Academy of Notre Dame de Namurreview by Northwestern University student. The Academy of Notre Dame de Namur proved invaluable in my academic success over the past seven years. Although the atmosphere of the stukdent body is generally collegial (there are no published class rankings which contributes to this atmosphere), it is definitely possible for a competitive-minded student to challenge herself. The Academy is home to a very strong STEM program which has received generous funding over the past several years. As a senior, I took AP Physics and AP Calculus BC courses and found the courses to be beneficial towards my success in SAT and ACT standardized tests. The English Department is very well-run, and is quite popular with students. I wish there had been more course options in the Social Studies Department-in general there was simply an AP and an non-AP option at every level. The Language Department is somewhat weak, and many students do not continue to the AP level. The Art Department suffers from being considered at a lower level than the other academic departments. Overall, one weakness of the Academy is the inability of students to diversify their courses. The girls can choose to take an AP course in every department, and although there are many AP options in the science department (Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Environmental) there are limited options in other departments. Most years the students have one AP course in each department that they can choose to take, and there are many courses that Notre Dame could offer its students but does not. For example, classes such as World History and European History are not taught at the school. For sophomore year students in the social studies department must take American government or American history. The only electives taught through the department are offered senior year. As a student I would have appreciated more course options.
In general, I loved my time at the Academy of Notre Dame. Having attended the school for seven years, it began to feel like a home to me. Most of what contributed to this stemmed from the school community. I felt incredibly supported by my peers and teachers at all times, and I began to take my academics seriously when I came to the school. One of my favorite aspects of my time at Notre Dame was the mutual respect between teachers and students. I felt that all of my teachers sincerely wanted my peers and I to succeed, and I was also able to form lasting relationships with my teachers. I am still in touch with some of my teachers now, and I feel that they would support me through any challenge, academic or personal. The girls who attend the Academy of Notre Dame are similarly supportive. The lack of a competitive atmosphere between students allowed us to support one another in classes without feeling pitted against one another. Over the past seven years I gained friendships that I am sure will continue throughout the rest of my life. Notre Dame women are absolutely spectacular, and I am so proud to be a part of their wonderful community. One part of my experience at the Academy that I did not appreciate was the overwhelming conservative and religious sentiment. The school is mostly attended by affluent white students, and most of the girls come from traditional conservative households. Although I am encompassed in this group, I found ways to expand my perspective and develop a different set of values during my teenage years, although this growth was not entirely encouraged by my school community. In addition, as a Catholic school, I understand that religious activity is important for the school community, but I did not at all appreciate the staunch conservative and religious turn that I saw my school take during my last year of enrollment. I had always felt that religion had been taught to the students in an open and free environment, but during my senior year I saw a tightening on the religious freedom that I had so appreciated. For example, the school sends out Kairos retreats every year for Junior and Senior students, and although the retreat is typically a religious retreat, I had appreciated how on my own Kairos experience the Catholic religion wasn't forced upon me, but rather represented to me as a choice. During my senior year the school administration attempted to transform Kairos into an entirely religious experience, and this decision was aggressively resisted by both the current students and the school alumni. Such decisions as these deviated from the loose religious environment that I had noticed when first entering the school. The school facilities are generally new, and the older facilities are in the process of being renovated. The school is embracing technology in the classroom and transforming into modern styles of teaching.
Student life is well balanced. I was an athlete throughout high school and I never felt that it infringed upon my academics. There are many opportunities for extracurriculars that I explored throughout high school, and I feel that this environment helped me become a well-rounded individual.