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“March On To Victory”

Notre Dame's new science, art and technology wing opens with a blessing and ribbon-cutting.

More than 350 were on hand on August 17 when Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy hosted a special blessing and ribbon-cutting to officially open its stunning new science, art and technology wing. Dignitaries on hand for the event included school board members, Atlanta Auxiliary Bishop Joel Konzen, s.m., who conducted the blessing ceremony, and Pontiac Mayor Dr. Deirdre Waterman, who said she was delighted to be on campus for the event.

"It is a privilege to have this premier institution of learning right here in the City of Pontiac," Waterman said. "I congratulate all those who made the effort to make this beautiful facility a reality." 

The ceremony opened with an address by NDPMA Head of School Andy Guest, who thanked those responsible for the hard work that went into getting the new wing completed in time for the fall semester. He also thanked the many benefactors who donated to the March On To Victory campaign that made the wing possible, including Bill Kozyra, alum parent, school trustee, former board chair and honorary chair of the MOTV capital campaign, who was present at the Friday ceremony.

"It's an exciting day for the school and I wanted to be here today to see this wonderful academic addition come to fruition," Kozyra said as he toured the new building. "It's been a vision of Fr. Leon's (Olszamowski) for decades and I'm glad he is seeing it come to life today. The education that our young people will experience now here in a more enhanced way around the areas of science, art, technology and math is such an important part of their futures. I'm really proud and happy to be part of this process and I look forward to a lot of future professional scientists, engineers, artists, etc., coming from this wonderful facility."

Arts and sciences

The new facility, which totals about 26,000 square feet, includes a one-story science, technology and arts wing that has been added to the shared middle division and upper division building. The building houses science laboratory facilities, collaborative learning classrooms, a robotics lab, a specially designed greenhouse, and a fine arts studio.

The new fine arts studio is dedicated primarily to the visual arts and provides a setting that has been designed to encourage and foster the talent and imagination of Notre Dame students. Natural lighting, abundant wall and floor space, proper worktables, ample shelving and storage, a kiln room and more provide a setting that will help Notre Dame's aspiring young student-artists flourish. The space also includes a modern gallery to exhibit student artwork.

The new science labs have been designed to promote inquiry-based learning through design and functionality, according to the school. Work areas in the labs will accommodate small group collaboration and technology will be incorporated into the teacher demonstration station. Counters and chairs have been designed with students in mind and a prep room conveniently situated between each of the two science labs provides a safe and secure environment for the storage of equipment and any potentially hazardous chemicals that may be used in the new wing. 

History, too!

Matt DeAngelis, who will be a junior when classes start next week at Notre Dame, will have at least one class in the new wing, IB History, which is taught by longtime NDPMA teacher, Dave Osiecki.

"I'm really looking forward to increasing my knowledge of European history in Mr. Osiecki's new IB History classroom," said DeAngelis, who was at today's event. "And I'm looking to grow as a better overall student with all of the collaborative spaces in this new building."

Fellow junior Evan Wells also looks forward to the innovative new space.

"I think the new wing is very collaborative," he said. "It invites conversation and encourages communication between students and teachers, which is a good thing."

Old school, new school

A number of attendees at the blessing had a special appreciation for the continued growth of Notre Dame and its Marist roots. Jim Berch, who is a 1959 alum of Notre Dame in Harper Woods, said he was looking forward to seeing the new building.

"The word that comes to mind is 'fantastic,'" said Berch, who also taught at Harper Woods Notre Dame. "I talked with a couple of students here earlier and one, in fact, is going to have four classes in this new wing. I told them to make sure they take advantage of all this. It's got all the latest technology — quite a far cry from when I attended and taught at ND in Harper Woods."

Another former teacher from Harper Woods Notre Dame and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Ken Parent, also was on hand for the blessing and ribbon-cutting.   

"I took a quick tour in June while the building was in construction, and I've seen the occasional drawing or concept sketch," said Parent, who retired from teaching a few years ago. "But now it looks even better than the concept sketches."

Another key component of the academic expansion is a 1,200 square-foot robotics lab and 850 square-foot adjoining classroom. 

"Notre Dame’s robotics program has grown to encompass world-ranked programs at its lower, middle and upper divisions," said Fr. Leon Olszamowski, s.m., who is corporate president of NDPMA. "This new robotics center complements the space currently provided through our relationship with FIAT Chrysler, a sponsor of our robotics program since its inception."

Olszamowski also said the robotics room provides dedicated education, construction, storage and training space; mobile work stations that allow for both computer-aided instruction and robot-building space as well as indoor and outdoor work space that is centrally located between the upper and middle divisions.

'Blown away'

Fr. Stanley Ulman is a school trustee and pastor of St. Mary of the Hills Parish in Rochester Hills. He also heads up the Pontiac Area Vicariate. After the Aug. 17 blessing and ribbon-cutting, he, too, toured the new building and was especially impressed with not only the robotics lab, but he said the greenhouse and science labs hold a special importance for him.

"It's truly amazing," he said. "I've been seeing the sketches and architectural drawings, but this is the first time I'm in here and I'm blown away. What an opportunity for the kids. They definitely will want to come back to school with these kinds of facilities. I was in one of the new science labs and I thought, wow, I would have loved to have a classroom like that when I was in high school. I believe the kids will want to do even better because they've been given such wonderful tools."

Many teachers also commented on how much they appreciate teaching at a school with such innovative facilities.

Daniel Staniszewski, a math teacher at NDP and alum (2002), was effusive.

"Absolutely fantastic! Gorgeous," he said. "They've done such a great job fitting all the pieces together." 

Kyle Lilek, who teaches English and the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class, said the new wing was beautiful.

"On top of it all, it's got exactly what teachers need to do their jobs well," he said.

Programming plus

Katrina Palushaj, who teaches computer science at NDPMA, is looking forward to her new classroom.

"I think it's one of the best facilities I've seen for students and teachers," she said. "We can now collaborate as teachers and students in one facility. All the furniture is new and modern and we've got four 3D machines now in my class to allow for even more 3D printing. We'll also be teaching AP Computer Science this year, a new class, so we'll be getting more into programming. Now we'll have not only the CAD kids here in the building, we'll have the programming kids, too. I'm really excited! The kids are going to be amazed when they see this next week."

What those "kids" will experience going forward was not lost on Pontiac mayor Waterman.

"It's a beautiful setting, a wonderful school and it's a real privilege for your students to receive such an education at Notre Dame," she said. "And I'm excited about the education this new building will bring for those students who have the honor to attend school here." 

More photos of today's event are here.

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