Skutt Catholic earns national award for academic excellence

For the second time in its nearly 30-year history, V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha is a National Blue Ribbon School. The school also won the honor in 2012.

This year’s award, given by the U.S. Department of Education, recognizes 297 elementary and high schools across the country for their academic excellence, including overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Skutt Catholic is one of only five Nebraska schools and the state’s only Catholic school receiving the honor.

“We’re extremely proud of our Skyhawk community for everything they’ve done and the hard work they’ve done to get us to this point,” said Jeremy Moore, the school’s president. “It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of our families and our staff here at Skutt Catholic.”

Moore noted the commitment and efforts of school staff to live out the school’s mission of forming and educating young men and women to become Christian leaders, and their willingness to go outside of traditional teaching to create learning environments that keep students engaged.

In addition to student test scores, Skutt Catholic’s award application highlighted the school’s behavioral health program, a homeroom program that fosters students’ sense of belonging, “Lunch and Learn” programs for staff development, “all those things that you do to continually improve your school environment,” he said.

In a news release announcing the awards, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said: “I applaud all the honorees for the 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award for creating vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school communities where students can learn, grow, reach their potential, and achieve their dreams.

“As our country continues to recover from the pandemic, we know that our future will only be as strong as the education we provide to all of our children. Blue Ribbon Schools have gone above and beyond to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. These schools show what is possible to make an enduring, positive difference in students’ lives.”

Moore said he believes Skutt’s response to the pandemic played a part in helping the school earn the award.

“We were the only school in Omaha to stay in school every single day,” he said. “We were only out of school when the state mandated closure that spring, when we shut down.”

“There were so many things that we tried to do to keep kids in school,” Moore said. “We know from research that the best environment for our kids is being in school.”

Skutt Catholic is one of only six Nebraska high schools that have earned the Blue Ribbon award twice since the award’s inception in 1982. Others include Boys Town High School, Creighton Preparatory School, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart and Marian High School, all in Omaha, and Mount Michael Benedictine School in Elkhorn.

Schools are eligible to apply for the award every five years.

Skutt Principal Rob Meyers and another member of the school staff will receive the award in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in November.

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