American Indian students experience Science, Arts & Humanities focus programs

A group of American Indian students from Lincoln Public Schools were recently able to spend a day of exploration at both the Arts & Humanities and Science focus programs, an experience that included discovering turtles and crawdads at Antelope Park Creek, dissecting frogs and tie-dying t-shirts.

The 10 middle school students from across LPS also heard multiple presentations about the two focus programs, both from teachers and administrators, and current students.

LPS Director of Strategic Initiatives and Focus Programs James Blake said younger students aren’t used to choosing alternate options when it comes to school. He hopes such an immersive experience opens their eyes to their options when they enter high school.

“Some people may have a misconception that these focus programs are ‘honors’ programs.  This is understandable because we have so many engaged and curious students,” Blake said. “However, we serve the spectrum of all types of learners. We are not judging them on perceived academic ability when they apply. Participating in this day hopefully prevents these possible barriers to application.”

The trip was organized by the LPS Federal Programs Department’s Indian Education staff and funded through the American Indian Youth Demonstration Grant.

“The grant has made it possible for our students to have unique experiences that broaden their views of what their futures can hold,” said LPS American Indian Youth Demonstration Grant Coordinator Barbara Buttes.

Blake added that these focus programs don’t currently reflect the demographic makeup of LPS students as a whole, including racial diversity. It’s an issue the focus programs - and the school district as a whole - is working to address.

“We hope efforts like this help increase the number and diversity of students applying to our programs,” he said.

Both focus programs are for students in grades nine through 12. Students spend part of their mornings at their home high school before attending their focus program for the rest of the day. Transportation is provided. Students can still take part in extracurricular activities, clubs and events at their home high school.

The Arts & Humanities and Science focus programs are two of a growing number of options for LPS students.

You can learn more about two other existing focus programs: The Career Academy and Bryan Community

Also, you can read about what’s on the horizon with LPS focus programs: 

Published: August 2, 2021, Updated: August 2, 2021