Notre Dame Alumni E-Newsletter
April 2018
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Dear , 

What an amazing amount of love and support for our Irish Week Challenge! More than $11,000 was raised with more than 160 Champions recognized! We were thrilled at the level of participation and cannot thank you all enough for your continued support of Notre Dame! 

Less than eight months after Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy first announced that it will renovate its softball and baseball fields, the school will host a special dedication on April 12 when students, athletes, alumni and school administration officials will come together and celebrate the new facilities with a "Bless the Bats" ceremony.  

The Bless the Bats ceremony will include a hospitality tent with food and refreshments; introductions of alumni, former coaches and administrators; remarks by school and athletic administrators; and a formal blessing of the new fields by Fr. Leon Olszamowski, s.m. 

After the field dedication, Notre Dame's softball and baseball teams are scheduled to play home games vs. Marian and Royal Oak high schools, respectively.

All alumni are welcome to attend this event! If you played softball or baseball, we hope you will make a special effort to attend and see the future of these programs. All alumni will receive a commemorative t-shirt. Please RSVP for this event by clicking here.

Join us on April 17, at 6 p.m., at the Fr. Colin House located at 1389 Giddings Road for our next alumni board meeting. Everyone is welcome!

Have a great spring!

Beth Campbell
Director of Alumni Relations

Upcoming Events

Bless the Bats
All softball and baseball alumni are invited back to check our newly renovated fields as they are blessed. Ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. with refreshments and free alumni gifts. Both home softball and baseball games will begin immediately following the blessing. All alumni please RSVP by clicking here.
Big Band Dinner Dance
Saturday, May 19, at LaFayette Grand, 1 Lafayette, Pontiac, Mich. Featuring performances from jazz band alums. Ticket information will be available soon. Please contact Joe Martin, for more information.
22nd Annual Golf Outing
Monday, June 4, 2018, at Pine Knob Golf Course in Clarkston. To register, bid on auction items or to become as sponsor, click here.  Sponsored by the NDPMA Booster Club. Proceeds to benefit NDPMA athletics.
Homecoming 2018
Mark your calendar for October 12 for this year's homecoming game and October 13 for the Alumni 5K run.  

The 4th Annual Irish Week Challenge finished up last week as another big success for NDPMA students! This year's Challenge raised more than $11,000 in support of Notre Dame and its annual appeal, The Notre Dame Fund, which directly benefits students at the school from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Similar to last year's Challenge, this year's fundraising effort was focused on everyone who's served at any of the Notre Dame schools as well as Pontiac Catholic or Oakland Catholic. As a result, 160 faculty and staff members were honored last week, a big increase over 2017's 115. Among those called out for honor during the week were Tony Borton, Fr. John Bryson, Betty Wroubel, Fr. John Kiselica, Br. Louis Plourde, Conrad Vachon and Sandy LewAllen.

"One hundred eighty gifts were made by 124 donors," said Notre Dame Fund director Atif Lodhi. "More than 60 members of the Notre Dame community contributed $100 or more to the Irish Week Challenge, which earned them a special limited-edition t-shirt."
Lodhi said that each "champion" also was recognized on social media and on the NDPMA website. In additon, Irish Week Champions will receive a personalized letter and be recognized in the school's annual report.

"A big thank you to all in the community for taking part in the Irish Week Challenge and making it a week to remember," Lodhi said. "We appreciate the recognition and support for such a vital institution. Go Irish!"

The overall goal for The Notre Dame Fund is $600,000, which school officials hope to reach or surpass by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2018. More information on the fund is at

To see the complete list of Champions, click here.

Nineteen-eighty-three Notre Dame graduate and musician John Nixon is the lead composer and executive producer at Ron Rose Milagro, a marketing, audio- and video-production company based in Royal Oak, Mich., with clients in the independent film, advertising and web communities. Technically, he's an independent contractor working under the name Music By 7and5, LLC, but for all practical purposes, he is the go-to guy for all of RRM's musical needs.

"I originally joined Ron Rose as an audio engineer in 1989, but left to begin my composition career with Brad Music in 1996," Nixon said. "That company later became known as The Bad Little Man. I rejoined Ron Rose Productions in 2001, which, at that time, was based in Southfield."

Nixon said he's busier than ever and credits his high school alma mater for him getting and staying ahead in his career.

"NDHS taught me how to compete at the highest levels; whether it be for grades, for sports or band," he said. "Competition and doing one's best were always at the core of what we did at Notre Dame, and understanding that this is what we face everyday in the real world, adversity is now far less of an obstacle for me."

For Nixon, who's been competing for year at the highest level in the advertising world, his recent work is telling.

He's composed the original music for the entire national Buick Christmas and end-of-year campaign and he currently has spots with his original music running in the Detroit-area market for Carl's Golfland, DTE Energy, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Smithfield Meats, and more. A few years ago, Nixon also composed the score for a trailer for the movie "The Visitor," which saw worldwide release. 

To read more of Nixon's story, click here.

The latest job outlook for meteorologists from the U.S Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics says that growth in the field of meteorology (also called atmospheric science) is forecasted to be at 12% between now and 2026, a "faster-than-average" rate, BLS added.

For Notre Dame alum Mary Lund, it's indeed good news. That's because she is actively pursuing a lifelong dream to have a career in meteorology - a dream that began way back at St. Lawrence Catholic School in Utica, Mich., and now continues in the University of Michigan's Climate and Space Sciences program.
"I've always known I wanted to be a meteorologist, even in elementary school," said Lund, who graduated from Notre Dame Prep in 2014. "I was on the science olympiad team there and received medals in an event called 'Weather or Not.' And then finding a university close to home that offered a major in my favorite field I thought was extremely fortunate, I thought."

Lund is currently a meteorology major at Michigan. She said that because meteorology at U-M is within the College of Engineering, she knew she needed a strong math background in order to succeed in the program. Fortunately, at Notre Dame, she got one.

"Teachers like Mr. [Mark] McCaskey and Mr. [Daniel] Chun really helped me solidify pre-calculus and calculus concepts, so I already had a thorough understanding of my first year of math at U-M," she said. "Students at NDP are always well-prepared for their freshman year when they get to university, and I was no different. NDP grads typically have good study habits, good communication skills - both written and verbal - and the ability to live and work well with others." 

Lund's devotion to her chosen field of study also has led to a number of special intern opportunities as well.

"Last May, I started working for DTE Energy as a meteorology co-op student and will be continuing that co-op through next school year," she said. "The position with DTE involves putting together daily weather forecasts for the company to help prepare for major storms that could cause power outages. Also, I did a couple of segments last month on The Weather Channel's AMHQ (America's Morning Headquarters) TV program to talk about winter storm Mateo, which spread a whole bunch of snow and ice from the Rockies to the Northeast."

To read more of Lund's story, click here.

Like many if not most newly graduated high school students, Notre Dame alum Paul Barker ('88) wasn't sure which career path he should set foot on. But unlike most high school grads, he ended up with one that involved rubbing elbows with the likes of Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson and Berry Gordy.

That's because once Barker found his footing, he began a progression of jobs in the nonprofit and entertainment industries that had him ending up with his current position as director of development and community activation at Detroit's Motown Museum.

"My love of music led me to volunteer at the museum in 1989 when I was only 18," he said.  "I soon became their first paid employee and spent 13 years working for Motown in one capacity or another. I held many positions and at one time was responsible for a staff of 13 before I even turned 30." 

His work initially with Motown forced Barker's post-secondary education into a hold after a brief stint at Macomb Community College. 

"I attended Macomb and took general requirements until I chose a career," he said. "As soon as I could, I transferred to Wayne State University to attend classes with my friends, but still did not really know what I wanted to do with my life. Eventually, I chose to pursue a marketing degree, but quickly became disinterested and eventually stopped going to school and started to work full time."

Full-time work was his best education, Barker said, and he started volunteering at the Motown Museum after Notre Dame. A year later, he became the museum's first paid employee. He spent the next six years working full time. The experience of hands-on work was the right fit for him at that time, but he always knew he would finish his degree.
"In 1995, I moved to California and spent the next three years working in the music and film business for my hero, Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown," Barker said. "Although the time was exciting, I never intended to stay out west. After three years, I moved back to Detroit, returned to work at the Motown Museum and went back to Wayne State University. This time, I actually wanted to be in school, so I took night classes and worked full time and finally received a bachelor's degree in marketing."

To read more on Barker, click here.

Two-thousand-six Notre Dame Prep alum Fr. Dennis Strach, C.S.C., was ordained in 2016. His ordination completed a journey to the priesthood that included a bachelor's degree in music from Oakland University and an M.Div degree from the University of Notre Dame. Currently, he is the parochial vicar at St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church in Austin, Texas.

And while Strach's journey to the Congregation of Holy Cross also included a profoundly influential four years at Notre Dame Prep, it actually began much earlier in his life.
"I first thought about becoming a priest when I was in grade school," said Strach. "I used to play Mass with Wonder Bread and Juicy Juice. I made my mom listen to my homilies and I gave 'communion' to our dog because none of my friends wanted to play Mass with me." 

But Strach said the time he spent at Notre Dame Prep was, hands down, absolutely critical in laying the groundwork for his discernment and prayer - and for his eventual decision to become a priest. 

Fr. Joe Hindelang, ND Prep's principal, recalls Strach as a talented and faithful young man. 

"As a student Dennis was impressive," said Hindelang. "He was involved in a lot of things, well-rounded, compassionate and well-liked by peers and teachers. And despite the impersonations he did of many of us, he was talented and really funny. Without being showy about it, he seemed very much at ease putting his faith into action. And as a Holy Cross priest, Fr. Dennis is still that impressive, down-to-earth, service-oriented and funny guy. It was good to see him grow over the years on his journey to something that has made him so happy."

To read more on Strach's story, click here.

Last year, Maria Pangori, a 2013 graduate of Notre Dame Prep and 2017 alum of John Carroll University, earned the Schell Award, which honors JCU seniors who have provided consistent and outstanding leadership in campus ministry through retreats, immersion experiences, liturgy, prayer and justice and who live as "women and men for others."
The award is no surprise to people in the Notre Dame community who know Maria and who know her family. That's because the Pangoris have dedicated a significant portion of their lives to helping those in need - wherever in the world they might be.

Case in point: the Pangori family (NDP senior Anthony, mom Laura and dad Steve) recently returned from Ecuador after spending a week helping duaghter Maria, who has been immersed in a year-long ministry in the city of Monte Sinai, which is located in southwest Ecuador. Maria works with Rostro de Cristo, a Catholic program that provides spiritual, educational and ministerial opportunities in Ecuador for young people of faith in the United States.

"There are many Bible verses explaining the need for compassion for the poor, impoverished and homeless people of our society," said Laura Pangori after returning to Michigan from Ecuador. "One verse in the Gospel of Matthew reminds us that being charitable and loving to everyone is important in our faith, and we are called to see the Christ in every person, putting all prejudices and doubt aside. We cannot be more proud of Maria! She is so compassionate and loving."

As part of her year-long stay in Ecuador, Maria Pangori works at Casa de Acogida (House of Shelter), which is a shelter for women and their children who are escaping extreme and even life-threatening situations of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Unfortunately, with a culture heavily steeped in machismo in Ecuador, this situation is very normalized and common. 

To read more of Pangori's story, click  here.

Two thousand Notre Dame alum Eric Fedewa had just graduated from Oakland University and was well on his way to a career in marketing. He had a good job in the automotive industry and he and his girlfriend of three years were discussing wedding plans.

But at the same time he'd been noticing an ever-so slight "pull" in a decidedly different direction. 

"Around the last month of college, I had a 'reconversion' after a Mass when I was prayed with and began living my faith more fully - and also wanting to begin doing what Jesus wanted me to do," Fedewa said. "A few months later, I was asked to pray about the priesthood by a parishioner at St. Lawrence Parish in Utica, which is the parish in which I grew up." 

A long story shortened, all of that prayer and contemplation ultimately led Fedewa to the priesthood and to his current position as pastor of St. Basil the Great Parish in Eastpointe, Mich. 

"During the time right after college, when I was working at the Volkswagen/Audi headquarters in Auburn Hills, my girlfriend started to take classes to become Catholic," he said. "But she didn't know I was praying about the priesthood until October of that year when she told me she felt like she was dating a priest. I had been reluctant to tell her because I feared it would break her faith, but now it was clearly out in the open!"
Fedewa then spent nearly six months praying about his potential life switch in front of Jesus at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament after work, and he also met regularly with the vocations director for the Archdiocese.

"By the end of January 2005, I decided to spend a weekend at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, which clinched it for me. It was time to make the step and apply for acceptance into the priestly formation program there," he said. "That was the moment I had to end my relationship with my girlfriend. Thankfully, she had a strong sense from the Lord that this was coming. She subsequently was baptized, confirmed, and received her first Eucharist that spring at an Easter Vigil Mass and chose my father to be her godfather!"

To read more of Fedewa's story, click   here.

Notre Dame Prep student-artists Destiney Sandle (12), Maria Mora (12), Kyle Conroy (12), Amelia Cumming (10), Thomas Fazio (12), Kathryn Lee (11) and Natalie Lyijynen (11) learned this week that they have earned national recognition in the 2018 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition.

Sandle and Mora received one gold award each and Conroy, Cumming, Fazio, Lee, Lyijynen and Sandle received silver awards from Scholastic, with Fazio and Sandle each getting two silver awards.

Gold award recipients have an opportunity to travel to New York in early summer to be honored at Carnegie Hall.

Earlier this year, NDP students earned a total of 50 regional awards in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition for the Southeastern Michigan region, beating last year's 45 awards for the school, which was a big increase from the 2016 school record of 27 awards.

According to Sandy LewAllen, Notre Dame's art chair, earning 50 awards tops the number of awards ever won at Notre Dame Prep and is one of the largest groups from any school in the region, including very large public schools such as Stoney Creek and Novi. "I couldn't be any more proud of all of our art students and their efforts," she said back in January.

To read more of the story, click here.

(Story and photos by Drew Ellis, The Oakland Press)

The Division 3 cheer state championships once again came down Richmond and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep in 2018.

However, the story remained the same for both teams, as the Fighting Irish held their position over the Blue Devils, scoring a 776.48 to claim its fifth straight state championship.

"We have an amazing community at Notre Dame and our kids just have a different standard of excellence," Irish coach Beth Campbell said of winning five straight titles. 

" They refuse to not give it their all. They never come in with 80 percent. That is something special and when I came to Notre Dame that is something I noticed from the minute I walked in the door. The effort and the standards are different here than other places and I think that is the key to our success."

Richmond finished with a total of 771.50 to earn runner-up for the fourth straight year. The Blue Devils won the D3 title in 2012 and 2013 before the Irish began their current run.

The Blue Devils didn't hide their desire to stop the Irish, as all of their performances referenced "ending the streak." That didn't rattle ND Prep, as the Irish opened the meet with a 232.50 in the first round. Richmond was second with a 230.50. No other team scored better than a 229.
In the second round, the Irish really distanced themselves, scoring a 227.78, which bested the field by more than four points. Richmond scored a 223.00 in the round and trailed by over six points heading into the final performance.

Round three saw the Irish post a 316.50, which is lower than what is has done usually. Richmond won the round with a 318.00, but it wasn't enough to win the championship.

"Round three has been our power round and I think our inexperience showed there," Campbell said. "Those freshmen got on that state-champ mat and got a little nervous, I think. But, they were fighters and did enough to keep us with the state championship."

To read more, click here.

On March 9 of last year, Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy launched the public phase of its campaign to raise a total of $7.5 million for a new science, art and technology wing to be built on its campus in Pontiac. 

Dubbed the "March on to Victory" campaign, the public phase of the fundraising effort was introduced at a special celebration to a crowd of more than 700 who heard from school and campaign officials and watched a special video presentation.

Notre Dame head of school Andy Guest said that since the launch of the campaign, a total of $5.6 million has been pledged to date. "But we are working hard to close the gap between where we are today and the $7.5 million goal. We want to secure as much as we can if not all of it before we open the facility ahead of the 2018 school year."

Daron Gifford is the NDPMA board chairman and co-chair of the MOTV campaign. 

"The big goal of this campaign, which is the most ambitious in the school's history, is to help our great school to maintain its educational leadership not only for our current generation of students, but also for many generations of students to come," said Gifford, who also is an alumni parent.

Echoing Gifford are Jill and Brad Seitzinger - parents of Claire, an NDP senior, and Eli, a freshman - who are significant contributors to the campaign.

"Our children have benefited from the school's current facilities, which have been provided to us in part from donations that came before us," said Jill Seitzinger, who also is a school trustee. "Now it's our time to pay it forward."

The new 26,000 square feet facility, which is well underway and on schedule, includes a one-story science, technology and arts building that has already been connected to both the current middle-school and upper-school wings. When it opens before school begins in August, it will feature science laboratory facilities, collaborative learning classrooms, a robotics lab, a specially designed greenhouse, and a fine arts studio.

To read more on this story, click here.
For more Notre Dame news,  click here.
Notre Dame Prep Theatre Presents: Tony n' Tina's Wedding  

Notre Dame Theatre invites you to their first ever dinner theatre by Artificial Intelligence Conceived by Nancy Cassaro.

Notre Dame Cafetorium
April 19th, 20th, & 21st
7:00 p.m. Pre-show starts at 6:30 p.m.

One of the longest running shows in off-Broadway history, Tony n' Tina's Wedding is one-of-a-kind entertainment - an immersive comedy show staged as an evening of nuptials for two Italian-American families. It invites the audience to actively participate in all festivities: everyone is a welcome guest at the ceremony and reception, there's real food, a real wedding band, and real mingling with a cast of loveable characters.

Seating will be limited for this show.
Presale tickets on sale until Monday, April 16th at 4:00 P.M.
To purchase tickets, click here.
For a list of upcoming class reunions 

Check out pictures from the class of 1960 (NDHS) reunion on March 8 in sunny Florida, click here.


Considering planning a reunion for your class? The alumni office can help you get started. Call (248) 373-2171, ext. 3, or email for details. 

Prayer List:  click here
Bob Ortiz- '67 (NDHS) Brother of Jeff '74 (NDHS) 2-21-18
Vincent Pipia- '72 (NDHS) Brother of Michael '68 (NDHS) 2-15-18
Louis Barduca Jr. - Father of Daniel '93 (NDHS) 2-18-18
Fredrick J. Powell- Father of Kristopher F. Powell '75 (NDHS), Grandfather of Lauren E. Powell '16 (NDP) 3-1-18
Fr. Robert Graham- Marist father and staff member at NDHS 1-20-18
Helen "Cosgrove" Gagel - '32 (SF) Mother of Ann "Gagel" '73 (PC) 1-31-18
Pauline D'Aoust - Mother of Ron '66 (NDHS) and Don '68 (NDHS) 2-20-18
Ronald Gaynor '58 (NDHS) Brother of Raymond '58 (NDHS), Uncle of Mark '83 (NDHS), Paul '84 (NDHS) and John '89 (NDHS) 1-26-18

Email your prayers and petitions to
NDP = Notre Dame Prep; NDHS = Notre Dame High School; OC = Oakland Catholic; PC = Pontiac Catholic; SM = St. Michael; SF = St. Frederick.