Mr. Valadie's July Letter

July, 2018

To all our Families –

            ‘Summer’ greetings from school! I saw one of those Facebook memes the other day that showed cars on a race track hurtling by at breakneck speed then comparing that to the days of summer fleeting past … so true, made me kinda sad!!

            But we really are excited to get going again. Looking forward to a year that I hope is full of successes …. and failures. Yeah, I know it sounds odd, but I believe it’s important that we try new things and if we do, we’re probably not going to succeed on Attempt #1. Or possibly #2 or 3 or 4. Live and learn as we used to say. I’m hoping our kids will try all sorts of new things, I’m hoping they venture out of their comfort zone, and I’m hoping they have the stick-to-itiveness to keep going when they run smack into a wall. There are worse things!!

With the start of school looming, there’s a lot of stuff in this email, thank you for your patience. Please read on.

            We’re excited to introduce our new staff members:

  • Selina Duncan will be teaching German and Geography; she’s been here before having done a long-term sub stint. Now we get to have her permanently.
  • The addition of Connie McNamara will allow us to offer two new classes of AP Psychology.
  • Sister Mary Joseph will be new to our Science Department. She has a BS in Biology from George Mason University.
  • Sister Scholastica will also be joining us in the Theology Department. She’s moving here after having served several years at St. Cecilia Academy in Nashville.
  • David Carter joins our Phys Ed and coaching staffs. He’s a native Chattanoogan who returns after several years in Memphis.
  • Jennifer Strickler will join Brooke Craig in our Art Department. In addition to having taught in public schools, she is the President and Founder of Children’s Art Place.
  • And Martha Mitchum will join our Guidance Department focusing her efforts on our freshmen and sophomores. She’s a graduated of both UTK and Wake Forest. 
    Please join us in welcoming them to our Notre Dame Family!!! 

            We also want to welcome all our new families to Notre Dame! To jump start your year, we are inviting all our new parents to a social gathering on Thursday evening, August 2nd at The Urban Lawn (306 W. Main Street) for an evening of food, refreshments and most especially meeting other ND families, some faculty and Board members. There’s no real program, we’ll kick it off at 6:00 p.m., come when you can, visit as long as you wish.


Thanks to your kindness and generosity to our Annual Giving Fund, we’ve been able to update and renovate this summer on a variety of fronts ---

… We’ve replaced worn-out carpet in four different classrooms, multiple offices and the Guidance Center.

… On the tech side of life, we’ve upgraded two critical servers and replaced all the computers in one of our two labs.

… With your help and some extra special help from one of our dads, we’ve been able to add additional new lighting throughout the building that are both energy efficient and brighter.

… We’ve also been able to continue work on our Auditorium Renovation. We’re not through yet.

… We’ve been upgrading our fire/smoke detection system … safety first always.

… With the cooperation of Pedestal Foods, we’ve been able to upgrade our cafeteria facilities a little bit more as well. Looks even better in there.

… And if you see some outdoor work taking place, it’s exciting to announce that we are the recipients of a City of Chattanooga “Green Grant” through which we can do some outdoor modifications, replace some trees that didn’t make it, treat the environment better and reduce our storm-water runoff taxes.

Our first All-School Mass of the year will be when we celebrate the Catholic Feast of the Assumption on Wednesday morning, August 15th at 8:20 a.m. Then on August 23, we will celebrate Mass with Bishop Stika (9:30 a.m. start.)

And after that week, we will have an All-School Mass on most Thursday mornings. Please know that our parents, no matter your chosen faith, are always welcome to join us. But know that you’re also invited to join us on the other four days of the week when it begins at 7:30 a.m. in our Alumni Chapel.

            Just so you know, our Chapel is open all the time. If you can get in the building, you can get in the Chapel. And all are welcome – Mass or no Mass – to visit there, to pray, to sit in meditation or just to enjoy the peace.

            (For those who are new to a Catholic School, the August 15th Feast of the Assumption is a day set aside when the Catholic Church recognizes the belief that when Mary, the Mother of Jesus, died, God then took her body and soul into heaven. She was “assumed” into heaven.) 

In addition to the other dates you’ll note in the calendar below, I want to point out something a little different --- we have again been invited to participate in this year’s Kickoff Classic which is scheduled for Thursday, August 16th. It’s a football double-header at Finley Stadium and we’re scheduled to play Baylor at 8:30 p.m.

We’re thrilled to be included but recognize that it will likely be a late night for many of our students as we know so many love to attend, especially the first game of the year. And of course, we’d love to demonstrate to the City of Chattanooga that we have great school spirit.

To cut a little slack, we’re planning a late start for the next morning (10:00 a.m., Friday, Aug. 17) The school will of course be open at the regular time for any who need to drop off early but this will give everyone some extra minutes the next morning. (Last year, we had the 6:00 p.m. game time slot so time wasn’t a problem.)

We never schedule our own events this late so such is generally not a challenge but we’re thankful to be included. Hope to see everyone there.


A quick but important heads-up! On Monday, July 23rd, we will be ‘snail-mailing’ the students’ academic schedules for the upcoming year. Included will be a letter for parents. If you do not receive either, please contact Katie Woodard in the Business Office to clear up any confusion or last-minute issues. Thank you.


Don’t forget – When it comes to student lunches, if you’re the sort of family that “puts money on their card,” or purchases a “meal plan,” reps from PEDESTAL will be available at all three Student Orientations (10th/11th/12th) to take checks and get that going ahead of time. Check out the attached PDF at the top that explains all about your options.

            Also don’t forget - Tennessee’s “Tax Free Weekend” is coming up the weekend August 3rd-5th (for clothes, school supplies, computers.) I’ve read that online shopping qualifies tho I’ve never done it in my entire life. You may want to check that out.

Our Main Office regular hours (7:30 – 3:30) resume Wednesday, August 8th.

We’re going to make a change in our uniform policy. From Monday thru Thursday, students may continue to wear “Notre Dame” outerwear over their uniforms but they cannot wear anything with a hood. They can wear those if they choose on Friday “Spirit Days,” but not during the week.

In response to parent request and suggestion, we are planning to take a look during the year at the possibility of adding an alternative uniform vendor for next year and the future.

But until then, our uniforms remain the same. This is the time to check how everything fits… or if it fits. In addition to the change with the hoods (mostly a boys’ thing), we’re going to place a renewed emphasis on the length of girls’ skorts (3” above the knee is the expectation.) Don’t forget that girls can wear pants as well.

            As everyone knows, we drug test all our students every year. The results provide a look backward at the previous ninety days. This year the company with which we work is offering a similar test for alcohol.

Two important notes: (1) We will not be adding this to the panel of what we look at, but parents can do so if you so choose. (Cost of $99) (2) If you opt for this additional test to be run, please understand that the results of this new Alcohol Test will be sent directly to parents with no notice coming to the school. This is for you!!

Let us know if this is something you wish to pursue.

In this world of incredible freedom and temptation, it’s helpful to know that such a tool exists to assist in the messages you are trying to convey and the expectations you have for your own children.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Don’t forget each grade has Summer Reading requirements (see our Library website at ) … and seniors should take notice, there’s a summer assignment there too. Don’t forget summer is the perfect time to go ahead and donate some Service Hours in advance of the school year ahead.



Some refrigerator post-it notes:


< > Thu, July 26 … Alumni Weekend Awards Presentation … honoring author Chris Grabenstein ’73 with our Distinguished Alumnus Award and Mr. Andy Marini who will receive the Jim Phifer Service to Notre Dame Award

< > Fri, July 27 … Alumni & Parent Golf Tournament

< > Fri, July 27 … All-Alumni Bash open to all alumni

< > Sat, July 28 … Golden Grads Brunch honoring the Class of 1968 and before

< > Sun, July 29 … Alumni Mass, 11:00 a.m., in our Auditorium

< > Mon-Wed,  July 30 – Aug 1 … Band Camp

< > Thu, Aug 2 … New Parent Reception, 6:00 p.m., downtown at The Urban Lawn – hors d’oeuvres, beverages, giveaways

< > Mon, Aug 6 … Orientation Sessions for students in 10th / 11th / 12th

      Sophomores: 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.

      Juniors: 10:30 – 12:00 noon

      Seniors: Picnic at noon; orientation 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.


< > Wed, Aug 8 … Freshman & New Student Orientation Day, 8:10 a.m. (Cafeteria lunch will be available.)

< > Thu, Aug 9 … Regular classes begin

< > Thu, Aug 16 … NDHS has been invited to participate in the Kickoff Class at Finley Stadium, estimated game time is at 8:30 p.m., the second game of a double-header.

< > Fri, Aug 17 … 10:00 a.m. start, the building will be open at the regular time for those who have need

< > Wed, Aug 22 … Meet-the-Teachers Night, reception at 5:15 p.m.; class visits begin at 6:00 p.m. (Parents are invited to visit for a few minutes with their students’ teachers.)

< > Wed, Aug 29 … Senior Parents Meeting for College Info, 6:00, in Library

< > Mon, Sep 3 … Labor Day Holiday

< > Tue, Sep 4 … Deadline for students to turn in all Summer Service Hours forms



I’ve never been much of a political person. Maybe it’s because the campaigns wear me down. They’re absolutely critical for educating the electorate but they seem to get nastier and nastier and that’s just not my style.

Perhaps it’s because more and more it seems that people on both sides of the aisle don’t seem to have any desire to work with each other. Your idea isn’t just different, it’s wrong and so are you and so is everyone like you … and you get the point.

I was at a meeting recently at which the hosts were trying to educate the educators in the room on a Tennessee bill soon to come up promoting “Educational Savings Accounts” in an attempt to help people like us who have chosen the non-public path for our children’s education.  I think there is much to like about the idea and the bill but I can also see why it will have its opponents.

I invite you to take a look (  )  and if you feel motivated, no matter which side you favor, reach out to your legislators or those whom you hope will become yours soon. We don’t do that enough, at least I know I don’t.

But it’s not as easy as it used to be either. Currently, there are thirty-five (yes, 35) candidates running for Governor. I would guess most have an unrealistic shot but then I’ve been surprised before – not that long ago actually.

I’m hoping that learning to “listen to the other guy” is some of what we’re teaching here at Notre Dame. Really listening. Really hearing. Not necessarily agreeing but being open to the possibility that someone other than ourselves might indeed have an idea worthy of consideration. And most importantly, you’re not automatically a horrible person because we see life a bit differently.

It’s not a skill that will show up on the ACT but it’s definitely one that will be tested – again and again - throughout our lives.

When you’re in the middle of raising a houseful of teenagers – or even one – listening to their “other side”, their objections and arguments can get old fast. And some of their ideas can be really goofy. So I’m not at all suggesting that they get to debate your rules and regs. But I suppose “being heard” is a lot of learning how to hear. It’s a fine line.

Why is parenting so darn hard?

Enjoy the rest of your summer. See you soon.

George Valadie