New Facility Dedication

The Lincoln Public Schools Science Focus Program held a dedication event for its new facility at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo on Sunday. There were multiple speakers, ranging from students to the zoo’s president and CEO to the president of the Lincoln Board of Education.

But there seemed to be one word in particular that made its way into everyone’s remarks: community.

“That is what truly represents the purpose of this school – community,” said Thea Seibel, a senior who has attended the Science Focus Program all four years of high school. “And yes, the Science Focus Program provides an extraordinary education to every student who walks through its doors. But what makes it truly unique is its ability to provide a curriculum that also emphasizes the importance of kindness, inclusivity and wonder.”

Students and staff moved into the 15,000-square-foot facility at the beginning of the school year. It features three, 1,000-square-foot labs and four classrooms, as well as a multi-purpose room shared with the zoo. The program was previously housed in multiple portable classrooms and buildings at the zoo.

Some other comments from the event’s speakers:

  • Kurt Glathar, Science Focus Program principal: “Let us as teachers, staff and community members dedicate ourselves to helping our students discover their passions and interests in the pursuit of science and in science education.”
  • Steve Joel, LPS superintendent: “There have been an awful lot of success stories that have come from the Science Focus Program and we’re most appreciative of the work of our staff and of course our partnership with the zoo.”
  • Lanny Boswell, president of the Lincoln Board of Education and parent of a Science Focus Program alum: “Those of us who know and love this program have always seen it as precious, priceless and beautiful. Today this polished program has a magnificent facility that is worthy of the quality teaching and learning that takes place within its walls.”
  • John Chapo, president and CEO of the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, who had two sons attend the Science Focus Program: “The zoo and the Science Focus Program have something in common in mission: we’re both about education, both about youth…Speaking as a parent, this small community of learners is so powerful.”
  • Emily Rose Seifferlein, science teacher and department chair at the Science Focus Program: “I don’t have to tell you that this place is special. We are here to dedicate a commitment by this community to a unique learning environment for our city’s youth. And that is special.”
  • Ross Williams, senior at the Science Focus Program, also known as Zoo School: “Zoo School is probably the best thing that has happened to me throughout my four years of high school…Now the underclassmen will have time to make their own memories and to enjoy high school even more.”

The Science Focus Program is one of five LPS focus programs and its oldest, enrolling its first students in 1997. The program currently enrolls roughly 90 students from grades nine through 12. Students who attend the Science Focus Program remain students at their home schools, where they can participate in activities, athletics and social events. Students spend part of their mornings at their home school before attending the Science Focus Program for the rest of the day.