A ‘complete’ student

Lake Orion resident says he came to Notre Dame for learning, for fun and for the opportunity to become a complete person.

When Notre Dame junior Joe Joppich was still in grade school at St. Joseph Catholic School in Lake Orion and looking high schools, he knew he wanted to go some place that could provide both challenge and opportunity. What he didn't realize back then was that the school he chose — Notre Dame Prep — provided not only that challenge and opportunity, but it provided more than enough support and diversity to make his four years in high school some of the most enjoyable he's experienced thus far in his young life.

"I came to Notre Dame because I thought that it would challenge me in a way other high schools could not," said Joppich, who has a brother, Tom, in the ninth grade. "I wanted a school that would provide me with an opportunity to reach my potential both as a student and as a person, and I thought Notre Dame would be perfect."

Turns out, Notre Dame WAS perfect for Joppich.

"Notre Dame is different from other schools because it really has a totally supportive learning environment," he said. "At Notre Dame, everyone is focused on your success not only as a student but as a person. Everybody here — the students, the teachers, the administration — all want you to succeed, but they also want you to have fun."

Balancing fun and schoolwork

To be sure, Joppich has a full plate of academics, which currently includes classes in Morality, IB History, Spanish 7/8, IB English, Anatomy and IB Biology. But he's also been able to carve out plenty of time for fun and extracurriculars.

"The most fun experience I’ve had so far at Notre Dame is Irish Week, and in particular, freshman year Irish Week," he said. "I had no idea what to expect, but the fact that the entire school came together to play games, have fun, and build school spirit really allowed me to enjoy the madness of it all. As freshmen, we beat out the sophomores for third place in the games, and that was great. Irish Week is amazing and exhilarating, and I highly recommend everybody experience it."

Joppich also said that he is able to balance schoolwork, sports, clubs and activities at Notre Dame because of the time-management skills he learned very early on during his tenure at Notre Dame. 

"Notre Dame has really helped me through all of this thanks to teachers who've always worked with me to lighten my load when I really needed it," he said. 

Baseball also has helped to lighten his overall load and it's one of Joppich's favorite Notre Dame "non-class" activities, although he's had classes over the past three years he also found very gratifying and fun.

"I think one of the best and most interesting class I’ve taken so far at Notre Dame is AP U.S. History with Ms. (Heidi) Newby during my sophomore year," he said. "I found that class so enjoyable because I learned so many things I had never known before. As a history buff, being able to go through the entirety of American history was a great experience and Ms. Newby made it that much better with her fun anecdotes, interesting activities and her obvious dedication to teaching."

Faith and ardent love of neighbor on the road to completeness

Another part of his road to becoming a better and complete person, according to Joppich, is the emphasis Notre Dame puts on both faith and community service.

"Notre Dame has helped me become a more Christian person through an emphasis on living out the values established by the Marists," he said. "Every year our entire school focuses on a different Marist value. This year it's 'ardent love of neighbor.' Focusing on a specific value like this throughout the year helps all of us become better Christian people, which is one of the main goals stated in the school's mission."

He also said Notre Dame has helped him become an upright citizen through its focus on the development of the entire person. 

"We are taught to take responsibility for our actions, and to speak with others when we have problems," Joppich said. "Also, I didn’t realize it at first, but I came to learn that Notre Dame is a close-knit community, which is also filled with diversity. It may seem paradoxical to some, but Notre Dame is like a very diverse family where we are all one, but each of us with our uniqueness still intact."

Precious early opportunity

When he leaves Notre Dame next year as part of the Class of 2019, Joppich said he will not only be fully prepared for college, he believes he will be well on his way to being prepared for just about anything else life may throw at him.

"I know when I graduate from Notre Dame I will leave here feeling satisfied," he said. "Although I know I will miss it, I also know that the memories and the skills I've acquired here will continue to stay with me my entire life. It also will allow me to continue my journey toward becoming who I want to be. Notre Dame will have given me a precious early opportunity to live out my life the way it should be lived — as a complete person!"

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame's upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.