June 6, 2020

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Rising junior thrived during distance learning, but looks forward to getting back to school in a more normal environment.

Maria VanDieren is heading into her junior year at Notre Dame Preparatory School where she is an honors student with a strong interest in math and science. In fact, that interest in science led to her winning the grand prize in the Science and Engineering Fair of Metro Detroit as an eighth grader.

"That was amazing and immediately hooked me on science," she said. "I have always enjoyed nature and all my science classes as along as I can remember. I find it fascinating to see life teeming in pond water under a microscope and loved the usual grade school projects such as creating an erupting volcano." 

Besides her busy academic schedule, VanDieren enjoys playing softball and is an active member of the marching, symphonic and jazz bands as a flutist and pianist. She is looking way forward to an exciting career in the sciences and possibly medicine.

Before college and that exciting future career, VanDieren must finish the second half of her high school career, which no doubt will have a start unlike any other.

"Next school year will be very different than previous years with more awareness, social distancing and likely a little more anxiety," she said. "There may need to be fewer people in the building and classrooms at one time and we could even have some partial virtual learning. Hopefully, by then, students and teachers will be grateful and appreciative to be back in school in some capacity, whatever that may be."

The past few months for VanDieren and for every other student in the world also have been very different, and she's also grateful for how Notre Dame has responded to the pandemic.

"I think the closure of our school in March was extremely important and obviously necessary under those circumstances," she said. "The NDPMA leadership has always stressed that one of their main goals is to keep the students and staff safe. Hopefully, the closure contributed to reducing the spread of coronavirus."

Since Notre Dame went to distance learning a few months ago, VanDieren said she's been fairly disciplined in getting her work done.

"Online learning went pretty well for me," she said. "And it was especially helpful that my teachers usually posted all the assignments by 9 a.m. so that I knew what I must complete for the day and could plan accordingly. Each morning, I checked PowerSchool to see all the assignments I had for that day. I would then continue to work on them with occasional breaks until everything is done."

One of those especially helpful teachers is NDP science and social studies instructor Sue McGinnis, who says VanDieren is exceptionally bright and respectful of the school, her peers and the faculty.

"I've had Maria for two years and she is an amazing young lady and student," McGinnis said. "She always says thank you after each class and even sent me a thank you email at the end of this school year. She's also been very helpful to other students in class."

For VanDieren, who wants to become a pediatrician some day, the real amazing champions throughout the COVID crisis have been those on the front lines of care.

"In this pandemic, health care workers have been true heroes by risking their own lives on the front lines and sacrificing so much for the safety of others," she said. "Some have even made the ultimate sacrifice by losing their lives in the struggle to protect others."

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

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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. 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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