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LPS, UNL partnering on business focus program at Standing Bear High School

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Standing Bear High School construction

Work continues Monday at Standing Bear High School, which is set to open to students in August 2023.

Lincoln Public Schools and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are partnering on a new focus program at Standing Bear High School that will offer students dual-credit courses and hands-on experience centered around business.

The new focus program — a collaboration between LPS and UNL's College of Business — is set to include courses and pathways in areas such as accounting, finance, marketing, economics and supply chain management.

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Standing Bear is scheduled to open in August 2023.

Although in the early stages of development, UNL plans to offer Nebraska Now classes through the high school's focus program, in which students can take college-level courses taught by UNL faculty to earn credit.

"I think for us, it's really just (about) the outreach and creating that accessibility," said Laurie Miller, associate dean of undergraduate programs and curriculum at the College of Business. "For a lot students, they don't necessarily know what it means to study business ... they might think it's just crunching numbers. But it's so much more than that."

Students will be able to enroll in the program as juniors, and there are plans to integrate pre-pathway curriculum into other content areas, such as English and math, at the underclassman level. All Standing Bear freshmen would take a business class as well.

Other tentative classes are capstone-type courses and more "experiential" learning opportunities, said James Blake, LPS director of strategic partnerships and focus programs. The program will be based solely at Standing Bear with no plans at this time to offer classes on the UNL campus.

Growing the district's focus program offerings has long been a priority at LPS. In preparation for the 2020 bond issue, a task force examined areas in which the district could expand programs and identified business as the top area of interest, Blake said. Partnering with UNL made sense.

"This is two institutions that should be working closer together, and we're not sitting back waiting for someone outside of our institutions to encourage us," Blake said. "We just rushed ahead and did this because it's the right thing to do."

With the help of UNL faculty, the program will build on the business entrepreneurship pathway offered at The Career Academy, as well as the district's existing curriculum, Blake said. UNL and LPS will each hire a counselor to coordinate the program.

The two entities are also exploring ways to incorporate an entrepreneurial component for sophomores akin to UNL's annual Quick Pitch competition in which students craft a proposal for a new business venture.

The focus program took about six months of planning, Blake said, with a lot of insight gathered from the partnership between LPS and UNL at Lincoln Northeast centered on agricultural sciences. 

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That Food, Energy, Water and Societal Systems program, or FEWSS, started this year as a pilot for freshmen and sophomores and will formally open this fall.

LPS has announced plans for other focus programs in recent years, including a health sciences pathway at Lincoln Northwest and a content creation and digital media program at The Bay, both of which will open this fall.

Now Standing Bear joins the list with a focus on an area especially relevant in today's world.

"Business is everywhere," UNL's Miller said. "And so the more that we can expose students to that, the more that we can get them excited about it, just what a great opportunity for us and our community."

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Contact the writer at zhammack@journalstar.com or 402-473-7225. On Twitter @HammackLJS

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K-12 education reporter

Zach Hammack, a 2018 UNL graduate, has always called Lincoln home. He previously worked as a copy editor at the Journal Star and was a reporting intern in 2017. Now, he covers students, teachers and schools as the newspaper’s K-12 reporter.

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