Two seniors are set to graduate as the first students to attend Notre Dame from junior-kindergarten (3) through 12th grade.
When Notre Dame opened its middle school in Pontiac in 1996, two years after the high school opened, it created a more natural and consistent path of academic progression for students. Then, when school administrators opened the lower school in 2003, Notre Dame became a rather rare institution: a Catholic school that provides a completely linear track for students from age 3 to 12th grade.
This year, two students in the Class of 2018 are the first to graduate after spending their entire pre-college academic career — from age 3 to 12th grade — at one Catholic school: Notre Dame. For seniors Patrick "Joe" Mervenne and Kody Haley, it's been quite a ride. A ride that includes at least one thing in common for the two of them.
"Over the past 14 years, I have made some of the most kind friends and I respect them for who they are," Haley said. "I would trust my life with a few of my closest friends and I believe that we always look out for one another."
Likely one of Haley's friends who he'd trust with his life is Mervenne.
"I have made some great, and hopefully, lifelong friends," said Mervenne, "especially the people who I've teamed up with in sports. I really have a close bond with them."
Enjoyed traveling as students
Over these past 14 years, both seniors have accumulated many memories — and they have some specific favorites from their time at each of Notre Dame's three divisions.
In Mervenne's case, he said he loved the time he and his 5th-grade classmates went to Mackinac for a lower-school trip. "My favorite memory from middle school definitely is Irish Week and I think a huge memory from high school is being involved in sports and school activities, including dances, sporting events, etc.," he added.
Haley also loved the time he went up north and mentioned visiting Mackinac Island. "My favorite memory in the lower division was going to the U.P. to spend time in the Grand Hotel with some of my close friends and my dad," he said. "My favorite memory from middle school was when we went to Washington, D.C. We really learned a lot while there, plus we did a lot of cool stuff, too, such as going to the International Spy Museum, the Vietnam Memorial and a lot more."
Favorite high school memories for Haley included playing basketball. "It was great because I got to hang out with a few of my friends on the team," he said. "It was a great way to relieve some of the stress that high school life can give you."
Math and science come easy
Haley also said that overall his total 14-year experience at Notre Dame has been positive. "A lot of that is because of the friends I have found, and because I truly believe that I have been accepted here for who I am," he said. "Of course, there have been some difficult times, too, because I may not have always made the right choices."
But, in the end, he thinks it has all worked out. As for college, he still is contemplating a number of choices and majors, but nothing firm just yet, although something in the technology fields would not be a surprise.
"All I know is that I've really enjoyed the math and science classes that I have taken so far at NDP," he said. "They have been relatively easy and understandable for me."
Mervenne also said his total NDPMA experience has been a good one.
"My time here definitely Notre Dame has been very positive," said Mervenne, who has played football and lacrosse for NDP. "I have had a great educational experience and have had a great time getting involved with many aspects of the school."
Mervenne said he is looking forward to college, which for him could land him with a "soaring" career.
"My college plan is to attend Western Michigan University and enter its aviation program," he said. "I hope to make flying my career."
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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.