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March 25, 2020

Notre Dame junior is adapting well to virtual learning, leaving him time for helping those in need during the coronavirus outbreak.

Notre Dame Prep junior Nathan Vogel works at home making face masks for area nursing home.

Late last week, Notre Dame junior Nathan Vogel checked in to say that when schoolwork is finished for the day, he and his grandmother are spending some of their free time making homemade, washable face masks for local nursing homes. He said it was an initiative taken by his mother and her colleagues that convinced him it was the right thing to do.

"My mom is a colorectal surgeon, and almost all of her procedures have been cancelled due to the closure of surgical centers in the area and due to Beaumont cancelling all elective surgeries," Vogel said. "She was texting her partners and many of them had begun making masks to donate to places that will take them."

Vogel said hospitals generally cannot accept hand-sewn masks, but many nursing homes will take them because they are washable and reusable. 

Easy to make

   Vogel says he’d like to be a pediatric
   oncologist after college.

"The masks are pretty simple to make as they are just a few layers of fabric and some elastic, both of which can be purchased at Michaels, assuming they are able to stay open," he said."My mom's partners are also cutting up pieces of furnace filter to put into the masks to serve as an added layer of protection. Due to the simplicity of my masks, though, I've had no problems retrieving supplies. Plus, there are lots of YouTube videos with many different patterns to follow."

Vogel hopes to deliver his masks to a nursing home where his other grandma lives, Stratford Place, which is in Rochester Hills. 

The youngest of three brothers who attended Notre Dame Prep, Vogel now is settling into his new routine of daily digital learning.

Adjusting to distance learning

For me, I think virtual learning could actually be better than in-class learning," said Vogel, who runs track and cross-country at NDP. "I sometimes have problems with focusing whether in class or doing homework. So now, by being able to plan the whole week out myself ahead of time and work at my own pace, I have been able to get work in on time, and I can take breaks whenever I get too fidgety, which is a lot."

He said he misses the back-and-forth Q&A of a real classroom setting, although he said most teachers have been pretty quick with answering emails.

Long term, Vogel still thinks about college and his eventual career. 

"I am not quite sure what I want to do, yet, but I believe it will have something to do with science or math," he said. "An idea that has crossed my mind many times is to become a pediatric oncologist. I like this idea because I think it would be the most rewarding thing to treat children with cancer, and then to be able to see them grow up and do something with his or her life because I saved him or her.”

Vogel and his father, Tony, unload food for Samaritan House.

Grew up helping others

Vogel grew up in a household that always has been focused on helping others.

"My dad helps manage a charity in Washington Township called Samaritan House, which is a food pantry that serves many families across northern Macomb County who cannot afford food," he said. "They can't close during this time of need, but lots of charitable pantries are all running short on food. My dad is always actively trying to find donations wherever he can."

Last week, Vogel, his brother and dad went to Samaritan House to unload 5,000 pounds of food they had purchased from Gleaners Community Food Bank. He said they also reached out recently to Vince & Joe’s Market in Shelby Township in hopes of being able to purchase bread, meat and poultry, which they ended up donating to Samaritan House.

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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. Notre Dame Preparatory School 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 schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three school 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

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