Lutheran high school passes big milestone

Saturday, January 25, 2003

The amazing progress of Saxony Lutheran High School -- from good idea to financial reality -- has all the earmarks of divine intervention.

It was the fall semester in 2000 when the school opened, using St. Andrew Lutheran Church on Cape Rock Drive in Cape Girardeau for classroom space. There were eight students that first semester, and finding textbooks and preparing a curriculum were struggles.

Now, less than three years later, officials have announced that a 40-acre parcel of land for a new school building in Fruitland has been paid off ahead of schedule.

The location is ideal. It is near the Interstate 55 exit, so it will be accessible for families throughout Cape Girardeau County and beyond.

The goal was to pay off the land before beginning construction on the high school building. Although Saxony's board of regents hasn't announced an exact start date, one can imagine -- given the school's pace so far -- that it won't be far away. Some Saxony officials have mentioned spring, with classes beginning in the new building by fall 2004.

The land was paid off by 50 families giving what they could, many adopting an acre at $8,000 each. Such generosity is remarkable and truly represents a cause people believe in.

That allowed a large donation to be saved for use toward the actual construction. Late last year, Tilsit resident Gerhardt Birk donated a total of $612,000. He is a member of Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tilsit and said he wanted to provide students a quality place to get an education.

The board of regents has discussed raising a total of $5 million for a campaign to build the school, which would cover the construction costs and leave enough for a foundation fund for ongoing expenses. Considering how important parents and others consider a Bible-based education for their children and the school's past fund-raising record, that appears to be a realistic goal.

This has been an exciting year for Saxony students too. There are 30 of them now, still housed at St. Andrews. There are nine teachers using a college-preparatory curriculum. And there are extracurricular programs in basketball, cheerleading, band and choir. In August, Saxony received full National Lutheran School Accreditation, allowing its students to compete with other schools in Missouri State High School Activities Association events.

Southeast Missourians should be proud to have such an example of faith and can-do spirit.

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