Norma Valdez of Catholic Relief Services presents the CRS Platinum Level Global High School plaque to Leslie Gjerstad, director of Christian Service Learning at Notre Dame Preparatory, Oct. 16. The school, previously a Gold Level recipient, successfully imparts Catholic social teaching and service. (courtesy photo)

Notre Dame Preparatory may consume 42 acres neighboring Westworld of Scottsdale, but student impact shines across the globe.

Catholic Relief Services recognized NDP as a Platinum Level Global High School for dedication to advancing Catholic social teaching and compassion for the poor worldwide. That compassion translated to participation in CRS’ Rice Bowl program during Lent, service as a role model for other Catholic schools and campus-wide faith events. NDP held Eucharistic processions, Adoration, school-wide Rosary, and a build-your-own CRS event.

To achieve Platinum Level, schools must also complete an annual survey and choose one “core program.” The activity could be either a Food Fast (Simple Food Day), hosting a CRS Fair Trade Consignment Sale, advocacy for the voiceless, or helping with CRS Global Emergency Responses.

“To be platinum, we have to do one of these events,” said Leslie Gjerstad, Director of Christian Service Learning. “We do all of them.”

She said it’s vital to teach students to be grateful and compassionate. Notre Dame Preparatory earned a Gold Level distinction in January 2016.

Norma Valdez, relationship manager for the southwest region of CRS, provides schools with all the materials and information needed to hold the school-wide and core events.

“Leslie is like the Energizer Bunny,” she said. “She is so organized, and through her dedication, she moves Christian service from students’ heads to their hearts.”

Catholic Relief Services recognizes the vital role Catholic secondary schools play in the Church’s mission of evangelization and catechesis in the United States.