Preview Night Designed to Interest, Engage Prospective Families & Students


Skylar Schultz, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

“What is preview night?”

This question has echoed throughout the halls of NDA, as students have been asked to assist in this event on Tuesday. Despite its significance, many are unaware of the importance of Preview Night, or even of its existence in general.

“Preview Night is kind of like an open house,” said Molly Vandenhouten, NDA’s newest addition to the Admissions Department.. “It’s an opportunity for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade families to come and check out Notre Dame. They get to hear about our academics, they get to hear about the IB program and also our tuition. It’s kind of just one night that captures everything Notre Dame embodies.”

The doors will open at 5:15, with a welcome from Principal Browne, Sr. Pat Clement, and Rev. Jordan Neeck at 5:45. At 6 p.m., speakers, including Principal Browne, Ken Flaten (Director of Finance and Business Operations) and Karen Konop (Outreach Administrator) will begin presentations in the auditorium. Meanwhile, the club fair will be held in the NDA Commons as tours are given throughout the building.

“The purpose is to get families that haven’t been in our building here and get them exposed to Notre Dame and interested and excited about high school,” Vandehouten emphasized. “It’s our biggest night of the year. Everyone comes. Most of our teachers are here, all our coaches are here, our club moderators are here, all the staff is here. It is the biggest push for our enrollment.” 

In order to engage parents and prospective freshmen, student and teacher participation is essential.

“Every club we have is represented, and all of our athletics are represented,” said Vandenhouten. “Students, if they’re in a club or on a sports team, they give a really good student experience takeaway to the families.” 

Typically, each NDA team or club will have at least one representative helping out and working at their booth. “A lot of our clubs are heavily student led, so that’s helpful,” added Vandehouten. “We also have students giving tours throughout the evening and just kind of being another set of hands, sometimes even just mingling with the families. They love to hear from students, sometimes more than the adults.”

Many of the guides and assistants were selected from the Triton Troupe, a group and concept new to Notre Dame. “That’s kind of already a group that’s formed,” said Vandenhouten.

While the students demonstrate some of the more day-to-day aspects of life at NDA, teachers are available all night to discuss personal academic needs with parents.

“If someone’s interested in Spanish, we’ll send them up to Señora Stover’s room or to Dory’s room. If they really want to hear about our math program, we have our math teachers here,” explained Vandenhouten. “Principal Browne can talk about the academic side of it, but sometimes they do want to hear from their teacher.”

Conferences like these allow parents to ensure that their child’s academic needs will be met. “Maybe their child is really struggling in math or maybe they’re really accelerating in math,” Vandehouten illustrated. “When they get to talk to one of the math teachers about that, it kind of eases their mind.”

“We market it towards the families,” she mentioned. “There are things there for the kids and there are things there for the parents.” This year, Notre Dame is expecting just over 100 families to attend Preview Night and take a peek at our school.

“It’s all in one space that night. You can learn about clubs, you can learn about academics, you can get a tour, you can learn about tuition,” said Vandenhouten. “Pretty much everyone in the building shows their face for a part of the evening,” she added. “If there’s someone that someone really wants to talk to, like a math teacher or something, there’s a very high chance that the teacher is going to be at preview night”

“It’s a fun night. It’s a social night,” Molly Vandenhouten said. “It’s your one opportunity to have everything that you need in one place.”