It’s a late spring afternoon at Notre Dame Preparatory School (NDP) in Towson, and there’s a palpable buzz in the air. And no wonder. The school’s seniors are winding down the final days of their high school career. They’re fretting about AP exams, putting final touches on end-of-the-year projects, getting excited about the upcoming prom and, of course, graduation. Then they’ll be on to the next phase of their academic lives.
But first, a few graduating seniors—Ashley Nwafor, Olivia Meyers, and Suzie Albornoz—take the time to reflect on their four years of high school at NDP. At once reflective and giddy with memories, they discuss how their high school experience has shaped them into the young women they are today, and the multiple ways it’s prepared them for what lies ahead.
Olivia, whose well-laid academic plans for next fall include attending Catholic University, where she plans to major in Nursing and obtain a Spanish for Health Care Certificate, remembers how she felt about NDP even before she attended the school. “On shadow day, I could see the academic side. The girls were doing hard work that I did not recognize, and still enjoying it,” she recalls.
Ashley, who’s heading to University of Maryland College Park in the fall with plans to dual major in Physiology and Neurology in the pre-med track, agrees with Olivia. “The academics are so strong here. All of our teachers are amazing, and you can always go to them if you need help,” she says. The strong academics extend beyond the classroom to include the development of study techniques and good time management habits, say the students.
Suzie will soon report to West Point, where she is contemplating studying either engineering or physics. She admits that she initially found the workload at NDP somewhat daunting. But once she figured out how to budget her time, it became much more manageable. “I will definitely take that [time management] to college,” she acknowledges.
While each of the seniors shared their unique perspectives of their time at NDP, they unanimously agreed on one thing: there are plenty of ways to make the NDP experience rich and memorable. It’s just a matter of getting involved.
Suzie came to NDP with an interest in music. She received the school’s Gateway Music Scholarship when she was admitted to NDP. During the past four years, she’s fully taken advantage of her musical talent and interests, joining the school’s Concert Band, Jazz Band, and Liturgy Band as a drummer and percussionist. When she’d not performing in one of the school bands, she can often be found on the track field. This past track season, she claimed the title of five-time IAAM individual champion in the pole vault, leaping more than 10 feet to break the school record.
Ashley and Olivia both recall thinking they were too shy to try out for the high school’s musical. But they both love to sing. And seeing how much fun other students seemed to be having in the musical forced them to overcome their fears and try out. They’ve never looked back. This year, Olivia played the lead in the school’s musical. Both students have spent four years singing in NDP’s Chamber Choir, where they say they’ve made some of their closest friends.
At NDP, opportunities outside the classroom aren’t limited to extracurricular activities. Last summer, Olivia spent two weeks at St. Clare Medical Outreach, a free healthcare clinic in town. Through NDP, Ashley secured a one-week, intensive internship program at Long Island University in Brooklyn, where she took college level classes on health topics.
The Value of a Catholic Single-Sex Education
While NDP students can choose from a multitude of athletic, artistic and educational pursuits, they all experience high school through the lens of a Catholic, all-girls’ education. And they appreciate its benefits.
“I think single-sex education is really valuable. We are so strong and empowered here. We talk about things freely. We don’t have to worry about pressure from boys,” Suzie says. Ashley concurs. “I definitely like NDP’s message: Women who transform the world,” she notes.
At NDP, it’s understood that this ability to make an impact outside of school stems from the Catholic values taught in school. “The Catholic values here are very important. They’re in every aspect of our classes,” says Olivia. Even students who aren’t Catholic welcome the opportunity to share in religious celebrations at the school. For instance, Suzie, who is not Catholic, plays in the Liturgy Band, which performs during school masses.
These young women, from different backgrounds and with unique aspirations, each say they’re beyond satisfied to have spent four years at NDP. “Here, you’ll find what you love, the people you love, in a community that will always support you,” Ashley says.
Founded in 1873, Notre Dame Preparatory School is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for approximately 800 girls in grades 6-12. The School Sisters of Notre Dame sponsor the school, which is dedicated to educating girls to become young women who will transform the world.