Lincoln Public School focus programs ready students for the future

LPS students get hands-on experience in areas like culinary arts and health sciences, thanks to focus programs.
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 9:34 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -For years, Lincoln Public School students have been able to learn more about their passion outside of a typical classroom. Thanks to focus programs, students get hands-on experience in areas like aviation, culinary arts, health sciences, and even more options are becoming available.

Just this year, LPS made two additions. One for students interested in things like media and technology, which is called Bay High, and a Bryan Health Sciences program at Lincoln Northwest.

Students involved said this type of learning has been rewarding. Nearly 25 years ago Lincoln Public Schools implemented their first focus programs. Just this week, students in one of the district’s newest earned their certified nursing assistant license and learned life-saving support skills like CPR.

“I would like to become a doctor someday,” said Jack Duval, a student in the Bryan Health Sciences Focus Program. “And so these basic classes like medical terminology, and learning the bedside manner from the CNA course, will help me become a better doctor.”

The Bryan Health Focus Program is a two-year commitment for upperclassmen at Lincoln Northwest High School. It’s taught by LPS teachers and Bryan Health professionals in a hands-on environment, allowing students to earn college credits along the way.

“Learning all these new things about the medical field,” said Ava Harms, a student in the Bryan Health Sciences Focus Program. “You just work at your own pace.”

With a nursing shortage nationwide and here in Nebraska, this could be a catalyst to much-needed careers.

“We want to show students that being a healthcare provider has many rewards, but staying in your hometown is even more rewarding,” said Jason States, director of high school outreach programs for Bryan Health. “So we want them to stay in Lincoln.”

LPS said its focus programs have grown over the years. These days, there are more than 1,400 students enrolled across all 26 of them district-wide, and they’re reaping the many rewards.

“There’s always three things that cut across all of our focus programs, higher GPA for students that are in focused programs, higher ACT scores, and higher graduation rate,” said James Blake, director of strategic initiatives and focus programs. “So we know that we’re having a lot of success with the program.”

Standing Bear High School, which will open next fall, recently announced they’ll have a focus program in partnership with the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s College of Business. LPS is hosting an open house on Jan. 5 for students interested in any of the programs.