‘KINDNESS AND DETERMINATION’
Current senior who began at Notre Dame in junior-kindergarten says the school mission drives him to be the very best version of himself.
Senior Brad Blakeslee started his Notre Dame career in junior kindergarten. Now as he heads into the busy homestretch of his 14-year journey through NDPMA — which will formally end May 19 at graduation — Blakeslee finds a little time to reflect on what the school has meant to him as well as what he might tell younger versions of himself who may be considering a Notre Dame education.
"I would tell any prospective student that Notre Dame, first of all, is a very welcoming community," he said. "I also would say that everyone at the school wants what’s best for you and they'll do whatever is possible to help you achieve your goals."
He'd say that the opportunities at NDPMA for students are endless since one can be a part of so many different clubs or activities. And he'd say the faculty is very determined to help.
"Once you step on campus, I can't stress it enough; you will always feel welcomed," he said.
"Personally, I feel that after my time at Notre Dame, I am going to be totally prepared for the next years ahead of me," said Blakeslee, who plans on attending Michigan State University in the fall. "And I've formed so many great friendships over these years that I believe most if not all will last a lifetime."
One of those long-lasting friendships likely will be with Tina McLaughlin, who teaches fifth grade at Notre Dame's lower school. She remembers Blakeslee as a kind and considerate young man.
"He was a very focused student and even then an exceptional athlete," she said. "Brad was one of those students you will always remember — he just stood out with his kindness and determination. He was that one student who all the teachers enjoyed having in class."
Another former teacher, Kelly Patterson, who now is vice principal of the middle division, also recalls Blakeslee.
"I taught Brad seventh-grade language and literature and he was just a great all-around person," Patterson said. "He embodies the mission of our school because he’s balanced academically, socially and spiritually. In my classroom, he always put forth effort and care in his work and above all was polite. Brad will look you in the eye and shake your hand or say 'hello' in a very genuine way."
Blakeslee as well refers to the school mission when defining his tenure on campus at NDPMA.
"I feel that the school mission has helped me try to be the best version of myself every single day, when I'm at school or when I'm not," he said. "Whether it's saying hello to someone in the hallway, holding the door open for a fellow classmate, or helping out those in the community, the school mission shapes the way I try to live my life every day."
That attention to serving others actually led to the nomination of Blakeslee for this year's High School Heisman Award, which goes to student-athletes who are proven leaders and role models within their school and community.
A soccer, basketball and baseball player each of his four years at Notre Dame Prep, Blakeslee was named to the all-district first team for soccer, and to the individual academic all-district team for baseball. In addition, he has been involved in the NDP Peer Leader program, which helps incoming freshmen make smooth transitions into high school. And he's on the Varsity Club board, which helps promote athletics throughout the student body. Moreover, he's a member of the National Honor Society (NHS).
Blakeslee, who's brother, Brian, graduated NDP last May and sister Bree, a seventh grader in Notre Dame's middle school, also includes Irish Week among the special memories at Notre Dame that he will hold dear for many years, if not forever.
"Irish Week is simply an awesome way to spend a fun time with your classmates," he said. "But the most fulfilling part of my time at Notre Dame by far is all of the connections that I have established. Whether those are from the sports that I’ve played or the classes that I’ve taken, the relationships I’ve made here I think truly will last a lifetime."
He said that besides Irish Week, probably the most fun for him at NDPMA has definitely been athletics.
"Playing three sports has given me lots of amazing memories — and attending football games on Friday nights is always a blast as well," said Blakeslee, who is considering business or journalism as a major at MSU. "I also will not forget my experience at Kairos, which was incredibly special."