If Dave Gartner had been told in 2010 that by the start of the 2018-19 school year that St. John Lutheran School in Redwood Falls would have an enrollment of more than 160 students in preschool through the eighth grade, he likely would not have believed it.

“We have been so blessed,” said Gartner, who serves as St. John school principal. “We have an opportunity here at St. John to share God’s word with all of those students.”

That, he said, is a great privilege those at the school do not take lightly.

For St. John Lutheran School the 2018-19 academic year begins this coming Monday (Aug. 27), and Gartner expressed his excitement about the start of another new year.

“We have a lot of new families this year, and it is great to start new relationships with them,” said Gartner.

He added there are also two new teachers at the school this year, and Gartner said he is excited about what they are going to bring to their classrooms when school begins.

For Gartner just seeing the staff, including the new teachers as well as those who have been part of the program, working together has been enjoyable.

Over the summer, Gartner said the building was freshened up a bit, adding that work was done by volunteers who came in to do the work.

“It was great to see so many people here helping,” said Gartner, as he expressed his appreciation for those efforts.

This year the school is incorporating a new reading curriculum, Gartner said, that provides the skeleton of those important foundational reading skills and connects reading together with spelling and writing.

The school also continues its focus on technology and getting devices into the hands of its students, as Gartner said that has become much more of an important element of education for students as they are preparing for the next stages of education and beyond. 

“We hold fundraisers throughout the year to help pay for the technology we use,” he said.

Being part of the community is important for those at St. John Lutheran School, and it continues to work on ways to be more open and inviting.

With that in mind, the school is hosting a Back to School hog roast this Sunday (Aug. 26) at noon as a way to kick off the new school year and to invite the community to learn more about the school.

The event will include food, games, a dunk tank, face painting and other activities for the whole family. Everyone is welcome.

St. John Lutheran School is also planning its Kick-It For Cancer kickball tournament, which is being held Sept. 14 at the school.

Gartner said this is the third time the school has hosted this fundraising event, adding the school has raised more than $8,000 each time it has been held.

That day students from five other schools in the region will join St. John’s students in raising funds for childhood cancer research.

The funds are given to Alex’s Lemonade Stand /Kick-It, which is a national volunteer driven effort focused on raising funds for childhood cancer research.

Donations are being accepted to help cover the costs of the day as well as for the fundraising effort. To learn more about the upcoming tournament and how to get involved, contact the school at (507) 617-3002.

Gartner said the theme verse for the school year is I John 3:1, which talks about the love that God has lavished on his children.

He said that will be a major area of focus as students not only learn the fundamentals of education but also about their faith.

For more than 35 years St. John Lutheran School has seen God’s grace unfold in many ways, and over that same period of time it has had the privilege of sharing the Christian faith with children.

As a new year begins, Gartner said while there may be changes over the years that is the one thing that remains, and always will remain, the same.