By Starrla Cray
MAYER, MN From intriguing J-term classes to a distinctively Christian online school, fresh ways to educate are emerging at Mayer Lutheran High School (MLHS).
Executive director Joel Landskroener welcomes the public to open houses at MLHS (305 Fifth St. NE) Saturdays, Feb. 11 and 18 from 9 a.m. to noon.
“We love it when people come to our open houses,” he said.
Visitors will have the opportunity to take a guided tour given by current students, and meet with administration and faculty members. All students who take a tour with a parent or guardian will be registered to win a Kindle Touch.
The application deadline for enrollment at MLHS is Tuesday, Feb. 28. Several scholarships are available, including some exclusively for non-Lutheran families.
“This year, we’ll be giving out $250,000 in financial aid,” Landskroener said.
Many people choose MLHS because of its Christ-centered atmosphere, rigorous coursework, and constructive extracurricular activities.
“Our programs remain strong,” Landskroener said, adding that the school’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is growing. “We’re actually seeing a lot of our kids heading into engineering. That’s a real plus.”
Last year, MLHS’s robotics team had nine participants. This year, the school has two teams 18 participants that will be competing at the Minnesota FIRST FTC championship tournament at Prior Lake High School Saturday, Feb. 25.
“We’re very proud of our students,” Landskroener said. “They’re awesome kids.”
This fall, three MLHS grads will be in medical school, and in the past three years, MLHS has had three National Merit Scholar semi-finalists.
MLHS also encourages service, with 15 percent of its students taking a mission trip to Mexico each winter. Since the school began the mission seven years ago, students have constructed about 19 houses for needy families.
J-term was a winner
Another unique opportunity at MLHS is J-term (January term), which allows students to take a topical class between semesters.
“J-term was phenomenal,” Landskroener said, explaining that this was MLHS’s first year trying it.
From Jan. 17-20, students selected a hands-on class that fit their interests. Topics included auto mechanics, strategy of games, studio/commercial photography, introduction to programming, and much more.
“It was an invigorating week. Some students went to the Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis for urban immersion, while others visited Fortune 500 companies in our area,” Landskroener said, adding that some even went to Principal Kevin Wilaby’s house for culinary arts classes.
New online options
Those who’d like to be part of MLHS but aren’t able to physically attend will soon be able to participate in online classes.
“We hope to have it up and running by fall,” Landskroener said.
Kim Ross of Houston, MN, creator of the Minnesota Virtual Academy, is helping MLHS through the process.
“It will be for people all over the world who are looking for an online school with a Christian perspective,” Landskroener said.
Full- and part-time course loads will be offered for grades 6 through 12.
“It’s going to be very flexible,” Landskroener said.
The online school will be useful for homeschool students, people living outside the area, students interested in taking courses that aren’t offered at their own school, and students who need to retake a course.
The physical location of MLHS will also be undergoing improvements soon. Plans for a $6.5-million expansion project have been underway since 2008. The project will provide an intuitive central entrance, classrooms, parking space, staff offices, a spacious commons area, two locker rooms, storage space, and a large fieldhouse.
So far, trees have been removed in front of the school to create more visibility from the road.
MLHS is also working with MnDOT and the city of Mayer to plan a roundabout entering Mayer on Highway 25.
To learn more about MLHS, go to www.lhsmayer.mn.org.