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Students learn, serve, grow, and pray

Several of our students participated in activities from mission trips to week-long camps, including Hoosier Girls State; Hoosier Boys State; One Bread, One Cup; a U.S. Naval Academy Summer Seminar and more.

Rising senior Logan Applewhite attended Hoosier Boys State, held at Trine University in northeastern Indiana. He said he enjoyed the week-long camp, which breaks participants into various cities and political parties to simulate the election and government process. Logan was elected to county prosecuting attorney and city councilman but had to choose between them. He chose the role of prosecuting attorney and successfully prosecuted his cases. Overall, he enjoyed the experience.

“I had a great time interacting with guys from all across the state,” Logan said. “My favorite part was how so many guys could come together and form close connections in just a few days. Everybody was very friendly and willing to have a great time. I would highly recommend attending Hoosier Boys State.”

Rising senior Elle O’Bannon enjoyed her experience at Hoosier Girls State, especially the friendships that developed among the participants. She also liked learning about the governmental process and successfully ran for senator, which “was an amazing experience,” especially writing bills and resolutions and voting on them.

“The most interesting thing about the experience was to see how civil everyone acted, whether in defeat or debate, everyone kept a level head and truly just wanted to see a change for the better,” Elle said. “I learned a lot about how the government worked. It’s similar to many cogs working together to get an end result.”

For Elle her experience was made more meaningful since her late grandfather, Frank O’Bannon, served as Indiana governor from 1997 to 2003.

“I understood the pressure he must have been under and his motivation for doing it all,” Ell said. “He wanted to see a change and wasn’t going to wait around for it to happen.”

Rising senior Claire Reyes also enjoyed her time at HGS and like Elle, got the most out of the friendships she made.

“The people are incredibly supportive and kind, and there is absolutely no way you won’t make friends,” Claire said. “I met tons of different girls, and even though we were all so unique, we were still united by our patriotism and our desire to improve our country. The atmosphere is almost unreal! It’s peaceful yet so fun and also organized but with a little chaos. There’s constant cheering and encouragements. The days are also super busy, but there is always time to bond with your fellow delegates.”

Claire ran for three positions, losing two and winning one, as Federalist city chairman. She learned a lot from the election process, beginning with mustering the courage to run for a major position. Her roommate encouraged her to run for state superintendent of public instruction, and she was able to overcome her fear to run for such an important position. In the end, she said, she was happy she lost that position because her experience “wouldn’t have been the same if I was elected as the superintendent,” she said.

“I also learned so much about our government and how all the elections work,” Claire said. “It is way more complicated than I expected. You have to go through so many city, county, and party processes to even get to the positions that are well known. It takes time to understand them, but once you actually go through it all, it finally clicks and it makes sense! Besides learning about government processes at the state level, I learned so much about our veterans, the flag, and leadership. The American Legion Auxiliary and HGS make it a priority that we respect the flag at all times and always commemorate our veterans. Everything they pass down to us, we hope to pass down to our communities.”

As much as she learned, spending a week with participants and counselors who were so kind and welcoming made all the difference, she said.

“I loved being able to walk anywhere and somehow make another friend or two,” Claire said. “It makes me feel very blessed to have met such wonderful women and have spent a whole week with them. The counselors are no exception. They made sure we were taken care of and always having fun. One of my closest friends there was one of the counselors. I could say a million things about how great the people at HGS were. It does make me sad that it’s over, but I know I have friends all over Indiana to support me.”

Rising sophomores Katelynn Clemmons and Sarah Boehm participated in One Bread, One Cup, a five-day liturgical leadership conference at St. Meinrad Seminary. The conference for high school youth groups focused community building, leadership development, catechesis, liturgical and spiritual formation, and theological reflection.

This was the first time the girls attended the conference, and both learned a lot from it. Sarah said she initially signed up in order to take part in the Cantor Development course. When she didn’t get into that course, she focused on Prayer in the Life of Jesus Christ, which helped her strengthen her relationship with Jesus, she said. As a member of the prayer group, she learned to write the petitions that members of the group read at their daily liturgy. She also learned to lead the Liturgy of the Hours, which is the official set of prayers that help mark the hours of the day and sanctify the day to Jesus.

Katelynn attended at the encouragement of her parish choir director to improve her skills in the Cantor Development program. She was glad to sing in the choir and cantor at daily Mass and improve her skills. She now feels more confident and plans to use what she learned as a cantor at school and her parish.

In addition to daily Mass and praying the Liturgy of the Hours, participants attended formation sessions on their specific topic, spent time in reflection, and participated in fun activities such as a variety show and Ultimate Frisbee. Both girls said they were glad for the opportunity to attend in order to focus on their relationship with Jesus and to build new friendships with other participants in the conference.

“The most rewarding part was meeting new people who I will never forget and learning how to strengthen my relationship with Christ,” Sarah said.

Rising senior Andrew Henderson got a taste of what it would be like to attend college at the U.S. Naval Academy by attending its weeklong Summer Seminar. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience and strengthened his interest in attending.

He took part in some of the grueling physical training exercises, including competing on the endurance course and undergo a series of “sea trials,” he said. He also attended academic workshops on topics from aerospace engineering and nuclear engineering to martial arts.

“These classes showed me what the academic life at the Naval Academy was all about,” Andrew said. “I am interested in attending the academy because of the outstanding physical, mental, and moral development opportunities and challenges that await. I have a strong desire to serve my country and I believe the Naval Academy best prepares me for this path.”

Rising sophomore Amanda Upton and rising junior Beth Wimsatt joined other youth from the New Albany Deanery on a mission trip known as Wolfe Pack to serve in the Appalachian community of Campton, Ky. The group helped local residents with various repairs, including working on roofs, building ramps and stairs, painting, and filing floors. The group also participated in various spiritual activities, from adoration and confession to small group sharing and Lectio Divina. They also took time out to explore the beauty of the area at Natural Bridge State Park, to go rock climbing, and to play outdoor games.

It was Amanda’s first time on trip, and she wanted to go because her brother, Tyler ’19, talked so highly of the experience and she wanted to join him. She found the trip as rewarding as he said it would be.

“The most important thing I got out of the trip was truly realizing that material things aren’t important for happiness,” Amanda said, noting that it was a challenge to adjust to the environment and the culture, however. “The people that we helped didn’t have a lot, but they were all some of the nicest and happiest people I’ve ever met.”

Ultimately, helping others, even when it meant overcoming setbacks and working through difficult situations, was worth it.

“After finishing a project, the feeling of knowing we’d impacted the people in a positive way and helped them was the most rewarding,” Amanda said.

Beth loved her second year for the trip and the opportunity to serve others as much as the first.

“I quickly grew to respect the dignity the people had, even in their situation,” Beth said. “I was able to work on a variety of projects like replace and repaint rotted siding on an old house, put in the ceiling walls and doors in a new home, and rebuild a ramp for someone who is wheelchair-bound. I also cannot forget the many wonderful friends I have met and made just over a six-day camp. These are people that I will know for the rest of my life and always remember. Overall, I have loved my experience at Wolfe Pack and can’t wait for next year.”

Beth also gave of her time in other ways this summer. She was a camp counselor at Camp Marian, a one-week camp for girls grades five through eight hosted by the Sisters of St Benedict in Ferdinand. She previously attended the camp and was a counselor last year. Participants camped outside in tents on the grounds of the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception, went fishing, canoed on the lake, and more. Beth said she enjoyed teaching the girls the story of St. Benedict and helping them on their faith journey.

“All in all, it was an awesome camp experience,” Beth said.

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