Notre Dame Alumni E-Newsletter
April 2016
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Dear , 

What an amazing amount of love and support for our Irish Week Challenge! Over $5,000 was raised with more than 100 alumni making a gift. We were thrilled at the level of participation and cannot thank you all enough for your continued support of Notre Dame! 
Graduation is upon us and the Alumni Association will be hosting a BBQ for our graduating seniors as well as sponsoring refreshments at graduation. We are excited to welcome the class of 2016 into the association.

Join us on April 12, at 6 p.m., at the Fr. Colin House located at 1389 Giddings Road for our next alumni board meeting. Everyone is welcome!

Homecoming plans are already in the works. Mark your calendar for the Homecoming football game on October 7 and the 3rd Annual Homecoming 5K the morning of October 8. It is going to be a wonderful weekend on campus.

Have a great spring!

Beth Campbell
Director of Alumni Relations

Dennis Strach, a 2006 alumnus of Notre Dame Preparatory School, was one of two men ordained as priests in the Congregation of Holy Cross Saturday, April 2, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, located on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

The Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, D.D., Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, will confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders on Rev. Mr. Dennis Anthony Strach II, C.S.C., and Rev. Mr. Matthew Earle Hovde, C.S.C. For those who cannot make the ceremony on Saturday, the ordination mass will be streamed live on the Internet at

Deacons Strach and Hovde professed perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience on Aug. 29, 2015, and committed themselves to the common life and apostolic work of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

In acknowledgement and celebration of their upcoming ordination, Rev. Thomas J. O'Hara, C.S.C., provincial superior for the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province, reminded Deacons Strach and Hovde of Constitution 2:12, that states, "As disciples of Jesus we stand side by side with all people. Like them we are burdened by the same struggles and beset by the same weaknesses; like them we are made new by the same Lord's love; like them we hope for a world where justice and love prevail." Fr. O'Hara further reminds them that "our Holy Father has challenged all priests to go forth to serve and not to be served."

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

Curtis Hertel, Jr., a 1996 alum of Notre Dame and a Michigan state senator representing the 23rd district in the Lansing and Ingham County area, cast one of the 21 affirmative votes on Senate Bill 710, which will overhaul Detroit's school district debt and governance.

On a 21-16 vote, the bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Goeff Hansen (Hart) and backed by both Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, now goes to the state house where passage may be more problematic, according to Lansing insiders.

Hertel, whose brothers Matt ('99) and Kevin ('03) also graduated from Notre Dame, was first elected to the state senate in 2014 after serving as Ingham County register of deeds from 2009.

He said his experience as register of deeds was marked by hard work on informing the public about the dangers of property and mortgage fraud. He said he continues to battle the foreclosure crisis in the state senate by educating residents about their options, and the types of government help available to them.

To read more on Senator Hertel, click here.
The Irish Week Challenge was a tremendous success! The 2nd Annual Irish Week Challenge raised more than $5300 in support of our school and the annual appeal - The Notre Dame Fund.

The challenge also reminded us of the great impact of all of our teachers as we honored Fr. James Strasz, Mrs. Ellen Tessada, Mr. Norman Kotarski, and Ms. Kathy Bembas. Thank you to each of our "legends" for lending their names and support to the challenge.
The final standings for the challenge are as follows:
Team Strasz - 60 ($2087.50)
Team Bembas - 32 ($1112.58)
Team Tessada - 28 ($967.50)
Team Kotarski - 23 ($787.50)
Thank you to all of you who participated, donated, and helped us honor four of our school's legends. Your donations are very much appreciated and will go right into making Notre Dame better for every student, every day!
Special thanks go out to our team captains: Mary Jane Carlin Pasko, Kelly (Cole) Patterson '99, Molly (Coldren) Campbell '08, Bobbie (Bieszki) Hall '00, Dan Staniszewski '02, Kimberly Anderson, Anthony Butorac, and Jocelynn Yaroch! You did an awesome job!

Amy Kuechenmeister graduated from Notre Dame in 1999. Since then, she has made a number of important strides in her life that ultimately led to a family and a career as a medical doctor. She is forever grateful for the education she received at Notre Dame and believes the school was a critical factor in the success she found in college and in life. 

Kuechenmeister also says her faith in God, which she said was consistently reinforced throughout her time at Notre Dame, was just as important to her educational - and spiritual - journey through her life so far.

In a wide-ranging interview with Kuechenmeister where she discusses everything from her great grandmother and equal rights for women to the Irish Games and Mr. Greg Simon's tutelage on essay-writing, it became abundantly clear that she is passionate about her faith, her family, her career and her high school. So because she does it best, let's let Kuechenmeister herself continue the conversation on where she's been and where she expects to be in the years ahead.

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

  A new book by Notre Dame alum Mark Binelli ('88), due out May 3 and published by Henry Holt and Co./Metropolitan Books, will most certainly clear up that question and more. In his book, "Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits," Binelli focuses on the life of an eccentric music man if there ever was one. 
Hawkins, whose real name was Jalacy Hawkins, died in 2000, but not before setting his mark as one of R&B's most wildly operatic and powerful singers. He had only one bonafide hit, "I Put a Spell on You," which along with his own unique recording of it, was covered by a number of others, including Simone, CCR and Notorious B.I.G.

Mark Binelli turns his sharp, forceful prose to fiction, in an inventive retelling of the outrageous life of Screamin' Jay Hawkins, a bluesman with one hit and a string of inflammatory guises.

"The R&B wildman Screamin' Jay Hawkins only had one hit single, the classic "I Put a Spell On You," and was often written off as a clownish novelty act - or worse, an offense to his race - but his myth-making was legendary. In his second novel, Mark Binelli embraces the man and the legend to create a hilarious, tragic, fantastical portrait of this unlikeliest of protagonists. Hawkins saw his life story as a wild picaresque, and Binelli's novel follows suit, tackling the subject in a dazzling collage-like style.

"At Rolling Stone, Binelli has profiled some of the greatest musicians of our time, and this novel deftly plays with the inordinate focus on "authenticity" in so much music writing about African-Americans. An entire novel built around a musician as deliberately inauthentic as Screamin' Jay Hawkins thus becomes a sort of subversive act, as well as an extremely funny and surprisingly moving one."

To read more of Binelli's story, click here.
Notre Dame Preparatory School was named the top Catholic school in the State of Michigan for 2016, according to Niche, a national organization that annually ranks colleges and K-12 schools across the country. Niche also rated Notre Dame the 7th best private high school, religious or non-religious, in the state. Cranbrook and Country Day were ranked one and two, respectively, on the list of all private schools.

According to Niche, the 2016 Best Catholic High Schools ranking provides a comprehensive assessment of the overall experience at a Catholic high school. This grade takes into account key factors such as the strength of academics, school culture and diversity, as well as student and parent reviews, in an attempt to measure the overall excellence of the school.

Factors used in the ranking include average ACT/SAT composite scores; "college scores," which means the average score of colleges that students are most interested in or go on to attend based on Niche's best overall college rankings; four-year matriculation rate, which is the percentage of seniors who go on to four-year colleges; and student-teacher ratios.

Parent and student surveys of opinions on the overall experience at each school also are part of the rating process. 

Data and statistics also obtained by the U.S. Department of Education, says Niche.

To read more, click here.

Reaching 200 wins as a varsity high school coach is a pretty significant milestone. For Notre Dame Prep's Pat Battani, getting 200 wins is a big deal, to be sure, but that record and many others he has earned over a long career as a basketball coach pale when compared to what's really important to him and to his boss, Notre Dame Athletic Director Betty Wroubel.

"Pat did more than coach, he taught the game as well as how to love the game," Wroubel said. "He always put the players first over wins and losses, and he wanted the kids to always be good sports and good people on and off the court."

After nine years at the helm of Notre Dame's girls basketball program and a total of 40 years coaching both boys and girls, Coach Battani has decide to retire from coaching. 
He finished up a 2015-16 campaign that saw the Irish share the league championship in the AA division and Battani earn his 200th career varsity victory. Over his nine seasons as coach, Notre Dame teams earned five Catholic League divisional titles (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016) along with two district titles (2009, 2011), and he was named this season as the division's coach of the year, the fifth time he's been so honored by the CHSL. His overall record with Notre Dame is 107-86.

To see more of Battani's story, click here.


Notre Dame Preparatory School announced today that Kathleen Offer is taking over its girls basketball program, effective immediately. Offer becomes head coach of the Irish varsity team and will have overall responsibility for the entire girls program at the school. 
Offer, who also serves the Notre Dame community as dean of admissions, most recently was head coach of Notre Dame Prep's girls junior varsity team, a position she held since 2012. Prior to this, she coached the freshman girls team at NDP for four years.
Notre Dame Athletic Director Betty Wroubel said she is beyond excited that Offer is taking over the girls program. 
"Kathleen not only has distinguished herself as a collegiate player, but has served as a coach at many levels, including the collegiate level," Wroubel said. "She will be a coach who inspires athletes to reach their potential with her passion for playing a fundamentally sound game and her strong commitment to our school's mission.
A graduate of Yale University where she received a B.A. in American Studies, Offer came to Notre Dame in 2008 after serving as assistant coach of the women's basketball team at Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Ind. Offer helped the Pumas with player development and team strategy, along with recruiting, scouting, scheduling, and academics. 

To read more on Coach Offer, click here.

(Article by Drew Ellis, The Oakland Press)

Many coaches like to tone down expectations for their team when the possibility of a state championship is in the air.

Beth Campbell is not one of those coaches.

The fourth-year coach of the Pontiac Notre Dame Prep competitive cheer team not only embraced the expectations, but used it as the team motto during Saturday's Division 3 state finals.

Led by the slogan of "Two Won't Do," the Irish won their third consecutive state championship, scoring a total of 775.48 to beat the field by nearly 10 points.
"We weren't afraid of it," Campbell said championship expectations. "When you win, the target is usually on your back but I didn't want the kids feeling that way. I wanted them to be confident and comfortable. The state finals is all mental, so getting them in the mindset that they were going to deliver and be three-time state champions was important and really what got us through."

The Irish put up the top score in each round, posting a 230.50 in the first, a 226.58 in the second and a 318.40 in the third.

To read more and see video of the winning performance, click here.

Notre Dame's St. Peter Chanel Society, which is comprised of leadership donors making annual gifts of $1,000-$50,000 to The Notre Dame Fund, welcomed 31 new members yesterday as NDF director Gregory Simon distributed official membership pins to all of Notre Dame's fourth graders.

The students earned their memberships because they collectively donated $1,000 to the NDF as a result of a special project related to the school's International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program "Unit of Inquiry."

Fourth-grade teachers Molly Campbell and Kathy Dugan's classes recently completed their Phase Four Unit of Inquiry on the economy, which required the students at the end of the study unit to run an actual retail store. The fourth graders developed products to sell in the store after market research was conducted, and the store remained open for a week as the "salespersons" were visited by parents, students and faculty, all of whom purchased the goods for sale. 

After calculating the net profits after expenses, the students decided to donate a portion of those profits to The Notre Dame Fund, which goes toward helping to provide programs for students in all three divisions of the school.
Campbell and Dugan then invited Simon to visit the fourth-grade "student businesspersons" and he was presented with the $1,000 donation. 
According to Simon, the donation qualified the fourth-grade class to be members of a very elite group of givers.

"Through their annual contributions, SPC members provide the school with the resources necessary to fulfill our mission to form Christian people, upright citizens and academic scholars," he said. "It was such a big surprise when I received the call from the lower division about their gift. It is beyond exciting when we see this kind of generosity from such young people. I really think they get it when we say The Notre Dame Fund slogan, 'every student, every day.'"

To make a gift to The Notre Dame Fund, click here.
For more Notre Dame news,  click here.
NDP presents The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Set during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and written in direct response to the McCarthy trials in the 1950s, this scathing indictment of censorship remains a timeless classic of American drama - a master study on the inherent frailty, delicate beauty and limitless possibility of the human spirit.

April 15th & 16th 7:00 p.m.
April 17th 4:00 p.m.
In the Cafetorium
Directed by Meredith Gifford '02 (NDP)

Tickets available at
$10 for Students/Seniors
$12 for Adults
Building Bridges needs you!
Building Bridges is a scholarship fund that offers opportunities for qualified students with great financial need to attend Notre Dame Prep. There are currently 27 students on full scholarship, and many of them will be the first in their families to go on to college. Building Bridges works hand in hand with our admissions office and Kala Parker '00 (NDP)  identifying and guiding qualified students through their Notre Dame experience.
Each student is assigned an "Advocate" who will stay with them for the four years they are at NDP. Typically, Advocates have contact either by phone or in person twice a month, and there are three or four Building Bridges events per year.
We will be adding up to ten new students for the 2016-17 school year and are looking for new advocates for these kids. We currently have alumni from Notre Dame Prep and Notre Dame High School serving as Advocates and their experience makes them uniquely qualified.
The role of an Advocate is to assist the students as they make their journey socially and academically through the school. Advocates do things ranging from helping the students figure out how to find resources they need (ACT prep classes, tutors, etc.), proofreading papers, sharing lunch or coffee, listening or offering advice, or even just being the student's biggest cheerleader. Every relationship is different. 
The Building Bridges program not only opens doors for great kids who need a little support, it offers the opportunity for you to change someone's life! 
If you are interested in learning more about this program, please contact Beth Campbell, or 248-373-2171. 
IRA Charitable Rollover
Tax time is here!  Oh joy!  But there is good news. If you have a mandatory withdrawal coming up from your IRA.  In December of last year, Congress enacted the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, permanently extending the IRA Charitable Rollover.  This provision allows individuals age 70 or older to make tax-free gifts totaling up to $100,000 from a traditional IRA account directly to qualified charities, like Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy.  If you and your spouse each have an IRA, you may each make gifts of up to $100,000 from these accounts.

The mandatory withdrawal may put some in a higher tax-bracket, increasing the amount due with the annual tax bill.  But funds donated from your IRA count towards your minimum required distribution but do NOT trigger income tax for you. Unlike previous years, this extension of the IRA Charitable Rollover has no sunset clause, meaning you can take advantage of this giving opportunity every year, so if you are like many alumni, you can avoid income tax that would otherwise be triggered by the mandatory deduction required once you have turned 70 , and make a significant contribution to the school.

In order to complete an IRA Charitable Rollover for this tax year, please contact your financial advisor today for exact instructions. For more information on this and other planned giving options, please contact Robynn James at the Advancement Office at (248) 373-2171 ext. 8.
Booster Club Golf Outing

The 20th Annual Notre Dame Booster Club Golf Outing is fast approaching!  Please join us on June 6th at Oakland University's RS Sharf Golf Course.  Only 15 foursomes remain for this years event.  The committee is still seeking raffle item donations, sponsorships and players.  Please register today by clicking here.

Please contact Darren Audia at with any questions.
Notre Dame Alumni Association on Facebook, Twitter


"Like" the Notre Dame Alumni Association Facebook page to receive news and updates. Follow us on Twitter too! 


All alumni are encouraged to join the conversation and post your own memorable photos and videos from your time at Notre Dame or one of the predecessor schools. Or you can post recent status updates and photos to let other alumni know what you're up to!  

Don't forget to utilize the alumni business directory


Be sure to check out our alumni business directory. If you would like to add your business to our list please contact Beth Campbell at

For a list of upcoming class reunions   

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. 

We pray for those who have died:
Chandra Allen- Mother of former board member Kelly Allen, grandmother of Nicholas Tower '11 (NDP) and Christopher '15 (NDP) 4-3-16
Debora Clements- Mother of Lyndsey '03 (NDP) and David '07 (NDP) 4-4-16

Catherine Ciaramitaro-Mother of Nick '70 (NDHS) 3-31-16
Curtis Hertel Sr.- Father of Curtis '96 (NDHS), Matthew '99 (NDHS), Kevin '03 (NDHS) 3-27-16
Jennie Giacalone- Grandmother of Anthony III '90 (NDHS), Joseph '92 (NDHS), Jack '97 (NDHS) 3-17-16
Lisa Years- Mother of David '86 (NDHS) 3-10-16
Herbert Mulford- Father of Herbert '92 (NDHS) 3-8-16
William "Billy" Bates- '80 (NDHS) 3-7-16
Ronald Buzenski- Father of Raymond '80 (NDHS) 3-5-16
Lillian Hetherman- Mother of John '86 (NDHS), and Christopher '89 (NDHS) 3-3-16
Helen Osowski- Mother of Jeffrey '80 (NDHS) 2-27-16
John Yardley- '65 (NDHS) 2-27-16
Lyla Lepisto- '41 (SF) 2-26-16
MaryAnn Schweitzer- Former bus driver at NDP 2-24-16
Vincent "Jimmy" Navetta- Father of Sam '79 (NDHS), Stephen '82 (NDHS), Paul '83 (NDHS) 2-22-16
Joyce Harworth- '46 (SM) 2-20-16
Eleanor Kensicki- Mother of Michael '68 (NDHS), and Patrick '79 (NDHS) 2-20-16
George Gondek- Father of Jeffrey'78 (NDHS) 2-18-16
Eugene Riendeau- Father of Gerard '77 (NDHS) 2-18-16
Virgina Schweinkhart-  Mother of Robert '82 (NDHS) 2-18-16
Calvin Olzem- Father of James '76 (NDHS) 2-17-16
Jean Marion- Grandfather of Aimee '05 (NDP) 2-17-16
Sharon Ursitti- Mother of Anthony III '89 (NDHS) 2-16-16
Kevin Sudy- '81 (NDHS), brother of Brian '79 (NDHS) 2-15-16
Ralph Meyering- Grandfather of Daniel '05 (NDP) and Gregory, '07 (NDP) 2-15-16
John Bonanni- Grandfather of Shayna Casadei '12 (NDP), Joseph Bonanni '13 (NDP), Cara Bonanni '15 (NDP) 2-11-16
Ludwik Wit- Father of Roger '69 (NDHS), Derek '70 (NDHS), David '72 (NDHS), Brian '77 (NDHS) 2-10-16
Mary Guerra- Mother of Frank '85 (NDHS) and Joe '83 (NDHS) 2-10-16
John Meyer- Grandfather of Matthew Stelmach '08 (NDP), and Jeffrey Stelmach '11 (NDP) 2-9-16
Francis "Frank" Sorbelli'56 (SM) 2-6-16

John Kerrigan- '43 (SM) 5-25-15
Prayer List: click here
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.