HJ/EDHerald Journal, Feb. 27, 2006

St. James Lutheran School: education of the spirit

Submitted by St. James Lutheran School

Almost a century ago, teacher Amalia List looked upon the three grades that made up the regular Christian day school. List was the only teacher in the school, and, with the help of Pastor A.L Oetjen, religious education was taught.

It was a journey that began in 1918, when the resolution was passed to establish a regular Christian day school.

Throughout the years, this tiny school in Howard Lake, known as St. James Lutheran School, would grow into what it is today.

The first principal was called in 1920. His duties included organist, choir director, church secretary, and taking voters meeting notes in both English and German. By 1925, there were a mere 71 students at St. James.

In 1931, the congregation resolved to expand the school to all eight grades.

Since those beginnings, St. James has been blessed with continued enrollment and many building projects to expand the school to accommodate enlarged class sizes. Currently, the school operates a day school from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Little Saints Preschool was added in 2002. Today, the enrollment is 166 students.

Students come from all over the area from neighboring towns like Waverly, Winsted, and Buffalo, as well as Howard Lake.

The mission of the school is not only to provide an excellent academic education, but also to educate the spirit and nurture each student in Christian morals and love.

There are many extra activities that insure this education of the spirit at St. James.

Students participate in an annual mission called Hearts for Jesus. Every February, students raise money to help a chosen mission.

In past years, the students have contributed thousands of dollars to Hope for China, Mission India˙s Rice Bag, Educating Missionary Children LCMS, and Dirt Biking and Teaching God’s New Shepherds.

This year’s mission is dear to the students of St. James as they are raising money for Baba’s for Babies to help support orphanages in Russia.

Another way that students at St. James become involved in the work of a Christian is through the fall Penny Harvest.

Every two years, the students raise as much money as they can by collecting pennies. Last year, the funds raised were donated to help defer the medical costs of Brandon Rehmann. Brandon is a special person who is a cousin to some students at St. James.

One year, students collected pennies for Lutheran Association of Missionary Pilots (LAMP). The money donated allowed missionaries to continue their work in Alaska.

After the pennies are collected, the kindergarten and first grade classes walk to Security State Bank of Howard Lake to watch the pennies be counted.

Students also show Christian love and care for others through collecting items for charity.

In connection with Bundles of Joy, students have been able to give to others.

Last year, students collected teddy bears and other stuffed animals for children in area hospitals.

This year, students collected new items for babies such as blankets, diapers, formula, wipes, and clothing.

Students also participate in many fellowship activities throughout the school year that help to foster a family atmosphere.

Not only do these activities provide time to spend with their families and friends in a safe environment, but they enable students to live their faith.

In November, sixth and eighth graders hosted project night, a time for fellowship and projects.

In December, students take on the role of witness. Students in all grades perform a Christmas program and share the gift of Christ’s birth through song.

In February, students are able to share their talents. This year, kindergarten, first, and fifth grades hosted an art and talent night. Students in all grades were eligible to participate in both the talent and art portions of the evening.

Talent ranged from piano playing, drums, singing, dancing, and poetry recitals. The art portion of the evening included class projects and individual student projects done at home.

For the last two years, students have participated in the science fair and social studies fair.

The science fair of 2005 focused on the Biblical creation story.

All grades combined to make a mural depicting the seven days of creation. Each grade then was assigned to come up with science projects that demonstrated what was created on each day.

The social studies fair of 2004 focused on Minnesota. Again, the school came together to create a Big Woods, full-size cabin, Lake Itasca, full-sized tipi, railroad, farm, and games.

In April, students are asked to take on the role of servant and help with the PTL Dinner. Students in fifth through eighth grade sign up to serve lunch and help clean up. The event is organized by second through fourth graders.

In past years, it has been accompanied by a silent auction and by a bake sale.

In May, students again are given the chance to witness and stand up for their beliefs. Eighth grade students are confirmed, and the students make a banner that depicts their confirmation verse. They witness to others what the verse means to them at graduation.

By the end of a school year at St. James, students have not only received an education in math, reading, and writing, but have also had the opportunity to grow in their faith and to develop relationships with others through Christian fellowship.

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