HJ/EDMarch 6, 2006

Mayer Lutheran High School: students acting on their faith

By Jenni Sebora

“Preparing the next generation of Christian leaders” is the mission statement at Mayer Lutheran, but “it is not just a slogan, it is engrained,” Interim Executive Director Mike Zimmer said.

“We’re very intentional about our mission statement,” Zimmer said.

The staff and students at Lutheran High School (LHS) will attest that this mission is what makes LHS unique.

While LHS’s ACT scores are higher than the state average, its class sizes are smaller than most other schools, and the curriculum is challenging, there is something more, noted LHS Dean of Academics Paul Puckett on the school’s website, www.lhs.mayer.mn.org.

“Lutheran High School academics is unique because the mission of our school is unique. Not only do we strive to meet rigorous self-imposed standards, but we also intentionally prepare students to be leaders beyond the walls of our school so that Jesus Christ is raised up and glorified in the lives of our students well after their high school careers are over,” Puckett said.

Director of Spiritual Life, teacher, and coach David Lane agrees that the mission statement is at the heart of the school. “We’re very deliberate about kids living out their faith. Living out faith means action,” Lane said.

And that action is taken in the form of daily chapel services, which may be led by area pastors or LHS faculty members or students; prayers; spiritual gift inventories, which students complete yearly to help them develop their own mission statements; the Praise band; servant leadership projects; religion classes; Active Christian Leadership group (ACT), which is open to all students; mission trips; and the Daniel program.

One religion class taught by Lane is the Christian leadership class, which focuses on the school’s mission statement and requires students to arrange and carry out service activities. A few years ago, ACT was coupled with the leadership class.

Some of the activities that the ACT has conducted includes an outreach “tailgate” party for area junior high students; helping with the student aid endowment banquet, which raises funds for students that need financial assistance to attend LHS; a sleep-out to help raise the awareness of homelessness; helping with Mackenthun’s stuff-a-truck food drive activity; raking leaves for senior citizens; raising funds for the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe; and most recently, helping with Operation Christmas Child, which provides shoe boxes of presents that are sent to kids in need around the world.

The freshmen help out specifically with Operation Christmas Child project by packing and shipping boxes at the project’s distribution center. Lane noted that this past Christmas, LHS students “shoe boxed” over 200 presents for Operation Christmas Child.

This spring, ACT plans to host a junior high outreach pizza party for area eighth grade students, help with the blood drive to take place at LHS, visit a senior citizen care center or orphanage, and spend a day serving meals at a soup kitchen.

The Daniel program is another program that focuses on Christian leadership.

Named after the Biblical Daniel, who Lane noted was a man of character, the Daniel program is an out-of-class leadership program that helps provide tools for kids to share their faith with others.

“If kids want to share their faith, it (the Daniel program) teaches them how to do it,” Lane said.

“Once each month, after school, we postpone all practices for one hour so kids can come if they so choose,” Lane said of the Daniel program.

Speakers discussing the topic of leadership with LHS students is another aspect of the Daniel program.

Mission trips to Central America have been service activities that LHS students and faculty have embarked upon, as well.

Most recently over Christmas break, 17 LHS students and five adult chaperones, including Lane, traveled to Mexico to build a home for a family.

Not only did the LHS group build a home, but it also made friends with many of the children that gathered around them as they constructed the home.

“About half of the group worked on building the home, which was small, and the other half spent time getting to know the local children. It was a very neat experience for our students, and very eye-opening. The conditions there are awful. We focused on the difference we could make for one family,” Lane said.

LHS seniors Ashley Sprengeler of Plato and Brandon Burfeind of Chanhassen were part of the mission trip group to Mexico. Both agreed it was a very worthwhile experience and made them feel even more grateful for the many blessings they have.

Sprengeler, who has never been on a mission trip before, said she did not know what to expect, but that the trip opened her eyes.

“They live so differently than we do. The neighborhood (in Mexico) was actually built on top of a dump,” Sprengeler said.

Burfeind, who has been on approximately five or six other mission trips, agreed with Sprengeler.

“They have absolutely nothing. We are so blessed, but yet they have a love for life and a love for God,” Burfeind said, noting that the Lutheran church has a pretty good presence there, with some of the nicest buildings being the church sanctuary.

“We saw some of the same kids at church service,” Burfeind added.

Lane noted that one of the small boys did not have shoes, and so part of the mission group went to El Paso, where the group was staying, and bought him some shoes at Wal-Mart.

“It was neat to watch the group become selfless, and not self-centered,” Lane said.

Although the living conditions were poor, both Burfeind and Sprengeler said they would do it again in a “heartbeat.”

“It was hard to leave (Mexico). When the kids came out, they were so happy to see us,” Sprengeler said.

“It was hard to leave the kids. Even with the language barrier and the short time we were there, a bond was formed with the kids,” Burfeind said. “It was cool to see God work.”

Mayer Lutheran web site

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