St. Thomas Aquinas Scholars Program

The 2021-22 St. Thomas Aquinas Scholars collected more than 500 turkeys and $13,000 in donations for their humanitarian effort to provide Thanksgiving dinners to those served by St. Mary's Food Bank.

What is the St. Thomas Aquinas Scholars Program? 

“Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe, to know what he ought to desire, and to know what he ought to do.”- St Thomas Aquinas 

The St. Thomas Aquinas Scholars Program is named in honor of the saint Catholics believe to be the Church’s greatest theologian and philosopher. This is a highly competitive, integrated program of study that provides a challenging, well-rounded education to Notre Dame Preparatory’s most gifted and motivated students. The program of study stimulates academic and personal development through rigorous courses, unique cultural and academic field experiences, and advanced research opportunities. All St. Thomas Aquinas Scholars receive a St. Thomas Aquinas Scholarship. 

Aquinas Scholars must meet rigorous academic requirements. The Aquinas Scholars program will not deter a student from participating in the athletic, music, or extra-curricular programs. Mentorship and advising within the Capstone Experience includes personal contact with professional experts in their field, individualized support during the university discernment and application process, and analysis of potential career interests. Through their four years Scholars will gain a better understanding of the world around them, their own selves, and be challenged to achieve to their fullest potential both at Notre Dame Preparatory and beyond.

The Benefits: 

  • A team of dedicated faculty members who act as mentors and advisers to the scholars on an ongoing basis  
  • A designated counselor is assigned to the scholars for all four years to bolster academic skills, social-emotional growth, and college & career planning  
  • Individualized support during the university discernment and application process, and an analysis of potential career interests 
  • A curriculum that prepares scholars to succeed in the most rigorous institutions of higher learning  
  • Opportunities for field experiences and cultural enrichment during each academic year  
  • The substantial support of a peer group committed to similar goals of personal excellence and intellectual growth  
  • Designation as an Aquinas Scholar at Commencement and identification of the program and its requirements on all college applications  
  • Path to achieve AP Capstone Diploma     

How to Become a Scholar:

Enrollment in The St. Thomas Aquinas Scholars Program is limited and highly competitive. Admission is based on an evaluation of the items detailed below. Once applications have been reviewed, those in consideration for the program will be asked to come for an additional interview.  
 

Below you will find the criteria used to select our future STA Scholars: 

  • Statement of Purpose (defined below)  
  • Letters of recommendation (included in your Notre Dame application) 
  • Current GPA (suggested minimum 3.95 - included in your Notre Dame application) 
  • HSPT Scores (generally our STA scholars score in the 85th percentile or higher – scores are sent directly to Notre Dame Preparatory)   The Statement of Purpose should describe the applicant’s education, experience, and interest in the St. Thomas Aquinas program. Statements of Purpose are reviewed for content, creativity, and conveyed interest in being in this highly competitive, integrated program of study. This should not just be a list of your wonderful qualities but instead a representation of why you want to be a part of the St. Thomas Aquinas Scholars program, and what you could contribute to the program should you be accepted. Your Statement of Purpose should not exceed four-hundred words and should be emailed to stthomasaquinas@ndpsaints.org.   The submission deadline for the Statement of Purpose is April 4. Should you have any questions, please contact the Program Coordinators Mrs. Melissa Riordan and Mrs. Tracy McBride at stthomasaquinas@ndpsaints.org.  

Yearly Goals of the St Thomas Aquinas Scholars Program: 

  • 9th Grade: The goal for freshman year is to expand students’ worldview. Through varied cultural experiences students will learn to understand the vastness of the world around them and to empathize with people from different places and times. 
  • 10th Grade: The goal for sophomore year is for students to develop a critical and personalized lens with which to view the world. Students will analyze topics through different lenses for greater meaning and understanding. This will develop the students’ abilities to think logically, analyze and solve problems, craft and assess arguments, and develop a personal moral and ethical compass. AP seminar will help foster students’ written and oral communication skills to prepare for their culminating research project. 
  • 11th Grade: The goal for junior year is to continue to form students’ research and critical thinking skills by reflecting inward.  Junior’s will construct a deeper understanding of themselves as they prepare to apply for colleges. This path will allow them to explore their own world and what they may want to accomplish in the years to come at Notre Dame Preparatory and beyond.  
  • 12th Grade: The goal for senior year is for students to bring their education full circle and apply their skills. They will pursue a research project of their choosing through AP Research. This is the culminating work of a student’s studies, and it represents their ability to conduct research and write effectively.  

Program Requirements: 

  • Complete a minimum of 32 credit hours (30 Academic, 2 Christian Service)  
  • Maintaining a GPA of 3.95 or higher (weighted)  
  • Completion of 16 honors or AP level courses  
  • Completion of the 4th level of consecutive study in the same World Language  
  • Completion of AP Seminar & AP Research   
  • Participation in St. Thomas Aquinas Program meetings and activities  
  • End of year reflection presentations   Any questions regarding the program or application process should be sent to stthomasaquinas@ndpsaints.org

 

Jill Platt, M.Ed.
President/Principal
jplatt@ndpsaints.org
(480) 634-8201 

Tracey Heisler, M.Ed.
Assistant Principal for Student Learning
theisler@ndpsaints.org
(480) 634-8362 

Lisa McMorrow, M.Ed.
Director of Counseling
St. George House
Class of 2023 (A - D)
STA Cohort 2026
lmcmorrow@ndpsaints.org 
(480) 634-8240 
calendly.com/lmcmorrow

Deanna (Duermit) Larson, M.Ed.
Counselor
St. Michael House
Class of 2023 (E - J)
STA Cohort 2024
dlarson@ndpsaints.org 
(480) 634-8242 
calendly.com/deanna_larson

Liz Barnes, M.A.Ed.
Counselor
St. Blaise House
Class of 2023 (R - Z)
STA Cohort 2025
ebarnes@ndpsaints.org 
(480) 634-8223
calendly.com/ebarnes2

Cal Beneze, M.Ed.
Counselor
St. Ignatius House
Class of 2023 (K - Q)
rbeneze@ndpsaints.org 
(480) 634-8215
calendly.com/rbeneze

Kelly Benitez, M.S.
Counselor
St. Teresa House 
St. Francis House (A - F)
kbenitez@ndpaints.org
(480) 634-8219
calendly.com/kbenitez1
 
Paige Peters, M.S.
Counselor
St. Maximilian Kolbe House 
St. Francis House (G - O)
ppeters@ndpaints.org
(480) 634-8220
calendly.com/pfpeters
 
Jennifer Villarreal, M.Ed.
Counselor
jvillarreal@ndpsaints.org
(480) 634-8213
 
Twila Walker, M.A., M.S.
Counselor
St. Patrick House 
St. Francis House (P - Z)
twalker@ndpsaints.org
(480) 634-8217
calendly.com/twalker2022
 

Lindsay Cusano
Administrative Assistant
College Visit Coordinator
lcusano@ndpsaints.org 
(480) 634-8239