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Omega School to honor executive director Oscar Mireles for his 30 years of service on April 1

Oscar Mireles

Since 1972, Omega School has provided individualized basic skills instruction in a supportive and informal atmosphere, and by working cooperatively with other agencies and institutions, has helped thousands of adults prepare for, and obtain a GED/HSED credential. 

Since 1994, Oscar Mireles has been leading the charge at Omega School with this year, April 1 specifically, marking 30 years for Oscar Mireles as Omega School’s executive director/principal. In honor of this very special occasion, Omega School is hosting a “Pearl Anniversary Luncheon” on Monday, April 1, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Best Western Premier Park Hotel in downtown Madison.

The master of ceremonies will be Leigh Mills, anchorperson for NBC15 News. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Sagashus Levingston, the founder of the Infamous Mothers brand and an author, speaker, and influencer who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The guest speaker will be Alexzandra Shade, the director of TruStage.

“Oscar has tirelessly helped thousands of students find their own unique path to succeed in graduating from Omega School. This will be an exceptional night that will not only recognize Oscar for his 30 years of service, but will also honor other local leaders who have dedicated 30 years or more of service to our community,” Omega School said in a press release announcing the 30th-anniversary event.

Omega School graduation ceremonies are joyous family occasions. (Photo by Martin Jenich Photography)

The event will be held on Monday, April 1, to honor Mireles’ first day at Omega School back in 1994, which was on April 1.

“Mondays are not usually a day where people host big events, but we want to honor that date of April 1, you know, that is a special day,” Mireles says. “So the fact that I started on April 1 is important, and I actually still remember my first day. I remember it was a good day. It foreshadowed a lot of things for me.

“They had a nice reception for me and I remember my friends Dora Zuniga and Juan Jose Lopez coming. I didn’t know on that first day that I would be doing this for 30 years,” he adds.

Born and raised in Racine, Mireles came to Madison fresh from Milwaukee where he worked for about a decade in various positions at Centro de la Comunidad Unida/United Community Center (UCC), before being promoted to associate executive director.

“In hindsight, I could have not imagined that as I was starting a new job in a new city, that I would be here this long,” Mireles says. “And I didn’t realize how different Madison and Milwaukee are. I was one of the younger executive directors … in my mid to late 30s. It was an interesting time.”

Mireles remembers the world in 1994 when he first started as Omega School’s executive director.

“It was a different era. A lot has changed since then.  Omega was located at what’s now called the Madison Credit Union (949 E Washington Ave.) over on the East Side. Omega was up on the second floor and I used to be able to look into Breese Stevens Field, which was empty,” Mireles recalls. “And then I would walk to the Capitol sometimes just to kind of get out of the building. The car dealerships had left so they had these big empty lots. And where the Brass Ring is right now, it was a resale shop. 

 “The whole physical landscape was different and it was just a different time,” he adds. It was the beginning of the Internet. We were able to get on a browser, but the Internet was a lot different back then.”

Now the Internet plays a huge role in what Omega School does as it helps enable people who did not graduate from high school to earn HSEDs or GEDs to help them build towards the next stage of their life.

Omega now resides in the building that Centro Hispano once occupied near the fire station and Madison College South Campus on Badger Road on Madison’s South Side.

“Over the years, we’ve seen great growth in the level of services we provide our students,” Mireles says. “Whether it’s providing bus passes or gas cards or cab rides or paying for the exams … None of that happened before and those are all things that we are doing now.”


Omega School Graduation is always a joyous event.
(Photo by Martin Jenich Photography)



Over the 30 years that Mireles has been executive director, Omega School has helped thousands of young people get a high school diploma. And twice a year — in the summer and the winter — they host a graduation ceremony to celebrate those success stories and the Omega School family gets a little bigger.

“So with 30 years, it’s become a big family now. I’ve been able to help a lot of people who have gone on to do great things. So that part is really fun. That’s what I’m really excited about,” says Mireles.

Mireles, who was also Madison’s first Latino poet laureate and the founder of Latinos Organizing for Understanding & Development, adds that he can’t wait to see many of those Omega School graduates at his 30th-anniversary party. The event will not only honor Mireles but will also honor other local leaders who have dedicated 30 years or more of service to the greater Madison community.

“It will be a family event. I’m really looking forward to it,” he says. “It’s always fun to see students and supporters and community members you haven’t seen in a while.”

Oscar Mireles speaks at an Omega School graduation ceremony. (Photo by Martin Jenich Photography)

The “Pearl Anniversary Luncheon” to celebrate Mireles’ 30 years is sold out.

“All through these years, it’s the students that really keep me going. I just get to meet some amazing people and it’s at a point in their life where they want to make some changes,” Mireles says. “Where they say, “I need to do something different.’ And we are here for them to help them do that. Many of them are disconnected from the world that we know and we help connect them to the resources that they need.

“We’ve just been able to help people. The one-to-one really makes a difference and our students are all very appreciative. We have to convince them how important it is in their lives to have a high school credential and once they believe in that then you got to just go after it.”