Duchesne celebrates another successful broken lights drive

Duchesne celebrates another successful broken lights drive

It’s not typical for a big pile of broken, tangled Christmas lights to make anyone happy but Eric Krakowski couldn’t help but smile when he saw photos of a Duchesne Academy work truck filled with discarded broken lights. The school recently completed its fourth Christmas lights drive when it collects people’s damaged, broken, or otherwise unwanted strands of holiday lights and donates them to Scrap Central for recycling.

“This just started as a box outside of our building with a few strands but now it has grown and it is wonderful to see so many people participating,” said Krakowski, Duchesne’s assistant principal.

Scram Central donates the recycling proceeds from the effort to Lincoln Firefighters Operation Warm which provides coats to children in Lincoln. Over a five-week period, which began after Thanksgiving, Duchesne collected 550 pounds of lights, bringing its cumulative total to over 2400 pounds in 4 years, according to Krakowski.

“This project is perfect for Duchesne. It is part of our Sustainability Program, which is based in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, and is rooted in our Goal 4: a social awareness that impels to action,” said Krakowski, who is celebrating his 24th year as a Sacred Heart educator at Duchesne.


Duchesne presents a rare opportunity for classic car lovers

Duchesne presents a rare opportunity for classic car lovers

Classic car lovers in Omaha will have a rare chance to see a jaw-dropping, world-class muscle car collection in their own city. Duchesne Academy is partnering with Certified Transmission Owner and Founder Peter Fink to present Muscle Car Mania. The event will take place on December 2, 2021, at Fink’s private showroom.

The collection includes the world’s largest private collection of HEMIs, a stunning lineup of Plymouth Superbirds, and a 1970 Chevelle, known as the most powerful American car built from the factory, just to name a few!

Fink recently completed the new private museum to house his collection of nearly 140 vehicles. He previously kept a portion of his collection at a smaller building near 50th and Center Street. Most of the vehicles are American muscle cars from the 60s and 70s but there are some newer cars and trucks – all rare collector-quality. Fink says he loves to see people’s reactions as they walk into the building.

“People are blown away by what they’re seeing. There is nothing like this that I know of around here, in the midwest,” Fink said

Fink hires a person to attend to and clean each car weekly, even as they sit in the climate-controlled facility. The cars look more like jewels: gleaming from bumper to bumper arranged in neat rows. Fink started growing his collection about 20 years ago, but the most growth has taken place over the last ten years. He points out that there are “collections within the collection:” 26 HEMIs, a 429 Boss Mustang, multiple Corvettes, and a bright, beautiful lineup of Plymouth Superbirds.

“All these cars, regardless if it is a GM, Ford, or Chrysler, are all one-of-a-kind,” said Fink, an Omaha native who started Certified Transmission while he was in his 20s, said he is pleased to be able to help local non-profits.

“I want to share this collection for a good cause and I can’t think of anything better than opening it up to host a charity event,” he said.

“Duchesne is grateful to Mr. Fink for opening his private collection for this event. I had the chance to walk through the building and was awestruck. Even if you’re not a ‘car guy or car gal’ you could spend hours admiring the design and engineering of these machines,” said Eric Krakowski, Duchesne’s assistant principal.

The ticket into the event includes access to Fink’s private museum, the ability to freely tour the collection, gourmet food, and drinks. The event is open to anyone 21+. Proceeds benefit Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart.

Click here to register

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.

Goal 1 spotlight: Amy Becker, Dean of Students

Goal 1 spotlight: Amy Becker, Dean of Students

When I was young I attended public school, which meant going to CCD. (Now it is called Religious Ed.) It also meant that my parents had to be very intentional about raising my brothers and me Catholic.

One of the ways my mom did this was by talking to us about prayer and asking us to pray together, especially in times of trial.

I remember when a well line broke on the farm, my  mother gathered us to pray to Mary and ask her to help us find the break so we would have water for the livestock. The first prayer card I received from my mom was of St. Joseph. I remember having a discussion about his role as foster father and the power of praying to him specifically.

Over the years she and I have called, texted or shared in conversations and requests to have each  other join in praying to St. Joseph for someone or about a particular issue. 

When Pope Francis announced that 2021 was the year of St. Joseph, I was delighted! My mom sent me a whole book of prayers to St. Joseph. Tucked in the pages is the prayer she taught me, years ago, but there are so many other beautiful prayers there too!

I have spent 2021 contemplating the quiet, loyal foster father of our Savior. I love that prayers to St. Joseph are often labeled, ‘for impossible causes’ or ‘difficult situations.’ Guided by the Holy Spirit, St. Joseph faced a difficult situation with kindness and compassion and he was witness to the impossible made possible.


Duchesne family helps students celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Maria Cruz wanted share part of her culture with her daughter’s classmates. Mrs. Cruz, who is originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, prepared on Wednesday a special lunch for students of enchiladas, beans, and rice. Her daughter is Sophia Becerra, A’22.

Maria Cruz leads Duchesne Food Program staff in making enchiladas, rice, and beans, on Wednesday, September 22, 2021.

Maria Cruz leads Duchesne Food Program staff in making enchiladas, rice, and beans, on Wednesday, September 22, 2021.

The meal was part of Duchesne’s recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Cruz was excited to celebrate introduce some teens to a new culture through food.

“It represents what we do, what we like, our culture, our food, our traditions, our language,” she said.

Jacqui Caniglia, Duchesne Food Program Manager, was eager to welcome Mrs. Cruz to the kitchen.

“The best part of being down here is when we have our community come in to cook and serve with us,” Caniglia said.

Students were excited to try the authentic food and Mrs. Cruz was happy to serve students and teachers.

“I love Duchesne. I love how they work together, the students with the teachers, and overall they care about each other.”

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.