Traveling, grading, volunteering fill summer break for Prince of Peace community members


By Karen Witt

At the beginning of every school year, it is inevitable that at least one teacher will ask his or her class, “What did you do over summer vacation?” Here are a few responses:

Katharine Atkinson (Dr. A)

Atkinson graded the Advanced Placement (AP) biology exams in Kansas City, Mo. She teaches high school sciences, which includes many AP courses. During the first week in June she joined 490 biology professors and high school biology teachers in Kansas City to grade these exams. By the end of the week, she had read close to 1,500 essays. One of the highlights of her trip was Kansas City barbecue!

Jacob Kaczinski


Jacob, a junior, took a trip with the Illowa Council of Boy Scouts of America. He is an Eagle Scout in Troop 642 along with sophomores Jeremy Peters and Kyle Kilburg. After a stop in Gettysburg, Pa., to tour the famous battlefield, the group went on to Washington, D.C. After three days of touring, the scouts joined 40,000 Boy Scouts from around the country at Fort AP Hill in Virginia for the National Scout Jamboree. Jacob’s days were filled with many outdoor activities, but his favorite activity was trading the unique patches that many councils design. Jacob said, “I will always remember this experience; I took part in activities that I will probably never have the opportunity to do again. It was a once in a lifetime trip.”

Ben Reynolds

Ben, a senior, played in the snare line for the Colt Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps from Dubuque. This drum corps is a summer marching activity that utilizes brass, percussion and color guard to perform a competitive show. Ben’s corps took 11th in the Drum Corps’ International World Championships in Open Class. They performed at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.

“It was my first year marching a snare on a field,” Reynolds said. “Our competitive season kicked off in June and ended in August. Throughout the summer we performed in Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri and Indiana.” He plans to try out for the Colts’ senior corps and Pioneer, which is a world class corps located in Milwaukee, Wis.

Jennifer Hansen family

Jennifer, a school parent, took a cross-country trip with her daughters Sydney Schreiber, an eighth-grade student, and second-grade student Isabel Hansen. “It was an amazing trip,” Jennifer said. “We started at 6 a.m. at Rockefeller Plaza to see the Today Show; we then went down to Times Square and marveled at all the lights, billboards and shopping.”

The girls then toured the city on a double decker bus. After seeing the Broadway show “Wicked,” their trip continued with visits to the Empire State Building and Ground Zero. “It was sad to remember 9/11 and those who lost their lives,” said Jennifer. “But we were also very thankful that we live in a country where people are dedicated to helping one another, no matter the cost.”

The trip back to Iowa included stops at the homes of relatives in Delaware, a Cleveland Indians baseball game, and theme parks in Sandusky, Ohio. “Needless to say, it was a fun-packed day to end a perfect vacation. This trip was filled with countless memories that my girls and I can share forever,” Jennifer concluded.

Jin Hyoung (Jason) Kim

Jason is a senior and international student from South Korea who has been with Prince of Peace since the second semester of his freshman year. I heard about Jason’s summer vacation story because I am his host mom. He shared his story with my family and has since shared his story in many classrooms.

He told us that he volunteered at an orphanage in Rwanda, Africa. “When I was young, my dad and I used to watch a TV program that showed a variety of works that were being done by volunteers from all over the world. Sometimes they would go to the desert to plant hundreds of trees; sometimes they would go to the Amazon to save the environment, or sometimes they would go to Africa to feed and clothe people. I looked at my life and was inspired to join a group to work in Rwanda.”

Jason talked about the hot, dry roads as being his first impression as he arrived at the airport in Kigali, Rwanda. He was assigned to an orphanage called Peffa where the water supply, food supply and medical support were extremely low. The orphanage had about 70 children, many of whom have lice, eye infections, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. At times, he was so dehydrated it was difficult for him to focus on his tasks. It was easy for us to see how this service trip changed his life. “Above all the obstacles, I learned the most precious gifts are from God. I cannot explain simply through words, but these gifts will shape my character and help me make better choices in my life.”

Even after classes ended in June, through this exercise I discovered from Atkinson that our learning and teaching never end; from Jacob, our character continues to develop; from Ben, the music is inside us; from Jennifer and her girls, families are forever; and from Jason, service to others brings us closer to God.

(Witt is development director at Prince of Peace Schools.)

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