The Advocate

LHS Named “School of Opportunity”

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By Maicee Ingwerson – Feature

Lincoln High recently earned a title shared with only 6 other schools in the nation.

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) out of theUniversity of Colorado-Boulder recognized Lincoln High as a School of Opportunity Gold Recognition Recipient. Lincoln High earned this award for having something that runs far beyond test scores, and speaks to the culture we have here at Lincoln High according to LHS Principal Mark Larson.

“It’s huge,” Larson said. “I think that anytime we, as a school, can get positive publicity, and especially like this, to let people know who we are and what we’re about, I think is awesome.”

Six schools, of those that applied, across the nation were selected for standing out for meeting at least five of the criteria to become an NEPC recognized school, and exemplifying at least three.

Ultimately, these criteria are made to highlight the great things that public schools are doing other than test scores.

“To honor and to recognize the good work that public schools did that maybe fell just beyond the numbers,” Larson said.

There are a total of ten criteria that are provided by the NEPC. In order to be recognized, a school must reach at least five of these criteria. And of the ten, there are two that must be included in the five that the school meets. The first is, “to broaden and enrich learning opportunities,” and second is to “create and maintain a healthy school culture.” The other three criteria can be met in eight different ways. These options include having support for teachers, providing for the additional needs of students, arranging additional and quality learning time for students, creating growth from strengths with minority language speakers, being able to access student learning with many different angles, providing for special needs students, a curriculum with a purpose that serves that purpose, and maintaining a meaningful relationship between the school and the parents and community.

This award was not actually something that Larson had planned on applying for, or even knew about before Professor Ted Hamann’s graduate students in the education program at UNL stepped in.

These students were in search of a project. So, rather than the typical paper or report, they visited Lincoln High, and essentially filled out the application for us.

“So it was a mutually beneficial thing, these were people who are studying education and wanted to learn what a real American high school was like and what it was about,” Lar- son said, “We took time and gave them a tour, we had them interview students and teachers, and then the payoff was that they pretty much wrote the application for us as a part of their project. So it turned out really, really well.”

Even though this award was relatively new knowledge to Larson when the application process began, he felt that Lincoln High was on a very good track to being chosen when he compared the criteria to what goes on at our school.

The application was only the first part of this process, and for each of the semi-finalists was followed up with an evaluation. Two people from the panel at NEPC came to the school for a visit.

“They visited classrooms, they interviewed students, they interviewed teachers, they looked at data, and just walked around the building and we gave them a tour of things, and they asked for some additional documentation,” Larson said, “So that day was probably the most stressful of the whole thing.”

But in the end, that stress paid off. Larson attributes this award to the students and the large role that they play in creating the accepting community that exists here at Lincoln High. However, he does not want this thing that we have to be a one year thing. To him, this is something that Lincoln High is continuing to match year after year.

And, winning an award like this is not only something that has the potential to make you feel good, but also let’s those around you know that you’re doing well.

Overall, Larson is very proud of this award. He claims it to represent what we’re about here at Lincoln High, and finds it affirming of what we have here.

“I’m just extremely proud, and humbled that this is, be- cause this is a really big deal, one of only 8 schools in the country to be recognized for something like this is a really, re- ally big deal, and it speaks to the culture that is in place here,” Larson said.

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