Busy junior loves how NDP ties ‘everything back to God’

Notre Dame junior John Kenny also says he's proud to go to what is considered to be the best Catholic high school in Michigan.

When junior John Kenny talks about why he likes attending Notre Dame, the list is long. From pillow fights during Irish Week to his International Baccalaureate classes, Kenny is very glad that he is going to NDPMA.

"I came to Notre Dame because of its fantastic curriculum and how it ties everything back to God," said Kenny, who is one of the school's "student ambassadors." "I also love the vast club offerings. And I am proud to go to what is considered to be the best Catholic high school in Michigan."

Kenny came to ND Prep from Holy Family Regional School, which has facilities in both Rochester and Rochester Hills. When he and his parents, Jennie and Tom, were looking for a high school, Kenny had among other things on his wish list a high school with great extracurricular activities and a quality education. 

"Also, I was looking for a school filled with students who shared my mindset," he said. "And Notre Dame was exactly what I was looking for in a school."

Connecting all that he does in school to God was another criterion for him. And so far, it appears that that has worked out well for him.

"Notre Dame has helped me become more of a Christian person through my fantastic religion teachers," he said. "During my freshmen year I found myself staying after the bell in religion class, asking theological questions to my teacher. I feel that I have grown a lot in my spiritual life since joining Notre Dame."

Besides his spiritual and academic life at Notre Dame, Kenny has high praise for the range of "extra" things he can get involved with at the school. Through his two-and-a-half years on campus so far, he has participated in what could be considered an ambitious range of clubs and activities. 

"I have experience with NDP's student newspaper, the speech and debate teams, theatre, swing dance, SADD and the National Honor Society," he said. He's also participated in the school's creative writing club, its Champions for Life program, and has managed the football team's video and film activities. 

"I have learned to fine-tune a very key skill since I've been here: time management," he said. "I use every bit of free time to my advantage. It is definitely not impossible to balance the heavy academic load and an extensive list of extracurriculars with effort and devotion."

His "academic load" currently includes the following classes: IB Christian History, Morality, Honors Trigonometry/Pre-Calculus, IB English, IB History, Mandarin 5/6 and IB Biology.)

Kenny's also a member of the school's Model United Nations team. Last school year, at the end of a conference held in March, Kenny was awarded a gavel in recognition of his service representing Argentina on the Disarmament and Security Committee. 

“The Oakland University student who chaired his committee had nothing but eloquent praise for John's commitment, enthusiasm and growth throughout the conference,” said social studies teacher Dave Osiecki, who mentors NDP's Model UN team. “And this was only his second Model UN conference ever.”

Quite a busy young man, to be sure, but it's not all work for Kenny. 

"The most fun experience I’ve had so far at Notre Dame is my first Irish Week," Kenny said, echoing what many students and alumni say. "I was in a game called 'pillow fight,' and faced off against a junior. I would like to say it was an epic battle, but I was knocked off the mat within a matter of 10 seconds. But the entire week was purely magical."

Kenny believes the teaching staff at NDP also is a bit magical.

"I didn’t realize it at first, but I came to learn that Notre Dame is home to some of the nicest teachers and staff you will ever meet," he said. "I have formed great friendships with the staff at NDP."

And that includes Mr. Kyle Lilek.

"The most interesting class I’ve taken at Notre Dame so far is Honors Language and Literature with Mr. Lilek. He makes every single class interesting with his engaging teaching style and quick wit. I always looked forward to his class, and I can’t wait to have him again as my Theory of Knowledge teacher."

Even though graduation for him is not until 2019, Kenny already knows he'll miss Notre Dame. He also knows he will leave high school totally prepared for the next level.

"I will not lie, the classes are tough," he said. "But I have learned how to handle them with the help of some fantastic teachers and friends. At NDP,  I have accomplished things I never would have guessed I would be capable of accomplishing. I believe I will feel totally ready for any hurdles college may place in front of me. I definitely will miss Notre Dame. But as A.A. Milne said: 'How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.'"

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org.

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

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.