When Sioux Falls Lutheran opens back up on the 26th for school, it will feature classes and care for kids in early childhood all the way up through high school for the first time.
New staff has been hired and more than 30 high schoolers will be welcomed into the new school building near 69th and Tallgrass.
Junior Brooklyn Roozenboom and Senior Colin Thuringer are getting ready to re-enter high school in a brand new setting.
“It’s quite exciting to have a new space to be able to finish high school in,” Thuringer said.
The two attend Sioux Falls Lutheran High School. Last year, they went to class in a church off Western Ave.
For the first time, the high school students will be in the same building as the early childhood center and the elementary and middle schools. They’ll share space in this multi-million dollar facility that opened in January in southwest Sioux Falls.
“I’m very excited about it. Compared to the last high school, it was amazing, I loved everything about it, but it wasn’t enough space for all of us and we had very small lockers,” Roozenboom said.
They’ll have plenty of room moving forward. There’s also a brand new gym and a sparkling performing arts center. That’s good because these students have a passion for the arts and playing in the band.
“So having a performing arts center and dedicated music rooms is really cool,” Thuringer said.
“I’m a huge music kid. I even worship lead at my church because of the good music background I got here. I think I’m going to do a lot of band, choir and then volleyball for the fall and then weightlifting,” Roozenboom said.
With activities and the school expanding, Sioux Falls Lutheran is also adding a new principal and athletic director. Rod Lenz is the K-12 Principal. He used to be a teacher at Sioux Falls Lutheran back in the 80s and has been involved off and on since then.
“Truly believe that God put all of us together in this spot for a perfect reason and that is to serve our students, serve each other, serve our families and to serve the Sioux Falls community,” Lenz said.
Creating a safe environment for students during the pandemic is his first priority. Lenz says the new school building makes a world of difference. Kids will be wearing masks when they can’t spread out and socially distance.
“It’s huge. There’s a lot of steps when you go from the different areas. Especially now with school starting and just working with COVID-19, we have options. We have this beautiful chapel/performing arts center that we can utilize which is great. Then we have the gym and kind of the lunchroom area. We have options now which is awesome,” Lenz said.
The new athletic director will be in charge of the sports options. That’s the mission for Casey Raaen who says the school will have sanctioned volleyball, cross country, track and field and basketball.
“You look around this gym for starters. It’s an awesome facility,” Raaen said.
“I think it allows us another opportunity to let the kids showcase their gifts. An opportunity for them to be able to find a talent and a passion outside the classroom and to be able to compete with one another and continue to strengthen their bonds as friends,” Raaen said.
Those friends will set up shop in the music wing for class until a $4 million, two-story addition can be built. Board Chair Mary Ellen Heirigs says the first goal is to raise $400,000 to get construction started.
“What you see behind me is what will be the entrance into our Sioux Falls Lutheran High School,” Heirigs said.
“So $400,000 by the end of this year so that we can start construction and have students in there by next year,” Heirigs said.
It’s always been a part of the plans and will complete the third phase of the new facility. The high school wing will be able to serve more than 300 students.
“People still have a desire to see good, strong Christian education. So there is still a passion out there to help with that,” Heirigs said.
Sioux Falls Lutheran has definitely come a long way from humble beginnings.
“So to know that it started in a church, then at the cinema and now here to be at this building, we’re very appreciative and very grateful and very thankful for the blessings that have come our way,” Lenz said.
From staff all the way down to the students, it seems like everyone is excited about where the school takes them next.
“It’s high school, middle school and everything else and I love it,” Roozenboom said.