Carissa Kolcun ’21 Wins First Place in Art Criticism

NDA Visual Arts Department recently received the results from the 2018 Art Criticism Open. Sophomore and Art II student Carissa Kolcun won first place for her essay on Thomas Gainsborough’s, Hester, Countess of Sussex, and Her Daughter, Lady Barbara Yelverton! 

She will be honored May 5th, 2019 as this is part of the Ohio Governor’s Youth Art Exhibition.  This is NDA’s second third consecutive first place in this competition.  Each year a high school class is invited to view the top twenty-five works of art in the Ohio Governor’s Youth Art Exhibition and write art criticism in response to the works. These writings are printed, along with an image of the work, and made available to viewers of the exhibition. This provides an audience for students’ written work and broadens the viewers’ perspective for the art work (via:

File:Thomas Gainsborough - Hester, Countess of Sussex, and Her Daughter, Lady Barbara Yelverton - Google Art Project.jpg

Carissa Kolcun
Thomas Gainsborough
Hester, Countess of Sussex, and Her Daughter, Lady Barbara Yelverton
Art Criticism

While looking at this piece, the eye is immediately drawn to the contrast between the subjects of the painting and their background.  The dark, earthy toned, background brightens the whites and blue of the dresses, and the paleness of the skin of the Countess of Sussex and Lady Barbara Yelverton.  After noticing this it is also easy to pick up on the physical contrast of the background and foreground. The two ladies, noticeably wealthy, sit among nature, some plants even falling over their figures.  By using nature as the background, though, the artist Thomas Gainsborough gives us insight to the subjects personalities.

    Framing the Countess of Sussex are dark warm colors.  They give her a more depressing appearance, the warmer tones making her appear serious.  The Countess herself wears a tired expression. Painted on her face is a clearly forced smile.  In comparison to Lady Barbara next to her, the Countess’ dress is far more extravagant. The extravagance of the dress is a distraction from her sadness, meant to draw attention away from her pressed expression.  She wears a gray wig, giving her an older appearance despite the youth portrayed in her face. The plants overlapping her figure suggest that she wishes she had more freedom, and the black hat she holds gives the impression of a great sadness she recently suffered from, or a suppressing sadness that constantly effects her.  She is clearly represented as someone who is unhappy and tired with their life.

     In comparison, Lady Barbara Yelveton is far happier.  She is framed by a blue sky that compliments the similar shade of her dress.  In comparison to the Countess’ dress, hers is much simpler, a reference to the simplicity and youth of childhood.  Her skin is painted with yellow undertones, brightening her youthful complexion. Lady Barbara holds a small sprig in her hand, and, unlike her mother, gazes directly at the viewer, all the more expressing her youth. She wears a gentle innocent smile, and it is easy to tell she is not clouded with the same sadness that the Countess is.  

    There are further elements at play in the piece, creating a clear path for our eyes to follow.  They start in the dark reds of the top right corner of the painting. The dark shadows they create give the background depth, allowing the viewer to imagine a forest spanning behind the subjects. The reds fade into the green leaves to their left, who lack the same structured form.  They don’t cast the same shadows, but instead are defined by lines and different tints of green. We are then drawn to the deepest, though one of the lightest points of the image, the sky. The array of browns and grays, light blues and whites, gives the sky more texture than something that is typically the furthest part of the image.  This use of the detailed texture allows us to follow the gray blues of the sky to the baby blues of Lady Barbara’s dress, to the porcelain white of the Countess’ dress.

     This painting, Hester, Countess of Sussex, and Her Daughter, Lady Barbara Yelverton, is clear in its theme; people rush to achieve maturity, but only wish for the freedom of youth after.  We live so shortly in youth, quickly ushered into maturity before we can even fully grasp who we are. Trapped inside expectations, and the desire for success, we spend years working for a way out.  The Countess of Sussex is trapped inside the displeasure of reality. She is almost tired of looking for a way out, embracing the life she is stuck in. Her daughter instead lives in days stretched long by fun and bright bursts of pleasant memories.  She fears the maturity she is being forced into, hesitant to leave her childhood behind. Lady Barbara desperately holds onto her youth by the sprig in her hands, the dark leaves shadowing her mother slowly spreading over to her.

NDA Announces Open House & High School Placement Test Events

On Sunday, November 11, Notre Dame Academy (NDA) will hold an Open House on campus from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. Enjoy a private tour lead by a parents, students, and alumnae, meet NDA teachers and administrators, and learn about extracurricular activities. Voted Best of Toledo’s Best High School, Best Private School two times in a row, NDA is the only school in northwest Ohio that offers the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program.

NDA offers the most ways to earn college credit in high school through IB, Advanced Placement and College Credit Plus. NDA has been All Sports Champions 15 times in a row and Speech and Debate champions eight years in a row.

Stellar academics with master teachers make NDA the all-girls educational choice.Notre Dame Academy, a Catholic college preparatory school for grades 7-12, sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame, promotes the holistic development and empowerment of young women for leadership and service by providing an exceptional educational experience permeated with Gospel values.

For more information on NDA, please visit or call 419.475.9359. The following are admission events where prospective students and parents can learn more about NDA academics, testing practices, awards, and scholarship information. Apply to Notre Dame Academy online at, during our Open House, or visit NDA to receive an admission packet.

Wednesday, November 14 – FREE High School Placement Testing Experience for 8th Graders /Parent Information Night (How to Invest in the Best Education for your Daughter) – 7 – 8:15 pm We invite girls to learn tips and techniques to get comfortable with the HSPT.  RSVP is required!  While the girls are learning about the HSPT, we invite parents to learn about the advantages of an NDA education and how it is easier to invest in it than you may think. No RSVP necessary for parents.

Saturday, December 1 – High School Placement Test (8:00 am – noon)/Parents Coffee & Questions (8 – 9:00 am) The HSPT is required for 8th graders wishing to enter Notre Dame Academy in the fall of 2019. No RSVP is needed to take the test. Honors Scholarships are based on HSPT scores.


Save the Date for Mad for Plaid!

NDA Presents, “Hello, Dolly!” – Reserve Your Tickets Today!

To purchase tickets, click on the image above to be directed to!

Notre Dame Academy will perform “Hello, Dolly!” at the Ave Maria Performing Arts Center, on the campus of NDA (3535 W. Sylvania Avenue) on October 19, 20, 26, 27 at 7:00 pm and October 28 at 2 pm.  Purchase tickets through Adults are $15.00 and students/children are $12.00. Meet Dolly Levi. She is a widow, a matchmaker, and also a professional meddler. Everything changes when she decides that the next match she needs to make is to find someone for herself!

“Hello Dolly!” is energetic, lively, and charming and features such memorable songs as “Before the Parade Passes By,” “It Only Takes a Moment,” and – of course, “Hello, Dolly!”

Under the direction of Mrs. Trish Sanders (NDA Fine Arts Chair, drama instructor, and moderator of NDA’s Speech and Debate Team and other dedicated faculty and parents, NDA is ready to perform this Broadway and NDA classic! Twenty-three years ago NDA performed “Hello Dolly!” and the musical team as well as students from NDA, St. Johns Jesuit, St. Francis deSales, Toledo School of the Arts and Maumee High School are excited to bring it life again. “As a musical team, we look for shows with strong women’s roles,” Mrs. Sanders explained. “Dolly Levi is one of the best. She is a woman who “arranges things”, and the lives she touches are better for it.  Her ability to overcome the loss of her beloved first husband and then grab life with both hands is a lesson for us all.”

Class of 2023 Parent Breakfast – Wednesday Oct 17 – RSVP Now!

Join us for the Class of 2023 Parent Information Breakfast on October 17 from 7:30 am – 8:30 am at NDA!

Register by clicking here!  Sign me up!

Talk with NDA staff, faculty, parents, and students one-on-one to learn about how:
– International Baccalaureate best prepares your daughter and builds confidence
– NDA is more affordable than you think
– Your daughter can earn college credit at NDA
– Our 15x champion sports teams and clubs help her find her best inner-self

For more information on admission to Notre Dame Academy, please visit the admission page at

Alycia Boutrand ’18 Receives Full Year of College Credit Due to IB Coursework

Alycia Boutrand ’18 began her first year at The University of Toledo as all other freshmen at UT.  The exception is that Alycia’s collegiate journey will be shorter than her classmates because she received 29 college credits, which equals a full academic year, for  her International Baccalaureate(IB) courses she took at NDA!

NDA is the ONLY IB World School that offers the prestigious academic IB Diploma Program in nw Ohio!  And I am really glad I took IB, because now I see how it pays off, and it is really satisfying,” Alycia said.

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is a rigorous, two-year comprehensive curriculum for grades eleven and twelve that prepares you for post-secondary study through courses and instructional techniques that emphasizes critical thinking, application of knowledge and an interdisciplinary approach with strong international focus. Recognized around the world as an International Baccalaureate World School, we were the FIRST all-girls school in Ohio to begin IB and are the ONLY recognized IB Diploma Programme School in northwest Ohio. You may self-select to either receive a full  IB diploma or subject-area certificate.

All colleges offer credit for IB coursework. NDA graduates have earned up to one year of college credit.  NDA also has implemented a Pre-IB Programme with our 7th and 8th grade students that includes practicing the IB Learner Profile, the IB Approaches to Learning, as well as, a Creativity, Service and Action Project (CAS) as we prepare them to become IB learners!

NDA Students Attend 5th Annual Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference

Mrs. Morgan’s 21st Century Global Issues class spent the day off campus attending the 5th Annual Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference (#HTSJC18) at The University of Toledo. The purpose of the conference was to raise awareness and promote community activism in combating human trafficking.

Students learned about the basics of human trafficking, heard survivor stories and viewed an art exhibition featuring survivor artwork and local student artists’ work. The day was meaningful and informative! Students will continue exploring this and other important topics in their Global Issues class.

Hope Thayer ’19 Awarded National Merit Commended Student


NDA Principal Mrs. Sarah Cullum, National Merit Commended Scholar Senior Hope Thayer, Miss Thayer‘s NDA Counselor Mrs. Kristen Schank 

Notre Dame Academy is proud to announce that, senior and International Baccalaureate Diploma candidate, Hope Thayer was named a National Merit Commended Student in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program. As an International Baccalaureate (IB) student Miss Thayer learns the same rigorous IB curriculum taught at IB schools around the globe. Miss Thayer‘s IB studies have included IB Physics, IB Theatre, IB Math, IB Spanish, IB English, and IB History.

Through her IB Math class, she has become a member of the Global Student Council, giving her the opportunity to collaborate with other students across the globe and experience leadership and collaboration in an online environment. The IB curriculum emphasizes gaining insights from information by learning to formulate questions, research information, and analyze to discern answers. IB’s global perspective and cross-curriculum integration looks at the same subject matter across subjects.

Miss Thayer would like to study biomedical engineering at The University of Michigan. To encourage other girls to explore their interest in STEM careers and use NDA’s new makerspace, she started NDA’s Maker Club. The Maker Club is what Miss Thayer has chosen to do for her IB CAS Project. All IB Diploma students do a CAS (Creativity Action and Service) Project where they apply what they have learned in IB to a project that ties together IB insights learning skills, and leadership.

A multi-year state and national speech qualifier, Miss Thayer competed in informative speaking with a speech about prosthetics. Miss Thayer is on NDA’s Executive Student Council and is student director of school theater productions. She is president of NDA’s American Sign Language Club and played JV tennis for two years. She attends Christ the King Parish, where she is a student lector and altar server. National Merit Commended students place among the top 50,000 scorers and only approximately 34,000 students, from the 1.6 million students who entered the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, received this honor.