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Northwest Band Director Receives State Honors

Northwest Band Director teaches class

Northwest High School Band Director Josh Pace instructs his class after returning to in-person learning.

In just three years at Northwest High School, band director Josh Pace has made a lasting impact on students and the program. This spring, the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association (NSBA) recognized Pace with the Jack R. Snider Young Band Director Award to celebrate his excellence.

“I’m really humbled by the whole thing,” Pace said. “I keep telling people this is a reflection of my wonderful students, my wonderful families and my wonderful administration. Without them, I would not be able to be recognized.”

In this year’s virtual award ceremony, NSBA award chair Steve Steager shared highlights from nomination letters by colleagues, supervisors and staff praising Pace’s talent, personality, work ethic and dedication to his students. 

“I just live for the spark in the students’ eyes when they understand something musically,” Pace said. “I can’t play the notes on their instruments, I can’t make them sound amazing. That’s their job, they just need somebody to tell them what they’re capable of. It’s been a joy to be a part of that.”

Northwest Principal Thomas Lee said Pace created a seamless transition when he took over the band program three years ago. His encouraging personality and innovative ideas have engaged and challenged his students.

“He’s one of the hardest-working band directors I have seen. He really has embraced Northwest,” Lee said. “Josh came in and it was like there was no gap. He built those relationships right off the ground. He had the kids out there on the front lawn with the marching band, he brought back flag corps. I can’t say enough about the wonderful work he has done, and he’s well-deserving of that award.”

Pace responded to the challenges of teaching both remotely and in person with creativity, whether it was finding ways to set up the classroom for blended learning or ensuring his students’ hard work did not go unnoticed.

“He did not allow COVID to stop him from getting his kids out there and being visible and being involved,” Lee said. “He has gone above and beyond to make ways for our kids to be successful and to be recognized and be engaged.”

This year, Pace has collaborated with his students to record and mix an album using GarageBand. To wrap up the school year, he has planned a virtual concert with livestreamed performances and an opportunity to share recordings from the album.

“This year has been a struggle, but my students see it as a challenge, and I see it as a challenge,” he said. “We’ve done so many unique things I don’t think we would’ve done otherwise.”

See more about Northwest High School's album recording. Video by students Hannah Dalton and Kierstin Copenharve.

 


More from Omaha Public Schools Music Education:


 

Board Approves High School Student Assignment Plan Update

Following a review of the proposed High School Student Assignment Plan by district staff at the March 16 Board Meeting, the Board of Education approved the recommended updates.

Over the past 16 months, the Student Assignment Plan Committee has been working towards a simple, efficient and equitable plan for all Omaha Public Schools students. The Student Assignment Plan will determine their transportation eligibility and priority in the high school choice process. The committee developed several options and gathered feedback from internal and external groups including students, parents and staff. The feedback from those groups helped to determine the proposal.

Choosing a high school that meets a student's individual needs is an important opportunity in Omaha Public Schools. We know that students and families make their high school choice based on a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, programming and transportation. The proposed plan takes this into account. No matter where a student lives, they will have the option to apply to any high school in Omaha Public Schools. 

The plan will go into effect in Aug. 2022 as the new high schools open. The Student Assignment Plan Committee has already begun and will continue to communicate with families who may be impacted by changes to the High School Student Assignment Plan.

If you would like to learn more about the high school Student Assignment Plan, click here.

To view the presentation, click here.

ACT, NSCAS for Juniors Scheduled for April 6

On Tuesday, April 6, all Omaha Public Schools juniors at the high school level will participate in required state testing. Juniors will take the ACT or the NSCAS Alternate Assessment depending on their program. Attendance is critical, and it is important that juniors arrive at school on time at 7:40 a.m. Buses will run as normal for all high schools, and students will have the opportunity to stay for lunch and regular dismissal at 3:05 p.m. Building principals will provide information regarding post-test activities and release information.

Due to testing parameters, there will be no school for students in grades 9, 10 and 12 on Tuesday, April 6. 

As we continue to place the health and safety of all students and staff at the forefront, please know that our schools will maintain COVID-19 safety measures on test day to ensure your student’s safety to the greatest extent possible. Facial coverings will be required as well.  Please do not send your student to test on April 6 if they are not feeling well or have been potentially exposed to anyone who may be or is known to be positive for COVID-19. Those currently in the Remote Learning Program have received information about on-site testing as well.

If you have specific questions about this opportunity, please reach out to your student’s school.

Omaha Virtual School Open House & Applications

What's New for 2021-22!!

Omaha Virtual School is excited for the 2021-22 school year, where we will welcome back all learners to our blended learning environment. All students will meet once per week to engage in learning experiences that they can't do at home. This means, students will engage in collaboration, problem-solving, and inquiry, not to mention experiments, projects, and hands-on learning. We will also provide meaningful support for our parents/learning coaches so they feel comfortable teaching their students at home. Our parent/learning coach trainings will include ways to implement reading and math strategies at home, planning and organizing your student's schedule, how to use the tech tools to support learning, and more! 


Applications

Opening soon

Note: The April 13 edition of the Inside OPS Newsletter stated that applications would close on April 16. The application process has been delayed. The new application deadline will be communicated when applications open.


Learn More About OVS

Visit the website

Omaha Virtual School Virtual Open House

Panel Discussion Q&A session with staff, students and families

 


Hear From OVS Families

Elementary School

Middle School

High School


Frequently Asked Questions About Omaha Virtual School

General

What is Omaha Virtual School?
The Omaha Virtual School (OVS) began in the 2016-17 school year as the first K-8th grade virtual school in the State of Nebraska. OVS is a program within Omaha Public Schools that currently serves K-12th grade students. Since OVS is a unique learning environment, we have gathered some frequently asked questions that are intended to help interested families understand the program and help determine if OVS is a good fit for their family and their learner.  

How is OVS different from fully remote learning?

  • OVS is a blended program that requires weekly face-to-face sessions at the learning center in the TAC building at 3215 Cuming Street. 
  • Most of the learner's week is spent at home working through the curriculum with the support of their learning coach (parent/guardian). There are limited live online classes. Teacher support is limited to scheduled support times. 
  • OVS is a program with high expectations and a rigorous curriculum.
  • OVS requires strong adult support at home. 
  • K-5 students may need someone to help them for up to 6 hours per day while at home.
  • OVS does not offer transportation, breakfast/lunch, sports or music and has a limited course catalog. There is limited access to counselors and OVS does not have a social worker on staff. 

What is blended learning?
In a blended learning model, students complete online coursework at home with the guidance of their parent/guardian or other individual close to the student who serves as their learning coach. To enhance online learning and focus on skills, students participate in an engaging, face-to-face class at least once per week. These activities include labs, guest speakers, cooperative learning opportunities and much more!

Is there a cost to attend?
OVS is a free program within Omaha Public Schools. We provide a device and all the materials students need to be successful in the program. 
 
Does my student need their own device?
No. OVS supplies each student with a device to complete their work at home. Typical home office supplies, such as printing paper, are not supplied.
 
What curriculum does OVS use?
K12.com provides content, curriculum and the learning management system for OVS. 

Where do face-to-face sessions take place?
OVS sessions are located on the 4th floor of Omaha Public Schools Teacher Administrator Center (TAC) at 3215 Cuming Street in Omaha.
 
How long are face-to-face sessions?
K-8 students attend one half-day per week and high school students attend a full day each week. Due to limited space, middle school and high school students do not attend sessions on the same day.  

Are the face-to-face sessions required?
Yes, these are a necessary component to this learning environment. Research shows that the in-person element of blended learning increases student success.

How many students are in each classroom during face-to-face sessions?
K-5th grade class sizes will be from 10-12 students. 6th-8th grade class sizes will be from 15-18 students, and 9th-12th grade class sizes will be from 18-20 students. These class sizes allow for us to manage students in small groups and maximize the space that we have available to us in the TAC building.
  
How is my student’s learning progress monitored?
The parent representative/learning coach helps facilitate and monitor the student's daily progress, based off the pacing guides that OVS teachers create and distribute. During online, live lessons and face-to-face class time, OVS teachers frequently measure students’ mastery of concepts to personalize learning. Our teachers also provide feedback and are available to answer questions for both the learning coach and the student. OVS provides a positive and caring support system. Student success relies on strong communication between the parent, teacher, and student.
 
Are students required to participate in state testing?
Students are required to take state assessments and come in an additional day on state testing weeks to complete the test in the learning center.
 
What if my student needs extra help?
OVS teachers have support times built into their week for any students that feel they could benefit from some additional time with their teacher. We also provide intervention for learners who qualify for additional supports in the areas of reading and math.
 
Can my student get meals if our family qualifies for free/reduced lunch?
K-8th grade students will not eat lunch at school. However, our high school students do. Families are encouraged to still apply each year to qualify for fee/reduced pricing for high school lunch and for community support programs and memberships. 

Eligibility

What determines a student's acceptance into OVS? 
In order to be successful in OVS, a student must meet the following criteria:

  • They are independently motivated to learn.
  • A parent/guardian or other adult close to the student is available daily to facilitate learning and keep the student on-track.
  • They are able to attend face-to-face sessions at least once per week at the learning center inside the TAC building at 3215 Cuming Street in Omaha.
  • They have access to consistent transportation to face-to-face sessions. OVS does not offer any transportation or vouchers for transportation.
  • Consistent internet service is available inside the home.
  • They are credit sufficient/on track for graduation (high school)

Other considerations include attendance at previous school, chronic behavior and attendance issues, credit sufficiency for high school students, and recommendations or input from current or previous schools.

High school students must meet the following credit requirements: 

Grade Credits Needed
First Semester Entry
Credits Needed
Second Semester Entry
9th 0 6
10th 13 19
11th 25 31
12th 37 43

 

Students who have not attended Omaha Public Schools may have transcripts that calculate differently. As a rule of thumb, students should be on-track to graduate on-time without doing credit recovery. If you have questions about whether your student would be credit-eligible, please contact us at virtualschool@ops.org.
 
Can high school students make up missing credits at OVS?
OVS does not offer credit recovery. High school students entering the program must be on track to graduate on schedule. If a student is not credit-sufficient for OVS, they may make up the credits needed through an accredited program and reapply the next semester.
 
Does OVS offer Pre-K?
No, OVS does not have a Pre-K class in the program.

Does OVS provide special education services?
Yes, OVS provides special education services.

Applications & Acceptance

When can I apply for OVS?
Applications will be available soon.
 
How do I apply for Omaha Virtual School?

You will find a link to the application on www.omahavirtualschool.org. You will need to be able to login to your Omaha Public Schools Infinite Campus Parent account to apply. Please contact your current school for account information.
 
How will you determine which students get accepted to OVS?

OVS will use a lottery system.
 
When will I know if my learner is accepted for the fall?

Families will be notified by April 30.

At Home

What is my role as parent/guardian in my student’s learning experience?
A parent/guardian or other individual close to the student serves as a learning coach. The learning coach is highly active and engaged in their student's education. They are expected to learn how to navigate the online learning system to monitor student progress and ensure the student is on-task and engaged in the course content. Learning coaches must be in regular communication with OVS to ensure a strong school-to-home partnership. Additionally, learning coaches are responsible for providing transportation to face-to-face learning sessions and any other required in-person meetings, such as required state testing.  
 
Do students spend all day in front of a device?
K-5 students receive K12 workbooks and other materials that are used to learn away from their devices. Completed material is turned into their teachers to be graded. Middle and high school students spend much more time working through the curriculum online. However, they do receive books and other materials that are used offline.

Extracurricular Activities

Can my student participate in activities, such as sports, music, etc.?
OVS does not have athletics or a music program. However, clubs are offered either online or in person, such as robotics, drones, Minecraft club, etc. Club offerings vary each year and typically begin in September/October. K-8th grade students can participate in athletics/activities at their neighborhood school. Parents are responsible for registering their student and transporting them to and from the school. High school students who want to participate in NSAA sports must take at least half of their classes at the school where they participate in athletics and the rest at OVS.  

How do students socialize in the program?
OVS offers various field trips and family socials throughout the year as well as collaborative opportunities during face-to-face sessions. Learners also have opportunities to participate in open art sessions or take part in extracurricular activities, such as the award-winning robotics program. Students also interact with each other and experts in our community and throughout the world using Microsoft Teams.

High School

Does OVS offer the same courses as traditional Omaha Public Schools buildings?
OVS curriculum is aligned with Omaha Public Schools to ensure your student gets a quality education that meets state standards. Curriculum is provided through K12 online school, and the catalog of classes for high school is limited. Click here to view the 2021-22 Course Catalog
 
What if OVS doesn't offer a course a student wants to take?
Students can take a course that OVS doesn't offer at their Omaha Public Schools home attendance school. It is up to the student to contact their home attendance area school and register for that class. The OVS counselor needs to be aware of courses taken at home attendance schools. Some OVS students are also enrolled in other programs, such as the Career Center.
 
Do students get a diploma when they graduate from OVS?
Yes! OVS is accredited and all graduates receive a diploma from their Omaha Public Schools home attendance area school. If the student lives outside of our district, the diploma comes from Omaha North.