When the 2017-18 school year got under way this past August, Dave Gartner, St. John Lutheran School principal, had a pretty good idea that it would be a good one.
By the end of the year for the parochial school in Redwood Falls, those assumptions were confirmed.
“Overall, this was another great year here at St. John,” said Gartner.
For Gartner what convinced him things would go well started with the fact that the newest staff members started on the right foot.
“They started working right away last summer,” said Gartner, adding they really seemed to fit in well with the rest of the school staff. “They just jumped in and hit the ground running."
The theme verse for the 2017-18 year was I Thessalonians 5:16-18, which encourages Christians to rejoice in all things, to pray continually and to give thanks in all circumstances, because that is God’s will for their lives.
Throughout the year that message was taught in the classroom, said Gartner, adding he could see in the lives of the staff and students the words of those verses playing out on a regular basis.
Looking back, Gartner said there were many highlights during the year, including the Prairie Fire Theatre production of “Robin Hood” this spring to the Kids in Action programs where students were able to display things they have been learning and to offer vocal and instrumental concerts for the community.
“We are looking forward to doing Prairie Fire Theatre again next year,” said Gartner. “They do such a great job with the kids."
Again this year the students were able to experience some hands-on science through a high altitude balloon project. The ballon was released this spring and was found later in a field near Arlington.
Gartner expressed his appreciation for the teachers who will not be returning in the coming year, including Jody Schultz, who retired at the end of the current school year.
The school has offered calls to help fill in the open positions, and that process is nearly complete, said Gartner.
Appreciation was also offered by Gartner to the families of St. John Lutheran School who send their children – trusting the local school to teach them – as well as to all of the volunteers who help to make the school year such a positive one.
St. John school also says goodbye to a group of eighth graders Gartner said have meant a lot to the school over the years, especially during their final year at the local school.
“This is a top-notch group of students who have shown us their gifts in music, academics and athletics,” said Gartner. “It will be exciting to watch them as they continue at the high-school level and to see where they end up. Even through the last week of the school year, these students continued to work hard and to lead the other students.”
While Gartner can now talk of the 2017-18 school year in the past tense, he and the rest of the staff are already hard at work preparing for the new school year as they transition with new faces and some of the current staff members moving into different roles.
Gartner is looking forward to the summer months as they prepare for the new year, adding he knows the start of the 2018-19 school year will be here before long.