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CHS receives award for STEM program
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CHS receives award for STEM program


Columbus High School has one of the best skilled and technical science programs in Nebraska, and now it has the award to prove it.

The Nebraska Association of Skilled and Technical Educators has presented its Program of Excellence Award to the school. The honor is meant to recognize educational programs within the state that exceed in providing students with learning experiences and knowledge of industry work, careers and applications of basic skills.

The honor was recently announced on the district's website, and Snap-On Certification Instructor Ron Haefner said the honor was unexpected.

“It’s kind of a surprise. I just feel like we’re just doing our job, doing what we need to do,” he said. “Getting recognized for that was a surprise.”

Pre-engineering, Robotics, Solidworks and Computer Aided Drafting Instructor Joe Krysl attributed the school's new building for receiving the honor. The facility, 3434 Discoverer Drive, was opened in 2017. It features a STEM Academy with classes focusing on advanced manufacturing designs technology, automotive and auto body technology, construction technology and welding technology.

For the award, a school has to be nominated by another district. Krysl attributed Superintendent Troy Loeffelholz’s work in showcasing the school’s new facility as the reason for the nomination.

“I think with building the new school, Dr. Loeffelholz got so much publicity out there,” Krysl said. “Basically, just word of mouth, people coming and touring our new facilities. They saw what a nice program we had. We’re pretty much state of the art here, if not number one, we’re close to number one… evidently, someone came through and thought it was impressive enough to nominate us.

He added his appreciation to the community.

“There are a lot of schools out there doing a lot of good things," Krysl said. "And it’s not that most STF teachers out there don’t have the knowledge to do this, their school district doesn’t have the opportunity of the funding to do this. And I would really like to thank the Columbus community as far as giving us the support we needed with their donations.”

Building Construction and Cabinetmaking Instructor Marcus Gillespie said the new building is a huge improvement over the previous.

“It’s night and day,” Gillespie said. “We’ve got businesses that come out here and say ‘we don’t even have this in our industry, it’s crazy what you guys got.'”

To Krysl, receiving the award shows that the school is doing a good job.

“The nice part about getting that award is that it tells us that we did the right thing, we did our homework, and we’re on the right track for what industry wants us to be doing,” Krysl said.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at


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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News-Review.

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