Lee Pulaski, [email protected]
Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski
Wolf River Lutheran High School students, from left, Anne Buchholz, Kanon Schneider, Andrew Schmidt and Andrew Jess work on an accounting exam Wednesday morning at the school in Cecil. Officials hope to build a new $1.3 million school in Shawano.
Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski
Wolf River Lutheran High School owns this land at the intersection of state Highways 22 and 29, west of Boarders Inn and Suites. If there is enough support, the school hopes to build a new facility here.
Wolf River Lutheran High School, a small parochial school in Cecil, is considering building a new $1.3 million school in Shawano.
The proposed 18,000 square-foot building would consist of five classrooms, a gymnasium with two locker rooms, office space and other basic needs.
The school has hired Cornerstone Stewardship Ministry, based in Madison, to conduct a survey to determine the level of support that such a capital undertaking would have. The surveys, which were due back this week, will determine whether the school will attempt to move forward with a new building, according to school officials.
Principal Jay Lindsey said the school will learn the survey results on April 12. If results are favorable, the school will launch a fundraising campaign with the goal of having a new building within the next three years, he said.
The school already owns more than 25 acres at the intersection of state Highways 22 and 29 in Shawano.
Wolf River Lutheran opened in 2004. It has four Lutheran-trained teachers providing education for 18 students, and Lindsey as its first full-time administrator. The school has also been expanding its extracurricular activities, including a girls basketball team, drama productions and a forensics team.
According to Lindsey, the existing building, formerly an elementary school for the Bonduel School District, is at the end of its useful life.
“It’s not so much the infrastructure — the safety or suitability of the building — as much as it is whether it is appropriate for our needs,” Lindsey said. “It’s an elementary school. It has a gymnasium, which we’re grateful for and able to practice in, but it’s not big enough to have home games in.”
Lindsey noted the classrooms are also too small to suit the needs of a high school education. Having bigger classrooms, and more classrooms, will be essential for the future, he said.
Although a bigger facility could potentially expand the high school’s extracurricular activities, increasing enrollment is the primary goal.
“Location-wise, we don’t feel like we will draw (students) as well in the future here in Cecil … as we would at the land we already own at 22 and 29 there in Shawano,” Lindsey said.
Shawano and Bonduel are home to three parochial schools, all serving kindergarten through eighth grade, and Lindsey suggested the area can use an alternative to the public high schools.
“We recognize there are a lot of good things going on in public schools in Shawano and Bonduel, but we also believe an important aspect of high school can be the Christian focus,” Lindsey said. “Some people are looking for that in education, and we want to be available to provide that to them.”
The possibility of having a parochial high school in Shawano appeals to Susan Longmire, principal of St. James Lutheran School, a K-8 school in Shawano. As the product of a lifelong Lutheran education, Longmire sees value in mixing reading, writing and arithmetic with religion.
“I believe really strongly that if we can make Christian education available for our kids all the way through high school, why not do it?” Longmire said. “This is a tough world we’re living in right now, and I just think there’s more to an education than just the classes. The morals, the values and the environment they’re in shape who they become.”
Longmire noted that Wolf River Lutheran has managed to develop some good programs, despite few funds and low enrollment.
Unlike public schools, Wolf River Lutheran does not receive state education funds. Instead, it relies on tuition, annual contributions from 13 area congregations, donations and fundraisers.
St. James and Wolf River Lutheran both have a curriculum that adheres to state public school standards, Longmire said, and because class sizes are small, the students get much more one-on-one attention from teachers than in public schools.
“I think it would be a good addition to the community. It gives parents another choice,” Longmire said. “I know there are some parents who hope that this will become a reality because they want to send their children on to a Lutheran high school.”
Lindsey is confident the new campus will become a reality.
“I’m telling freshmen that are coming in, including my daughter, that there’s a better than even chance they’ll have a new building by the time they’re seniors,” he said.
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