In an effort to gain a feeling for the voices of the Notre Dame Preparatory student population, three vocal students from unique and different backgrounds agreed to be interviewed about the state of dialogue at NDP.
Michael Lee Walsh, a senior at NDP, is an avid conversation starter, both within and outside the classroom.
“Dialogue within the classes I partake in is honestly that of normal teenage dialogue that I woould expect at any high school,” Walsh stated. “Although one thing I would like to point out is that since I did attend a public middle school and pubic elementary school for eight years of my life, I find the dialogue in our Catholic setting at NDP, to be more respectful and with a lot less swearing.”
Although sensitive topics are discussed at public schools, Walsh believes that they are further encouraged within the NDP classrooms because of the Catholic curriculum, as well as the rigor expected at a private institution.
“The religious affiliation brings topics to the table that would simply not be allowed to be discussed in other non-religious affiliated institutions,” Walsh asserted. “In many schools across the nation, religion, and anything pertaining to it is only brought up as a historical reference.”
Natalie May Siller, a junior at NDP, is an active member of the school’s Drama Club, a National Honor Society member, and a critical thinker.
“Dialogue at NDP is generally friendly and mostly peer-to-peer,” Siller observed.
A class where she’s challenged to discuss these topics is her Honors Argumentation & Rhetoric class taught by Mrs. Smith, a recent addition to the NDP staff and English teacher.
“In my class, we really work for both sides of the argument to understand how people might think, and therefore be able to listen and learn from their way of thinking,” Natalie explained. “The class, and any discussion, in general, can get heated, but we try to focus on the why of opinions, instead of whether someone is right or wrong.”
Not everything can be seen in black and white, as Siller noted, but classes such as Honors Argumentation & Rhetoric force students to form a logical and ethical basis of thought, allowing them to choose what they believe and why they believe it. Siller hopes to further expand her argumentation and rhetoric skills to accelerate her post-collegiate career.
Ben Davis, an NDP senior, is an active member of the Speech and Debate Club, a host of NDP broadcast news, and the host of NDP Live with Ben Davis.
“I truly believe that one’s own experience with dialogue are shaped by the decisions we make every day,” Ben observed. “You can choose who you have these conversations with, you can choose to be vulnerable and open to criticism, and you can choose to have a take away from each conversation or discussion you have.”
To Davis, a key to successful dialogue is diversity.
“Because Notre Dame Prep is Catholic, and because most of its student fit into a very specific mold, you know Catholic, white, and affluent, there’s a very small margin for divergent thinking,” Ben remarked. “Although I’ve never let that stop me, I’ve found myself hesitating countless times as to whether or not to voice my opinion.”