Notre Dame Preparatory Includes Accomplished Students

By Lynette Carrington

Notre Dame Preparatory Includes Accomplished Students

Notre Dame Preparatory Includes Involved, Accomplished and Well-rounded Students

Notre Dame Preparatory High School provides one of the most comprehensive and spiritually-centered secondary educations in the Valley. The students themselves are proof that every facet of Notre Dame Prep encourages its students to learn, grow and become an active member in every community in which they get involved. recently caught up with two busy students who gave us a look into their rewarding experience at the school.

Freshman, Dylan Benvenuto

Valley native and Notre Dame Prep freshman, Dylan Benvenuto is a stellar example of a student who is on the track for academic and life success. He is involved in many different areas of his school community.

Notre Dame Prep Freshman, Dylan Benvenuto

Before his freshman year, Benvenuto was considering attending Brophy College Preparatory and Notre Dame Prep. He explains, “El Dorado was my middle school and most of the kids from that school go to Notre Dame Prep., and it’s a really big feeder school. I shadowed here and my host was really good. I enjoyed it more here than I did at Brophy, so that was the tie-breaker.”

Benvenuto is an athlete, participating on both the football and baseball teams. He plays first string defensive end and just finished his first season. “So far my friend, Spencer Roy and I are doing pretty good. We have a lot of sacks!” explains the student.

In another aspect of his student life, Benvenuto serves as a shadow host, acting as guide to prospective students and ambassador for the school. When other students come to visit the campus, they get to go right along in the school day with Benvenuto to see what the school day is like on the Notre Dame Prep campus. “Most of the shadows that come to me are either football or baseball players, because that’s what I have down as my interest.”

Benvenuto speaks of his goals while attending Notre Dame Prep. He says, “Academically, I obviously want to go to a good university. I’ve had really good grades in middle school and at Notre Dame Prep. My goal is to keep those really good grades throughout my entire journey here.” The freshman has his eye on Brown University or possibly Stanford. He plans on going into business, like his father.

He continues, “Spiritually, I hope to have a good relationship with God and stay active in the church and here at Notre Dame Prep. Through the football and baseball programs, I’ve made a lot of friends and I hope to keep my friendships.”

A few weeks ago, Benvenuto attended a speech given by Senator John McCain at Vi at Silverstone in Scottsdale. Benvenuto’s guidance counselor, Miss. Lisa Lopez was looking for a freshman to attend the event and the eager student jumped at the chance to go. “It was a really good opportunity,” Benvenuto states. “It was really informational and he answered all the questions well. Overall, it was a really good speech.” Particularly, he was impressed with how Senator McCain really listened to each question and took the time to formulate an appropriate response.

Benvenuto has some encouraging words for middle school students that might be considering Scottsdale’s Notre Dame Preparatory. He says, “It’s a nice community. I came from a really small school and the community here at Notre Dame Prep made the transition easy. The teachers are super smart and want to be here. The students are all super friendly and seem to want to be here, too. It’s enjoyable.”

Admissions Director for Notre Dame Prep, Matt Rylski says of Benvenuto, “He’s certainly gifted academically. He was accepted last year as an incoming freshman as one of our strongest academic students with glowing recommendations from his eighth grade community.”

“He was one of the highest out of 450 applicants (to Notre Dame Prep) tested. So, academically, he’s at the top… He’s so involved – baseball, football and clubs.” Rylski singles out Benvenuto as a “favorite” student for others to shadow. He also says that Notre Dame Prep gives its student population many chances to diversify through sports, clubs, theater and leadership activities.

Senior, Sam Barrett

Massachusetts native, Sam Barrett has spent her entire high school career at Notre Dame Prep, and her experiences and credentials are exceptional. She continually serves as a role model and a beacon of light to her fellow students.

Notre Dame Prep Senior, Sam Barrett

Barrett was anxious to apply to Notre Dame Prep. “I went to Basis for middle school,” Barrett explains. “That really taught me a lot in terms of academics, but it also taught me that I didn’t want to spend my high school years studying the whole time. I was considering Basis for high school, but I didn’t want to stay and have my nose in a book the whole time. But, what really sold me on Notre Dame Prep was the faith. I wanted a place where I could show my faith and grow closer in my relationship with God. I love the sense of community at Notre Dame Prep. Like Dylan said, everyone is so welcoming and you can have a conversation (about faith) with anyone here, and you don’t get that at a public school.”

Barrett is a member of a youth choral group at St. Bernard of Clairveax Parish, and right after Christmas last year, Barrett got the chance to go to Italy for a very special performance. “I’m in choirs at church. I lead a preschool choir, an elementary and middle school choir, I sing in a teen choir and I’m in the 11:00 a.m. band at mass. Our choirs are part of an organization called Pueri Cantores. Through Pueri Cantores, they do trips all the time. We’ve been to the mission in San Juan Capistrano, and they have big trip every five years. This big trip was to Rome to sing for the Pope.” After some fundraising, Barrett and her two sisters were able to travel to Rome and sing for the head of the Catholic Church.On January 1st, Barrett and her sisters were able to sing at St. Peter’s Basilica on what was Barrett’s oldest sister’s birthday. “That was the bestest thing, ever!” Barrett gushes.

While in Rome, the choir group sang a full mass and performed arrangements in Latin, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Portuguese and other languages. Although learning the songs in other languages was a challenge, Barrett loved it. While in Rome, the group was able to tour every significant site and even spent time in the Sistine Chapel. “We got to spend an hour there and even took pictures! That was so cool.” explains the senior songbird.

As if her vocal pursuits weren’t enough, Barrett also plays trumpet in the jazz band at Notre Dame Prep. Remarkably, she’s been playing since fourth grade. This will most likely be the tail end of her trumpet experience as she does not plan to pursue it into college, although she doesn’t rule out taking a jazz course in college. “My sister is a music major at Chapman University and I know I’ll be able to stay connected with music because of her,” adds Barrett. On the sports front, Barrett has played softball all throughout high school. “I’ve been playing since second grade,” she states. Additionally, she belongs to the National Charity League.

Service to the community and to her fellow students is also a focus for the Notre Dame Prep senior. “I am the religious coordinator and on the executive board of student government,” Barrett explains. “I work with our campus minister, Sister Yolanda Mendoza and we plan so many of the religious activities. We go to mass, plan Eucharistic processions and prayer services.”

Barrett continues, “I’m pretty much the lead ambassador for Notre Dame Prep. Mr. Matt Rylski, our admission director, will pull me out of class and I give parents tours and I train other ambassadors. Basically, I’m a representative of the school and I’ll go to other middle schools and tell kids why they should come to Notre Dame Prep.” In fact, Barrett trained freshman Dylan Benvenuto.

Next, Barrett will be shifting her focus to college. “My top choices are UCLA, Georgetown and Northwestern,” she explains. “I’m also applying to Seattle University, Boston University, Chapman, Fordham and ASU – to the Honors College.” Her allegiance seems to tilt a bit more towards UCLA, in part, because her father attended that college before attending grad school at Northwestern. She hopes to follow in his footsteps. She would love to have her own business and start a charity one day, but she plans to study business or applied mathematics.

Rylski says of Barrett, “She’s the leader of our leaders!” He singles out her leadership as a school ambassador. “I can give a family a tour, but they want to hear from our kids. They want to hear from a senior young lady who’s in sports, our religious coordinator, the head of the ambassadors and she’s taking an amazing course load. All of our 944 students are special, and some of them are stand-outs. Sam is one of those.”

Opened in 2002, Notre Dame Prep. is a Catholic diocesan college preparatory high school with a co-ed enrollment of about 920 students. The school has received national recognition for the caliber of its academic and athletic programs. The school is located at 9701 E. Bell Road in Scottsdale. For more information or to schedule a tour of the spacious campus, visit or call (480) 634-8200.