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OPS Schools Celebrate Black History Month

February marks Black History Month, a time dedicated to celebrating and honoring the rich diversity of our community and the achievements and contributions of Black Americans. As more students return to in-person learning and some continue to learn from home, our schools are finding innovative ways to engage students in these celebrations.  

Marrs Middle School is joining several other Omaha Public Schools by restarting its team and sending a group of students to the 100 Black Men of Omaha's annual African American History Challenge. The goal of the competition is to foster an appreciation of African-American history and culture in Omaha youth. 

“The study of African American history provides students with an understanding of what happened in the past, what is happening now, and a path for improving the future,” explained Sheila McCauley, coach of the Marrs Middle School team. “With this knowledge, students are able to become better citizens and positively impact their generation.”  

The program is based on the book “100 Amazing Facts” written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and covers topics from the Middle Passage, the 13th, 14th, & 15th Amendments, Plessy vs. Ferguson, the Voting Act of 1965, Brown vs. the Board of Education, Omaha history and more. 

“In order to tell people about black history and be educated on black history you need to know the facts and the African American History Challenge is a good place to start,” shared Sierra Thomas, a member of the Marrs Middle School team.  

The Marrs Middle School team will compete in the junior competition. The winner of the competition gets to compete at the 100 Black Men of America’s National Conference, which will be held remotely this year for the safety of those in attendance.  

“You learn a lot about history” said McKenzie James, a student on the Marrs Middle School team. “It is important to learn about history around the world, and it is important to learn what people in history did and the accomplishments they achieved and how this affected the world today. “  

In 2019, Omaha Northwest High School's team of Lal Nuni, HToo Say, Tehya Wynne and coach Miss McCoy took first place in the National Senior Division. That same year, Beveridge Middle School earned first place honors in the National Junior Division. The team members included Kennedy Alati, Dee-Dee Djon, Briana Reza-Rivera and coaches Chad Carlson and Sheila McCauley.  

Our celebration of America's diverse history and culture continues throughout the year as an integral part of curriculum across the district. Our goal is for students to learn more about the impactful contributions of those who came before them, providing them a better appreciation of the whole story. 

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Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, citizenship status, veteran status, political affiliation or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to accept allegations regarding non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822). The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of Equity and Diversity (equityanddiversity@ops.org), 3215 Cuming St, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-0307).