Omaha Public Schools celebrates its second new school this week as Pine Elementary opens

70% of students at the new school are from Latino families
Posted at 6:35 PM, Aug 04, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Karen Wissar is a mom who is raising a bilingual family. Her kids speak Spanish and English.

That will be the norm at Pine Elementary, where 70% of students come from Latino families.

"It won't be complicated, 'cause when I grew up, I didn't have a bilingual school, so it was important for my kids to have that," Wissar said.

That's what Pine Elementary School Principal Adriana Vargas will give. She estimates a quarter of the school's staff is bilingual, and they'll use strategies to accommodate Spanish-speaking families and help some students learn English.

"Making sure you're incorporating listening, speaking, reading and writing into the content areas. Academic language is also a big one, where you're incorporating sentence stems, sentence fragments, just kind of things to provide that guidance for students to start with," Vargas said.

With the majority of Pine students speaking Spanish, Wissar is confident that families like hers will not lose sight of who they are and what they have to offer.

"I think it's good because that's their language, their native language is Spanish. I think it's good that the schools have that, that way they don't lose sight of that. Cause I think it gives them more advantage as they grow up, that's why I picked the school," Wissar said.

It's expanding their horizons while maintaining their roots.

"Thank you for sharing these special moments and being part of a new era where the students will be inspired, nurtured and empowered," Vargas said.

The first day of school will be Aug. 17. Pine will absorb students from both Castelar and Bancroft Elementary Schools. Vargas was formerly a principal at Castelar, a school determined to be "overcrowded" and had around 650 students.

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