Schools celebrate Nebraska’s 150-year anniversary
St. Cecilia School in Omaha has played a special role – twice – in celebrating Nebraska’s 150th anniversary as a state.
The school’s involvement began with an invitation to produce artwork as part of the Cathedral Arts Project’s Flower Festival Jan. 27-29. The festival at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha saluted Nebraska’s sesquicentennial. And the students’ effort blossomed into a display at the Statehood Day and Statehood Dinner celebrations March 1 at the state Capitol in Lincoln.
"They were pretty excited," art teacher Christine Koehn said when asked about the students’ reaction to the state Capitol invitation, which came from Gov. Pete Ricketts’ wife, Susanne Shore. "It was a big honor."
Christian Brother William Woeger asked Koehn about having students contribute to the 32nd annual flower festival, which highlighted features of Nebraska such as the Oregon Trail landmark Chimney Rock and Boys Town founder Father Edward J. Flanagan.
Meeting that request, students in kindergarten through eighth grade used paint, clay, colored pencil and other materials to create about 300 pieces of art depicting the state’s official flower, insect, tree, fish, mammal and other key symbols.
Teachers also tied history, science and other lessons into the artwork, such as studying the state insect and fish – the honeybee and channel catfish.
"I think they really gathered a deeper understanding of Nebraska history, and saw other connections in the art," Koehn said.
Titled "Nebraska Through the Eyes of Children," the artwork was displayed in the Sunderland Gallery. Shore saw the exhibit at the Jan. 27 patron party and asked if part of it might be moved to the state Capitol, Koehn said.
Choosing artwork from fourth- through eighth-graders, Koehn put together six large boards displaying the art and they were transported to the Capitol.
"She (Shore) was terrific to work with," Koehn said.
Games, singing ‘Happy Birthday’
Students and teachers in schools across the archdiocese celebrated the day Nebraska was accepted into the union – March 1, 1867.
And those celebrations – many of them centered on that important date – ranged from elaborate games and more involved parties to simply singing "Happy Birthday."
Seventh- and eighth-graders from Cedar Catholic Junior/Senior High School, for example, played "who’s who in Nebraska" and other games with students at Holy Trinity School, both in Hartington. And students at West Catholic School in Fordyce took a moment to sing "Happy Birthday" in their classrooms.
In Omaha, a balloon release was a highlight at St. Philip Neri; students and staff at St. Vincent de Paul had a special lunch, and students at St. Margaret Mary dressed casually and enjoyed recently hatched chicks as part of a science project.
Kindergartners Harper Bell, left, Ben Shull, Winston Matthews and CeCe Jetter, dressed casually at St. Margaret Mary School in Omaha to celebrate Nebraska’s 150th birthday, enjoy newly hatched chicks as part of a science project.
Students at St. Philip Neri School in Omaha release balloons honoring Nebraska’s admission into the union March 1.