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'Heartbreaking': Middle College Program ends after this year, OPS family unsure what's next

'I don't know what to do without that guidance'
Posted at 11:24 AM, Mar 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-26 12:24:07-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — “The fact that I had everything planned out and then it was kind of just being taken away was really heartbreaking,” said Leah Melancon, an Omaha Public Schools sophomore in the Middle College Program.

Leah always knew she wanted to go to college. But wasn't sure how to get there.

“My parents didn't go to college, I have no one to guide me personally," said Leah.

During her freshman year at Westview High School, she learned about the Middle College Program.

It’s a pathway through Omaha Public Schools on the UNO campus, with smaller class sizes, and additional support and students even have the opportunity to take university courses.

“They are given ACT prep classes as a normal class, they have scholarship classes, where the whole class is dedicated to writing their college essays and applying for different scholarships,” said Lauren Borchers, Leah’s mom.

And Borchers says this program helped her daughter grow both in school and at home.

"We have had the next two years of our lives planned out, right, we knew exactly how we were getting to college, we knew exactly how we were going to get those full rides for Leah. I don't know what to do without that guidance,” Borchers said.

In a letter to families, OPS said “Through strategic planning, UNO is refocusing its efforts to broadly serve more students in Omaha Public Schools.”

In a follow-up email KMTV was told, that the conclusion of the program was a collaborative decision between UNO and OPS.

And that all OPS high schools offer options, many more than were offered when the Middle College Program was created 20 years ago.

“We have been in OPS our whole life, you know, and we hope that OPS really steps up and provides these kids exactly what they need,” Borchers said.

Leah and her family were presented with a couple of options, including Omaha Virtual School, the Accelere Program and Gateway to College, or going back to traditional high school.

"Transferring back to that environment, I think would be detrimental to her,” said Borchers. "I still am very clueless on what I am going to be doing in the future," Leah said.

Leah's parents have sent several emails to the district and Leah plans to attend the next school board meeting on April 1.

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