Notre Dame Academy Announces Valedictorians: Sarah Watson and Erin Bollin

Sarah Watson and Erin Bollin earned the top grades in NDA’s graduating Class of 2019. Sarah and 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.