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.
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.
“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.
Ana Zulkoski says she knew Duchesne was different the moment she walked into the building as an eighth-grade student.
“Everyone was so welcoming and I could see myself walking through the halls. I liked how the teachers taught and that they were open and honest with all the students,” Zulkoski said.
Four years later, she says her classmates and teachers have helped her learn about the world and herself in a supportive environment. Given the difficulties presented by Covid, school administrators challenged Zulkoski and her classmates in A’21 with guiding younger students and ensuring they continue to build a supportive community.
“Duchesne is a place where there is a lot of love and a lot of community and connections,” Zulkoski said.
Their efforts have paid off. Younger students say they feel empowered to be themselves when they come to school.
“I love Duchesne because the community is really close-knit and everyone is always looking out for one another,” said Ina Satpathy, A’23.
The strong sense of community bonds students to each other and to Duchesne’s alumnae.
“If you haven’t been back to Duchesne in a while, I think returning would feel the same as it did when you walked through those doors as a student,” said Sophia Harding, A’23.
“Even though students are making new memories today the Sacred Heart foundation and family that you know and love is still here,” she said.
As they build community, students share their joy, creating an environment where every student can learn and grow into the woman she is called to be.
Omaha, Neb. — Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02) today announced the winning artists from Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District for the 2021 Congressional Art Competition. Bacon served as national co-chair for this year’s competition.
Judging was conducted by the Nebraska Art Teachers Association. The guest speakers for the event were Dr. Deborah Bowers Kippley, Chief Creative Officer and Co-founder of the Papillion La Vista Arts Network, and Jeremy Caniglia, an art teacher at Omaha Creighton Prep High School whose work has been displayed at the Joslyn Art Museum and Iowa State University, as well as in the Washington Post and on CNN.
Trisha Rajaram’s, A’23, work titled, Peeping, received third place and will be displayed in Bacon’s Omaha office.
“Our competition featured a variety of styles and I am thrilled we are able to showcase the work of these students,” said Rep. Bacon. “Congratulations to this year’s winners. I appreciate their participation and I thank them for sharing their artwork with the community.”
Watch for Rajaram’s work around Omaha. The top three pieces of artwork will be featured on Lamar billboards at various places in Omaha for the month of May. Locations include I-80 and 84th Street and the southwest corner of 44th and Dodge; locations will be on a rotating basis.
OMAHA – There are many barriers female athletes face when it comes to competing on an even playing field, but one that many people overlook is access to basic sporting apparel. That is why Duchesne Academy soccer players worked together to collect new sports bras for The Sports Bra Project.
The Sports Bra Project provides new sports bras to girls & women in areas where the lack of access to this basic piece of equipment can prevent participation in sports. The SBP works with a number of different local groups to distribute the bras to girls who need them. The varsity and junior varsity teams collected and donated 54 sports bras to Football for the World Foundation, a local nonprofit that donates soccer equipment to children locally and globally.
“I think a lot of people overlook the fact that undergarments, such as sports bras, really do play a vital role in our daily lives and we can take them for granted. It was really cool to see our teams come together to provide for others who share our same passion for sports,” said Cora Zeger, A’22.
Junior Varsity Head Coach Emily Michaels brought the idea to Duchesne and led the effort.
“I thought it was a unique opportunity for us as an all-girls school to lead a drive for the SBP. As females, we do face more barriers and challenges when it comes to equal opportunities. Having a group of powerful, strong female athletes rally behind this cause is great,” Michaels said.
Varsity Head Coach Lauren Mueller said a major part of Duchesne’s program is service and building community. She and Michaels said they are proud of their players for embracing this project.
“They absolutely see the value in community service and involvement. It is also humbling for us to realize and reflect on the fact that that we do not have the barriers to playing the sport that we love that many other girls and women do,” Mueller said.
The results of this drive have inspired the teams to find more ways to help fellow athletes.
“Although we will never know the exact people that our donations will reach, it is really encouraging to know that other female athletes will get to experience the joy that being a part of a team brings all of us and empowers me to do more,” said Madison Smith, A’21.
Just as students had settled into their seats in Duchesne’s chapel guest speaker Dr. Viv Ewing, PhD, surprised them by asking them to stand up, put their chin up, and face forward. This was the way to greet the world: with their heads held high and standing up for what they believe in.
The activity brought the students to attention and set the tone for an engaging and rewarding discussion about respecting yourself and others.
Dr. Ewing, who is the Vice President of Development at Children’s Square USA in Council Bluffs, asked students to identify three things they are good at and like about themselves.
“Once you believe those things for yourselves, you’ll show them in your actions and you’ll be able to be those good things for others,” she told the class.
In addition to her leadership role at Children’s Square USA, Dr. Ewing has worked as an executive leader or consultant with some of Omaha’s most well-known companies and non-profit organizations including Habitat for Humanity Omaha and Alzheimer’s Association Midlands Chapter.
The speech was part of special programs at Duchesne Tuesday. Freshmen listened to Dr. Ewing, Sophomores participated in a college discussion with Creighton University, Juniors took the ACT, and Seniors completed a group service project.
Ewing encouraged freshmen to reject a culture of exclusivity and bullying and instead work to identify everyone’s best qualities and celebrate them.
“I encourage you to be part of the solution,” she said.
Dr. Ewing’s words reinforced messages Duchesne’s counselors give to students daily.
“I love that Dr. Ewing started her speech encouraging students to be self-confident. When students feel confident in themselves, it radiates to others,” said Krissy Walsh, a Duchesne Guidance Counselor.
Some students can be susceptible to negative thoughts and feelings during this time of increased isolation and it is important to remind children they have unique gifts to give the world, said Walsh.
Parents can help develop their child’s confidence with simple questions or conversations.
“Students might not even know their leadership potential, so pointing out ways you see them taking responsibility and doing their best are great ways to encourage that confidence to bloom,” Walsh said. “If students are struggling to identify their strengths or don’t feel good about themselves, ask them what their friends/teachers/siblings like about them and how they can start to believe these things about themselves.”
A confident student has the ability to help others, Ewing told the students.
“Speak up for those who don’t have a voice,” she said.