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St. Johns Lutheran School celebrates National Lutheran Schools' Week

Fri, Mar 4th, 2011
Posted in Education

Mr. Karl Peterman is both principal and classroom teacher at St. Johns Lutheran School. Here he is pictured teaching a math concept to one of his students.

"Securing Each Child's Future - Making Disciples," is the theme for this year's National Lutheran Schools' Week beginning March 6 - 12.

When the early German immigrants settled in Minnesota, they were concerned about the religious and secular education of their children. Since there were no public schools in the 1850's and early 1860's, congregations often started schools, and the pastor also became the teacher of the school. As more immigrants came and the enrollment grew, it became necessary to call a trained teacher. The earliest recorded teacher who was called to teach in a Lutheran school was in 1867 to Immanuel in Courtland, Minnesota. Records indicate that by 1876 there were 39 Lutheran schools, eight male teachers and a total enrollment of 1,380 students throughout the state of Minnesota. Today, in the southeastern part of the state there are 11 Lutheran schools with St. Johns in Wykoff being the only one in Fillmore County.

St. Johns has a rich history in providing Christian education to children in this area. The church was organized in 1875, and a seminary student was engaged as its first teacher. It started out in the church parsonage, and the first two pastors also assumed the role as teachers in this school. When a new church was constructed in 1883, the school then moved to the basement of that building. A call to teach was eventually extended to Mr. Ernest Wallman, who accepted the call and served at St. Johns for 52 years. He taught all grades in a one-room situation and at times had over 100 students under his care. Since his retirement, the school has been served by seven men and numerous lady teachers. After a fire in 1900, the congregation decided to remodel the church as a school. A new school was built in 1952 and the present addition was added in 2007. Today, St. Johns is served by a staff consisting of: Rev. Peter J. Sestak, pastor; Mr. Karl F. Peterman, principal/teacher, grades six through eight; Mr. Charles Kaun, administrative assistant; Mrs. Darlene Eickhoff, teacher, grades three through five; Mrs. Susan Nash, teacher, grades one and two; Mrs. Rachel Welch, teacher, pre-school/kindergarten and Title I; Mrs. Jennifer Kimball, computer/resource person; and Mrs. Elaine Compart, janitor.

This competent staff serves the educational needs of 52 students, pre-school through eighth grade, using curriculum from Concordia Publishing House, A Beka Book Company, Bob Jones Press, and The Concerned Group. "St. Johns School is unique because it approaches all subjects from a Christian perspective. We consider this to be our most important product," Principal Karl Peterman explained. He also went on to say that students at St. Johns School come from all over the surrounding area including Spring Valley and Fountain to name just a couple. The school is funded by St. Johns Lutheran Church and student tuition.

To celebrate National Lutheran Schools' Week, St. Johns has several activities planned for the week. The "kick-off" was Sunday, March 6, with the school choir singing at the morning worship service and that afternoon a performance of the school play, Zorro...the Good, the Bad and the Greedy. On Monday the dress theme is Western Days and at noon students will observe a special moment to do the national flag pledge and the Lord's Prayer. This will be followed with a fun activity of miniature games. Tuesday, the students are encouraged to dress as a favorite book character and that day there will be a time for sharing and presenting a favorite book in the classrooms. A full day has been planned for Wednesday that includes chapel, led by Mr. Peterman, and an open house giving parents, grandparents, prayer partners, family and friends an opportunity to view student project displays and to visit the classrooms. The dress activity for this day is "Good Dress Clothes." A special offering will be taken in chapel for Mission India, the Children's Bible Club project. Thursday, students are asked to wear the school colors to show their school spirit as they travel to a Tangled Blue concert at Rochester Central Lutheran School that afternoon. Finally, the week of activities will conclude with a "Hats-N-Shades" dress activity and roller skating in Harmony! The school has planned a week of both fun and educational activities to celebrate their school heritage that has been a part of St. Johns School in Wykoff for 135 years. Also, in observation of National Food Shelf Month in March, their school is conducting a food drive with the goal of collecting 700 pounds of food items.

Parents interested in learning more about St. Johns Lutheran School can contact the school at 507-352-4671, or go online at www.stjohns-wykoff.org. Mr. Peterman would be more than happy to answer any questions. A pre-school/kindergarten round-up will be held on March 21 at 6 p.m. at St. Johns Lutheran School in Mrs. Welch's room.

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