Be a Bulldog: Freshman Placement Testing at Notre Dame

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Enter to learn, leave to serve.

It’s the mission at Notre Dame Regional High School, where students are viewed as whole people, and education is for the mind, body and soul. It’s this holistic approach to teaching that allows students to fulfill the school’s mission — and their own — in impressive ways.

“We know our kiddos. That’s really our first step, is getting to know them and their goals and what’s important to them,” says Amanda Mueth, director of guidance. “It’s not just, ‘We want you to graduate, we want you to get a job,’ but, ‘We want you to be a person who can express themselves and express their faith and give their gifts to other people.’”

Being able to know students more deeply is the reason the guidance department added a third counselor to their staff at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, for the approximately 500 students who attend the school. It’s a counselor-to-student ratio that is rare.

Each student at Notre Dame meets with a guidance counselor individually at least once a year, and the counselors also spend time in the classrooms with students. In conversations with students, guidance counselors integrate their own and students’ faith experiences. All of this helps them guide students to understand how God might be calling them to use their gifts in their futures.

Guidance counselors then help students determine which courses will best help them share their gifts with others. With 61 dual enrollment hours offered through Southeast Missouri State University and Saint Louis University, students can acquire college credit at a more affordable price while still in high school, freeing them to focus on their chosen course of study during college. In addition, Notre Dame meets students where they are: the school offers 28 honors courses, as well as accommodations to modify the curriculum for students who have IEPs.

That must be why 96 students (three-fourths of students) from the class of 2018 earned a score higher than the state average of 20 on the ACT, with 20 students (nearly one-fifth) of the class earning a 30 or above.

Retreats are another important part of the Notre Dame way that helps students discern their call. Every student goes on a day-long retreat each year. In addition, juniors go on a three-day, two-night Emmaus retreat, which focuses on “The Road to Emmaus” Scripture from the Gospel of Luke, and how this might apply to students’ own journeys walking with Jesus. The seniors attend a four-day, three-night Kairos retreat, which helps students delve into having a friendship with God.

After her brother passed away a year ago, these retreats provided a time and space for senior Lily Parker to “face it all head on” and come back to her faith and grow closer to God. This year, she was a leader on the Kairos retreat for her classmates.

“I just can't believe how I've changed since a year ago,” Parker says of how these retreats helped her. “I owe it all to Notre Dame. I know I have a family that I can trust and depend on when I need someone to help me out."

It’s an experience that moves students to service, which isn’t a requirement for graduation at Notre Dame, as the administration hopes it is instead a voluntary way of life. Students can earn junior varsity and varsity letters for completing 80 to 120 hours of service, with additional bars earned for service completed above and beyond this. And service runs throughout the school: each of the 38 extracurricular organizations participate in service, as do the 22 sports teams.

“Our students believe that service should be a way of life, not something to be done for an award,” says principal Brother David Anthony Migliorino, OSF. “Thus, we live out the Gospel message of caring for another each and every day."

All of this puts Notre Dame in the top five percent of Catholic high schools in the United States.

If you and your child would like to be a part of the Notre Dame Regional High School community, freshmen placement testing will take place at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26. This test, which is the first step in Notre Dame’s March enrollment process, will be used in conjunction with teacher recommendations, current grades and past standardized tests to help the guidance office create a plan and class placements for incoming freshmen. For more information or to register for the placement test, contact the Notre Dame Regional High School guidance office at (573) 335-6772.