HOWARD LAKE, MN St. James Lutheran School in Howard Lake will host its Centennial Celebration Sunday, Nov. 11. The public is welcome to celebrate the history of 100 years since the school’s founding Nov. 11, 1918.
St. James Lutheran Church (member of Minnesota South District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) is led by Rev. Mark Loder, pastor; and Josh Reber, vicar. St. James Lutheran School is led by Jason Roslansky, principal.
Principal Jason Roslansky
Principal Jason Roslansky, who serves St. James Lutheran School both as principal and social studies teacher, has been with St. James for two years, and is in his 16th year in education. Prior to coming to St. James, he was principal of a rural, public school in Alaska. He is originally from Minnesota.
Roslansky stated that St. James Lutheran School serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade, and has preschool for children 3 to 4 years old and preschool child care services. The school presently has 80 students and five teachers.
The school’s history
St. James Lutheran Church was incorporated in 1875. Many years later, the St. James congregation passed a resolution to establish a Christian school.
Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918, ended fighting in World War I between the Allies and Germany, and on that day, the school was founded a brick school building rising in Howard Lake.
Prior to the school’s founding, the pastor had been teaching the students reading in German, and holding services in German.
Amalia List was the school’s first teacher. The school’s first principal, Henry Miller, was hired in 1920, and served in many capacities, among them directing the choir, organist, secretary of the school, and writing meeting minutes in German.
Roslansky noted that while World War I was going on with Germany in opposition to the United States of America and its Allies, the situation could be tough for the population of Germans and those of German-descent living in Minnesota.
Even though the German population had been settled in Minnesota for many years and many had been born here, they often were disparaged and faced questions of loyalty to the US.
One can look up the history of discrimination, bad acts, and bad feelings in the state against the German population, while the world conflict of World War I raged.
Thus, the heavily German congregation of St. James was gratified to establish its Christian education school on Armistice Day, a date with enormous symbolism.
Church and school
Roslansky emphasized that the church and school stand together; the school is an extension of the church body, and together, they are considered one congregation of worshipers.
The school’s mission is the same as that of the church, “Equipping and Empowering Families and Students through Christ.”
St. James Lutheran Church treats the school as its mission. The governing school board is comprised of church members. The board hires a principal to act as an administrator of the school. The selection of teachers is done through a call process and an interview process. School policy is communicated and transmitted to teachers through the school board and the principal.
Roslansky stated the priorities for St. James Lutheran School will be engaging in a self-reflecting process as part of its cyclical accreditation process through National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA).
A team of experts, including consultants with many years of experience in education, will visit the school, talk with the staff, and identify and evaluate practices to make suggestions and recommendations for improvement in this five-year cycle of accreditation.
The team will develop and pass this information to the NLSA board.
The next four years will involve working on the recommendations from the accreditation process, and the school will be made better by this thought process.
The principal noted that the school has been accredited best practice in scheduling, and has the best teacher-to-student ratio in the area. The school has achieved this impressive feat by its structure and methods of combining some years of classes, the use of volunteers, and scheduling of specific subjects to be taught to a group while other grade classes are combined at the time.
While technology, modern teaching strategies, and best practices in teaching are kept agile over time, the principal explained that in 100 years, and going into the future, one thing that has, and will never change or be compromised is to “keep the school Christ-centered.”
Gathering historical items
There is a committee (including historians) working to gather historical items from the church and school. They have left this project open-ended, not wanting to cut short their time by the deadline of the centennial celebration.
The committee will be gathering photos and letters from the historical time period to place in books for preservation. Correspondence between people of the time period could furnish insights into the history of the church, school, and area.
Anyone who has items they would like to share is encouraged to contact Nancy Butterfass, school secretary, at 320-543-2630.
Centennial Celebration Sunday, Nov. 11
2 p.m. Service in the church (all alumni encouraged to attend).
2:45 p.m. After the service there will be a group photo taken with the alumni.
3 to 7 p.m. Open house for the public. Refreshments, birthday cake, and hors d’oeuvres will be served.
Visitors can enjoy fellowship and view the historical displays of items, including yearbooks, from the school’s 100-year history.