High schools in the Omaha area include many parochial as well as other private schools that are dedicated to excellence.
Most offer a college preparatory curriculum that focuses on preparing students for careers and for life. Small classes, individual attention and high graduation rates are the hallmarks of these private schools.
BOYS TOWN HIGH SCHOOL
The school maintains a 10-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio to help ensure individualized attention. Students from all over the country live on the campus at Boys Town, home of a residential program for at-risk youths founded in 1917 by Father Edward Flanagan. High school enrollment is 335 boys and girls.
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Boys Town the Educational Excellence and Excellence for Drug Prevention awards. Boys Town also was acknowledged as a National School of Character.
Consistently teaching basic social skills in the homes as well as the classrooms gives students a firm foundation to become solid members of the work force.
In 2012, Boys Town installed videoconferencing to enable students to interact with other students and share courses.
A Career Center offers special courses to help students prepare to enter the work force, go to college, or join the military. About one-third of students elect to take an Army JROTC program. Students participate in drama, science, technology and chess clubs.
Plans include building partnerships so students not headed for college are exposed to different trade and career opportunities.
Brownell-Talbot is the only private, independent college preparatory school in Nebraska.
College counseling begins in eighth grade with courses that help students identify strengths and career interests. The goal is to identify colleges and universities that best fit a student's interests and abilities.
The program is unique because most school's programs do not begin until the junior year.
The oldest school in continuous operation in Nebraska, Brownell-Talbot was founded in 1863 by the Episcopal Church as a boarding school for girls. Boys were admitted into the high school when boarding ended in 1963.
The school became independent in 1968 but maintains a close relationship with the church.
Providing small class sizes and individualized instruction, the high school's current enrollment is 138 students. Brownell-Talbot plans a major celebration of its 150th anniversary throughout 2013. Events include an all-school reunion in September and a family friendly weekend of events for the community.
CONCORDIA JUNIOR-SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL
Growth is under way at Concordia, a college preparatory coed school.
“As we speak, I'm looking at 20 guys putting up bricks for a new gymnasium,” said Principal Matt Korte. Concordia is adding weight and aerobics rooms and six classrooms, as well as doubling the size of the commons area.
The construction project is due to be finished by June.
The only Lutheran high school in the metro area, Concordia has a strong international program, with an enrollment averaging 10 to 13 international students each year. Total enrollment is 301 students.
“We think of it as the mission field. We're preaching and teaching about Jesus,” Korte said.
About 75 percent of the students participate in a music class or program — pep, jazz, concert and worship bands, choirs, guitar and an orchestra. The school's participation rate in music is one of Nebraska's highest.
OMAHA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
This interdenominational school for students from pre-K through 12th grades offers a strong college preparatory curriculum, especially in reading, writing and music.
Omaha Christian's Quiz Bowl team won first place in a Lincoln Quiz Bowl contest in 2012. Advanced Placement calculus will be added to the 2013-2014 curriculum.
Because the 110 high school students are located in the same building with younger students, they act as mentors and work with the younger students as teachers' aides.
“It becomes like one big family,” said Superintendent. Vic Fordyce. “OCA is a true Christian school where Christ is taught in the classroom. Scriptures are integrated into all the curriculum.”
The school had a 10 percent growth in students in 2012.
ST. ALBERT HIGH SCHOOL
This high school in Council Bluffs aims to provide its 215 students four Traditions of Excellence: academic excellence, strong spiritual opportunities, commitment to community and engaging enrichment programs.
The graduation rate over the last five years has been 99 percent. Ninety-six percent of graduates pursue higher education. The school, part of the Des Moines Diocese, offers more than 25 extracurricular and enrichment programs.
Each student provides more than 50 hours of community service during the school year.
Students now benefit from a student mentoring program that was completed in 2012. Seniors are paired with incoming freshmen as mentors.
Also new as of 2012 at this coed Catholic school is a High Ability Learner program designed to nurture the gifts of students who show high levels of performance and potential.
OMAHA CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOLS
With more than 130 years of a tradition of excellence in academics, activities and ministry, this college preparatory school has been preparing young men not only for college but for full lives as intelligent and compassionate human beings.
Student-faculty ratio is 13-to-1 at the school, which has about 1,000 students. The school's students average 26 on the ACT. There have been 46 National Merit Scholars and 108 Commended Students over the past six years.
Of graduates, 98 percent attend a four-year college and 63 percent of the class of 2012 earned $21.4 million in college scholarships. Creighton Prep recently completed a 78,000-square-foot, $23 million addition that includes a new computer lab, classroom-style auditorium, gymnasium, weight room, game field and renovated classrooms.
Five initiatives implemented in 2012 to keep Prep on the cutting edge are: the Customized Learning Experience, the Relevant Teaching and Innovation Fund, the “World Class” Math Initiative and two dual enrollment opportunities with the Peter Kiewit Institute: Java programming and Introduction to Information Security. Plans are in place to combine math courses with the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum for all students.
GROSS HIGH SCHOOL
Gross is a coed high school guided by the Marianist tradition. Challenging students with a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, the school in Bellevue encourages student involvement through activities, athletics, campus ministry and apostolic outreach in the community.
Gross plans to provide more real-world experiences for students through internship programs in professional careers. Firmly rooted in the Catholic faith, Gross lives by the motto: “Dux Esto” . . . “Be a Leader.”
The first school in the metro area to have a laptop program is enhancing its already successful engineering and robotics programs, as well as health science programs. The technology-based curriculum allows the high school's 428 students access to a computer at all times during the day via their personal laptops and the school's wireless network.
In 2012, the engineering team won the Post President's Award at the Society of American Military Engineers design competition. The robotics team qualified for the national championships in Omaha and the world championships in Orlando, Fla., and Anaheim, Calif., the past two years.
Duchesne is a college-preparatory high school for girls in grades nine through 12. Founded in 1881, Duchesne also offers a preschool for girls and boys ages 3 through 5. The school is one of 22 members in the U.S. Network of Sacred Heart Schools.
With 302 students, the high school provides a personalized approach to education that prepares young women to love and be loved by God, to love learning throughout their lives, to develop confidence that life can be lived with strength and joy and to believe and act in genuine communion with others through compassion and service. Duchesne is committed to community outreach in providing academic opportunities for young people, particularly in east and south Omaha.
Initiatives that include summer academic programs and scholarship opportunities are being pursued. In November, Duchesne finished a 15-month building project that provides a barrier-free entrance to a new two-story performing arts center lobby, five-story elevator, enhanced student entrance and a courtyard shrine to Saint Philippine Duchesne. In the summer, the school renovated the cafeteria and theater.
MARIAN HIGH SCHOOL
Sponsored by the Servants of Mary, Marian is an all-girls, college preparatory school recognized twice by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School of Academic Excellence. Through a partnership with Bellevue University, Marian developed a certified program that trains and certifies staff members in “Engaging and Empowering Female Leaders.”
Through campus ministry, the 692 students at Nebraska's only Class A girls high school perform thousands of hours of service each year. Marian offers 36 honors courses, 10 Advanced Placement courses and nine dual-enrollment courses. Ninety-nine percent of Marian girls take four years of math (the requirement is three years), and all students take physics as a required class; nationally less than 12 percent of high school students complete the class.
Marian has three networked, state-of-the-art Mac computer labs, multimedia production labs and Smart Boards in 21 classrooms.
New collaboration stations throughout the building will allow electronic devices to be plugged in and viewed on a large screen. Spaces in collaborative pods mimic the real work environment. Some faculty plan to produce their own textbooks for classroom use through electronic means such as iBooks. By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, each teacher will be trained in Smart Board or Apple TV technology.
The Mary Joy and Tal Anderson Performing Arts Center will open in the fall. The 20,000-square-foot addition will seat 400 people with teleconferencing capabilities in the auditorium. Some classrooms were converted; one became a state-of-the-art STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lab. Work spaces more conducive to female learners and the new workforce model are being created.
MERCY HIGH SCHOOL
Mercy High School is an all-girls high school with open-enrollment and a unique negotiated tuition program that allows any girl who wants a Mercy education to receive it. With more than 85 percent of Mercy families receiving annual tuition assistance, the school gives the highest percentage of financial aid in the city.
Mercy's hallmark liberal arts education allows academically gifted students to pursue a rigorous college preparatory program and, for those not destined for college, the opportunity to pursue interests in a variety of areas. Nearly 95 percent of Mercy's 408 students attend college, 60 percent on scholarships. The school has a 25 percent minority enrollment.
The school will require each student to have her own tablet computer in the 2013-2014 academic year.
Mercy is rooted in the heritage of service, and every year Mercy students log thousands of hours of service to the Omaha community. The Omaha school is deeply united with the 42 other Mercy high schools around the Americas and participates in a variety of activities with these sister schools.
ELKHORN MOUNT MICHAEL HIGH SCHOOL
This college-preparatory residential and day high school has 220 students (138 boarders and 82 day students) on a 400-acre campus overlooking the Elkhorn River Valley. In 2012, Mount Michael saw its graduating senior class each earn an average of more than $119,000 in scholarship money and had 25 of the 57 members of the class named Advanced Placement scholars.
The school was named a 2012 Blue Ribbon School and earned the ranking as the No. 1 all-male boarding school for affordability and ACT/SAT average by the Private Boarding School Review. The 10-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio helps prepare Mount Michael students for college and beyond.
Mount Michael's current “Now Is the Time” capital campaign goal of $10 million includes $2 million for an endowment and $1.2 million for a wastewater treatment facility, which is expected to be completed in April. In order to complete the campaign, the school is working to raise $4.3 million that will allow building a new academic facility to provide room for expansion and give an opportunity to renovate existing dormitories.
RONCALLI HIGH SCHOOL
Roncalli has a strong college preparatory curriculum for its 345 students. Of 2011-2012 graduating seniors, 99 percent went on to college. Student-to-teacher ratio is 15-to-1. The coed school's 2012 freshman class of 113 students was the largest in 20 years.
Two students earned a perfect ACT score (36) in the past two years. Seniors increased their average ACT scores after taking the ACT Test Prep Course included in the junior English curriculum. The Class of 2012 also performed more than 9,300 community service hours.
In 2012, Roncalli completed construction of a six-lane track. The school also finished a new activities center primarily for use for wrestling. All classrooms have been renovated and updated.
SKUTT HIGH SCHOOL
Skutt was one of 50 private schools nationwide receiving the 2012 U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon award. The school's composite college entrance exam scores annually rank among the top five schools statewide and the top 15 percent of all secondary schools nationwide. Seventy-five percent of graduates annually score higher than 27 on the ACT. The John Baylor ACT preparation program has been added to the curriculum at no cost to families.
The school offers a comprehensive college-preparatory curriculum, including more fine and performing arts courses than any other private school in the state. The Council for American Private Education commended Skutt for “commitment to providing modifications and support to educate students with learning needs.”
For the coed school's 695 students, faculty members incorporated new grading and curriculum software in 2012 to improve teacher-student-parent communication. Other recent initiatives: a new football field with high-grade synthetic turf, a new marching band, a remodeled commons area, and conversation pits with charging stations for cellphones, iPads and laptops. Skutt has more students serving as Eucharistic ministers or lectors than any other school in the state.