Individualism at Notre Dame

High School is a time for self-realization and reflection. It is a pocket of defining moments in the emergence of personhood and the culmination of self-identity. Notre Dame Academy is not only an environment conducive to the exploration of one’s self-identity but encourages personal growth and the freedom to become a well-rounded individual. NDA is a place where creative, athletic, and academic ventures meet and manifest in the ambitions of the students. The academic rigor is not the only strong point of Notre Dame, but the various opportunities are as well. A student has the ability to explore her writing talents in the Creative Writing Club or the school paper, she has the ability to embrace her musical talents by joining performing arts, and could welcome her artistic visions in the Art Club.

Lillian Meagher, member of the Class of 2022 said, “I like art club because it's a place where everyone can unwind and create things that they love. Art club allows everyone to unleash their creative side and express a part of them that they may not have the opportunity to express in their everyday lives. The art club also participates in fundraisers such as the OK Clean Water Project, and in the past we've helped design the sets for NDA elementary school's plays.”

The open and welcoming nature of the school’s clubs nurtures the hidden talents of its students, bringing out the best in them. The clubs in turn also form bonds between students of all grades, forging close relationships over their shared interests, and common ground. Teachers are also always encouraging students to pursue other abilities. Often informing them of certain clubs, contests, and leadership opportunities. Erin Memmisheimer, a junior at Notre Dame said, “Joining International Night freshman year was only because Madame Pinsky needed a model for France. Now, I’m president of the club and helped organize their first virtual international night. Seeing Mme Pinsky’s enthusiasm and support for the club is honestly the only reason I joined and stayed with it in the first place. I’m so glad she encouraged me and always believed in what the club could accomplish.”

Young women at NDA could also create clubs or opportunities that are important to them. Many students at Notre Dame have founded clubs and movements, leaving a legacy on the school they called home for four years. Karissa Shamah, for example, started a dance outreach program, giving underprivileged children the opportunity to dance. She extended her program to Notre Dame, asking other members of the student body to donate costumes for her students. This is just one of many examples of the young women of Notre Dame giving back to their communities using the principles taught to them by Notre Dame.  

The administration is not only open to new notions and plans but encourages them, cultivating women of creativity and leadership. Women who possess leadership and initiative help to create spaces of intrigue to other students as well. This form of strong self-expression has not slowed during the pandemic, but instead, adapted. Clubs still meet and find ways to be outlets during these tumultuous times, solidifying their place in the hearts and minds of students. Zoom, for example, has become the means of communication. Performing arts has meetings and auditions all over zoom, keeping the integrity of the art form intact.

The finding of one’s self is a defining moment in every person’s life. At NDA, the ability to explore your interests and share that with others is not only possible but one of the many things that makes Notre Dame so special. Students have the freedom to be themselves and share that with others, freedoms that only aid them in real-life experiences and leadership, but bring the purest form of joy- joys that may carry on into college and the rest of their lives.