PONTIAC, Mich. — Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy on March 9, 2017, launched the public phase of its philanthropic campaign to raise a total of $5.5 million toward a $7.5 million science, art and technology wing to be built on its campus in Pontiac.
Dubbed the “March on to Victory” campaign, the public phase of the fundraising effort was introduced at a special celebration to a crowd of more than 650 who heard from school and campaign officials and watched a special video presentation.
Daron Gifford, NDPMA board chairman and co-chair of the campaign emceed the event and said it was a momentous day for Notre Dame.
“The big goals of this campaign, which is the most ambitious in the school’s history, are to help our great school to maintain its educational leadership not only for our current generation of students, but also for many generations of students to come,” said Gifford, who also is an alumni parent.
Fr. Leon Olszamowski, s.m., corporate president, explained that the new facilities planned as part of the campaign, which total 26,000 square feet, will include a one-story science, technology and arts wing to be added to the shared middle division and upper division building. The new wing will house science laboratory facilities, collaborative learning classrooms, a robotics lab, a specially designed greenhouse, and a fine arts studio.
“We’ve always tried to be on the cutting edge here at Notre Dame,” said Olszamowski. “And the educational program we have here now is not necessarily for students living in today’s world, but with this project, we are looking at what students will need in the future.”
The new fine arts studio will be dedicated solely to the visual arts and provide a setting that encourages and fosters 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 will provide a setting to help aspiring young student-artists flourish. The space also will include a modern gallery to exhibit student-artists’ work.
Sandra LewAllen, who is chair of Notre Dame’s arts department, said she is excited about the big changes ahead for the school.
“It will be absolutely beautiful,” she said after reviewing the latest architectural renderings. “The art studio and gallery’s many features are amazing. In fact, I think I might teach here until I’m 80!”
The planned science labs have been designed to promote inquiry-based learning through design and functionality, according to the school. Work areas 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 science labs will provide a safe and secure environment for the storage of equipment and any potentially hazardous chemicals. General storage also will be housed in the prep room.
The new collaborative learning classrooms have been thoughtfully designed as flexible and fluid learning spaces that emphasize the roles that comfort and environment play in fostering group work as well as the hands-on learning—concepts so critical to Notre Dame’s progressive and comprehensive curriculum.
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. The robotics center will complement the space currently provided through our relationship with FIAT Chrysler, a sponsor of our robotics program since its inception. The robotics room also will provide dedicated education, construction, storage and training space; mobile work stations that will allow for both computer-aided instruction and robot-building space as well as indoor and outdoor work space that will be centrally located between the upper and middle divisions.
The new greenhouse is designed to be a powerful environmental education tool for Notre Dame students of all ages. The greenhouse will also provide students with the unique opportunity to explore hydroponic growing systems, which is a new way to develop efficient food sources. Throughout each school year, students studying natural and social science, math, language arts, visual arts and more will benefit from the greenhouse and its garden-like setting.
“The whole idea around sciences, technology, the arts and math is that they are part of the analytical skills that children need today and will be even more vital to them in the future,” Gifford said.
Andy Guest, Notre Dame’s head of school, told those on hand at the launch that nearly $4.1 million already has been raised through the quiet phase of the campaign with the participation of more than 100 donors, including faculty and staff who came together to contribute over $100,000 and counting. He added that the new facilities are a continuation of the momentum the school has experienced over a number of years to become an institution with one of southeast Michigan’s most diverse and innovative curriculums.
“We are proud of how Notre Dame has taken root and flourished in Oakland County in just over 20 years,” Guest said. “We set high standards for our students from junior kindergarten on, and every year our students exceed established goals and raise the bar for the next class. And this new wing will no doubt help our amazing and accomplished faculty to continue their work in encouraging every student to reach his or her full potential.”
Olszamowski added that he thinks that faith has been a guiding force for the campaign from the very beginning.
“It’s always been our belief that God is there to help out this school and its students,” he said. “So we believe that this project will move forward and be quite successful.”
TMP Architecture, headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, is the architect for Notre Dame’s new building initiative.
To learn more about the campaign, its impact and how to participate, please visit ndpma.org/marchontovictory.
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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." The Marist Fathers and Brothers sponsor NDPMA's Catholic identity and manages its educational program. Notre Dame is accredited by the National Association of Independent Schools, 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.