Two Omaha Catholic schools win national Blue Ribbon designation

Two Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Omaha – St. Wenceslaus in Omaha and Mount Michael Benedictine in Elkhorn – have been named Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education.

They were among six Nebraska schools given the honor this year and the only private schools among the six.

St. Wenceslaus and Mount Michael were given the award for “exemplary high performance,” meaning the schools were in the top 15 percent for student scores on  state or national standardized tests.

The leaders and staffs at Mount Michael and St. Wenceslaus are committed to their students, said Vickie Kauffold, the archdiocese’s assistant superintendent of Catholic schools. And the students’ achievements and high test scores indicate that, she said.

“It’s exciting to be recognized,” said William Huben, St. Wenceslaus principal. “We have a really wonderful staff who works hard for this.”

That staff includes 50 teachers with a combined 800 years of teaching experience, he said.

“It is a big staff,” he said, “but very dedicated and committed.” And they are blessed with support from the parish and school community, Huben said.

 This was the second time Mount Michael has been named a Blue Ribbon School, and at least the third time a school has been given the honor under the leadership of Dr. David Peters.

He was principal of St. Stephen the Martyr School in Omaha when it earned the designation in 2008.

But for Peters and Mount Michael, receiving the honor doesn’t get old.

“We’re very excited about it,”  he said.

He said the achievement rests on a “three-legged stool” that involves the efforts of students, teachers and parents. “You can’t get those test scores in isolation.”

Peters also credits a foundation of high expectations and college prep coursework set up long ago by the school’s Benedictine monks, whom he calls “the bedrock of Mount Michael.”

Catholic schools in the archdiocese have made the list for decades and have included St. Mary in O’Neill and in the Omaha area St. Cecilia, Creighton Preparatory School, Christ the King, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, Marian High School, St. Margaret Mary, St. Patrick in Elkhorn, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Robert Bellarmine and V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School.

Blue-Ribbon-winning schools must wait five years before they can apply again for the honor.

The Department of Education will honor all of its 2019 public and private school winners from across the country at an awards ceremony Nov. 14-15 in Washington, D.C.

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