Duchesne Academy to host educational technology conference

Duchesne Academy to host educational technology conference

Duchesne Academy will host Catholic high school educators from across the Omaha area for a first-of-its-kind educational technology conference on October 11, at 8:45 a.m. at Duchesne Academy.

This event will include speakers, discussion sessions, and vendors. Kelly Gomez Johnson will deliver the keynote address about equitable teaching and leadership practices in STEM education. Gomez Johnson is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Her work and leadership projects have attracted nearly $4 million in funding since 2016.

Presenters and attendees will dive into the topics and funding models that are unique to parochial schools.

“Timely professional development is hard to come by during the school year. By hosting this event on an in-service day, we are providing teachers new tools they can take back to their classrooms the very next day,” said Jason Schlesiger, Duchesne Academy Director of Technology.

The conference will also feature a presentation from Julie Sigmon, Director of the Omaha STEM Ecosystem, a citywide partnership to maximize STEM, learning initiatives encompassing the Greater Omaha area, including 12 school districts.

Other topics include how to create virtual field trips in a post-Covid world, cyber security, incorporating art into STEM curriculum, and establishing sustainability programs.

Duchesne Students Find Joy in Service and Faith

Duchesne Students Find Joy in Service and Faith

Seniors Sabrina Sulaymonova and Jackie Barnes each say they had to get creative when they were planning service projects at the start of the school year because many places stopped allowing outside visitors. The two and their classmates decided they would find ways to serve others wherever and however they could.

“Service this year has been a lot of seeing what we can do in our immediate community and really getting our school community involved,” Barnes said.

Barnes partnered with other students to form a UNICEF club. The group offered opportunities for other students to raise awareness about important issues and raise money locally to support UNICEF causes.

“In a lot of my classes we talk so much about the experiences of others and how our actions impact other people. I think that is it special that we are so focused on others while simultaneously discovering ourselves,” Barnes said.

Sulaymonova agrees that identifying their passions enables students to tap into a deeper source of motivation.

“Duchesne taught me to find my passion and ultimately put that toward my service. I learned that service is important because there are so many people in this world who are in need and it is our job as women of the Sacred Heart to assist those people when they are in need,” Sulaymonova said.

Sulaymonova worked with other students to send letters to Religious of the Sacred Heart sisters who were isolated in their homes during severe Covid waves in California.

“My theology classes especially have taught me that God’s love is very impactful and if we can show that to other people we can make a significant impact on people’s lives,” she said.

Duchesne seniors show their grit

Duchesne seniors show their grit

Seniors Ally Parra and Maggie Dowd have received the Heider Foundation Grit Scholarship to Creighton University.

This scholarship awards students who “have a high aptitude to succeed, but whose talents are not evident through the standard metrics used to qualify students for significant merit scholarships at Creighton University,” according to the university.

Q & A with Maggie Dowd (center in photo):

Q: How did you feel when you received this scholarship?

A: I was super excited to receive the Grit Scholarship. It was an honor to have been chosen.

Q: What do you hope to study in college?

A: I am planning to pursue a degree in education. My grade school teachers and my teachers at Duchesne have been an inspiration and certainly have shaped my educational goals.

Q: What do you hope to do after you are finished with college?

A: I would really like to work with people, especially kids, to inspire and hopefully fulfill their potential.

Q: How did your education at Duchesne prepare you for college?

A: Although I know college will be difficult, I feel Duchesne’s challenging curriculum has prepared me for Creighton University. Duchesne has helped me figure out how I learn and gave me the tools to succeed. I am thankful for all the teachers at Duchesne who have helped me throughout the years. I am especially appreciative of all of the help Mrs. Atherton has given me during my time at Duchesne. I would highly encourage any struggling students to reach out to her for guidance, she is amazing!

Duchesne senior Selected for U.S. Senate Youth Program

Duchesne senior Selected for U.S. Senate Youth Program

OMAHA — At a time when many high school students start to shift their focus away from high school to prepare for college, Clary Doyle has worked to make the most of her final year at Duchesne. She just made the honor roll, she participates in or leads numerous clubs, she’s also a member of the softball team and pitched a no-hitter this fall. Now, she is one of just two students selected to represent Nebraska at the prestigious U.S. Senate Youth Program. Oh, she’s also student body president.

A panel of education leaders selected Doyle for the Senate Youth Program after a lengthy application and interview process. They selected her based on her academic performance, leadership qualities, and interest in government.

“I feel very honored to have been selected to represent Nebraska in the USSYP. Having the opportunity to meet Senator Sasse, Senator Fischer, and a justice of the Supreme Court both astonishes and excites me beyond words,“ Doyle said.

Typically, students travel to Washington, D.C., to visit with members of congress however this year’s program will be totally virtual. Doyle and other students are scheduled to meet with the president, senators, a justice of the Supreme Court, high-ranking cabinet officials, and members of the national press. The award also includes a $10,000 college scholarship funded by the Hearst Foundation.

She hopes to pursue a legal career. Doyle says she and her classmates talk about what they’ll do to make the world a better place.

“It is my firm belief that Duchesne students change the world. I aspire to do this through the legal system and many of my peers constantly tell me of their ambitions to foster good in the world in other equally valuable areas,” Doyle said.

Dr. Laura Hickman, Duchesne Academy Principal, says Doyle works hard for her classmates, and students from all classes view her as a role model.

“Over her four years at Duchesne Clary has embraced and modeled our Sacred Heart goals. I’m confident she will use her leadership skills to make our community a better place,” Hickman said.

Seven Duchesne Seniors Named National Merit Finalists

Seven seniors from Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart have been named National Merit Finalists. This group represents nearly 10 percent of the senior class, one of the highest percentages of National Merit Finalists for a class in school history.

The students are Jackie Barnes, Bailey Bodner, Tess Bowler, Hannah Coldiron, Sophia Dervin, Madison Meduna, and Audrey Surdell.

These students have become great leaders as well as exceptional students said Duchesne Principal Dr. Laura Hickman. “I’m proud that they have received this honor and know that they are poised to do great things in college and beyond,” said Hickman.

Less than one percent of high school seniors in America were named National Semifinalists. To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and a high school official must provide information about the Semifinalist’s grades throughout high school, extracurricular and volunteer activities, and other qualifications. Semifinalists must also submit an essay.

“I am so impressed with the commitment of these students despite the challenges of the pandemic,” said Frances Swanson, Duchesne Academy College Counselor.

Two other students, Anna Kwong and Anna Preston were named National Merit Commended Scholars.

From left: Audrey Surdell, Sophia Dervin, Bailey Bodner, Jackie Barnes, Hannah Coldiron (via Zoom), Madison Meduna, Tess Bowler.


Duchesne Academy will return to full attendance

Duchesne Academy will return to full attendance

Duchesne community,

Today I come to you with news that I suspect will be very welcome by many of you and for others will cause great anxiety and concerns. I want you to know that we want to support all of our families and hope that you will talk to us about any concerns.

Over the last five weeks, we have been watching the rates of community spread in Douglas County, we have been monitoring the exposures and cases in our own school community, and we have been listening to our students about their needs. While the rates of spread in Douglas County remain stubbornly high, we have had zero positive cases in our own building. I credit this to our wonderful families and students. Thank you to everyone who has erred on the side of caution, who have monitored for symptoms and been tested, who have carefully made decisions about daily behavior that puts the needs of the community first. You have kept us open and safe. Please continue to help our school stay open and safe for all!

Balanced with the ongoing health of our community, we are also watching the mental health of our students and our teachers. This virus has isolated teens who fundamentally need social experiences to thrive. We are concerned with increasing signs of depression and anxiety among our students. These concerns are tipping our scale toward a need for in-person school.

As of today, September 18, we plan to open to full attendance for all students on Monday, September 28. For the time being, Wednesday will continue to be a remote day for cleaning and an important mental health break for students and teachers. The safety of our staff and students is paramount in this decision. In the 18 rooms where we cannot maintain 6 ft of distance with a full class, we are adding plexiglass desk dividers where this is possible. In rooms where this is not possible, we are making other arrangements which may include wearing a face shield over the mask to provide another layer of protection.

We love all of our students and want to find a solution that will work for your family. Please contact us if this change creates new concerns for you.

May God bless you and your families,

Dr. Laura Hickman

Duchesne Academy Principal