Eye on KELOLAND: Instilling the faith in a new space

Eye on KELOLAND

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After years of praying, planning and construction, Sioux Falls Lutheran is finally in its brand new, $12 million dollar facility in the southwest part of town.

Not only are the kids at Sioux Falls Lutheran raising “Old Glory” at their new building, the students are being raised up to give all the glory to God.

“Seeing the kids actually walking the halls and going to class. Love it,” Pastor Corey Aker said

With joy in his heart, Pastor Corey Aker from Faith Lutheran is helping to usher in a new semester in a massive new facility.

“It is about Jesus and instilling the faith within our children. During the Chapel message as they were kind of wandering around looking for Jesus, our little toy Jesus, that’s only symbolic of what really happens here every single day. Jesus comes to our children and we just are so thankful to the Lord for all the gifts that he has provided us,” Aker said.

More than 300 kids are enjoying this 74,000 square foot space east of Interstate 29. It’s a big change from their old school near 37th and Minnesota.

“Things fell into place and here we are. So it really is a dream come true to finally be here. It’s kind of unreal to really think it’s true,” Steve Jastram said.

Steve Jastram with Architecture Incorporated helped design the sprawling campus with room to grow. Jastram is also the lead architect for the new public Jefferson High School. His kids went to Sioux Falls Lutheran and now his grandkids do too. He gets emotional talking about it.

“I do. The school is very dear to me and my family and our church. It’s very important. Kids’ education, that’s why I love to do schools everywhere. Education is so important for our whole livelihood, our values. Education is the key,” Jastram said.

The only space that isn’t quite finished yet is the Vaughn and JoAnn Meyer Chapel and Performing Arts Center. If you remember, the couple tragically died in a plane crash in 2018. When this space is finished, there will be a meaningful dedication.

“You know Vaughn and JoAnn Meyer, who gave the gift for the chapel, their family and ours were very close. Knew them very well. What a blessing to have a nice chapel be with the school. That’s nice. They were special people,” Jastram said.

It takes a lot of special people to make a project of this size come to life.

With kids now filling the classrooms and playground, you can feel the energy.

“Super excited. I like can’t even imagine and this is my first year too. So I’m super excited that I got to move into the new school in my first year,” Carson Fjelstad said.

Fourth grader Carson Fjelstad can’t wait to ring in the new year with his friends here.

“Probably the gym. It’s huge. Going to be fun,” Fjelstad said.

First grade teacher Britney Vercruysse is counting all the blessings that come with the new location.

“Just seeing everybody together is always really fun. It’s such a strong community here,” Vercruysse said. “Everything. I love first grade. They’re my group. They’re my jam. They’re fun. They still think I’m cool. So I really like that. They’re full of energy and life. I get to teach them about Jesus which is really fun.”

And she can use a variety of areas to do so.

“Well we’ll have space to move and get out of the classroom. There’s endless things we can do. No limitations,” Vercruysse said.

There are already plans for expansion. Sioux Falls Lutheran will begin offering high school classes next fall.

“So we’ve designed it so that basically we can add on to it in every which direction. There’s been talk about adding on for the high school. It’s all master planned for a high school,” Jastram said.

That means kids from age two through 12th grade will be able to come here for a Christ-centered education. The goal is to make students “World Ready and Faith Secure.” Jastram says he and supporters like the Meyers have been all in to make it happen.

“And they had the vision for the whole Lutheran education process here as well and they put their life in action to do it. From preschool through eighth grade, they had that vision as well. It’s kind of fun to fulfill that for them,” Jastram said.

The Vaughn and JoAnn Meyer Chapel and Performing Arts Center will be ready by the end of February.

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