The original Columbian Elementary School, located at 38th and Jones Street, was named in honor of Christopher Columbus because the school opened in 1892, 400 years after his first voyage. When the original Columbian closed, the community requested its name be given to a new school.
The westward expansion of the city of Omaha created the need for a new elementary school, and in September 1970, the new Columbian Elementary School opened its doors for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Mr. Harry Stroh was the first principal of Columbian in its current building location. Students were instructed in traditional self-contained classrooms. Parents taught monthly classes featuring a variety of early American skills. During those first six years, enrollment increased at a rapid rate. Portable classrooms were installed, and the covered patio on the northeast corner was enclosed to make an additional classroom.
Mrs. Marilyn Haig became principal in the fall of 1976 with the advent of court-ordered busing to reduce segregation. Columbian received fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students from the Franklin School attendance area and neighborhood second grade students were bused to Conestoga Primary Center. Neighborhood sixth grade students that had attended Beveridge Junior High School were returned to Columbian.
By 1977, Columbian's enrollment was declining while neighboring schools to the north were overcrowded. New attendance area lines were drawn, and Columbian enrolled students who lived in the Candlewood area north of Dodge. Busing was provided for these students because of their distance from the school. The mode of instruction in the intermediate grades changed from self-contained classroom instruction to team-teaching. Families were deeply involved as supporters and volunteers in many school functions.
Mrs. Norma Johnson became the third principal at Columbian after the 1990 retirement of Mrs. Haig. Mrs. Johnson brought with her a strong background in the language arts. Many programs were established at Columbian that greatly strengthen this area of the curriculum. Mrs. Johnson retired at the end of the 1995-96 school year.
Mrs. Joyce Christensen became the fourth principal of Columbian School. Mrs. Christensen encouraged the incorporation of technology into the students daily classes. Mrs. Christensen retired in 1998.
Mrs. Pam Garofolo became the fifth principal of Columbian beginning with the 1998-1999 academic year. She continued the fine tradition established by her predecessors while encouraging and supporting the needs of both the students and staff. The 1999-2000 school year marked the initiation of Superintendent John Mackiel's neighborhood schools plan. Second grade students returned to Columbian, making the school a true pre-kindergarten to sixth grade facility. Mrs. Garofolo retired at the end of 2005-2006 school year.
Mrs. Kathleen Nelson became the sixth principal of Columbian beginning with the 2006-2007 academic year. Mrs. Nelson retired at the end of the 2011-2012 school year.
Mrs. Nanette Beller became the seventh principal of Columbian beginning with the 2012-2013 school year.
Mr. Craig McGee became the eighth principal of Columbian beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. He became the first principal in the newly built Columbian Elementary. The new building was built on the North side of the campus, opposite the original building. He not only opened the new building but led the school through the 2020 pandemic as well.
The history of Columbian Elementary School has been one of stability and pride. Traditional approaches to instruction have been valued and maintained while new technology has been embraced and incorporated into the curriculum. Our families continue to be a valuable source of support.
Columbian Elementary School has an enrollment of approximately 350 students in grades pre-kindergarten (ECSE) through sixth. The school mascot is the cobra, and the school colors are purple and gold.
Columbian's neighborhood attendance area's eastern boundary is roughly 120th Street, the western boundary is 132nd Street, the southern boundary is Pacific Street, and the northern boundary is Blondo Street. The school district provides transportation for neighborhood students who live more than 1.5 miles from school. For information regarding student transportation, call the the Office of Transportation at 557-2900. New students are always welcome. When registering a student, bring the child's official birth certificate (the one with the raised seal), immunization record, and verification of residence to the school office.