Arts and Humanities Focus Program crafts a community over 25 years

The Arts and Humanities Focus Program hit a special milestone this year.  The program celebrated 25 years by welcoming current and past students, staff and families to an open house in April. 

“It's like walking through a time capsule and somebody has messed up a little bit. It definitely brought back a ton of memories,” Arts and Humanities Class of 2013 alumni Connor Gee said. 

Dozens of people packed into the site near 25th and J streets to reconnect and relive some nostalgia. Some toured the building and peeked their heads in the classrooms while others chatted with past classmates and educators. 

“I was excited to see such a great turnout,” math teacher Emily Dvorak said. “I was especially excited to see so many alumni, both recent, but going all the way back to the early 'oughts as well.  I feel like this says a lot about how important students' experience here was to their lives.”

“There's something about being in a place with really positive experiences with young people,” former social studies teacher John Clark said. He taught at the program for 17 years.

Arts and Humanities is the second oldest focus program at Lincoln Public Schools, starting in 1999. It began with 65 young creatives and is now the home to 90. The Arts and Humanities curriculum centers on “identity development, personal and social responsibility, empathy, critical thinking and creativity.”

Several students and staff involved with the program over the years noted its strong community as a critical factor to its longevity and success. 

“When I first got accepted into arts, I remember my dad hugging me as I began crying because I realized I was finally going to a place that had people who thought like me and who enjoy being creative and thinking creatively,” ninth grade student Emaan said.

They mentioned how those tight-knit bonds helped them thrive in the program's walls and beyond. 

“When I first came here, my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer. So, the community that I built here was what got me through high school,” Gee said. “I wouldn't have graduated from any high school if it wasn't for arts. It kept me in a place where I could actually do things I wanted to do and move forward in my life.”

His wife, Angela Nance, a 2012 alumna of the program, agreed it influenced her to explore various paths and pave her future. 

“There’s a sense of community and mutual support that develops that keeps a lot of people going who might have struggled otherwise,” she said. “Just being able to get out into the community, see what people are doing and have the experiential learning, I feel like for me it was really important.” 

“Some things I love about teaching are helping scholars make connections and seeing their ‘Aha’ moments, and help them become better versions of themselves and learn skills to help them live the lives they want,” current social studies teacher Falla Halsey said. 

The 25th-anniversary celebration also marked the end of an era. It was one of the final occasions people could see the program’s current building before renovations. While the physical space of Arts and Humanities is changing, there is one thing that its participants hope will always stay the same – its mission. 

“At Arts and Humanities, students have the opportunity to become a greater version of themselves as not only artists but as people,” Emaan said. 

If you’d like to contribute to Arts and Humanities to keep its legacy going past its 25th anniversary, visit its donation page through the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools at

Published: May 22, 2024, Updated: May 22, 2024

The Arts and Humanities Focus Program marked a major milestone this year by hosting an unforgettable open house, bringing together current and past students, staff, and families to reminisce and look to the future.