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Will newly built high school change Central’s student demographics

May 2, 2022

Central has a long history of attracting students from neighborhoods across the Metro area. Many Central High students commute long distances every day to participate in Central’s rich history and academic excellence. As two new OPS high schools, Westview and Buena Vista, prepare to join the district in the fall of 2022 and serve as a closer OPS high school for many, the question must be asked: will Buena Vista and Westview’s accessibility be a deterring factor for enrollment at Central? Westview and Buena Vista will only be accepting enrollment from sophomores and freshman next fall. However, in the coming years, should Central be prepared for the demographics of our school to alter significantly?

Three juniors that reside in west Omaha were interviewed on their opinion of potentially attending the new school if they were not set to finish their senior year at Central.

Junior Grace Hodges became a Central student due to accessibility. As she entered her freshman year, her older sister Emily Hodges was entering her senior year at Central. Grace decided to enroll at Central due to the free ride she would have to school each morning. She reflected while taking a tour of Central as an eighth grader, “Central has a nice community and a lot of history, and I kind of like it.”

As Hodges began attending our school, her appreciation only grew. “I have Central superiority as the best OPS school,” Hodges said. “I think it’s the most well versed in academics and school spirit”.

However, despite Central’s appeal, she still believes if she had the option to attend, she would not have chosen to be enrolled at Central, “I think I would’ve gone to Westview because I do live closer to it, and it is a nice school with a lot of amenities and sports programs. You know you can always build community. I think it would be a little weird, but I think I still would have gone there,” Hodges explained.

While accessibility drew Hodges to the nest, academics drew junior Bailey Peters. “There’s great academic standards and tradition here and I just liked the way it felt,” Peters said. When she was considering what high school to attend, she took note of “the way teachers spoke about the school, everyone speaks very highly of Central, and I just thought the drive was worth it.”

On the other hand, Peter’s younger brother, who will be making his decision regarding high school enrollment soon, is not planning on participating in Central’s tradition of excellence.

“He’s going to go to Westview, he’s more sports and athletics, so he doesn’t really care too much about academic purposes, so he doesn’t really think it’s necessary to drive all the way out here,” Peters said. She went on to emphasize “If I was in his position, I would still have chosen to attend Central, I don’t really like the idea of going to a newer school, I like being in an older school that has history and traditions”.

While the long commute for many West Omaha students may be a potentially deterring factor, Peters went on to say, “I think it’s worth it. I wouldn’t want to go somewhere that’s not established yet, and that is kind of unknown. I liked the idea that I knew what I was getting here and that it would be a good education”.

When asked why junior Bethany Thimjon decided to attend Central, Thimjon simply said “I didn’t want to go to Burke. I went on a tour here, and I was just like this is a cool school. I feel like you can just walk through the halls, and you’re just like this is cool,” Thimjon explained.

When making her high school enrollment decision, she noted “I liked the traditions of Central, and there’s a lot of school pride which I could just see just from going on one tour for just an hour, and then I went on a tour of Burke, and I was like yeah no.”

When questioned on whether Westview’s accessibility would have changed her high school enrollment decision, Thimjon stated, “I honestly don’t know, I feel like it would have been kind of cool to have a school where you can set it up yourself, but at the same time there’s nothing there, everyone’s new”.

Given some West Omaha residing students, such as Hodges and Peters, can state with certainty, how they believe Westview’s opening would have affected their enrollment decisions, and others like Thimjon are much more uncertain, no clear conclusion regarding potential changes to Central’s student demographics can be drawn at this time. The chance Central may lose some of our sports prestige, with the new Westview and Buena Vista competition, and our academic standards may be raised if that is what truly draws students to our hallowed halls, is currently probable. As is the possibility, Central’s enrollment will not change much, and Millard and Papillion school districts enrollments alter. Much is still unclear on how the opening of new OPS high schools Westview and Buena Vista will impact school environments for current and soon to be high school students. However, one thing is clear, all Eagles should be prepared for change to rock the nest.

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