Dazzling Nebraska Center for Advanced Professional Studies opens its doors to community

Dazzling Nebraska Center for Advanced Professional Studies opens its doors to community

South Central Unified School District's sparkling new career pathway facility grabs the attention of passersby on Highway 14. Especially at night, when LED lights illuminate the Fairfield structure's tall windows, casting a prominent light that can be seen from miles away.

"We asked ourselves, 'How can we do a better job of making sure our students have all the opportunities that kids in urban parts of the state have?'" said Amanda Skalka, the district's curriculum director.

Connected to the south side of the original school building, construction for the Nebraska Center for Advanced Professional Studies (NCAPS) was completed in 2018. What was once a dream for a district in rural Nebraska had become reality.

"It's been fun watching the excitement of our students," Skalka said. "There was some nervousness at first. We moved in the middle of the school year. They've settled in, though, and it's been phenomenal."

NCAPS offers 11 different pathways to its students. Each course, from health sciences to agriculture to architecture and construction, is meticulously designed to build skills through hands-on opportunities. The space is geared towards small group, large group or lab space. It's state-of-the-art and ultra-contemporary, with sound-proof study nooks and sleak common-spaces.

On Wednesday, the facility held an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony, welcoming the district's seven communities and family members to Fairfield and providing in-depth student-led tours. Governer Pete Ricketts was among a handful of speakers, reinforcing the importance of skills and tradework and noting the 474 post-secondary credit hours earned by SC USD students last semester alone.

"Real-world experience is so valuable," he said. "Having the opportunity to have that mentor in high school and to earn those credits, that's a huge deal. You all are doing a wonderful job for the young people in this building."

Superintendent Julie Otero addressed the large crowd before tours resumed. Elementary students also showed off some of their work, as wide-eyed visitors shuffled up and down the facility's stairways. There was much to see, and nobody wanted to miss a thing.

Learn more about NCAPS from the architects by clicking here!

Read more about the program's extensive offerings by clicking here!