There’s a good reason it’s called ‘Prep’

Junior student ambassador says she'll be "beyond prepared" for college and life because of her Notre Dame experience.

It's no secret that Notre Dame Prep is one of the top schools in Michigan when it comes to preparing students for college. In fact, NDP students are routinely sought after by the top colleges and universities in the nation; in actuality, more than 145 colleges and universities in the U.S. had accepted Notre Dame's most recent crop of graduates.

The Class of 2019 also earned more than $10 million in merit-based scholarships and averaged 26.8 on the ACT, including 57 students who scored a 30 or above. In addition, 27 graduates filled out the Class of 2019's valedictory court and there were 51 candidates for the prestigious International Baccalaureate diploma, nearly a record for the school.

But when speaking with Notre Dame junior Elena Schwegman, she said Notre Dame's great academic program is not the only thing that will "prep" her for college — or for that matter, life. She uses the school's oft-recited mission statement to help explain why thinks NDP was the right choice for her.

"For one, Notre Dame has helped me become a 'Christian person' through constantly challenging me to walk in faith and share my time and talents with those around me," she said. "I've gained a deeper understanding of my faith through partaking in the many Christian service opportunities provided by the school here."  

She said Notre Dame also has helped her become an "upright citizen" because teachers, staff, etc., always encourage her to put her best foot forward and represent her school community and family proudly. And getting back to the academics, she said the school definitely has helped her become an "academic scholar" not only by guiding her in the selection of the most appropriate college-prep courses for her, but also by challenging her academically in more general ways. 

"My teachers have been an excellent source of knowledge and an encouraging support system throughout my time here," said Schwegman, who came to Notre Dame after attending school at St. Hugo of the Hills in Bloomfield Hills. As an eighth grader, she decided to come to Notre Dame for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the school's plethora of opportunities.

"I came to Notre Dame because I was seeking a well-rounded high school experience that included both excellent academics and athletics," she said. "Equally important to me was a Christian environment that would encourage me to grow in faith. I also didn’t realize it at first, but NDP quickly became more than simply a school, but rather an extension of my community and family. I have been so impressed by both faculty and peers alike who have taken the time to offer support and encouragement when I needed it."

Schwegman said right out of the gate after starting at Notre Dame last year, there was one class and teacher she found most impressive. 

"Honors integrated math with Mr. (Mark) McCaskey in 9th grade is the most interesting class I've had so far at Notre Dame," she said. "I enjoyed that class because Mr. McCaskey took a rather challenging course at the time and made it both engaging and relevant. I also particularly appreciated his online video lessons, which always were accessible, even after school hours, to help with questions and clarifications."

Notre Dame isn't always about hard work and living the mission, according to Schwegman. It's also about having fun.

"For me, Irish Week was so much fun because the entire school really embraces the themes, games, and friendly competition between grades," she said. "I love the school spirit at NDP, and that crazy week for me truly highlighted what it means to exude Irish pride."

Now, as she works to get through her third year on campus, Schwegman — like most high school students contemplating the next stage of their academic life — is a little nervous when discussing college. But she's also confident that her high school, the one with "Prep" as part of its name, has "prepped" her very well for that next stage. 

"I know when I graduate from Notre Dame I will leave feeling blessed for having had the opportunity to attend such an outstanding school filled with friends and faculty members I’ve grown to adore," she said. "I'll also feel grateful for having spent so much time preparing for my college journey and beyond. I'll be leaving NDP feeling beyond prepared for anything college has in store for me."

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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