History and Traditions
The Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart education define the purpose of Sacred Heart schools as part of the Society’s educational mission in the Catholic Church. This mission finds its source in the vision of Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat who began her work as an educator in 1800 when she founded the Society in France.
As the Society grew, its apostolic works extended into other countries. One of Madeleine Sophie’s earliest companions was another French woman named Rose Philippine Duchesne, the Society’s pioneer missionary. In 1818, Philippine started the first Sacred Heart School in America in the frontier village of St. Charles, Missouri. The year 1881 marked the opening of the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Omaha, Nebraska.
In gratitude to these founding mothers' courage and confidence, the Sacred Heart global network of schools thrives today, 200 years later, and has grown to include over 150 schools and colleges in 41 countries around the world. In the United States and Canada, 25 schools comprise the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.
The academy is named after St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.
The original location of Duchesne Academy was in downtown Omaha, on 16th and Howard Streets. The school started with just a handful of students and gradually grew over the years. In the early 20th century, the academy moved to a larger facility at 36th and Burt Streets when the current building was completed in 1882.
Throughout its history, Duchesne Academy has maintained a strong commitment to academic excellence and the development of the whole person. The school offers a rigorous college preparatory curriculum along with a wide range of extracurricular activities, including fine arts, athletics, and community service programs.
Duchesne Academy has produced many accomplished alumnae who have excelled in various fields, including education, business, law, and the arts. The school continues to be an important institution in Omaha's educational landscape, providing young women with a strong academic foundation and the skills to become future leaders.
Today, Duchesne Academy remains an active and vibrant educational community, dedicated to empowering young women and fostering their intellectual, spiritual, and personal growth in the Sacred Heart tradition.
Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart is proud of its long, storied history which includes many beloved traditions rooted in its French heritage. These traditions are an integral part of the Sacred Heart experience for students and parents alike.
This wonderful word means “to taste” in French BUT is more recognizable in Duchesne students’ memory as a free surprise snack.
This prayer service is held at the beginning of May as a tribute to Our Lady. Class representatives are chosen to honor Mary with student reflections and the senior representative crowns her with a wreath of flowers.
Prize Day, a 200-year old tradition that began in the earliest Sacred Heart schools, continues today as a ceremony on the morning of the last day of the school year. It is the formal close to our school year and begins and ends in the chapel. Following an all-school Mass, students receive prizes, distinctions, and recognitions for their academic accomplishments. Each student receives a completion of the year certificate and a wreath of flowers from the Head of School. At the conclusion of Prize Day, they return their crowns to the altar in thanksgiving for the gifts that God has given them.
In the spring, seniors present the juniors with their Sacred Heart rings. During this ceremony, each junior is called by name to the front of the chapel where seniors present her with her ring. After all the juniors are presented with their rings, the seniors turn their rings to face outward. This is symbolic of their imminent departure from Duchesne, and their responsibility to spread the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the world outside of school.