The Omaha Public Schools prepares all students to excel in college, career and life.
Managing Editor: Deb S. Christiansen Garza

Dear OPS Community:

Please take a few minutes to watch the latest "Sup for the Soul" podcast filmed at Highland Elementary. We discuss bond work, Parent Facebook Live sessions, parent/teacher conferences, summer school, Parent Math Nights and much more.

Cheryl J. Logan,  Ed.D.
Omaha Public Schools
OPS Congratulates New Director of Equity and Diversity

Please join us in congratulating Barry Thomas as the district's new Director of Equity and Diversity. Thomas began his career with the district in 2002 as a teacher at McMillan Magnet Middle School. In 2006, he began teaching social studies at North High Magnet and in 2012, he became the supervisor of social studies. Thomas earned his bachelor's degree from Wayne State College and a master's degree from Doane College. He will officially assume the role April 1, pending the approval of the Board of Education.
Burke High School is First in Nebraska to Offer
AP Capstone Diploma Program

For students looking to earn an advanced degree during their 9-12 careers, Burke High School now offers the AP Capstone Diploma Program. The college-level program is based on two year-long AP courses: AP Seminar and AP Research that are designed to complement other AP courses a student may be enrolled in. For those unfamiliar with the program, we have developed some questions and answers that may help.

What is it?
This interdisciplinary approach to learning aims to help students develop critical thinking, research, collaboration, time management and presentation skills they’ll need to succeed at the college level.

Why was it developed?
The program was developed at the request of higher education professionals who saw a need for a systematic way for students to begin mastering these skills prior to college.

How does it work?
Students enrolled in the program select a topic they are passionate about and over the course of the program, are required to 1) analyze topics through multiple lenses to construct meaning or gain understanding, 2) plan and conduct a study or investigation, 3) propose solutions to real-world problems, 4) plan and produce communication in various forms, 5) collaborate to solve the problem and 6) integrate and make cross-curricular connections.

How is it graded?
AP scores for both courses are based on teacher assessment of student presentation components and College Board scoring of student-written components plus an end-of-course exam.Students who earn scores of three or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing receive the AP Capstone Diploma™.

What qualifications do teachers need to teach the program?
Because of the unique format of AP Capstone courses, all AP Seminar and AP Research teachers must take part in training prior to their first year of teaching the course.

What are the benefits to students?
Students that complete the course stand out on college applications because they demonstrate critical thinking, communication and research skills. In interviews, they have more confidence, expertise and passion when they talk about their unique projects and admission officers understand these students know how to build evidence-based arguments, apply research methods, work in teams, deliver a professional presentation and complete long-term academic projects.

What universities offer credit and/or placement policies for the program?
The following institutions offer credit for the program: California Institute of Technology, Brigham Young University, California State University, Colorado State University, Fashion Institute of Technology, Marquette University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill University, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, Purdue University, University of Albany-SUNY, University of Florida, University of Illinois, The University of Texas, University of Wisconsin, Washington State University and West Virginia University.
CHI Health and Omaha Public Schools Partner to Honor Teachers Across the District
CHI Health wants nominations of Omaha Public Schools' teachers changing the lives of students. Each month, they'll surprise a Top Teacher nominee with a treat basket for the teacher's lounge and a personal gift card. CHI will draw winners on the last Friday of the month. CHI Health will select one winner at the elementary, middle and high school level.
Anyone can nominate a Top Teacher at .
Thank you for your support of our teachers and for your support of the Omaha Public Schools.
Early Childhood
Application Days

The Omaha Public Schools offers a wide range of quality early childhood programs. If you have a child who will be three or four years old on or before July 31, 2019, we invite you to apply for one of our programs. Application days begin on Feb. 4 and continue through April 4.

When you signup, you will need to bring your child to be screened and the following documents:

  1. The child's legal birth certificate (not a hospital certificate).
  2. Current immunization records.
  3. Proof of address in the parent/legal guardians name (OPPD, MUD, COX or Century Link bill, letter from Nebraska Health & Human Services or lease/purchase agreement).
  4. Proof of all 2018 family income (TANF/ADC, SSI letter, child support, 1098, 1099, 1040, 8453, all 2018 W-2's, 12 month of check stubs and/or a letter from employer).

The parent/legal guardian must be present to complete the application.

Please note: Our preschool program is funded by state and federal grants that require us to select students based on a number of factors. Applying for our program does not guarantee that your child will be enrolled for the 2019-2020 school year.

Additional information is available on the OPS website ( or by calling the Early Childhood Office at (531) 299-0303. To see a list of times and dates, please click here.
...the Omaha Public Schools’ students selected to the Urban Health Opportunities Program through the University of Nebraska Omaha: Matthew Cogua (Burke High), Alyssa Lawrence (Central High) and Juan Valdovinos-Preciado (South High Magnet). Students accepted into the program are fully funded for their undergraduate studies. Students who successfully complete the requirements of the Urban Health Opportunities Program and who meet the requirements for medical school admission, receive a guaranteed place in the UNMC College of Medicine. Alternatives: Ashari Allen (Central High) and Audrey Bavari (Burke High).
Matthew Cogua
Burke High School
Alyssa Lawrence
Central High School
Juan Valdovinos-Preciado
South High Magnet School
Ashari Allen
Central High School
Audrey Bavari
Burke High School
...the Bryan High School Color Guard, which presented the colors during the national anthem at Creighton University's basketball game vs. Marquette at the CHI Health Center. Pictured are: 1st Lt. Mason Whitaker (Federal Rifle), 1st Lt. Frank Davis (Color's Commander), Sgt. Zach Still (State Flag) and Sgt. Victora Mendez (State Rifle). Instructor: Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Foltz
. . . Beveridge Magnet Middle School and Northwest High Magnet School. Beveridge took first place in the Junior Division and Northwest in the Senior Division of this year’s African-American History Challenge sponsored by 100 Black Men of Omaha. North High Magnet school hosted the event on Feb. 2. Both teams now move on to the national competition set to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, on June 12-16.
Second and third place winners for the Junior Division: Morton Magnet Middle School and Monroe Middle School, respectively. Second and third place winners for the Senior Division: Central High School and Benson High Magnet, respectively.
Beveridge Magnet Middle School
Northwest High Magnet School
. . .Beveridge Magnet Middle School drama teacher Anthony Schik and student Dominic Torres. Schik appeared in the Omaha Community Playhouse production “Of Mice and Men” and Torres appeared in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.” Torres is enrolled as a drama major at Beveridge.
Schik is pictured on the left and Torres on the right.
. . .Northwest Magnet High School coach Shannon Walker and senior Ma’Lisa Smith. Walker received the Coach of Character Award and Smith the Spark Award from the College of St. Mary’s during its “Lead Like a Girl” luncheon on Feb. 6. Walker is pictured on the left and Smith on the right.
. . .to the JROTC teams and individual cadets that placed in the annual OPS JROTC Biathlon
Competition held on Feb. 14.
                Overall Team Standings
               First place: South High Magnet School, 47.41 minutes
               Second place: North High Magnet School, 50.11 minutes
               Third place: Central High School, 50.39 minutes
                Individual Standings
              First place: Bryan Pichardo, South High Magnet School, 11:08 minutes
               Second place: Michael Navarro, South High Magnet School, 11:10 minutes
               Third place: Alyssa Burk, North High Magnet, 11:50 minutes
               Fourth place: Jonah Adams, North High Magnet, 11:54 minutes
               Fifth place: Aidan Marhenke, Central High School, 12:03 minutes
. . .the winner and runner-up of the Omaha Public Schools' Annual Spelling Bee: Adiba Mustafa of Joslyn Elementary (Grade 3) and MacKenzie Altuzaar of Davis Middle School (Grade 8), respectively.
All of this year's contestants.
Left to right: Adiba Mustafa and
MacKenzie Altuzaar
. . .Central High School seniors Bria and Christina Gilmore. The two were invited to attend the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Science Transcending Boundaries conference in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 14-17. The two presented their findings of the research project "Stress and Saliva: Discovering the Link Between Cortisol Levels and Introversion."
Pictured (left to right): Bria Gilmore, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Dr. Margaret Hamburg and Christina Gilmore at the conference.
Bria and Christina Gilmore pictured with the research board they presented at the conference.
Both are lifetime fellows of the American Junior Academy of Science.
. . .to this year's School Counselor of the Year finalists Erin Malm (Chandler View Elementary) and Angela Meyer (Central High School). Both were recognized for their work at the Counselor of the Year Award Dinner on Feb. 19.
Pictured (left to right): Doug Hauserman, Executive Director of the Nebraska School Counselor Association; Greg Eversoll, Principal of Chandler View Elementary, Malm and Jake Willems, Vice-Chair of the Nebraska School Counselor Association's Governing Board.
Pictured (left to right): Doug Hauserman, Executive Director of the Nebraska School Counselor Association; Greg Eversoll, Meyer and Jake Willems, Vice-Chair of the Nebraska School Counselor Association's Governing Board.
. . .to Gomez Elementary teacher Melissa Lilly. STAR 104.5 FM recognized Lilly as "Teacher of the Week" on Feb. 21 and received free books for her students. Lilly is pictured with some of her students.

Photo courtesy of STAR 104.5 FM.
. . .to the winners of this year's Martin Luther King Jr. "Living the Dream" Program:

Spoken Word: Eracism Category

First place: Cecilia Huber, Central High School
Second place: Lanaija Woodfolk, North High Magnet School
Third place: Gabriel Reyes, South High Magnet School

Spoken Word: #BEKIND and BRAVE Category

First place: Valkyrie Gilkison, Northwest High Magnet School
Third place: Naomi Weak, Central High School

Vocal Music Category

First place: Willa Rauch, Central High School

Instrumental Music Category

Second place: Peter Sukstorf, North High Magnet School

Interpretive Dance Category

First place: Allysa Smith, Blackburn Alternative
Third place: Rebecca Kalina, North High Magnet School
Christopher Fuehrer, Burke High School

Overall Grand Prize Winner

Allysa Smith, Blackburn Alternative

2019 MLK Jr. Social Justice High School of the Year Award

Central High School
By Julie Sigmon, Omaha STEM Ecosystem Director

 Beyond High School
Whatever a student's post-secondary goals are, becoming a lifelong learner is essential to any life choice.

For students who want to be successful and earn a good salary, STEM careers are up-and-coming. Learning the skills necessary to succeed in those careers is important. Even if a student does not opt for a STEM career, the skills they will learn can apply to all aspects of successful living.

So how do you start? Where are the cool jobs and how do you get them? A lot of this comes down to what are your passions, your hobbies? What are you good at or what do you enjoy doing? Think about this and write it down somewhere important. Internalize it as you complete the following steps to form a career plan:

  • Attend school. You can't learn if you aren't present in the learning environment. (And it is extremely useful to learn how to make yourself attend something even if you don't want to do.)
  • Hone the basics: critical thinking, innovation, all communication (spoken, written, etc.). You’ve heard these, but there are at least three other skills necessary to succeed in today's markets: collaboration (the greatest things come about through teams), content (learn how to learn, and get competent in the subject areas related to your plan) and confidence (get good at growing from failures). Guess what: participation in school will help you hone these skills! (And remember, they’re all STEM skills!)
  • Gain experience and build connections with volunteering, part-time work, and/or internships. Informal interviews, ride-alongs with professionals and exploring professional associations also help.
  • Gain knowledge of future careers with online classes, online research, and discover tools. Many schools and libraries have subscriptions to online learning platforms that are provided free to students. Also, don’t be afraid to ask parents, other family members or family friends, teachers, guidance counselors, any school staff, librarians and the Omaha STEM Ecosystem. We’re all here to help.

To summarize: learn, experience, and network to build your future; 80 percent of job opportunities come from connections.
Online research/discover tools:
Attendance Matters!
Did you know?

"Students with good attendance generally enjoy school more and achieve higher grades. Grades go down when you're not around!"

Every student. Every day. Prepared for success.
What's New in Career and Technical Education
at the OPS Career Center

by Jeremy Cowley
Program Manager, Career Center

Right now, a student may not know exactly what their next steps will be. Will they choose college? Or will they choose a career? No matter which they choose, coming to the Career Center gives students a competitive advantage. Each of our programs includes a blend of theory and hands-on application. This means students will know what they need to do and how to do it! No matter what their direction in life, the CONNECTION begins here! 

The Omaha Public Schools' Career Center offers twelve programs to OPS sophomores, juniors and seniors: Automotive Technology, Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing, Certified Nursing Assistant, Construction, Culinary Skills, Digital Video Production, Electrical Systems Technology, Emergency Medical Technician, Photography, Welding, Zoo Academy and UNMC High School Alliance. Students attend one 80-minute block at the Career Center (3230 Burt St.) and receive OPS transportation to and from their school. The following requirements apply:

  • Students desiring admission into the Certified Nursing Assistant program must be
16 years old.
  • Emergency Medical Technician students should be 18 years old by course completion.
  • UNMC High School Alliance and Zoo Academy are for juniors and seniors only.

The Career Center focuses on: industry/post-secondary partnerships, recruitment/retention, parent engagement, student learning communities, and student placement.

Students who attend the Career Center have the opportunity to earn college credit in some cases and/or earn multiple industry-recognized certifications. In the 2017-18 school year, Career Center students earned 738 certifications. Additionally, students earned 503 college credits at a cost savings of over $29,000.

This year, the Career Center received certification as an intermediary provider for youth-registered apprenticeships through the United States Department of Labor. As an intermediary provider, Career Center students can receive related education credit for courses taken in high school toward completion of a youth registered apprentice. This credential is nationally portable and can help Omaha-area companies connect Omaha Public Schools' students to high-wage, high-skill, high- demand jobs within their company.

For more information about the Career Center, please click here.

Starting in 2019-2020, Omaha Public Schools and Metropolitan Community College will implement the MCC Career Academies partnership. This partnership provides students with programming to OPS Junior and Senior students in career fields not currently available at OPS high schools or through the OPS Career Center.

OPS students must complete an application and MCC selects students to admit into the program. All costs, including tuition and transportation are the student’s responsibility. Students with good attendance, on track for graduation, and have an interest in one of the career fields are ideal candidates. Informational one-pager   Curriculum Guide Insert - MCC CA 19-20.pdf .
Career Academies Available at the Other OPS High Schools

OPS students also have opportunities to attend career academies at six of the other high schools. Career academies are small learning communities established at the high school level that use career strands as an organizing framework.

  • Benson High Magnet School – Health Professions, Construction Design, Business Entrepreneurship
  • Bryan High School – Urban Agriculture and Natural Resources, Transportation, Distribution and Logistics
  • Burke High School – Air and Space, Focus (Leadership, Information Technology, Communication)
  • North High Magnet School – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
  • Northwest High Magnet School – Law, Government and International Diplomacy
  • South High Magnet School – Information Technology and Visual Arts

For more complete information, please click here.
Norris Middle School Teacher Sacrifices Hair for a Good Cause
Norris Middle School teacher Jennifer Maddock, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, decided to sacrifice her hair to help others. Maddock challenged students at the school to collect diapers and formula for a local homeless shelter and the class that collected the most items would have an opportunity to help shave her head. More than 1,200 diapers were collected and several cans of formula. Ms. Faris' Redbird Block won the contest.
Career Center Receives Donation
John Fonda, CEO of John Day Company and Omaha DIDI area director, donated over $10,000 in tools to the Omaha Public Schools' Career Center's Auto Technology Program.
Sending Love to the Troops
Lewis & Clark Middle School students sent love to the Persian Gulf for Valentine's Day. More than 1,000 Valentines were sent to the crew of the aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Stennis, which has been in the Gulf since December 2018. Tracy White of Civic Nebraska, who heads the school's after-school Community Learning Center spearheaded the project.
We understand parents are busy. The following links will provide you with quick access to district sponsored events, procedures and resources. Please click on the titles below and you will be taken to the correct website.
Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment

District Operational Services

District Communications

Health Services

Locations/Hours of Operation
Health Services
The Phase 1 bond program is winding down and Phase 2 bond program projects are already underway. It's exciting to watch the transformations happening across the district and the benefits our students will enjoy because of the generous support of Omaha taxpayers.

To help us keep the community updated on the latest progress of projects, we asked Buffett Magnet Middle School students to lend their broadcasting skills to producing monthly reports.

We hope you enjoy this update on the Columbian Elementary replacement school set to open in August 2019.
This month, we recognize Morton Magnet Middle School principal Sherri Wehr for her commitment and dedication to the students and families of Morton Magnet Middle School and the Omaha Public Schools.
Video created by District Communications' videographer Alex Hassel.
Your Opinion Matters!

We would like feedback on how well this newsletter is meeting the needs of OPS staff, parents, community members, retirees, community partners and others who receive it. Please take a few moments to complete this brief survey. It is our goal that the newsletter is packed with information important to you.

Thank you!
The Omaha Public Schools' Community Opportunities is a monthly
publication where businesses and non-profit organizations can post
advertisements for our parents to let them know of student and family opportunities taking place in the Metro area. The publication goes live on our website the first school day of each month. If you would like to see this month's ads, please click on the link below:

Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, citizenship status, veteran status, political affiliation or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to accept allegations regarding non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531) 299-9822. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director for the Office of Equity and Diversity, 3215 Cuming St, Omaha, NE 68131 (531) 299-0307.