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November 17, 2021 

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Ninth-grade English classes focus on unconscious bias as they wrap up social justice unit. 

NOTE: Kala Parker, NDPMA's director of diversity and inclusion, recently spoke to all seven ninth-grade English classes, which are taught by Mel Archer and Gretchen Glick, about combatting unconscious bias and how this year's Marist focus on Ardent Love of Neighbor plays an important role in that process. Here, Parker summarizes her presentation to the students.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, right, was first published in July of 1960.

By Kala Parker

Each year, NDP freshmen read "To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee, the classic Pulitzer prize-winning novel that is loosely based on Lee's own family, neighbors, and an event that occurred near her hometown of Monroeville, Ala., in 1936 when she was just 10 years old. Though the text addresses the serious issues of rape and racial injustice, it does so with warmth and humor, and leads the reader down a journey of themes including courage, compassion, class differences, and gender roles in the Deep South.

The course material for the ninth graders then delves into unconscious bias — the tendency, inclination or prejudice toward or against a thing, place or person/group — using the biases of the book's own characters as well as other examples from books and movies such as "Just Mercy" and "The Hate You Give." 

While it is human nature to sort things, places and people based on first impressions informed by our life experiences — and the characters we study do just that — we also discussed the skill of taking a step back to consider that the first assumptions we make about things, places and people may not always be correct. The assessment of self can sometimes open one up to things, places and people that we never considered. Things like new foods, new sports/activities, new places to visit and new friendships.

As we continue to focus on this year's Marist theme of Ardent Love of Neighbor, we also will continue to focus on what makes our greater school community one of love, faith, friendship and support. Checking our own unconscious biases and the assumptions we make about things, places and people is a hugely important step in that ongoing process.

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at