‘Beautiful example of the Marist spirit’

Villanova sophomore says Notre Dame prepped him well for college rigor; one of his former teachers says he's the embodiment of the Marist mission. 

When Notre Dame alum John Greene '17 matriculated at Villanova University in the fall of 2017, his academic track included a host of freshman science courses during his first year on campus, which is located just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The thing is, though, he didn't take any of them. That's because, according to Greene, his high school, Notre Dame Prep, offered an array of amazing AP science courses taught by some amazing teachers.

"My education at Notre Dame Prep started me off ahead in my first year at Villanova," said Greene, who is majoring in biochemistry with a minor in humanities. "The AP classes I took allowed me to skip all freshman-level science courses and, thanks to the amazing teachers I had in those classes at NDP, I integrated quickly into sophomore-level classes."

One of those amazing teachers is Sylvia Mulrenin, who co-chairs Notre Dame's upper-division science department (along with Jocelynn Yaroch). 

"Specifically, I’d like to mention Mrs. Mulrenin’s AP chemistry," Greene said. "This course not only prepared me material-wise for organic chemistry in college, but it prepared me for what college courses in general would be like. If it wasn’t for the discipline needed for Mrs. Mulrenin's class, I would've had a much more difficult task when I first got to Villanova."

As far as Mulrenin's concerned, however, Greene's academic success in college is more likely due to his own work ethic. 

"I remember John as a hard-working student with a great attitude," she said. "Always cooperative and wanting to learn — not just in it for a grade."

Greene also had props for NDP's music and band program, which not only helped him land a spot on Villanova's marching band, it helped get him a leadership position in that band. 

"I think another thing that was particularly influential for me at NDP was my time spent in the band, which provided me with an incredibly unique opportunity to grow as a leader and as a person," he said. "There I learned about how to be part of a larger community, and it's something I carried over to the Villanova University band where I am now drum major and band manager."

Greene also believes that the fact that his teachers in high school were always so accessible is another reason the transition to college was much easier for him.

"Mr. [Joe] Martin, Mrs. [Katrina] Sagert, Mrs. [Julie] Carman, Mr. [Mark] McCaskey, Mrs. [Heidi] Newby and many more teachers were always willing and excited to talk with me about just about anything I would ask," Greene said. "That has helped me be more comfortable when talking to professors, which is a critically important in college. It also has enabled me to have many extracurricular discussions and find many different opportunities, including some recent research with my organic chemistry professor." 

Now well-entrenched and very busy in college, Greene nonetheless still has time to reminisce about the Notre Dame community.

"I miss AP biology with Mrs. [Jocelynn] Yaroch, AP music theory with Mr. [David] Fazzini, and AP literature with Mrs. [Gretchen] Glick and Mrs. Sagert," he said. "I especially miss my time in the pit orchestra for all the musicals, my time in campus ministry, and of course, band with Mr. Martin."

A number of other NDP teachers also weighed in on what they remember about Greene, whose future plans include medical school.
"I have always been impressed by how thoughtful John is, and I mean that in every sense of the word," said English/social studies teacher and IB-MYP coordinator Katrina Sagert. "Of course he is smart, but he is also contemplative. He's somehow able to override that frantic impatience we all have and is able to be present in the moment in his ideas and his work as well as the way he communicates and interacts with those around him. Everything he says seems carefully weighed and considered, but also authentically from the heart. It was as true of his English essays as it was of a hello in the hallway. He is a beautiful example of the Marist spirit."

Julie Carmen, who teaches English in Notre Dame's upper division, also remembers Greene as a great student to have in her classroom.

"John was very fun, energetic, and made public speaking the type of class it is meant to be — a blast," she said. "I taught him in the same class I taught his brother Joe '15, and together they made my first year at NDP memorable!"

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. The school's upper division 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 divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions 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