It was a back-to-school celebration so big that only Omaha Public Schools could have hosted it.
Saturday, Aug. 13, thousands of people packed the parking lot at Baxter Arena to kick off the 2022-23 school year. After two years on hold due to the pandemic, the event was bigger than ever.
“I wasn’t expecting this large of a crowd,” said parent Cheryl Madsen. “I like it. We need to get back to community; we need to get back to being a village and really caring about all children and our future.”
All 65 elementary schools had a welcome table to visit with families. DJ Houston Alexander, school mascots, cheerleading squads and dance teams kept the energy up all day. “It’s crazy. We know Omaha Public Schools is a huge district, but you see something like this, how many people are here? It boosts your energy. School means something to people,” said South High student Hannah Kubiak.
With donor support, families enjoyed complimentary food and treats. Omaha Fire organized a splash pad and the Omaha Police Department ABLE1 helicopter landed nearby. Community partners were on hand to connect families with activities and resources ahead of a new school year.
Sasha Cervantes was there as a district staff member and parent. “I got to see my teachers,” said Cervantes’ daughter Esmerelda, who is already looking forward to robotics at school.
Teachers and principals felt the energy, too. “I’m so excited to see our students. I can’t wait for them to come back,” smiled King Science and Technology Middle Principal Jane Laughlin. “Omaha Public Schools is family-oriented, and I feel the joy. Our district values are reflected in the event I see today.”