Groundbreaking event honors history behind new Standing Bear High School

Lincoln Public Schools on Thursday held the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Standing Bear High School scheduled to open in fall 2023 at the corner of 70th Street and Saltillo Road in the southeast corner of the city.

Elected officials, LPS administrators and community members were joined by members of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and several direct descendants of Chief Standing Bear, some of whom drove from as far as Columbus, Neb., to attend the historic event.

“To have someone like Chief Standing Bear from our tribe be picked is just a huge honor for our people,” said Larry Wright Jr., chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and one of Thursday’s speakers. “And I think really for natives in general, to have a school named after one of our own and to know that everybody that comes through those doors will learn about that name and who he was, what he represents and who we are today.”

Other speakers also stressed the historical significance of Thursday and the construction of a new high school named after Chief Standing Bear.

“Today will go down in Lincoln history as we break tradition by naming a high school not by direction but instead to honor a heroic person who so justly deserves this honor,” said Lincoln Board of Education President Connie Duncan. 

“We gather today to celebrate, to reflect and to remember that we are on land which for centuries has been and still today is and into the future will be the homeland to indigenous peoples,” said LPS Superintendent Steve Joel.

Lincoln Board of Education Member Bob Rauner was the chair of the naming committee that unanimously decided on Standing Bear High School. He thanked his fellow committee members, as well as Wright.

“I really want to thank Larry for the discussions we had,” Rauner said. “We talked about what the implications of this are and how it can be a teaching opportunity, which is of course what we’re all about.”

Standing Bear High School is one of two high schools - along with Lincoln Northwest High School, set to open in 2022 - that are made possible through a $290 million bond issue that Lincoln voters overwhelmingly passed in 2020. The bond issue also included funds for a new elementary school in northeast Lincoln and several other major school improvement projects throughout the city.

Published: October 8, 2021, Updated: October 8, 2021