A Providence High School miracle

A little over a month ago, Olivia Menke, one of our students at Providence High School in Burbank, Calif., was involved in a serious car accident. Her Prius collided with a fire truck on the Pacific Coast Highway, and the 18-year-old class salutatorian spent weeks in critical care suffering from a traumatic brain injury.

As a parent, I can’t think of a more frightening situation. It’s the phone call you never want to get. But Olivia is one remarkable young lady. She has had a miraculous recovery and is now back home with her family doing well.

Olivia

18-year-old Olivia Menke is the class of 2015’s salutatorian and a volleyball standout.

The accident happened just days before graduation so Olivia was unable to accept her diploma in person. But today at 5 p.m. PST, her class is gathering to re-stage the graduation just for her.

As the head of school Joe Sciuto put it:

One of the most frequent requests we heard from her classmates is to re-stage graduation for Olivia when she is ready. I am so excited that she is ready. We want to have this event before members of the Class of 2015 begin to leave town for college.

Class of 2015

Graduation, the sequel, will be held especially for Olivia this evening at 5 p.m.

This is an exciting day for Olivia and her family, and I am very proud of our Providence Pioneers school community. The way they’ve come together in this time of tragedy is what Providence is all about.

Providence High School has an incredible academic program. (In fact, yesterday they were named one of the top Catholic schools in Los Angeles.) But more important they instill the Providence core values of respect, compassion, justice, excellence and stewardship in every student. Their motto is “you belong here.” What better message could you send to a teenager than that? It’s a great environment that allows students like Olivia to thrive and achieve their fullest potential.

As our school community celebrates this special day, I ask you to keep Olivia and her family in your thoughts and prayers. I know Olivia, who earned a full scholarship to Bentley University in Massachusetts, has many great things ahead of her, and I look forward to seeing how she chooses to use her gifts and make a difference in the world.

9 Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing this story, Mike. Blessings upon her and thanks to Joe and the entire team there for developing and sustaining such a caring culture.

    Peace!

  2. What an amazing story and one that makes me proud to be part of the Providence ministry. I had the pleasure of getting to know Joe during a trip to Montreal learning about the heritage and history of Providence’s beginnings. He is a dedicated and compassionate leader we are blessed to have leading this import piece of Providence.

    Congratulations to Olivia and the entire class of 2015! Best wishes in your future pursuits. Go Pioneers!

  3. Wow, it is stories like these that remind me why I am proud and humbled to work for Providence. Amazing miracles happen within the walls of Providence every day. I am deeply inspired by Olivia and the actions of her classmates. Best wishes to the Class of 2015 as they embark on their future paths. One thing is for sure, they’re off to an incredible start, and I hope many of them find their calling within Providence!

    • It takes a community. As soon as I learned of the accident that day, I sent a note to Michael Steinberg, MD, the head of strategy & operations at UCLA, to let him know that one of our people of Providence was in his organizations hands. He immediately responded that the people of UCLA have her safety in their hands and all will be okay. As Michael recently said to me humbly after learning of her receiving her degree was “I guess this is what we are called to do.” Thank you Michael & UCLA for being part of this miracle.

  4. Congratulations to Olivia and her awesome school mates, friends, supporters and family!!

    Best wishes for continued recovery and success in your new endeavors.

  5. My daughter, who is a Junior this year at PHS, knows Olivia and when the news broke she was on her way to visit family in Portland, OR. Joe Scuito sent out a message to the entire student body and immediately my daughter was texting with her friends, calling for prayers from her friends in Portland, and rallying together all her circle of friends to see what they could do.

    As a member of the Providence family (and the Providence High family) I would like to echo Todd’s comments above. I have never seen a community (outside of perhaps our own families or church families) as tight as Providence High. My wife and I are actively involved in the school and from Joe on down they are not satisfied saying they understand our core values, or even finding occassion to mirror those values. My first hand experience with this PHS is that they LIVE these core values.

    My daughter has not just blossomed at Providence High, but she has excelled, and I believe it is because of the care, the core, and the compassion of the staff.

    Walk proud, Olivia…you belong there!

  6. One of my best friends daughter, like my own, went through almost the same thing with a school bus 10 years ago. By the grace of God she is now a Labor and Delivery Nurse at St. Vincent’s here in Oregon. Wishing Olivia the best!

  7. Congratulations Olivia and to the rest of the graduating class. What a wonderful outcome and inspiring story. The power of prayer is amazing as is the compassion of others – truly demonstrated a healing power here. A lesson for us all.

  8. I am so proud to be part of an organization and community that understands the importance of each individual. Congratulations to Olivia and her family on her accomplishments. Our thoughts and prayers are with Olivia as she continues her journey.
    I also want to congratulate Joe Sciuto and the school faculty and student body for the community that they have created and the core values that they demonstrate. I am truly humbled by their example!