HJ/EDHerald Journal, Feb. 20, 2006

Zion Lutheran School: 'Touching lives forever'

Zion Lutheran School will host an open house Monday, March 6 from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. For more information or consider enrollment, call 952-657-2339, visit the open house, or see www.zionmayer.org.

By Jenni Sebora

From the beginning of the 20th century, Christian education has been important to the members of the Zion Lutheran Church, a fact that hasn’t changed in the 21st century.

Zion Lutheran School in Mayer was first organized in 1912 to provide children with a firm basis for their lives, and since that time, three building projects have expanded the Christian ministry of Zion School.

Zion Lutheran School, a mission of Zion Lutheran Church, offers children in pre-school through grade eight a caring, Christian setting in which to grow, learn, and develop spiritually, socially, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and creatively.

This Christ-centered learning environment and education is what Principal Debra Kelzer sees as the primary focus and asset of the school, and is at the heart of the school.

Kelzer noted that Christian principles are integrated with the teaching of academic skills, and students are trained for a life of Christian service.

Besides the daily religion curriculum, students are led by the faculty in daily devotions and attend chapel services weekly at Zion Church.

Students in grades seven and eight receive confirmation instruction and are confirmed in eighth grade.

Kelzer noted that in her 10 years as principal, athletic director, and teacher at Zion, the experience has been very positive and continues to be a great ministry.

“All the faculty and staff focus on ministry to the children,” Kelzer said.

This Christ-centered education includes academic instruction in art, handwriting, health, language arts, mathematics, music, physical education, religion, science, social studies, and reading.

In the area of reading, students begin reading full sentences at the end of the kindergarten year.

“We have high academics, and our kids do very well,” Kelzer said, noting that the students are very prepared for their next educational level, high school.

Zion, which currently has an enrollment of 82 students from Mayer and the surrounding communities of Waconia, Watertown, and Lester Prairie, has a low teacher-student ratio, which allows for more individual attention to the students, Kelzer noted.

“Our small student-teacher ratio is a strength,” Kelzer said.

All teachers on Zion’s faculty are certified by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and by the State of Minnesota.

Music is also an integral part of Zion’s curriculum as all students participate in one of two choirs, kindergarten through fourth grade, or fifth through eighth grade choirs. These choirs perform regularly at worship services and for other special occasions. Individualized piano and band lessons are available for grades three through eight, as well.

The fine arts program at Zion also includes drama. Plays are presented annually by students.

Field trips are directed by teachers and coordinated with class units, and an all-school spelling bee, which this year is Monday, March 6, involves students from grades one through eight.

Achievement/ability testing and parent-teacher conferences are conducted throughout the year.

Supplementary services include a hot lunch program, busing, Title I and special education (provided by the Waconia public school district), and county health services. Students can also participate in an accelerated reading program, and Spanish is currently being offered as an after-school activity, Kelzer noted.

Tuesday, May 16, the school will host its annual Play Day, with two other schools attending. Students will get the chance to participate in such events as track and field activities, and other game activities for the younger students will be available.

Students can take their pick of athletic events throughout the year. Volleyball, cheerleading, and basketball are available for girls, grades five through eight. Flag football is available for students in grades five and six, and tackle for boys, grades seven and eight. There is boys’ basketball for grades five through eight. Cross country, track, and softball are available for both boys and girls.

Zion belongs to the Minnesota Lutheran Athletic Association (MLAA), competing in athletics with other Lutheran elementary schools around the area.

Zion also tries to stay abreast of technology needs. Each classroom, consisting of two grades, is equipped with six computers, three per grade, and three or four computers are available for students in the library.

The Parent Teacher League (PTL), which is also very active at Zion, is very close to its goal of raising $20,000 to purchase a mobile computer lab for the school, also.

“The goal is to have it by next school year,” Kelzer said.

Among other things, the PTL was also responsible for the new playground area and equipment that was installed about three or four years ago.

“We have a very active PTL,” Kelzer said.

The school is also very active during National Lutheran Schools Week, March 5-10, sponsoring a variety of activities.

Good News Players from Concordia College will perform at Mayer Lutheran High School Tuesday, Feb. 28, one week earlier, to kick-off the special week. Zion students will be attending this special performance.

Monday, March 6, there will be an open house for community members to visit Zion, along with the annual spelling bee.

Kindergarten round-up is Thursday, March 9. Interested families can attend either the 10 a.m. round-up or the 7 p.m. session, which will be led by kindergarten teacher Lee Evans.

A breakfast is being hosted at Zion Friday, March 10, which will involve students bringing in boxes of cereal. Some of the cereal will be enjoyed by the students, and the unopened boxes will be donated to the food shelf.

Pennies for Patients for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society will also be collected during the special week.

An educational fair displaying student projects will take place Monday, March 6 through Wednesday, March 8.

The fun and spirit doesn’t stop there as students and staff can also come to school clad in their favorite designated attire during National Lutheran Schools Week. The days include dress-up day, beach day, school colors day, and “dress as your favorite book character” day, which will include a DEAR, Drop Everything and Read, activity, Kelzer explained.

On Sunday afternoon, the PTL is also hosting a bowling activity.

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