Head of school cites new facilities, strong, diverse programming and culture of faith among reasons for student increases.
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy opened the 2018-19 school year with significant increases in enrollment at the main entry points of both its upper and lower divisions.
According to figures released by the school's registrar, this year's class of incoming freshmen in the upper school is 12 percent larger than last year's freshman class as of the first day of school and 36 percent larger when compared with 2016's 9th-grade class. In addition, the enrollment total for NDPMA's junior-kindergarten through first grade classes is the largest in school history. Notre Dame's incoming six-grade enrollment also showed an increase over last year.
Registration data for this year's freshman class for Notre Dame Prep also show students are coming from at least 30 different grade schools and middle schools in the area.
As for what could be behind these latest increases, Kathleen Offer, Notre Dame's dean of admissions, said her department hasn't particularly changed much of what they do when working with prospective students and parents.
"However, as always, we are super-focused on being as attentive as we can be, working hard to get students to visit, and making sure they have an authentic and welcoming experience while they’re here," she said. "The school absolutely sells itself, especially when people see our dedication to our current students and to their development as Christians, citizens and scholars."
Offer also said that the tried-and-true reliance on word of mouth continues to pay dividends.
"We are so grateful to our current and alumni students and parents who share their positive experiences with family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers," she said. "We get lots of phone calls and e-mails from people who tell us they’ve heard good things about us from someone they know. And more and more we’re seeing young alum parents bring their children to the lower division, which is really special.”
“I think Notre Dame is the greatest school on earth, so I am delighted that more and more families are choosing us," he said. "But I'm not surprised at all. We are in a very strong position right now and offer great value for families that desire an excellent academic, athletic and extracurricular experience for their children.”
He said Notre Dame has always had a great reputation, but I think our investment in the new science, art and technology center truly is a highlight for those who tour our school.
"Plus, all of what we do here is done within the context of our strong Catholic-Christian faith and oversight by the Marist Fathers and Brothers," he said.
Offer agrees with Guest on the impact the facility changes have on enrollment.
“I’m certain that all the improvements we’ve undergone over the last 12 months have had an effect on many students and families in their decision-making process," she said. "I wouldn’t expect that any student comes to Notre Dame for one singular reason, but for the totality of what they will have access to while they’re here. Not only that, but knowing they’re in a place that is forward-thinking, has a growth mindset and is student-focused has to make them feel secure in their partnership with us.”
Offer added that there has been a notable increase in the availability of financial aid, which has made a Notre Dame education even more accessible to families who may not otherwise be able to afford it. She also said that no matter who checks out NDPMA for their children's education, the conversation always starts in the same place.
“When we talk to prospective students and parents, we always begin with our mission statement," she said. "From there we try our best to highlight those things that distinguish us from other schools. There are many other options in our area, but there is only one option that is Catholic, Marist, IB, co-ed and has all the other things we have to offer. Notre Dame is unique and people recognize and appreciate that, especially after they visit our school.”
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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 www.ndpma.org