Mr. Valadie's August Letter

August, 2019


To all our Families –

Back-to-school greetings from NDHS! And welcome to another school year - the 144th in our school’s remarkable history! Be you veteran or brand new, we welcome you to this year’s version of the Notre Dame Family!

Many thanks to our Home & School Association for hosting our Welcome Back Wine & Cheese held recently at The Urban Lawn venue. What a great place and an even better turnout. On occasion, it’s nice to “adult visit” without youngsters under foot.

It’s the start of the year, lots to cover, so thanks to everyone who reads to the end. Some will be reminders; some will be new.

Let’s begin with our new staff:

< > Father Christopher Manning joins us as our new Chaplain, Senior Religion teacher and Director of our Student Volunteer Service Program. He’ll be in residence at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church.

< > Mrs. Laura Swenson is our new Academic Dean, replacing Mr. Landry who moves back to his old home in the English Dept. Coming from Connecticut schools where they don’t typically finish their year until mid-June, her summer was brief, mostly spent selling one home and buying another.

< > Many have already met Mr. Dusty Gunn, our new Athletic Director. He will also teach a class and serve as chair of the Physical Education Dept.

< > Mrs. Kathy Martin joins us as our new Director of Alumni & Development. She and Doug are proud parents of three NDHS graduates.

< > Sister Maria Cecelia Neil, O.P. joins our Religion Department as teacher of the sophomore class. She, like Sister Mary Rebekah, is a member of the Dominican order that founded NDHS in 1876.

< > Mr. Ian Hoerner will teach junior Religion, coming to us from Holy Cross School in New Orleans, LA.

< > Ms. Michelle de Villiers joins our Fine Arts Dept. to teach Art, Photography and Ceramics/Sculpture.

< > Mr. Brandon Usery joins our Social Studies Dept. coming to us from having taught in the Memphis area.

< > Mr. Dennis Therrell joins both our Science and Physical Education Depts. His vast teaching/coaching experience also includes some really interesting accounts from having been at West Point Military Academy.

< > Mr. Michael McCutcheon joins our English Dept., teaching freshmen this year. He is an alum who has long-term subbed for us on several occasions.

< > Mr. Davis Rittenberry is also a ND alum who joins our Social Studies Dept. after several years in the Hamilton County school system.

< > Mr. Jay Adamson is our third alum to join us this year and will serve as an Academic Coach, working with students in small-groups and one-on-one settings.


Please – whenever you get the opportunity – I hope you will welcome them to our family.

Not on sight but hopefully soon to return, I ask you to keep in your prayers our Senior Guidance Counselor, Mrs. Vivian Stone, who is recovering from breast cancer surgery.

This year, all ten schools in the Diocese are going together to sponsor an old-school raffle to benefit each of our schools’ Tuition Assistance Funds. A single ticket gives you the chance at all 12 cash prizes, the largest of which will be $10,000 … the smallest being $750. Tickets are just $10 and will go on sale soon. Please consider supporting Notre Dame in this most important way.

If you shop at Publix or utilize Amazon Smile to any degree, you can donate to Notre Dame and it won’t cost you one extra penny! Check out the attached PDF for details.

Lunch lines have been busy to start the year, which we think is great. Things always speed up considerably as we get further into the year but especially when students come ready with their ID cards. And even more so when families opt to utilize the “put money on their lunch account” system. It’s not required but always an option. Check out to see how it works, it’s really pretty smooth.

Due to the generosity of many, we have officially begun the process of replacing our auditorium seating. It’s going to look absolutely spectacular when all is said and done! There are several months between here and there, but we cannot wait. Many, many, many thanks to everyone who purchased a seat in honor/memory of a loved one. And it’s not too late, if you haven’t but would like to do the same.

A reminder about our school’s various communication methods:

>>> We will communicate emergencies and selected other information via SCHOOLCAST … If you had a senior graduate in 2019, make sure we have you in the system again.

>>> You can follow us on Facebook … @NDChattanooga

>>> You can follow us on Twitter … @myndhs

>>> You can follow us on Instagram … ndchattanooga

>>> You can follow us on our website … ( )

>>> You can reach us by dialing our main number … ( 423-624-4618 )

>>> You can email us re: attendance at … ( )

>>> You can also reach us by texting our text line … (423-415-4789 )


We also keep a “school calender’ on our website so feel free to check in frequently. If you see something amiss or have a question, you’re always welcome to call and ask.

As most everyone is aware, all our students have a requirement to contribute a specific number of ‘service hours’ during the course of each semester.  Most of our kids are super busy during the week with practices, rehearsals and jobs – not to mention homework - but the weekends open up a little more.

     One of our junior students, Max Flasch, often organizes service outings in conjunction with a local group of students known as “Weekend Warriors” and cooperatively, they schedule a variety of service opportunities. Seems like the perfect thing to tackle with a buddy.

Some refrigerator post-it notes:

< > Sat, Aug 10 … “Camp College” for seniors and their parents, 9:00 – 1:00

< > Thu, Aug 15 … Our first All-School Mass of the year will be when we celebrate the Catholic Feast of the Assumption at 8:20 a.m. All are invited.

< > Wed, Aug 21 … Meet-the-Teachers Night, reception at 5:15 p.m.; parents follow their students’ class schedule for brief visits that begin at 6:00 p.m.

< > Mon, Aug 26 … School Picture Day (9th/10th/11th)

< > Mon, Sep 2 … Labor Day Holiday – NO CLASSES

< > Wed, Sep 4 … Annual College Fair at NDHS hosting many colleges and universities, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

< > Wed, Sep. 4 … Financial Aid Seminar for parents, 6:00 p.m., NDHS Auditorium

< > Wed, Sep 11 … 9th Parents Dinner / Info Night (new this year, more details to follow)

< > Thu/Fri, Sep 12/13 … Senior Retreat (tentative)

< > Sat, Sep 14 … ACT Testing Date

< > Wed, Sep 18 … 10th Parents Dinner / Info Night (new this year, more details to follow)

< > Fri, Sep 20 … Diocesan Teacher Inservice (NO CLASSES)

< > Fri, Sep 27 … SEARCH RETREAT Weekend #159 (juniors/seniors) begins

< > Fri, Sep 27 … Bill Chepul Memorial Golf Tournament at Creeks Bend


You may have already done a quick head count on the number of our new staff members. If not, there are twelve.

No doubt seems like a lot – it did to me – I spent the summer hiring most all of them.

We hated to lose every one of those who left. But none did so for ‘bad’ reasons. Three retired. Four were re-assigned by their superiors. One moved. Two went to the County. One went corporate. One swapped to parish work. And one went pro – literally! (Coach Jags will coach in the new pro football league to be known as the XFL.)

So we are blessed with lots of newness. I’ve been looking forward to it all summer as each individual who comes also brings with them a flurry of ideas we may not have considered yet. How else do we improve?!

But they and I were discussing the challenges of being somewhere new – be it new job or new city or both. I mentioned to them that not long ago our youngest daughter accepted a new position at a downtown insurance company who ‘oriented’ her for six weeks. We got to sit with them for three hours. And then the kids came.

It occurs to me that life at your house is new as well. Some of you are also in a new city, a new school or at the very least you have students sitting in front of new teachers with new books with topics that aren’t that familiar. Not to mention each faculty member starts anew with fresh faces galore.

So we begin the year with prayers. It’s who we are; it’s what we do. Prayers that what’s new quickly becomes familiar … and what’s familiar becomes wonderful. May God bless our year ahead with safety and success!

George Valadie