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Thomas Belej

Why did you choose Notre Dame?
I chose Notre Dame because it has the best academic reputation of any of the Catholic schools in the metro Detroit area. I wanted a school that is grounded in the Catholic faith, and I wanted to be set up for a great college experience. I also loved the idea of playing in the marching band and joining the award-winning robotics team. Notre Dame has been a great fit for me, and I have never doubted my decision to come here.

How have you gotten involved in activities on campus?
I am involved in debate, Champions for Life, NHS, marching band, symphony band, jazz band, cross country, and robotics. I started all of these except jazz band, cross country, and National Honor Society (NHS) in my freshman year, and I planned on doing jazz band and NHS from my first day at NDP. I took a risk when I joined cross country. Initially, I figured it would be a good idea to play a sport for college applications, so I chose cross country. I enjoyed it so much last year. The people on the team are some of the nicest in the school, and I was shocked at how much faster I got in just two months of running.

Which of your Notre Dame teachers has been one of your favorites?
Mr. McCaskey has been one of my favorite teachers at NDP because of how entertaining he is. I looked forward to every single one of his classes. Even today, I still crack myself up when I think about the brick he keeps in his desk drawer, when I see a baby Sprite, or when I think about the "D" he earned in girls' physical education.

What’s been the best class you’ve taken at Notre Dame so far?
My favorite class so far has been CAD, taught by Ms. Palushaj. I enjoy engineering, and that class was the most engineering-specific class I've ever taken. I enjoyed it so much that I got my own 3D printer for at-home projects. What made the class especially enjoyable was the freedom with which I could be creative in an engineering atmosphere.

Which Notre Dame staff member or coach do you have a special bond with?
Coach Guest, who’s also our head of school, has been one of the best coaches I've ever had. Despite coaching a cross country team of more than 50 boys and girls, he makes a sincere effort to get to know each one of us individually. He is a great motivator.

What experience have you had at Notre Dame that’s been a pleasant surprise?
Robotics last year was a pleasant surprise. Because I was a sophomore, I got more responsibility, and because of the way the game was structured last year, I got to be a leader of an entire section of the team. This increase in responsibility made the entire program more enjoyable for me.

What experience has validated your choice to attend Notre Dame?
Perhaps the greatest validation in my choice of NDP came as a result of the coronavirus. While other schools—including one I was considering—fell behind, we were able to keep going and not miss anything.

How do you try to live the Notre Dame mission as a Christian, citizen and scholar?
I try to be a good Christian by going to daily Mass before school, a good citizen by following the rules, and a good scholar by putting school first and studying hard for my classes.

Thomas Belej ’23 (Senior)
Previous School:
Holy Family Regional School
Rochester, MI
NDP Courses:
IB English Language and Literature
IB/AP Spanish
IB History
Foundations of Catholic Morality
History of Christianity
IB HL Math Analysis and Approaches
AP Chemistry
Marching Band
Honors Jazz Band