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.


Longtime Duchesne educator JoEllen Sumpter, RSCJ, has died

Longtime Duchesne educator JoEllen Sumpter, RSCJ, has died

OMAHA, Neb. — JoEllen Sumpter, RSCJ, A’58/C’62, has died. She passed away peacefully on November 16, at the retirement home for the Religious of the Sacred Heart in Atherton, California.

“We are heartbroken but comforted in knowing that she was surrounded by her fellow RSCJ, including Sister Lucy Hayes, when she died,” said Meg Brudney, head of school.

Sumpter was born in Omaha in 1940. She first came to Duchesne as a seventh-grade student and went on to graduate from the Academy and the College. It was during those formative years that she first heard the call to enter the religious life. After joining the Society of the Sacred Heart, Sister Sumpter returned to Duchesne and taught here from 1966-1968. Sumpter returned to Omaha and Duchesne in the early 90s and served in a variety of roles until her retirement in 2016.

“We still feel her presence in these hallways and speak of her with great love,” Brudney added.

Duchesne Academy invites Sister Sumpter’s former students, colleagues, and friends to pray the rosary for her at the school’s chapel on Wednesday, December 1, at 6:30 p.m.

Her official obituary from the Society of the Sacred Heart is below:

Lucy Hayes, RSCJ, and JoEllen Sumpter, RSCJ, pose for a photo on the step of their home in the Cathedral neighborhood in Omaha in 2016.

Lucy Hayes and JoEllen Sumpter pose for a photo on the front porch of the home they shared while they worked at Duchesne Academy. They retired in 2016 and moved to the retirement home for the Religious of the Sacred Heart in Atherton, CA.

Religious of the Sacred Heart, Josephine (JoEllen) Sumpter, died November 16, 2021, in Atherton, California. She was eighty-one years old and a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart for fifty-eight years. JoEllen was born on September 13, 1940, in Omaha, Nebraska, the only child of Charles Edward Sumpter and Helen Graffius Sumpter. Prior to entering the Society of the Sacred Heart, JoEllen worked as a lab technician and was head of the pathology department at St. Joseph Hospital in Omaha. She also was the owner, operator, and teacher for five years at JC Dance Studio. JoEllen graduated from Duchesne College in 1962 where she earned a B.A. in Biology. Following graduation from Duchesne, she entered the Society of the Sacred Heart on September 8, 1963, at Kenwood for the first part of her novitiate, with the second part at the international novitiate in Frascati, Italy, where she made her first vows in 1966.

After first vows, Sister Sumpter taught at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Omaha, Nebraska. From 1968-1971, she taught biology at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart, and in 1971 became the assistant principal there. During this time, she earned an M.A. in Biology from Creighton University, graduating in 1971. After her time at Woodlands, she left for probation in Rome. She returned to Omaha after probation in 1972 and decided to make her final profession on February 4, 1972, at Woodlands Academy where she could share the experience with the province, her parents, and friends on the North Shore.
Sister Sumpter spent the next nineteen years at Woodlands, serving in a number of capacities, as the assistant to the curriculum director, boarding staff and teacher, chair of the fine arts department, and director of the boarding school. She also earned an M.A. in Dance Education at Northwestern University in 1975.

After a one-year sabbatical in 1992, Sister Sumpter was assigned to Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Omaha and served as director of services and fine arts for three years, registrar for ten years, and school secretary and registrar until 2007. From 2007 to 2016, she was assistant dean of students and then assistant to the administrative team at Duchesne.
Sister Sumpter also served the province as the Area Director in Omaha for a number of years. Some of the gifts and qualities her Sisters attributed to her were her ability to listen well without judgment, organizational skills, good insights, creativity, and her spirit of fun.
Sister Sumpter served most of her life in Omaha and loved the Society’s ministry there. In 2016, she retired to Oakwood, the retirement community for the Religious of the Sacred Heart.

On November 16, 2021, Sister Sumpter, peacefully went to God. Her friend, Lucy Hayes, was by her side, along with Sisters Sally Rude and Sis Flynn.

A funeral mass for Sister Sumpter will be held on Saturday, December 18, 2021, at 10:00 am in the Oakwood Chapel, 140 Valparaiso Avenue, Atherton, California 94027.

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 senior wins national championships in competitive horse riding

OMAHA – A Duchesne Academy student is returning to school with a new title: National Champion. Caleigh Copenhaver, A’22, competed in six riding disciplines at the 2021 Arabian Youth Nationals in Oklahoma City – the top competition for youth in the sport. She won sidesaddle and western pleasure had six top-ten finishes in other events and qualified in another. This was the second year in a row she has won a national title in a horse-riding event.

Copenhaver’s road to Oklahoma City started in December. She spent hours in the saddle working with her horses and then more time caring for the animals all while balancing her schoolwork.

A Duchesne Academy student is returning to school with a new title: National Champion. Caleigh Copenhaver, A’22, competed in six riding disciplines at the 2021 Arabian Youth Nationals in Oklahoma City in July “The feeling of your number getting called for a championship is a unique feeling and there isn’t anything else I can compare it to,” Copenhaver said.

“It takes good mental stability and confidence to be able to show at a national level. It takes a lot of work to learn some of these horses and how to ride them,” Caleigh’s mother, Jenn Copenhaver said.

Her riding career began when she was 10 years old when she started competing in local competitions. When Copenhaver was 12 she added regional competitions to her schedule, and two years later was traveling the nation to compete. Copenhaver displayed her skills, experience, and endurance during this summer’s 15-day national competition in July.

“Show days are long and lots of hard work. Practice rides, show rides, getting the horses ready, doing stalls, keeping the horses healthy and sound, it takes a lot of time and effort,” her mother said.

To look her best, Copenhaver created competition outfits that included ornate tops and riding pants she wore a pristine white hat and her Sacred Heart ring.

“I wear my ring everywhere and never take it off. I am also grateful that Duchesne allows me to go to practice and compete as long as I keep up with my schoolwork. Duchesne has been supportive of this sport and I very much appreciate it,” Copenhaver said.

This was the end of Caleigh’s riding season but not the end of her career. She plans to continue competing as a youth until she turns 19 when she will transition to adult competitions.

Congratulations, Caleigh!