced and wearing masks?
A: With school being on hybrid schedule right now, plus social distancing and wearing masks, I try to stay positive and stay in the moment. I want to make sure not to waste my senior year being sad that things aren’t the way they used to be, but I also take precautions to keep myself and others safe. It’s different, but I’m trying to make the most of it.

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
A: Theatre because it gives me a creative outlet.

Q: What do you like about making others laugh?
A: I like making others laugh because it makes me feel like I’m putting something good into the world. I have a pretty weird sense of humor, and I get really excited about pretty much everything, so I’m just happy to make people smile.

Kayce Quinn, goalkeeper, fourth season, House of Courage, Softball (pitcher)

Question: What are you looking forward to in your senior season?
Answer: What I’m looking forward to this senior season is leading my team to be our best and watching us grow together. We are a very different team from the past years, but we are strong and a very talented team, so I can’t wait to see what we can do the rest of the season.

Q: How did you get started playing soccer?
A: I played off and on throughout middle school. I wasn’t even sure coming in to freshmen year if I was going to play, but with some convincing from friends and my family, I decided to play, and I’m very happy with my decision. I think I would’ve regretted it if I didn’t play.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
A: My favorite part of being a Pioneer is the family atmosphere that is created around us. We are one big community that does so much together, and I’m glad to have everyone around me to go through these tough times together.

Q: How are you making the most of school being socially distanced and wearing masks?
A: I’m trying to make the best of this school year by just doing as much as I can to make it “normal.” Even though we do have to wear masks during school which is something new for everyone, I try to not to let it get in my way of my school day. I try to remind myself at soccer practice and at games to play like our next game isn’t guaranteed. We’ve already had five or six games cancelled due to teams quarantining, so I try not to take for granted the practices and the games we have gotten to play. Outside of soccer, I’m thankful we still get to go to football games, and I get to lead cheers for the student section. At Providence, the Friday night football games have always been something everyone loves to go to and have fun with each other, and I’m very happy this is something that we are still able to do.

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
A: My favorite school subject is any of my art classes. Mrs. Burden and Ms. Lebrun always try to make them fun and do a wonderful job of teaching the classes. My family is very artistic, so I have always been into art. So when I get to go to art class and show my ability and creativity, it is always one of the best parts of the school day.

Q: What does it mean to you to be able to play again after coming back from an injury?
A: I tore my ACL in my right knee almost exactly a year ago today, during our Floyd Central soccer game. I was unable to play any sports for about six or seven months, and I slowly got back into it during that. I had to go to physical therapy for about three or four months, and then I moved into the weight room with our trainer to work towards getting my muscle back. My main focus after my injury was to get back for softball. Unfortunately, our season got cancelled, so it was a hard time after putting in all the work I did. I am so grateful for the help and support I got so I could get back and play soccer. After I injured my knee, something I had to think about was whether I was going to come back and play soccer. But with everything going on in the world, one thing I learned was to not take anything for granted. That helped me make the decision to play soccer, because I worked to heal to be able to play, and if I didn’t I would regret it. I am happy to be out there with my team, and to be able to lead them through this year.

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Teachers adapt to teaching in 2020

Schools across the country are grappling with how to educate their students while keeping them safe during the pandemic. Locally, most Southern Indiana schools are teaching students in person or using a hybrid schedule, while other states have opted for online learning. The focal point has been students and their health. The teachers and how they are all of these added challenges are an important component in the success of this school year.

This issue, we talk to a few teachers about how they are adapting to the new environment, including two new teachers. Julie Payne ’14 is in her second year of teaching 10th grade special education English in Washington, D.C., as part of the Urban Teachers program, and Kaitlyn Hellinger ’16 is in her first year of teaching second grade at St. Anthony School in Clarksville. Aimee (Hess) McDonnell ’96, who teaches English as a second language at Kenwood Elementary in Louisville, provides an experienced teacher’s point of view.

Hellinger is navigating the rigors of first-year teaching with the added component of safety and health practices for her in-person classroom. St. Anthony has two licensed teachers who provide online learning to students who opt to learn virtually this semester, so she is able to focus on her classroom students as she builds her lesson plans and creates teaching materials. She does, however, upload assignments to Google Classroom for her digital learners.

While she did have an opportunity to work online with one student last spring, her student teaching assignment did not extend into virtual learning. She completed her elementary education student teaching in Indianapolis, but the quarantine began when she was just two weeks into her special education teaching assignment. Marian University, where she earned her degree in elementary education and a minor in special education, changed the required length for student teachers once the quarantine began.

Hellinger said she is enjoying getting to know her students, adapting to their various learning styles, and eager to help them prepare for their First Communion. See below for a more detailed Q&A.

Payne teaches at a public charter school in D.C., which is requiring distance learning for the first several weeks of school. She said she feels more successful at providing online learning this semester after having the summer to “work out the kinks.” Working with her co-teacher, she is able to offer synchronous learning (live teaching at scheduled times) as well as in platforms from Google Classroom and Zoom to Nearpod and Quizziz.

She is able to provide one-on-one instruction as well as work more closely with a variety of teachers in other subjects, thanks to the school’s emphasis on cross-curricular collaboration. However, what is more challenging is building the rapport with her students that came more easily with in-person learning, she said.

Payne also feels more successful as a teacher overall, having learned a lot during her first year last year, as well as from master’s classes in education that she is taking at Johns Hopkins University. See below for a more detailed Q&A.

McDonnell said she is energized by the creativity her fellow teachers and the staff have used at her school to engage students during distance learning. At the same time, she realizes her students are missing out on an important component of in-person classes, that of being immersed in an environment with naturally occurring conversations in English. Many of her ESL students have no other English speakers in their homes, so they miss out on the daily listening to and speaking their new language.


Question: How is your school year going so far?

Kaitlyn Hellinger: The school year has been going well so far. It was a little bit of an adjustment at first, mainly for me to become more comfortable as a first-year teacher and figuring out what did and didn’t work with my class. However, we have settled into a routine and are improving every day. They are getting used to being in school again, since they were out of the school building for such a long time due to the pandemic. The students are doing a lot better than I ever anticipated with keeping their masks on. You can tell how badly they want to be in school with their classmates and teachers instead of being online like they were in the spring.

Q: What do you like about teaching second grade?
KH: Second grade is a fun age. My students are old enough to be a little more independent but still young enough to be silly and excited to learn. It is also the year students make their First Communion. I am thrilled to be able to accompany my students while they are taking this important and exciting step in their faith life.

Q: What creative ways are you using to get to know your students since everyone is masked?
KH: Even while social distancing and wearing our masks, my class was still able to play some get-to-know-you games at the beginning of the year. My students also love to talk and tell stories, so finding a little time throughout the day to listen to their stories and learn more about them has been important as well.

Q: What do you find most challenging in your first year of teaching?
KH: Finding the time to complete everything has been extremely challenging. I knew this was going to be a challenge my first year, even without the pandemic. There is just so much to plan, create, and grade. Since it is my first year, I do not have materials already made to use, so I am making everything from scratch, which takes a lot of time. I also do not have a partner teacher so figuring out the best way to teach everything has been a little overwhelming, but the other primary teachers have been a great help and are always willing to give me their opinion and support.

Q: What do you find most rewarding?
KH: When I get to see the “light bulb” go off in students when they finally understand a concept, we are working on is so rewarding. We work so hard together to learn new things and clarify any confusion so seeing when it finally clicks is just as rewarding for me as it is for them. I also love seeing my students grow as people. I have only known them for about a month, but some of them have already changed so much. Seeing them help one another and make Christ-like choices is a dream come true. Also, seeing their smiling eyes and masked faces when they are leaving at dismissal while saying they don’t want to leave school yet makes me feel like I am making an impact and helping my students love learning.

Q: How did your own education experience prepare you for being a first-year teacher?
KH: Thinking back to when I was a student in elementary school, the fun interactive projects are what I remember the most. I plan to incorporate as many hands-on learning experiences for my students as possible. My time in college with practicums in elementary classrooms and student teaching helped me see classroom management strategies, lesson ideas, classroom set ups, and have many other valuable experiences to help me go into my first year of teaching with an idea of how I wanted to run my classroom and teach certain skills.

Q: What is it like to be teaching at your old school?
KH: Teaching in my old school is like coming home, as cheesy as that may sound. I honestly could not imagine myself teaching anywhere else. I get to teach alongside some of my absolute favorite teachers while getting to know them in a different light as coworkers instead of as my teachers. It is still a little weird to call them by their first name instead of as Mrs. So-and-so, but I am slowly adjusting. Old and new faces alike, everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. I know I can ask anyone for help or advice, and they would do anything they can to help me. Job hunting during a pandemic was stressful, but I am so thankful for how everything worked out, allowing me to be back at St. Anthony’s teaching second grade.

Question: How was your first year teaching through the Urban Teachers program?

Julie Payne: My first year was, in large part, a learning experience for me. I was able to soak up a lot of different, new techniques and strategies that I was not taught during my undergrad experience. This year was a huge year of growth for me, and because of it, I felt more prepared for this weird virtual learning year that we’ve entered now.

Q: What were the challenges and your success stories?
JP: Some challenges that I faced were adapting my teaching processes for my students. When I student taught in undergrad, my host teacher did not engage in a lot of actual instruction. She would give students an assignment, talk about it for a couple of minutes, and then let them go on their way to work. Because of this, I modeled my teaching practice in a similar way, just being available to students if they needed help. When I started teaching in D.C. though, I found that my students needed more instruction and guidance. They needed constant engagement and stimulation, where they wanted to talk about and discuss the work/content. This is where a lot of my successes came in, though. This type of teaching allowed me to grow closer to my students and allowed me to better my pedagogical practices in a way that I wasn’t able to in undergrad. I felt like I was making a bigger impact on their education and could tell when I needed to adapt my teaching or approach.

Q: What did you do to adapt to virtual learning last spring?
JP: Before virtual learning back in March, we used Google classroom for a large majority of our assignments that required a computer in-person, such as extended writing assignments and essays. When we switched to all virtual, we transitioned everything to Google Classroom, so students were using a familiar platform. While we did not transition fully to synchronous classes that students had to login to, my co-teacher and I made ourselves available for virtual office hours for students to check into, if they needed more support or clarification about any assignments.

Q: With DC starting classes virtually, what things that you learned from last spring are you applying to this school year?
JP: Last year, we did not do any synchronous classes with students. My co-teacher and I tried a couple of times in the beginning, but there was no set time for class to occur, so students were not regularly logging in. Because of this, we decided to do one-on-one check-ins with students instead of actual classes. This year, we are doing synchronous classes with students, plus daily office hours and small group sections for specific students. My co-teacher and I are also working on creating more engaging lessons virtually for our students through various platforms, such as Zoom, Nearpod, Quizziz, etc., that we did not use as much last year.

Q: Is it more challenging starting off the year virtually?
JP: For actual lesson planning, it is a little easier starting off virtually because we had a couple of months to get started and work out some of the kinks from the spring semester. However, for actual classroom instruction, it is a little more difficult because I’m not as familiar with the students that I have now. I did teach one section of these same students last year, but it will be more difficult to build relationships with the other students, as virtual learning largely limits that one-on-one rapport you can build with a student. I’m hoping through different platforms and avenues during the school day, I will have opportunities to build that connection with students, even if we’re not in person.

Q: What do you enjoy about teaching?
JP: The thing that I enjoy most about teaching is whenever I can see that spark in a student’s eye when they finally make a connection or learn something new, especially a student whose favorite subject is not English. It makes me feel like I am making a positive impact on their educational experience, which is my main goal in teaching. I also enjoy the back and forth goofiness that I get to have with my students.

Q: What do you like about the Urban Teachers program?
JP: The Urban Teachers program has helped prepare me for the classroom in a way that my undergraduate experience did not. The level of rigor from the graduate school classes at Johns Hopkins, combined with the hands-on teaching experience and coaching that the residency year gave me is something that is unparalleled. I definitely feel more prepared to walk into any classroom and be able to teach any student, which is something that I did not feel so confident in when I graduated from undergrad.

Q: What do you like about teaching virtually?
JP: Teaching virtually gives me more of an opportunity to work with students one-on-one, with the way my school has set things up. It also gives me an opportunity to connect with other teachers and school personnel in a way that I wasn’t able to in person, as my school has really prioritized cross-curricular and cross-grade level collaboration and planning in the virtual world.

Question: As an ESL teacher, what challenges did you face last spring with distance learning?
Aimee McDonnell: The digital divide is a challenge for a large number of students. Providing chrome books, hot spots, and translation services on top of creating engaging content for our ESL students was a huge undertaking. Luckily, I am blessed to work at the only National School of Character in Kentucky. Our students, our staff, and our families are committed to each other and to overcoming challenges.

Q: How is this fall semester going as it starts virtually?
AM: We are back online and better than ever. I am always amazed at the resiliency of our students. Our teachers have gone above and beyond to reach every single child online. NTI 2.0 is providing so many exciting opportunities for our ESL population. We would love to be back in person, but for now, just seeing the kids back online makes all of the hard work worth it.

Q: What creative ways are you using to reach these students?
AM: Teachers are using interactive platforms and Bitmoji classrooms to capture students’ interest. They are planning culturally diverse lessons that include My Maps and CultureGrams so that all students have access to an equitable Education. We also do lots of fun and crazy things to get them to show up and keep them coming back. One of my favorite events this year has been our drive-in orientation. Each student was invited to come in their cars to receive Chromebooks and log on information. The parking lot was set up like a drive-in theatre, and our presentation for orientation was shared digitally so parents could watch it in their car. It is that kind of creative thinking that energizes our staff and students. I also consider myself honored that I get to do home visits during COVID. Following social distance and mask mandates has been challenging, but there is nothing more rewarding than helping people at home and getting a firsthand glimpse into their life.

Q: How will the ESL student population benefit once classes return to in person?
AM: Listening and speaking English are crucial to language development. Hearing conversations around you in English, and turning and talking with friends is invaluable. Some of it can be replicated online, but technology robs us of some of the natural conversations that happen during the day. You can’t replicate those additional organic interactions that happen in the cafeteria, on the playground, or even at the water fountain. Every student regardless of the language they speak needs human interaction for modeling.

Q: What do you enjoy about teaching ESL?
AM: The thing I love most about teaching ESL is that I am also the student. Each child has a unique experience that shapes who they are, and I have learned so much about the world through them. I also love being able to connect my faith with my pedagogy. Doing outreach with Catholic schools to bring acceptance for immigrants and refugees is just an added bonus.

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Sports Spotlight: Boys Soccer

This issue’s Sports Spotlight features Boys Soccer seniors Edward Bobkoskie and Josh Gettelfinger. Coach Jake Stengel ’05 nominated Edward, who transferred to Providence from South Korea last school year, because he “is a very important senior contributor for our team. I think his story is unique and he would have some insight into what it’s like joining the Providence Family a little later than most.”

Edward started playing soccer two years ago at the suggestion of a friend and is starting his second season at Providence playing forward. He is in the House of Humility.

Question: What are you looking forward to in your senior season?
Answer: I am looking forward to having one good last year with the team.

Q: What do you enjoy about soccer?
A: I enjoy just having fun and being able to just not worry about anything else when I play soccer.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
A: Everyone is closely bonded together.

Q: How are you making the most of school being socially distanced and wearing masks?
A: Just enjoying every minute with my friends.

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
A: Math, because every time I solve a problem, it feels like I accomplished something.

Q: What are you looking forward to most about having all students in the building again?
A: I am just looking forward to being able to see everyone.

Q: As a transfer student, how did the Providence community make you feel welcome?
A: Since the school is small, it was easy to get to know people.

Q: How does school at Providence compare to your previous school?
A: My old school didn’t have any kind of athletic programs; we played in sand if we wanted to do any kind of activity. But Providence has any kind of athletics you could find, and the fields are amazing.

Coach Stengel nominated Josh because he has been improved every season. “He is a very important contributor to our team as a senior as well. He has a great attitude and an incredible work ethic.”


Josh, who has played soccer since age 4, is in his fourth season at Providence and is a defender. He also is on the Track team and is in the House of Loyalty.

Question: What are you looking forward to in your senior season?
Answer: I’m looking forward to just playing and having fun.

Q: What do you enjoy about soccer?
A: I have always enjoyed working hard and trying to be the best player I can be.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Pioneer?
A: My favorite part about being a Pioneer is that since the school is small it allows everyone to get to know each other.

Q: How are you making the most of school being socially distanced and wearing masks?
A: I’m just happy to play soccer my senior year and getting to see my friends in school.

Q: What is your favorite school subject?
A: My favorite subject is math because I like working with numbers.

Q: What are you looking forward to most about having all students in the building again?
A: If everyone’s in the school building then that means Covid has calmed and the student body has done a good job of following the rules.

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