by Mary Liz Fitzpatrick '72 Ivins, Principal
Hailee makes Notre Dame special. She greets everyone she meets with an energetic “hello” and a dynamic smile. Miguel makes Notre Dame special by leaping out of his wheelchair to win the Limbo contest at the pep rally. He also puts his efforts to break NJ track records aside each Spring to run an annual Paralympic event for local youth. Loretta and Jahmai make ND special by speaking with courage at a Faculty meeting so that teachers can better understand the perspective of students of color. Isabella and Reilly make ND special by combining their talents to produce the musical opening for ND’s first daily announcement broadcasts. Anissa makes ND special by gently recruiting the shyest of students to complete a service project for the homeless and the hungry.
Notre Dame is special because a boisterous gym filled with 1,100 spirited and screaming students turns silent when Myles says, “In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit…” Film students create projects in which they insist that every student can participate. Peer Leaders seek out the student who sits alone and make sure he or she finds lunch mates.
At ND, a student may give the most intelligent answer to a question in class, may stop into the Chapel to pray, may work tirelessly to program Marge the robot, may come off the bench and never score a point, or may cheer with creative (and respectful) humor with a blue face at an athletic contest. ND is special because all students are valued, celebrated and loved for the gifts they bring.
Notre Dame is most certainly special, but not perfect. Ordinary young people walk through normal days where there are challenges, arguments, disappointments and failures. The Notre Dame Family understands how to use these experiences to chisel more enlightened perspectives, to pioneer uncharted paths and to inspire growth beyond average. Teachers spend the hour after school on Friday to help hurt students heal misunderstandings. Teachers offer evening responses to online queries for academic assistance. And, teachers show up at 7:15 a.m. to tutor students through the complexities of formulas and hypotheses. At ND, special is cultivated through the power of life’s most vibrant struggles.
The Notre Dame Family was given birth 60 years ago by dreamers, builders and people of great Faith. It is fertile and sacred ground that nurtures the mind, heart and soul of teenagers. Young people spring through the hallways each day with awkward energy, unmeasurable potential, unfathomable creativity and an unbelievable capacity for compassion. Tomorrow’s generation moves closer ever day to being the unique people of Faith that God created them to be for this world. They are most definitely what makes Notre Dame special!