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COVID restrictions mean Lincoln high school open houses for eighth graders will be virtual
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COVID restrictions mean Lincoln high school open houses for eighth graders will be virtual

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The traditional open houses offered by Lincoln’s public high schools to help eighth graders decide whether they want to be Spartans or Silver Hawks, Links or Gators, Knights or Rockets will be held virtually this year.

For years, Lincoln Public Schools have had open enrollment in high school, which means students don’t have to attend the school in the attendance area where they live.

And for most of those years, the high schools have held open houses to let students learn about the high schools and decide which ones might be the best fit.

“It’s basically a way to showcase the school,” said Pat Hunter-Pirtle, director of secondary education. “It has two purposes; one is to talk about curriculum and what’s available there, but it’s also to allow kids to see the opportunities.”

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Coaches are typically there to talk with students, clubs have tables set up and representatives available, as do other groups — speech and debate, dance clubs, show choirs.

Eighth graders also get tours of the school.

When Hunter-Pirtle was principal at Southeast, the band played outside as students arrived.

The open houses were well-attended — hundreds of students filling the school gymnasiums, often visiting more than one school.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions this year, students will be able to see prerecorded programs that will go live through Jan. 21. They will be available on the school websites, as well as the district site. The LPS site also offers links to the forms to fill out to attend a high school outside a student’s attendance area and a video about ways students can prepare themselves for high school.

The deadline for applying to attend a school outside a student's attendance area is Jan. 31 — and that's a hard-and-fast deadline for three overcrowded schools: Lincoln High, East and North Star.

Students will get much of the same information this year, but it won’t be the same as walking the halls, meeting people face-to-face, seeing what other students are considering that school.

“Given what we’re dealing with, it’s a great opportunity to be able to find out about the school,” Hunter-Pirtle said. “But it won’t be the same as being there.”

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist

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Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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