Notre Dame Academy Announces Top Honors: Sarah Watson and Erin Bollin

Sarah Watson and Erin Bollin earned the top grades in NDA’s graduating Class of 2019. Valedictorian Sarah and salutatorian Erin will graduate from NDA’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program, a global college-level course of study that emphasizes inquiry and problem solving.

Both feel that their IB Theory of Knowledge class was one of their most significant experiences while at Notre Dame Academy. “It’s always been my favorite class because it’s a unique experience,” Sarah said. “Theory of Knowledge is an open forum to discuss and debate the questions and issues of the world.” She remembered when the class debated whether mathematical or scientific knowledge was discovered or invented. We had a great class because everyone was inquisitive.”

Their other favorite classes were IB History and IB Physics. “History has always been my favorite class because it’s the intersection of economics, politics, and literature. IB History taught me how to read, write, and think about a topic to gain a much fuller understanding of it,” said Sarah. “In IB, you’re challenged to find different ways to study or solve a problem,” added Erin. “You work much more independently so it teaches you how to deeply understand the subject and how what you know connects to various other forms of knowledge. When we derived equations, I really thought about the process I had to use to solve the problem. It’s been fun!”

Sarah will be studying political science in college but is undecided about where she will attend. She is considering attending London School of Economics, St. Andrews University in Scotland, Yale, Brown, Northwestern, or Georgetown University. She intends to concentrate in international studies and go to law school. Her goal is to eventually work in the White House or the diplomatic corps developing international policy. Sarah competed on the national level in speech and debate in 2018, was a state semi-finalist in 2019, and is President of the NDA Speech and Debate Team. Appropriate to her career goal, she competed in the International Extemporaneous Speech category where she had thirty minutes to prepare a seven minute speech on a topic that could be going on anywhere in the world. “The fast pace makes you take risks,” she said of her competitive speaking. “To compete, one must be very well read in current and global events.” In addition to competitive speaking, she has been a Student Director for Notre Dame Academy theater productions. She said the experience taught her how to troubleshoot and figure out problems on her feet. Sarah is a leader at Notre Dame Academy. She is a founder of S.A.S.S. (Students Advocating Safe Schools), president of the Current Events Club, and president of the Women of Wisdom Club. Sarah has also participated in NDA’s annual service trip to Appalachia, been a Kairos retreat leader, and helps with school liturgies as part of NDA’s FIAT (Faith In Action Team). “I was initially nervous about coming to NDA because I am not Catholic, but I found they encouraged me to grow in my own faith,” she said.

Erin came to Notre Dame Academy after attending St. Rose School in Perrysburg. She will begin college at Purdue University this fall. Following in her grandfather and father’s footsteps, she has chosen to study engineering. “What I like about engineering is the problem solving,” Erin said. “I want to find solutions to problems facing the world.” Outside of class, Erin is captain of the NDA’s varsity softball team. She received Honorable Mention All-TRAC as both a sophomore and a junior.

“Softball challenges you mentally and physically,” she explained. “You have to develop mental toughness and know what to do in different situations. I’ve enjoyed seeing the progression of the team during my four years playing,” she said. Erin’s other activities at NDA have been centered on her faith. She went on the Appalachia service trip for two years, is a Kairos retreat leader, and is a Eucharistic minister.

Artists Win Juror Awards in Art Show

Previously we shared that twenty artists were selected from NDA for the prestigious FOCUS Show to be on exhibition this November. Additionally, three NDA artists received juror’s awards:

Harper, Rylee (Class of 2018) for her drawing: Windwalker
Begell-Long, Raven (Class of 2019) for her oil pastel: Rigor
Jackson, Katie (Class of 2019) for her mixed media sculpture: Medal Transformation
The following students received NDA awards:
President’s Award: Shaye Brewster  (Class of 2018)  for her mixed media glass window: Hilton Head, South Carolina
Principal’s Award: Meghan Wertz (Class of 2018) for her digital drawing,  La Vieille Ville
Faculty / Staff Award: Raven Begell-Long  (Class of 2019)  for her oil painting, Raven on a Pale Horse

Carissa Kolcun ’21 Wins First Place in Art Criticism

NDA Visual Arts Department recently received the results from the 2018 Art Criticism Open. Sophomore and Art II student Carissa Kolcun won first place for her essay on Thomas Gainsborough’s, Hester, Countess of Sussex, and Her Daughter, Lady Barbara Yelverton! 

She will be honored May 5th, 2019 as this is part of the Ohio Governor’s Youth Art Exhibition.  This is NDA’s second third consecutive first place in this competition.  Each year a high school class is invited to view the top twenty-five works of art in the Ohio Governor’s Youth Art Exhibition and write art criticism in response to the works. These writings are printed, along with an image of the work, and made available to viewers of the exhibition. This provides an audience for students’ written work and broadens the viewers’ perspective for the art work (via:

File:Thomas Gainsborough - Hester, Countess of Sussex, and Her Daughter, Lady Barbara Yelverton - Google Art Project.jpg

Carissa Kolcun
Thomas Gainsborough
Hester, Countess of Sussex, and Her Daughter, Lady Barbara Yelverton
Art Criticism

While looking at this piece, the eye is immediately drawn to the contrast between the subjects of the painting and their background.  The dark, earthy toned, background brightens the whites and blue of the dresses, and the paleness of the skin of the Countess of Sussex and Lady Barbara Yelverton.  After noticing this it is also easy to pick up on the physical contrast of the background and foreground. The two ladies, noticeably wealthy, sit among nature, some plants even falling over their figures.  By using nature as the background, though, the artist Thomas Gainsborough gives us insight to the subjects personalities.

    Framing the Countess of Sussex are dark warm colors.  They give her a more depressing appearance, the warmer tones making her appear serious.  The Countess herself wears a tired expression. Painted on her face is a clearly forced smile.  In comparison to Lady Barbara next to her, the Countess’ dress is far more extravagant. The extravagance of the dress is a distraction from her sadness, meant to draw attention away from her pressed expression.  She wears a gray wig, giving her an older appearance despite the youth portrayed in her face. The plants overlapping her figure suggest that she wishes she had more freedom, and the black hat she holds gives the impression of a great sadness she recently suffered from, or a suppressing sadness that constantly effects her.  She is clearly represented as someone who is unhappy and tired with their life.

     In comparison, Lady Barbara Yelveton is far happier.  She is framed by a blue sky that compliments the similar shade of her dress.  In comparison to the Countess’ dress, hers is much simpler, a reference to the simplicity and youth of childhood.  Her skin is painted with yellow undertones, brightening her youthful complexion. Lady Barbara holds a small sprig in her hand, and, unlike her mother, gazes directly at the viewer, all the more expressing her youth. She wears a gentle innocent smile, and it is easy to tell she is not clouded with the same sadness that the Countess is.  

    There are further elements at play in the piece, creating a clear path for our eyes to follow.  They start in the dark reds of the top right corner of the painting. The dark shadows they create give the background depth, allowing the viewer to imagine a forest spanning behind the subjects. The reds fade into the green leaves to their left, who lack the same structured form.  They don’t cast the same shadows, but instead are defined by lines and different tints of green. We are then drawn to the deepest, though one of the lightest points of the image, the sky. The array of browns and grays, light blues and whites, gives the sky more texture than something that is typically the furthest part of the image.  This use of the detailed texture allows us to follow the gray blues of the sky to the baby blues of Lady Barbara’s dress, to the porcelain white of the Countess’ dress.

     This painting, Hester, Countess of Sussex, and Her Daughter, Lady Barbara Yelverton, is clear in its theme; people rush to achieve maturity, but only wish for the freedom of youth after.  We live so shortly in youth, quickly ushered into maturity before we can even fully grasp who we are. Trapped inside expectations, and the desire for success, we spend years working for a way out.  The Countess of Sussex is trapped inside the displeasure of reality. She is almost tired of looking for a way out, embracing the life she is stuck in. Her daughter instead lives in days stretched long by fun and bright bursts of pleasant memories.  She fears the maturity she is being forced into, hesitant to leave her childhood behind. Lady Barbara desperately holds onto her youth by the sprig in her hands, the dark leaves shadowing her mother slowly spreading over to her.

Anna Gerken ’18 Wins Life is Good T-Shirt Art Contest!

Mrs. Susan Kozel, NDA Art Chair is proud to announce that 2018 graduate Anna Gerken is a current winner for the Life Is Good T-shirt Art Contest.  The adorable image below is Anna’s design that which was inspired by her Italy trip she took with NDA between her junior and senior year last summer. The profits of sales of her design go towards the Life Is Good Kids Foundation which helps children in need.
According to the Life is good website, what we focus on grows. They asked kids to help the world grow the good by drawing what makes life good for them – and helping create a special collection Life is Good tees. The results were beautiful, hilarious, and inspiring. Over8,000 entries led them to these stellar works of wonder. ( via:  To view the winners and also to see Ann’s gallery or to purchase click the following link! – CLICK HERE



HELLO DOLLY! Callback list!

As NDA prepares for a cast list by Friday evening we would like to announce that boys may still audition for ensemble roles!
This is a smaller callback list than usual because so many parts call for a singing-dancing combo.  Call backs will start after school TONIGHT! –as soon as people can safely get there. Meet in the choir room -that is where you had your singing audition. We are never sure when these auditions will end, but we are hoping by 6:30 latest.  Some people may be allowed to leave earlier! Please wear clothes you can comfortably move and sing in that are appropriate for the venue.  Bring water–we will have some snacks.
Call-Back List in alphabetical order:
Maria Bier, Elise Brown, Peyton Burnor, Christian Eid,  Ava George, Anna Haudrich, TJ Haselman,Gabriel Hunyor, Patrick Kerrigan, Chloe Knapp, Sarah Korducki, Evan LaBeau, Renee Marting, Ada Ogbonna, Laney Poitinger, Mitchell Wiley

NDA To Perform, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

NDA presents the spring production of, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Friday, April 27 at 7:00 pm, Saturday, April 28 at 7:00 pm, and Sunday, April 29 at 2:00 pm in the Ave Maria Performing Arts Center on the campus of NDA!  Art exhibitions from NDA Visual Artists will be on display as well.  Tickets available at  $6 for students/$10 for adults.

See you at the show!