Northwest High School

The Jack Hallstrom Activities Center at Northwest High School will be dedicated Aug. 12. The addition includes a new gym, along with a renovated weight room and training room.

From stocking up on school supplies to getting used to waking up earlier, back-to-school season brings a laundry list of changes for students and parents.

As the first day of school approaches, districts across the Omaha area are gearing up for their own changes.

Schools are wrapping up summer construction projects and rolling out new classes and activities. Technology initiatives take the forefront, with some schools adopting iPads and Chromebooks for use in the classroom.

The World-Herald rounded up the latest in back-to-school news for local districts.


Aug. 10 for grades K-9

Aug. 11 for grades 10-12

» Football fields at both Bellevue East and West High Schools had turf replaced over the summer.

» The district purchased new buses to replace older models.

» As part of the district’s one-to-one initiative, teachers continue to be trained to use iPads in the classroom. Heading into the new school year, about 60 classrooms will be using iPads.

» Amber Dembowski will serve as principal for both Central and Bertha Barber Elementary Schools. She is taking over for Sue Fjelstad, who now works at the district’s main office.


Aug. 16

» Students in grades six through eight will have their own building for the first time, with the completion of Bennington Middle School.

» Shawn Hoppes is the new Bennington Middle School principal.

» As part of the district’s technology initiative, students in grades six through 12 will receive Chromebooks for schoolwork.

Council Bluffs

Aug. 24

» Seven new student and family advocates will serve elementary schools, providing support to bolster students’ academic and personal success.

» Kirn and Wilson Middle Schools will start their first year as International Baccalaureate candidate schools. Students will be required to take core academic subjects, as well as Spanish and music.

» New administrators include Vickie Murillo, superintendent; Teresa Hamilton, Lewis and Clark Elementary principal; Janine Crain, Crescent Elementary principal; and Brett Abbotts, Roosevelt Elementary principal.

Council Bluffs Lewis Central

Aug. 23

» The football field has undergone construction, including a new track, visitor bleachers, concession stand and restroom building on the visitor side.

» The district’s mission has been revised to “Inspiring excellence.” The vision statement is now “Developing passionate, innovative, adaptable learners prepared to embrace the challenges of the future and make a positive difference in their community.”

» Twelve new teachers have been hired.

Douglas County West

Aug. 23

» With the completion of an addition to the Valley campus, all students with the exception of alternative high school students will learn under one roof.

» The district is launching an in-person alternative high school program using a portable building at the Waterloo campus. The program is meant for students who have a hard time in the traditional high school system, and will include face-to-face classes, some online work and community service opportunities. Previously the alternative high school program used only online coursework.


Aug. 17

» Eighth-grade students will receive Chromebooks for class, the first phase in the district’s technology plan to pair every student with a computer. Other grades will be added in the future.

» All students are now required to complete two personal finance courses starting their freshman year in order to graduate. All other students will be grandfathered in to the previous graduation requirements and won’t be required to take the classes.


Aug. 17

» Aspen Creek Elementary and Aspen Creek Middle School will both open in the fall.

» New administrators include Stacey Deterding-Graver, Aspen Creek Middle School principal; Wendi Kistler, Aspen Creek Elementary principal; and Matt Bruggeman, Aspen Creek Middle School assistant principal.


Aug. 14

» All eighth-grade students will receive laptops this year, as part of the district’s technology initiative.


Aug. 17

» Several schools are either starting or wrapping up construction projects. Work has started on additions and upgrades at Benson, Central and Burke High Schools.

The Jack Hallstrom Activities Center at Northwest High School will be dedicated Aug. 12. The addition includes a new gym, along with a renovated weight room and training room.

» Omaha Virtual School will be expanded to ninth-grade home-school students.

» All high school football players will be outfitted with high-tech helmets that help monitor hard hits. Sensors in the helmets monitor the force and severity of hits and send that information to a tablet that coaches and trainers can use to check on players.

» The district will implement an adjusted grading scale. Grade-point averages will no longer include values for minus letter grades.

» The Wi-Fi Mobile Learning Bus will be available this fall. When the bus visits schools, students will take digital citizenship and tech-based learning classes. The bus will be parked after school to give students Internet access outside of class.

» New administrators include Steven Evans, Field Club Elementary principal; Carrie Mohr, Norris Middle School principal; Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek, Buffett Magnet Middle School principal; William Schmidt, Central Park Elementary principal; Matthew Piechota, Catlin Elementary principal; Tom Wagner, Benson High principal; Gaye Lannan, Burke High principal; and Jacqueline Wills, head of the Middle School Alternative Program.

Papillion-La Vista

Aug. 15 for grades K-9

Aug. 16 for grades 10-12

» The district is partnering with Metropolitan Community College for College Jump Start. Students will spend part of the day at the Metropolitan Community College Sarpy Campus and receive both high school and college credit.

» La Vista West Elementary will offer full-day preschool for the first time.

» High school students will be able to take online classes in physical science, astronomy, psychology, geography and American government.

» New administrators include DerNecia Harris, La Vista West Elementary principal; Matt Hilderbrand, Patriot Elementary principal; Jen Carson, La Vista Middle School principal; and Troy Juracek, Liberty Middle School principal.


Aug. 14 for pre-K, kindergarten, seventh- and ninth-graders

Aug. 15 for all other students

» Ralston High School will launch two career development programs: the Automotive Academy, where students can take two years of hands-on auto-tech classes, and the Medical Sciences Academy, giving students experience at Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy and senior centers in the area. The school has offered classes in both areas before, but the academies expand electives into two-year programs.

» Freshman students will have “specialized homerooms,” grouping students based on career interests. Placement is based on a survey given at the end of eighth grade. Homeroom teachers can invite speakers and plan career exploration lessons. The grouping will extend to older students in the future.

Springfield Platteview

Aug. 15 for grades K-12

Aug. 21 for preschool

» Westmont Elementary and Platteview High School’s parking lots were replaced this summer. Platteview’s activity and student parking lots should be finished within a few days of the start of the new school year.

» Students at Westmont Elementary will return to a new playground.

» Platteview High School’s 35-year-old track and field are being replaced and should be completed by September.

» Computer science classes will once again be made available to high school students.

» The high school’s art room has been fully renovated, with new cabinets and sinks and additional storage space.

» The district suffered about $700,000 in damage after this summer’s storms. By the time classes start, roof, ceiling and carpet damage at the high school should be fixed. Over the summer, repairs were being made to the high school’s ruined front gym floor.


Aug. 15

» Tyler Hottovy is the new principal at Westbrook Elementary.

» This year will be the last for Swanson Elementary. The school will be torn down over winter break to start construction of a new building. In January, those students will move to Westside’s Community Center.

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