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Advent Chapel in Hymns, Carols & Chant

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December 2015 marked the 10th year the faculty, staff and students of LL have joined together to prepare for Christmas through a service of hymns, carols and scripture.  Mr. Sommerer initiated the format in 2005 and has led this special chapel each of nine years since then.  He likes Christmas Carols and decided to structure a chapel service around Advent and Christmas songs.  Originally intended to be an every-other-year service, the “Christmas Carol Chapel” has become an annual event due to student request.

Mr. Sommerer introduced each song with a few words about who wrote it, the circumstances in which it was written, or the meaning of some of the lyrics.  A faculty member read Bible verses from the Christmas story that go along with each song.  The service was enhanced by musicians from both the student body and the faculty.  Approximately eight hymns/carols are sung each year.

Two years ago, we introduced elements of the chapel in other languages.  That year a verse from each song was sung in the native language of one of our students, a student who spoke that language read verses in their native tongue, and the verses were then read in English.  Students read and sang in Vietnamese and Norwegian, as you might expect, but also in Chinese, Korean, Russian, Tok Pisin and Ukrainian.  The students who spoke each language helped print the song verse in their language and helped develop an ad hoc phonetic spelling to assist the other students in pronunciation.  Our students did a great job of jumping in and singing in other languages!

In 2014 and 2015 we sang a verse of Silent Night in Vietnamese.  We have more Vietnamese speakers than any language other than English, so this was a nice way to include them.  We are thankful to Mr. Sommerer for making the effort to organize this chapel each year.  Not only does it provide a special opportunity for our students to enjoy carols and hymns, but it reinforces the fact that the message of a Savior who loves us enough to give his life for us is for people of all nationalities.


2015 Student Device Survey Results

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Tomorrow we will send out our annual device Buyer’s Guide, but before we do that, we would like to share with you the results of our survey of how satisfied students are with the devices they currently have. These results come from surveying all of our students at all grade levels with a 99% participation rate.

Executive Summary:

Android tablets were the devices that students have the most trouble with and are the devices that students switch away from most frequently. All of the other types of devices continue to work well for students. With different types of devices excelling in different categories.

Devices used

Approximately 75% of our students have an iPad or an iPad Mini. This is not surprising as this is the device we indicated our teachers were most familiar with. It is also the type of device that we lease to students. Last year 65% of our students had iPads. About 3% of our students use Android tablets. This is down from 7% last year.  About 3% use Windows tablets which is comparable to last year’s numbers. 16% of our students use laptops (8% Apple, 8% Windows). This is a decrease from 23% a year ago, mostly due to seniors with laptops graduating. 2% of our students use Chromebooks which is the same percentage as last year. Note the relatively small number of Chromebooks and Windows tablets when you read the data below. It is a pretty small sample size.

Would/Did you switch devices?

Approximately 12% of students have switched devices since the start of the 1:1 initiative last year. Students with an Android tablet were the most likely to switch to a different device (71% of them switched). Most students who switched to another device chose the Apple iPad as their new device followed by a Windows laptop.

We also asked students if they would chose the same device again if they were starting the school year over. About 90% of them would keep the same type of device. Students with an Android Tablet (60%) or Windows laptop (40%) were the most likely to switch with the Apple iPad and laptop the most likely device to switch to. Chromebooks were high on the list of people who would switch last year, but are not this year. Either the right people have Chromebooks now or it takes a little bit of time to get used to them.

Note that Android tablets and Chromebooks tend to be lower priced devices and Apple iPads and Laptops tend to be higher priced devices, so this may just be students wanting a more expensive device.

Also worth noting is that we did not include students in the above statistics if they switched or indicated they would switch to a newer version of the same device, for instance, from an iPad 2 to an iPad Air.

Battery usage

Most (93%) of our students report that their devices have batteries that almost always last for an entire school day. Windows tablet and Chromebook users report that their battery life lasts the longest (averaging 8 hours) and Windows laptop users report that their batteries last the shortest amount of time (averaging 6 hours).  Laptop users in general report a higher chance of running out of battery power than tablet users. Keep in mind that these are survey results and that actual usage will vary by student and by day.  

Problems with school work.

Students with Android tablets reported the most problems working on school related tasks. Students with Windows laptops and Chromebooks reported the fewest problems. In this section of the survey we asked students how often they had problems with the following school related activities:

  • Getting assignments from eBackpack (best: Windows Laptops & iPads, worst: Android tablets)
  • Annotating assignments with ebackpack (best: iPads, worst: Android tablets)
  • Turning in assignments with eBackpack (best: Chromebooks, worst: Android tablets)
  • MAP testing (best: Chromebooks, worst: Windows tablets)
  • Using Google Drive/Google Docs (best: Chromebook worst: Windows tablets)
  • Using Moodle (best: Chromebook, Windows laptop, worst: none)
  • Using email  (best:none, worst: none)
  • Using Kahoot, Quizlets & Socrative  (best: Chromebooks & laptops, worst: none)
  • Using word-processing software  (best: laptops & iPads, worst: chromebook)
  • Using presentation software (best: laptops & Chromebooks, worst: Android tablets)
  • Using spreadsheet software  (best: laptops & Chromebooks, worst: none)

Chromebooks performed surprisingly bad on word-processing. This may be due to problems printing or turning in assignments rather than creating them (an area where we expect Chromebooks to beat tablets).

Of all of the questions we asked, this is the one that will most strongly affect the types of devices that we recommend. In general we will be suggesting that parents avoid older Windows and all Android tablets and devices with small screens in the future.

Satisfaction with devices for school work

We next asked students how satisfied they were with using their device when working on the same types of activities as above. Below are the averages of those 11 scores (5 is the highest).

Device 2015 Results 2014 Results
Chromebooks 4.7 4.0
Apple laptops 4.5 4.5
Windows laptops 4.2 4.2
Windows tablets 4.3 3.9
Android tablets 3.8 3.6
iPads 4.5 4.3

Satisfaction with devices for personal use

Because some parents buy devices as birthday or Christmas presents, we also asked how satisfied students were with their devices for personal uses. We asked them about listening to music, reading books, playing games, using social media, browsing the internet and reading news. In this area the Windows laptops and Android tablets were noticeably worse than the other devices. When you are picking a device for both personal and school use, make sure you get one with enough memory to use for both. 16GB is enough for school; you will want more to also use it as a personal device (or plan on using cloud services for that extra storage).

Last year the Chromebooks were one the bottom of this category. This year they are at the top. Once again, either it takes a while to get used to a Chromebook or Chromebooks are great devices, but only for certain people.

Device quality

Overall, students with Apple laptops and Apple iPads were most satisfied with the quality of their device. Students with Android tablets, Chromebooks, Windows laptops and Windows tablets were least satisfied with the quality of their devices. Specifically, we asked students about these items: Durability, Battery Life, Screen Size, Screen Quality, Camera Quality, Speaker Quality and Ease of Use.

Under Durability, Apple laptops came in first with Chromebooks and iPads a close second. Android devices were last by a wide margin.

For Battery Life, Chromebooks came in first with iPads a distant second. Windows laptops came in last. You can buy Windows laptops with just as good battery life as Apple laptops, but they cost more than cheaper Windows laptops (our buyer’s guide will have Windows laptops with a battery life over 7 hours).

Students with iPad Minis and smaller Android devices were the least happy with the Screen Size of their devices. Everyone else was satisfied with their screen size. Apart from Android tablet users, everyone was satisfied with their Screen Quality.

Students with Apple devices thought more highly of the Camera Quality of their devices than any other group. This result was mimicked by Speaker Quality with the exception that Android tablets also performed above average in this category.

As far as Ease of Use goes, students with Apple laptops, iPads & Chromebooks thought their devices were much easier to use than others. Users of Android tablets were at the bottom.

It should be noted that there are many different types of Android Tablets, and that the higher end devices scored higher than the low-end devices. Also, Android tablets with a more recent edition of the Android operating system tended to score higher. The same thing applies in general to all devices. Students gave higher marks to the iPad Air than to the iPad 2.

Having said that, the most obvious trend this year is that Android devices in general are performing worse than all others by a significant amount.

Ownership Information

We collected some new information this year including length of ownership for devices. As you might expect, 6th graders have owned their devices for the shortest amount of time at just under 6 months. 7th graders were averaging 18 months (right on track). 8th graders 20 months (just what you would expect). 9th graders were at 13 months, so a fair number of families purchased new devices for high school. 10 graders were at 17 months, 11th graders at 20 months and 12th graders at 18 months, indicating that some seniors were getting new devices for college. Of our students, about 20% reported that their devices were previously owned.


There were students who were happy with each kind of device and students who were unhappy with each kind of device. All we can present here are general trends. We hope these are helpful for you when you decide that it is time to purchase a new device. Having said that, you should probably have a good reason for choosing an Android device over one of the other options.

Later this week we will publish the list of devices that meet our requirements. If you are interested in receiving an email when we find a good price for one of these devices, please subscribe to our “Device Deals” email list here:

If you would like to look at the data that went into this survey, you can do so here:

Lloyd Sommerer
Technology Coordinator
Lincoln Lutheran

NAC School Bus Arts Grant

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The Nebraska Arts Council provided a NAC School Bus Arts Grant to Lincoln Lutheran, allowing us the opportunity to take our entire 7th and 8th grade classes to Celebrate Creativity at the Joslyn Museum of Art, hosted by the Omaha Symphony Orchestra on Friday, October 30th! Celebrate Creativity is is an arts-infused experience designed to spark creativity with cross-curricular activities and discoveries. 

Students crafted their own schedules of artistic investigation, choosing from a wide range of hands-on exploratory workshops led by industry professionals. Students also attended a museum tour of their choosing and engaged in an interactive concert with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra! Our students displayed a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm about the opportunities to explore the areas of theater, media arts, music, and dance with working artists from across Nebraska!

Supporting NAC helps bring art programs into communities, making them available to our students. We would like to thank NAC in sustaining artistic opportunities for Nebraska’s students, which equip them with Twenty-first Century Learning Skills in creativity, innovation, and critical thinking! 

New Mission Partner: The Rock Lutheran Church

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Lincoln Lutheran Welcomes The Rock Lutheran

Three new students started school at Lincoln Lutheran in August with a couple of things in common:  they share the same last name and they are all members of The Rock Lutheran located in Seward, NE.  Ben, Ella and Gretchen Moll are the second set of triplets to attend Lincoln Lutheran and the younger siblings of Warrior alumni Emmi (2014) and Zach (2011).  Parents Tim and Sara Moll are founding members of The Rock Lutheran Church located in Seward, NE and were instrumental in connecting the young congregation with Lincoln Lutheran.

The Rock joined the Lincoln Lutheran School Association as its newest Mission Partner in August.  Mission Partners represent area congregations who support Lincoln Lutheran’s mission of Christian education and seek to foster an environment where families would consider Lincoln Lutheran for their children.  Other Mission Partner congregations include Peace Lutheran, Waverly and Immanuel Lutheran, Lincoln.

In just ten years, The Rock has been blessed to move from an idea to a quickly growing ministry.  “It all started in August 2005, when a group of families started talking and praying about the idea of a new church in Seward.  Meetings led to Bible studies which led to larger groups and eventually to Sunday worship,” shared Tim Moll.

The Rock began regular Sunday worship in October 2008, and became an official member church of the LCMS in March 2009. Pastor Mike Meyer was serving as an Associate Pastor at Trinity Lutheran in Fremont and accepted the call to serve as The Rock’s first pastor in February of 2010.

According to Tim, founding members had great support from area leaders. “We didn’t really have a mother church, but Pastor Scheich and others at Christ Lutheran were a great resource to us.  Our worship style is modeled similar to Room 211 worship at Christ.  Dress is casual, the music ‘rocks’ and messages are based on 2-4 week series.”

The Rock has been renting space for worship, but will be moving into a permanent facility very soon.  A three-story building in the old Seward Middle School complex was generously donated by the developer. The congregation is finishing up renovations to use the space for worship and other activities.  “It’s an incredible gift as we will end up with approximately 30,000 square feet on three floors,” said Tim. 

The name The Rock comes from Psalm 40:2, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”  The mission is to reach out to those who have become disconnected or were never connected to the church – focusing on those people who, for whatever reason, may not be comfortable in a more traditional church setting.  Everyone needs a “firm place to stand”.  The church worships around 150 weekly, and is blessed to have approximately 300 people who are either members or friends of The Rock.   

To learn more about this exciting ministry, visit



Checking in with "All Shook Up"

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Since late August, the cast and crew of this year's fall musical, "All Shook Up," have been hard at work to make this Elvis-inspired show come to life. The show's stellar cast is led by Nick Schmeling and Kate Staab, and is directed by Mariel Olp and Michael Werner. The story is based on Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" and is set in a small, Midwest town in the 1950s. All of the music comes from the King of Rock and Roll, Mr. Elvis Presley, and is sure to get any 

"All Shook Up's" cast and crew have not only been hard at work learning lines, counting measures, and blocking out scenes, but they have followed the lead of Jon Kisker and Nick Schmeling in cleaning up and organizing the stage area and the Green Room. This, along with the occasional pick-up game of volleyball or photo shoot, has really allowed this dedicated group of young people to work well with one another and come together as brothers and sisters in Christ. God's gifts to them will be on full display November 13-15. But for now, back to rehearsals!

Alumna Esther Soenksen named player of the week

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Having already topped her season goal total from 2014, sophomore Esther Soenksen has ridden a hot start to 2015 to GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week recognition, as announced by the conference on Tuesday. It’s the first career weekly award for the former Lincoln Lutheran High School standout.

In last week’s only contest, Soenksen fueled the 7-0 blowout victory over York College with four goals, including two in each half. The Lincoln native now has seven goals over the season’s first three games for the 21st-ranked Bulldogs. She ranks third among all NAIA women’s soccer players in goals and fifth in goals per game. Soenksen has been incredibly efficient with seven of her nine shots on goal finding the back of the net.

After playing in the midfield last year as a freshman, Soenksen has thrived in more of an attacking role for head coach Greg Henson’s squad, which is off to a 3-0 start.

“We definitely made an effort to move Esther a little bit more forward,” Henson said after the win over York. “She has the ability to do well up there and score goals for us. She showcased that.”

Soenksen now has 11 career goals in 25 games as a Bulldog. She has started every game since arriving at Concordia last fall.

The Bulldogs return to action on Saturday when they host No. 6 Benedictine College (Kan.) (5-0). Kickoff from Bulldog Stadium is slated for 1 p.m.

LL Builds with Habitat for Humanity

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The first Community Outreach Team event of the year happened to fall on the 10th anniversary of hurricane Katrina, which ravaged many homes in the New Orleans area back in 2005. While the COT did not travel to Louisiana to build homes, nine students and four adults did spend the day building homes here in our community with Habitat for Humanity. 

Volunteers rotated through each of the steps needed to put siding up on a house. Some measured to ensure the bottom panel was flush with other panels. Others ran siding panels back and forth from the saw to the house. Still others hammered siding into place, while learning how to keep the panels visually aesthetic. And most workers avoided hammering their thumbs for the majority of the day (emphasis on most).

“Volunteers are key to building homes for our family partners.  The students from the Outreach Team were exceptional, and did a fabulous job of meeting the daily goals our construction manager had set,” said Rosanne Christensen, Interim Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity. 

Senior Nick Schmeling started the day off with a devotion that focused on our purpose in Christ (Eph. 2:10). He read how we are God’s workmanship to be used for acts of love as we are united in Christ. Sheila Ziems saw to it that the crew started the day with warm banana bread – something that was not wasted on adolescent boys.

“I wanted to do an event like this to complete my service hours,” Schmeling said. “Once we started working, I got to meet the future owner of the house. I found it surreal to realize that I’m helping someone actually build the house they’ll live in someday.”

From there, the team met at the site and went through a short instructional time. By 8:30am, the team was split into teams and working on different areas of the house. By lunch time (11:30am), well over half the house was finished as comradery and teamwork were growing. By the end of the day, the team finished the majority of the house and a shed.

 “At first, it seemed like the guys were concerned with mud all over their shoes. Then, they directed their attention more toward getting the siding to look ‘just right.’ By the end of the day, I saw them increase skills and interest in siding a house,” said parent Jim Otte. “Forty years from now, we can still walk up to that house and know we did right in our community; we created memories; we served.”

The words “building” and “community” come to mind after witnessing Saturday’s work. I know the adults enjoyed showing the craft of using a level, hammering nails, designing an appealing wall. Also, the kids enjoyed showing the adults just how hard they can work and how much they can accomplish when given the chance. When we think of service, often times we think of once-a-year trips to distant locations to help those communities (and, to be sure, that is a fine endeavor). However, Saturday’s event drove home the point that we have plenty of opportunities to serve and make THIS community a stronger one right here in Lincoln, NE.

One of the boys asked me during lunch, “So, wait. Can you just come here and work any Saturday you want? I don’t have to wait for you to organize it?” (I answered in the affirmative.) “Whoa! I’m definitely coming back again. This is fun.”

For anyone not familiar with Habitat for Humanity, this link responds to frequently asked questions ( The partnership between the Community Outreach Team and Habitat for Humanity goes beyond volunteering hours. The COT will donate $100 and provide future volunteers throughout the year at this house. Also, through the Thrivent Action Teams program, Habitat will receive a $250 pre-paid debit card to be used for supplies. Lastly, in this month, we will pray for the Christian non-profit group as it works to fulfill its mission: “Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”

God gives us opportunities every day to serve right here in our community. Sharing the love of Jesus can be done without saying much of anything. It can be done by doing something for our neighbors. Those interested in other events should contact Joel Stoltenow ( or at 402-770-3927.

Fall Musical

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Interested in theater? Have a sense of humor? Like Elvis? Well, get ready for the exhilarating fall, high school musical, "All Shook Up." Set in the summer of 1955 in a small Midwestern town, "All Shook Up" is the modern Rock n' Roll take on Shakespeare's romantic comedy, Twelfth Night. The show follows the story of a small town girl with big dreams, Natalie, and the charismatic, motorcycle-riding rebel she falls for, Chad.

Mayor Matilda Hyde believes Chad is the "Devil in Disguise," and begins looking for a way to end to his Rock n' Roll chaos and its effect on the town. 24 classic Elvis hits are the heart and soul of the musical comedy, including "Heartbreak Hotel", "Jailhouse Rock", "Blue Suede Shoes", and "Hound Dog." Mariel Olp will be directing, with Michael Werner as the musical director. There is an informational meeting scheduled for Thursday, August 13 at 7pm in the Commons and auditions are on Sunday, August 23 from 2-5pm in the Small Gym. Any questions? Email Mrs. Olp at Hope to see you there!

June "Warrior Thought"

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A June “Warrior Thought”

This Warrior thought represents the final installment of seven monthly articles intended to celebrate within our Warrior Family the blessings we have in Christian middle and secondary education. As a reminder, in each of these publications, I will reference statements from the LCMS Office of National Mission-School Ministry explaining “Why Lutheran Schools.” I will then share excerpts from a document titled “Why Lutheran High?” created by a sister school written to debunk some of the most common hurdles preventing a family from choosing a Christian education for their child.

The following statement comes from the LCMS Office of National Mission - School Ministry – “Why Lutheran Schools:”

To Enhance the Public Relations of the Congregation: As the school reaches many segments of the community, the parents who come to the school begin to inquire about the sponsoring congregation. Members frequently ask each other, “Does this congregation have a school?” But non-member school parents frequently ask the school, "Does this school have a church?" The congregation becomes better known in the community because of the school parents, and the school's marketing efforts.

Early in my ministry at Lincoln Lutheran, I decided one of the most important fruits of ministry in a Lutheran school is “more people in heaven.” If we are doing anything right, we are sharing the love and grace of Christ with as many people as we possibly can. That is the goal of the Great Commission – Tell People about Jesus!

Lincoln Lutheran is a valuable resource to the community of Lincoln. We are so blessed to have an alternative to public schools that teaches students in a very unique manner. The better we can serve students and their families, the more respect and positive reputation gets built into the broad community of Lincoln. As people talk about Lincoln Lutheran and the good things going on, they often connect back to the relationship we have with the churches in the Association. Many of our school families, specifically those who were un-churched or under-churched (inactive), end up joining and participating in one of our Association churches. What a blessing to be in such an important partnership together as we seek to share the love of Christ with as many souls as possible!

Our friends at Wolf River Lutheran High School respond to a question they often hear from families in the excerpt from their publication below:

“Aren’t public schools better choices for the athletically talented?”

This objection to Christian education is born out of a fear that athletes at a smaller Christian school won’t receive the quality of coaching and skill refinement that a larger public school can provide and/or that their talent could go unnoticed or underdeveloped. Neither of these fears is justified.

If an athlete has Division I talent, it doesn’t matter where he or she goes to high school. The scouting and recruitment programs at colleges today must search all high schools to find talent. The competition is fierce for the best players – no matter where they go to school. To think that a talented player would go “unnoticed” is to believe that major colleges and universities aren’t exhausting every avenue to find talent. A recent example is Sam Dekker, graduate of Sheboygan Lutheran High School, who stars for the Wisconsin Badgers, and is projected to be drafted high into the NBA someday. However, rare is the true “blue-chip” prospect. Therefore, athletes MUST market themselves with the help of their high school and high school coaches. The web is full of college recruitment services that help players and parents market their son or daughter. Personal attention is where Christian high schools excel.

Smaller Christian high schools are often better connected to Division II, Division III, and NAIA colleges. Since those types of schools must recruit outside of the large public high schools to find talent and stay competitive, they look to smaller schools to fill their teams’ rosters. Hundreds of Lutheran high school athletes each year are offered generous scholarships and opportunities to continue their athletic careers in college as a result.

Most Christian schools have quality athletic programs. They establish top-notch facilities as funds allow. They have talented coaches who are coaching at a smaller high school, not because they don’t have the ability to coach elsewhere, but because they are dedicated to serving Christ. WRLHS is headed down that path as our student body grows.

Parents are often self-deceptive about the athletic abilities of their child. That statement may seem harsh, but according to NCAA statistics, on average less than 5% of all high school athletes fill a freshmen roster position at ANY level of NCAA athletics. This means that an athlete must be better than 95 out of every 100 seniors in the country to make an NCAA roster. Those athletes receiving scholarship money is even less. At WRLHS, we try hard to keep athletics in the proper perspective and urge our athletes, and their families, to do the same.

As an educator with more than 20 years of coaching experience, I feel as though I have some credibility to comment on this particular topic. I was a college athlete and I have coached a number of Lincoln Lutheran students who’ve gone on to experience amazing college careers. Lincoln Lutheran has had a large number of athletes go on to compete at all levels of college athletics. Quite a few have competed at the NCAA Division 1 level.

I believe a great school needs to have strong activity programs to offer their families. It makes for a well-rounded opportunity and experience. If you look at the banners in our gym at Lincoln Lutheran, we have been blessed with some amazing success in the first 18 years of our high school athletic history. God is truly good!

College athletics is about 3 factors: 1) God-given athletic ability; 2) the will and commitment of an athlete to work and improve to a point where they are good enough to play in college; and 3) opportunity. No one can change the first factor. The second factor plays a huge role in separating good high school athletes from great ones. The final factor is what some parents use as their reason for moving to a bigger school.

The fact of the matter is all high school athletes who are trying to “get ahead” compete in their sport outside of their school teams through club and select opportunities. Athletes can do this regardless of what school they attend. This weakens the argument that an athlete has to play Class A ball to have a chance at college athletics. It simply is not true. I won’t go into my opinion about the ridiculous amount of money spent by some families through the club experience, as it compares to the size of scholarship their athlete eventually may get to participate in college. Families would be far better served to pursue high GPA’s and ACT scores because there is generally a lot more money available for great students than college athletes.

The Lincoln Lutheran experience is so much more than any one thing. It is about Christ first. It is about expecting excellence out of our students in the classroom. It is about quality activities opportunities. It is about the smaller school and our community among parents and staff. It’s about relationship. Lincoln Lutheran is a package deal. Families who commit to a well-rounded Christian education for their child understand it is a package deal.

When challenges come along or a family has a bad experience in one area of the educational experience, it is important to remember all the many blessings and benefits that we take for granted every day. In my mind, it trumps the frustration that pops up from time to time. Sara and I have had times as parents when we’ve been frustrated with a particular situation in our daughter’s education, but because we believe in the “whole” and how great a benefit it provides our girls, we jump over the hurdle and stay committed to our kids – to their education and faith formation. Things don’t always go perfectly, but we wouldn’t change our experience for anything! We love and appreciate our Lutheran School Family!

God’s blessing as you continue to enjoy summer break!

Because of Him,
Scott Ernstmeyer, EdS

May "Warrior Thought"

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A May “Warrior Thought”

As a reminder, in each of these publications, I will reference statements from the LCMS Office of National Mission-School Ministry explaining “Why Lutheran Schools.”  I will then share excerpts from a document titled “Why Lutheran High?” created by a sister school written to debunk some of the most common hurdles preventing a family from choosing a Christian education for their child.

The following statement comes from the LCMS Office of National Mission - School Ministry – “Why Lutheran Schools:”

To Seek Out the Lost:  Lutheran schools, which enroll children from all parts of the community, provide new and varied opportunities for evangelism by the congregation and its staff.  These opportunities are not available in any other way.  That's why Lutheran schools are considered the most effective agencies in congregational evangelism and why pastors of growing congregations with schools in nearly every case, identify the school as the congregation's most effective outreach agency.  Eighty-five percent of the fastest growing congregations in the Synod operate schools.

Last spring we spent some time utilizing an outside consultant to assist our ministry in the review and further clarification of our vision.  During one of the sessions collecting constituent feedback, our table was discussing improving enrollment and how to create additional diversity in our student body.  One of the participants made a great point that has continued to resonate with me.  “If you work to be a school of excellence, you will attract all types of students because they want to be part of something great.  Once you have them in the door, then you get to do ministry with them.”  

What a great argument for the continued pursuit of excellence.  It is what drives our Warrior Team to never stop improving.  Our primary focus in ministry is to share Christ with our students.  Such a focus on Jesus will always define us.  Being excellent allows us to share Christ with more students.  Helping our students maximize their God-given abilities in a setting where there faith is nurtured makes for a wonderful educational experience.

Our friends at Wolf River Lutheran High School respond to a question they often hear from families in the excerpt from their publication below:

“Bigger is Better, Right?”

The nation is full of large and impressive looking high schools, both public and private. A quick tour through some of the area high schools will reveal beautiful gyms, weight rooms, auditoriums, cafeterias, and labs.  It seems only natural that parents would take one look around at the facilities, programs, classes, and activities that a larger public school has to offer and think, “That’s what we want for our son or daughter.”

For smaller parochial schools, like Wolf River Lutheran High School, it is nearly impossible to compete with the endless stream of resources (tax dollars) that a public high school can pour into its programs and facilities.  So in the face of that kind of competition, why would anyone choose a smaller, Christian school? Ask yourself this, “What’s more important…an impressive laundry list of facility features and activities or a spiritually nurturing atmosphere?”

The truth of the matter is that, in time, it is possible to have both!  Many Lutheran high schools have started with nothing more than a handful of students and a borrowed building.  With God’s help, Wolf River Lutheran High School will increase in enrollment and add programs and facilities that rival the best public schools.  Countless Lutheran high schools have experienced similar growing pains only to grow and become regionally and nationally recognized for academic excellence, win state championships in sports, offer valuable services to their communities, and produce well prepared students year in and year out, all while maintaining a focus on Jesus Christ.  In fact, the only real obstacle to achieving many of these goals is having a larger student body.  To that end, we take steps every day to make WRLHS more attractive to area families. We need your support too!

Even at our current size, WRLHS provides advantages that a larger public high school simply cannot:

Students are less likely to get lost in the shuffle

Our teachers and administrators know all of the students in the building.  That kind of intimacy can be a key to the academic and spiritual development of a student.  WRLHS is dedicated to making connections with all students. Relationships, not facilities, are what make a school excellent.

Class sizes are smaller

Instead of class sizes of 30 or more that can be found at larger schools, most Christian schools have class sizes that are in the 15-20 range on average with many advanced courses having even smaller class sizes.

Opportunities to participate in extracurricular are greater at WRLHS

Simple math dictates that a student’s odds of “making a team” or “getting a part” are better if they are competing against fewer people.  Beyond that, smaller teams and greater opportunity to actively participate in other extracurricular activities means that a higher percentage of students are actively involved.  Put simply, at WRLHS, it is easier to get involved and have a quality experience outside of the classroom.

We are a family

At a smaller school, students, parents, and teachers feel as if they are part of community in which they can take pride and have input.  People know each other and relationships become the foundation for excellence.  A caring, Christian environment that values each student as a special child of God is a wonderful thing.  When that environment is small enough that kids do not get lost in the shuffle, it’s even better.

We have serious plans to grow - including construction of a new school

We recognize that our current building isn’t quite what we need it be so we are in the readiness phase of a capital fundraising campaign to raise funds to build a new school on the south side of Shawano.  The school will be built at the intersection of WI-22 and WI-29 on 25+ acres of land already owned by the school.  This proposed structure will not only better meet the needs of our current student body, but provide plenty of potential regarding future growth and needs.

Each year Lincoln Lutheran has students who chose not to re-enroll.  There is a wide variety of reasons for a move to a different school.  I believe that one contributing factor to a majority of the decisions to enroll elsewhere is tied to the “allure” of the larger school.  Reasons stated from families ranges from “course options” to “clubs and activities” to finding a different niche of friends.  

I regularly share with people that Lincoln Lutheran is a Class C school in a Class A pool.  We often feel pressure to offer more, to do more, to be more.  In the end, we are called to make sure we are doing an excellent job with what we have.  We should only grow programs and opportunities in a strategic manner that can be sustained.  In many ways, being a smaller school is what sets us apart in this community.  There are more than enough co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities available at Lincoln Lutheran to keep a student crazy-busy.  The blessing is they can try everything and be a part of as much, or as little as they want.  

I am not a believer that bigger is better.  We recognize increased enrollment allows us to consider additional variety in offerings.  Growing too big would take away the intimacy that is so important to our school community.  Our staff knows their students - very well.  Knowing students so well allows for stronger ministry.  After all, ministry is why we are here!

As we transition into summer, I pray God continues to surround Lincoln Lutheran with a hedge of protection and care.  I pray that our families continue to reaffirm their commitment to Christian education and the role it plays in the development of their children.  I pray for an abundant harvest of students to serve starting in just a few short weeks!  I pray for rest, rejuvenation and a rekindling of the passion that brings our staff to 1100 N. 56th Street every day!

God bless the beginning of summer break!

Because of Him,

Scott Ernstmeyer, EdS