Holy Name campaign to fund new construction, after-school programs
April 3, 2020
As the day’s classes conclude, a couple dozen students at Holy Name School in Omaha, plus a few from the nearby public school, chatter excitedly as they gather into groups, looking forward to their after-school activities.
As they begin to settle down with a snack, their cooperative learning sessions begin quietly with a prayer and a Bible verse. A faith-based lesson follows and then activities: arts and crafts or writing letters to people in nursing homes. Or students might use a program on a computer to improve their reading skills, or enjoy STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities.
Although such scenes have been put on hold by the temporary school closings due to the coronavirus, plans are underway for making the after-school learning opportunity available for up to 150 students in the northeast Omaha community.
Holy Name’s after-school program is staffed by tutors and interns from Hope Center for Kids, an Omaha organization serving at-risk youth. It extends learning for advanced students and accelerates learning for those who struggle, and gives them a safe place to spend their after-school time.
An initiative undertaken last year by the Holy Name Men’s Club, called the Restore the Glory Campaign, will help make this opportunity available to more students while expanding and upgrading Holy Name’s facilities.
The campaign aims to raise $5 million to perform an extensive renovation of the school’s deteriorating fieldhouse, including the addition of a kitchen, and build a new community center, a more secure school entrance and office areas. The new construction will connect the field house and the school, and also will make the entire three-story school building handicap-accessible with the addition of an elevator.
The after-school program began three years ago when Holy Name closed its own program and partnered with the Hope Center for Kids to begin a pilot program. Since then, participating students’ grades have gone up, their attitudes have improved and they’ve even invited public school friends to join them, said Paul Lamphier, executive director of the Hope Center.
John and Theresa Hospodka have been happy with the program, and so has their daughter, Addy, a first grader at Holy Name. “She loves her supervisor, and bonded with her,” Theresa Hospodka said. “She’s worked with Addy to be successful.”
The Hospodkas also appreciate the feedback they receive from staff, as well as how their daughter is learning about the faith through discussions and memorization of Bible verses.
Tanya Murray, Holy Name principal, appreciates how the program helps her students, while providing a safe and faith-based after-school option. For example, it helps students improve their reading skills with Lexia, a comprehensive technology-based literacy program.
Students spend time on Lexia during their reading rotations during the school day, Murray said, and receive an extra dose of Lexia after school. “We have seen students who participate in Hope make a great deal of progress in reading, compared to students who do not participate …, due to the extra time they are spending on Lexia daily.”
The Restore the Glory Campaign will not only help more students grow and excel academically, it will also benefit the school in other ways.
James Goodman, campaign president, explained that the renovation of the school’s fieldhouse will provide an improved space for basketball, soccer and volleyball games and practices.
“We’ve held a long tradition here of sports excellence,” Goodman said, naming alumnus Bob Gates, a University of Nebraska at Omaha baseball coach, as a prime example. The school’s fieldhouse is named after Gates, who coached football, basketball and baseball in the 1950s, leading his teams to six state championships.
In addition, the new 5,400-square-foot multi-use community center will give students space to explore subjects such as robotics, digital photography and videography, broadcasting, graphic design and website development.
The $5 million Restore the Glory fundraising effort had been under discussion for four years, but took off in earnest in June of 2019, said Colleen Petersen, Holy Name’s campaign coordinator. The fundraising portion will last three to five years, she said. To date, $1.8 million has been committed to the project.
Half of the project’s cost needs to be raised before ground is broken, but campaign organizers anticipate that goal will be met by the fall of 2021.
To make that a reality, donations are being requested from foundations and grantors, as well as everyone else, Petersen said. That includes alumni of the former Holy Name High School and community supporters with longtime connections to Holy Name schools, along with alumni from other schools who have competed with Holy Name in athletics.
“There’s lots of connections when a school’s been around for 100 years,” Petersen said.
The budget to complete the initial building phase is $3.37 million. Since Holy Name is a member of CUES, an educational cooperative also including the Omaha Catholic elementary schools Sacred Heart and All Saints, 10% of all funds raised by the campaign will be shared with the larger organization.
The second phase – implementation of additional after-school programming plus the establishment of a reserve fund for continuous maintenance – is set at $1.63 million.
Restore the Glory will not only transform the school but ensure the Holy Name/Hope Center partnership for years to come, Hope Center’s Lamphier said.
For the time being, the program is offered to a limited number of first- through sixth- graders. However, with the solid partnership with Holy Name School, “we will expand as we grow there,” he said.
Lampier said expansion will allow the Hope Center to more readily achieve its long-term goals in helping even more students grow and succeed.
“We want the students to graduate from high school, keep their grades up, make plans after graduation and learn employable skills,” he said. And “we want to show the students that God loves them and wants to see them excel.”