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Seniors Gabby Banaag, left, and Maddy Swanstrom chat May 21 at V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha with sophomore Tyson Gordon and junior Connor O’Doherty.

A quarter century of faith-driven education

Twenty-five years ago, several people took a chance on a new Catholic high school in west Omaha.

When V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School opened in the fall of 1993, it had no traditions, no state titles, barely any sports fields or parking lot. But it had a strong leader – Msgr. James Gilg, former president and later superintendent of Catholic schools who is now retired – as well as a dedicated administrative team, a dozen teachers and 125 students.

Today, Skutt Catholic’s student body continues to grow – with 770 students enrolled – and so do their successes. Recognized by the federal government as a Blue Ribbon School, the high school has increased its number of national merit scholar finalists, Advanced Placement classes, and high ACT scores. It has won 60 state sports titles and nine All-Class titles. And there are activities for all students to help them grow spiritually and personally.

"Skutt is small enough to make a difference, but big enough to make an impact," said Jeremy Moore, who has been at the school for 14 years as a teacher, coach, athletic director and now president. "We have a staff and administrative team who are really committed to excellence while focusing on the students."

This school year, the Skutt Catholic community is marking its silver anniversary with celebrations that highlight the triumphs, remember the past and honor those who have made the school what it is today. For example, the school sponsored a luncheon for faculty and staff last month, it will hold a Memorial Mass for deceased members of the Skutt Catholic family at the end of October, and a Hall of Fame event will be held in the spring.

Over the last year, the school building has undergone more than $1 million worth of improvements, including a new roof, parking lot and renovation of the media center/library into a center for student collaboration with innovative technology.

But most important, Moore said, is the school’s effort to make sure that when students graduate, they are Christian leaders who empower others, seek justice and initiate change.

 

FEELS LIKE HOME

Max Korensky, a senior at Skutt Catholic who plans to study graphic design at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said he feels prepared academically and spiritually for college and beyond because of the education and experiences he has had in high school.

"Skutt is a home … a home for all students. They are accepting, and give so many opportunities to students," he said.

Keith Englekamp, a science teacher honored by the archdiocese Sept. 21 as a high school educator of the year, also coaches softball – and he is one of the original 12 teachers still educating students at Skutt Catholic. Englekamp said he wants to continue the tradition of helping students become the best people they can be, to put others ahead of themselves and to make the world a better place.

None of Skutt Catholic’s successes would have been possible without the dedication of parents, who believe in the importance of a Catholic education and help out whenever necessary, said Engelkamp, who also was the honorary guest at Skutt Catholic’s annual Angel Flight fundraising dinner and auction, held Sept. 23 at the school.

More than 730 alumni, faculty, staff and supporters gathered for Angel Flight, celebrating the school’s 25th anniversary and raising more than $500,000.

Moore said the school’s plans for the next five years include making education at Skutt Catholic affordable for more families; continuing to provide challenging curriculum for students at all learning levels; improving athletic and other activities for students; and making physical improvements to the school building as needed.

"We have had some incredible things happen at Skutt Catholic over the last 25 years; but really it comes down to the support within the SkyHawk family," Moore said. "We wouldn’t be where we are today without each other."

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