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Changes ahead for new school year

The Seraphim Staff

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The 2017-2018 school year will see many new changes.  From a new principal to a new bell schedule to a change in uniforms, NDP is making improvements left and right.

Students and faculty also can look forward to a change in the amount of half days versus late starts.  Also, watch for changes with the  Gonzaga Program and the charisms as well in the upcoming school year.  

New principal and Chaplain

Next year, Notre Dame will welcome Jill Platt as the new principal. Mrs. Platt is currently the principal at All Hallows Academy in La Jolla, Calif.

Mrs. Platt holds a bachelor of science in speech communication with an emphasis in business from Northern Arizona University, a master’s in education in curriculum and instruction from Arizona State University and a master’s in Education in instructional leadership from DePaul University. She has been in administrative roles–as principal or assistant principal–in Arizona, Indiana, Illinois and California for the past 13 years. She also was the educational technology administrator at Brophy from 1998-2004 and a teacher at Xavier prior to that.

Fr. John Parks was appointed by Bishop Thomas Olmsted to be the vicar of evangelization for the Diocese of Phoenix. Bishop Thomas Olmsted then appointed Fr. Kurt Perera to fill the opening for chaplain at NDP.  Fr. Perera is currently the chaplain at Bourgade Catholic High School.

With the retirement of superintendent MaryBeth Mueller, who also has served as director of evangelization, Bishop Olmsted has appointed Harry Plummer as new superintendent.

The positions of NDP principal and chaplain take effect July 1.


Next year, NDP will return to having Dennis Uniforms be the supplier of all uniforms. Though students may continue to wear Nike polos, they will no longer be sold online through the Flash Store.

Admissions director Matt Rylski said that this change has been made as it is more convenient for everyone involved to purchase uniforms from Dennis rather than online and that, in general, students prefer the cotton Dennis polos over the Nike polos.

Half days

Also next year, all Wednesday’s will be early release days.

Mr. Rylski said that next year classes will end at 1:40 p.m. on every Wednesday. In the case there is not a block schedule on Wednesday, there will be 36-minute class periods to accommodate this early dismissal.

The weekly early release days will create time for teacher meetings, as Mr. Rylski said that many of the teachers, especially new teachers, would appreciate this time to meet for professional development. The number of late starts, unpopular with students, have been scaled back.

Tuition Increase

Next year, NDP will see an increase in tuition. Finance director Paul Rubsam said that this coming year’s increase of $350 is less than the increase over the past three years. The tuition increased $700 for the 2014-15 school year, $630 for the 2015-16 school year and $500 for the 2016-17 school year.

The new tuition will be $16,330 annually and the reduced tuition for practicing Catholics in the Diocese of Phoenix will be $13,780, according to Mr. Rubsam.

“NDP increases our tuition rate every year primarily because our teachers and staff get a salary increase every year,” he said, “and our healthcare costs go up every year.”

Absences and Classes

With all the new changes coming next year, one that will affect the student body the most will be class scheduling.

Megan Erdely, director of counseling, described some of the new changes that are to come next year.

Students who miss 10 days of school, excused or unexcused, will not be able to have an H period off during their senior year. This mainly pertains to the juniors who will become rising seniors as it has already been put into effect.

In addition, the curriculum will change next year. Medical Ethics, a one-semester honors course, will be offered for the first time in the fall. It is based on the examination of ethical issues in healthcare through the lens of Catholic moral thought.  This theology-orientated class will be open to juniors and seniors. Returning to the English curriculum will be Great Books and Sports in Literature. NDP will eliminate AP Macroeconomics.

Student Government

Several things that were introduced this year will be kept for the future, including the student-faculty basketball game.  According to Brenda Beers, student activities director, the basketball game was extremely popular and widely talked about, so it would make sense to make it a permanent tradition.  

Homecoming, Prom and the Neon Dance Party will be the three dances offered at based on dance attendance.  Hoopcoming and Movie night were both removed because the low student turnout ended up costing the school money.  Homecoming week is set for Oct. 16-21.


The charism groups will stay the same, but the scheduling will change. The charism groups will meet two times every month and will meet for 20 minutes instead of the 70-minute sessions.

Focus on the newly established charisms also will once again include the old ESLRs. However, the ESLRs will be called foundational values, according to Mary Lou Lachvayder, director of student formation,

There also will no longer be class Masses on charism meeting days.

During charism meetings, one grade would go into the cafeteria or gym and have its class Mass. Instead, there will be class Masses during the day of reflection.  This makes the Mass more personal and more meaningful, Mrs. Lachvayder said.

Gonzaga Program

Next year marks the Gonzaga Program’s fourth year at Notre Dame.  With this much time under his belt Gonzaga director Mr. Prelock said he has been able to evaluate data from previous students.  

The data showed that dropping math after freshman year is not yielding the best results, so next year the program will change to incorporate Gonzaga geometry.  The study hall period will switch off between English and geometry instead of English and history.  Ryan Pefley will continue his role in the Gonzaga Program as the sophomore English teacher.

For more information on the program, make sure to look out for the next edition of the Saints’ Nation, which will feature the Gonzaga Program as the cover story.  

Staff writers Jenna Glovsky, Ryan Mendieta, Lizzy Smiley and Amanda Thomas contributed to this report.

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