As first semester comes to a close, NDP students are looking forward to a long break from their hard work and preparation for final exams. With winter festivities at the forefront of everyone’s mind, students are preparing to celebrate and relax in many different ways. 

Senior Shireen Sadeghi and her family do not celebrate Christmas traditionally. As a member of the Bahá’í Faith, Shireen instead spends this time of year preparing for and attending a Bahá’í conference. The Bahá’í Faith originated in Iran and emphasizes the inherent worth of all belief systems as well as the unity of all people. It combines teachings from a number of different belief systems, such as Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. 

A purple and gold-themed Christmas tree was set up by staff outside of the COMM last week to celebrate the Christmas season. Staff photo taken by Sophie O’Shei

“During Christmas break, I will be attending an annual religious conference … at the JW Marriott,” said Sadeghi. During the three-day conference, attendees from around the country enjoy group activities, reflection time and presentations from a variety of speakers and performers. 

“It’s always great to see and catch up with friends from around the country who share my culture and beliefs,” Sadeghi said. Though she does not celebrate Christmas in the traditional sense, Sadeghi is excited to use this time of year for growing in her own faith and connecting with friends and family she does not see often. 

Another NDP student with unusual plans over Christmas break is senior Brianna Tyau. Tyau will be traveling to the Philippines over winter break to celebrate Christmas. This is her first time celebrating Christmas in the Philippines, so she is eager to experience this holiday in a different culture.

Christmas in the Philippines is fascinatingly different from the same holiday in the United States. “They celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve at night,” said Tyau. Christmas celebrations in the Philippines are unique because “on Christmas Eve there are fireworks and street partying, and we give gifts to older people because that is considered respectful,” Tyau said. This branches from the fact that culture in the Philippines, according to Tyau, has a major emphasis on respecting elders. 

Other students are traveling over break in search of fun and adventure, but closer to home. Seniors Ben and Jonah Linnenkamp often travel to Flagstaff over breaks to spend time at their cabin. “I’m going to Flagstaff over the break to celebrate the New Year,” said Ben Linnenkamp. He loves spending time in the snow, a major change of scenery from the typical Scottsdale weather. 

Jonah Linnenkamp, who will also be traveling to Flagstaff with his twin, will be participating in a myriad of activities up north. “We’re probably going to ski and build snowmen and ride around in the golf cart,” said Jonah Linnenkamp. Flagstaff is a very popular winter destination for Notre Dame Prep students because numerous families own cabins and enjoy spending time in the cooler weather. 

Many NDP students are also hoping to combine productivity with relaxation over the Christmas holiday. For example, Junior Neil Dessables is looking forward to spending time with family and friends while planning for senior year over break. 

“Over Christmas, I will be touring colleges in California and spending time with relatives,” said Dessables. He knows combining family visits with college tours will help him prepare ahead of time and reduce stress moving toward senior year. 

Winter break is an important time for NDP students to take a break from the strenuous activities of first semester. Whether they travel far from Arizona for vacation, focus on growing their faith, or simply spend time at home with friends and family, students cannot wait to finally be able to enjoy two weeks focused on activities outside of school.