History of St. Luke’s Lutheran School
In 1944, Pastor Tuhy began a nursery school for ages 3-5. He began by collecting the preschoolers and instructing them in Bible studies, music and the Slovak language.
In 1947 the congregation called its first teacher, Miss Dorothy Daniel, and School officially began with 12 students in a one room school house added to the old church. She taught grades 1,2,3 and 5. By the second year enrollment at the school known as St. Luke’s Christian Day School almost doubled. Miss Daniel continued her work in that one room with all grades.
In 1949 a new two winged school building with an auditorium was built at a cost of $40,000. Miss Marcella Rubis and Miss Ruth Froamming taught all 8 grades. By the third year of operation the school program expanded to cover 34 students and two teachers. Each teacher was teaching several grades in one room.
In 1950, Kindergarten through grade 6 were taught by Miss Elinor Junas and Miss Marian Stanko. Enrollment climbed to 37 students.
In 1951, school enrollment was fifty pupils. Classes were taught by Miss Junas (pr: younas) and Miss Betty (Duda), a student teacher from Chicago.
The school kept growing by leaps and bounds. Our first principal and male teacher, Mr. Elmer Bellhorn, came in 1952 and Mrs. Emmeline Best joined the faculty that year. Our school produced its first operetta, “In the Land of Dreams Come True”. The whole community and surrounding areas attended with 208 people attending and the whole school body of 54 students performing.
The first graduation ceremony was held in the church in 1953. Members of the class were Ferdinand Duda, Raymond Mikler, Luther Duda, Elena Tuhy and Irene Hvizdak. Miss Vera Fabry joined the staff and the school chorus began recording songs that year that were broadcast on the radio.
St. Luke’s Christian Day School enrollment continued to increase so in 1954, another wing was added to accommodate the growing enrollment. Mr. Steven Sidlik was added to our faculty. Miss Judy DeCoste (Duda) was called in 1958.
In 1961, after 15 years in operation we had 150 students, 8 grades and a kindergarten, two called teachers and three lay teachers. By 1967, Pastor Tuhy saw the church grow to a membership of 500 and the school’s enrollment increase to more than 350 students in Kindergarten through 9th grade.
St. Luke’s school enrollment climbed rapidly during this same period, requiring many new staff positions and the construction of additional classrooms. Elmer Bellhorn had guided the school through tremendous growth since his arrival as its first principa. Miss Peggy (Lukas) was called in 1971.
In 1974, the east “Jr High” building was added with 5 classrooms and bathrooms. In 1976, the school welcomed Robert Flesch as its new principal, while Mr. Bellhorn continued to enjoy teaching until his final retirement.
In 1979, a new gymnasium and athletic track were constructed. Founders Hall, built at a cost of $500,000 and dedicated to the early settlers who founded the church, offered space for new school curriculum and congregational activities. The school continued to expand and began using classrooms in the church sanctuary that was constructed in 1993.
Within a few years, it became apparent that a new school building was needed. A year after the groundbreaking ceremony in the spring of 2000, the two-story school building was ready for occupancy. St. Luke’s teachers welcomed students to their beautiful new classrooms in August, 2001. This new Preschool – 8th grade building was finished and held 665 students at a cost of just over $8 million. It was exciting for the school to have classrooms specifically dedicated for science, art and technology.
The Preschool program, started in 2001, grew TEN-FOLD…from 20 students to more than 200… within a decade, bringing total school enrollment to over 700 students in 2012. The Preschool program began as a single classroom in the new school building in 2001 then moved to the old school after the first couple of years and expanded. The Lutheran Haven day care program was merged into our preschool in 2007 and moved completely to our campus in 2012. The entire original school building was eventually filled with preschool classrooms. It is now affectionately called “Slavia Square”.
Rev. Stephen Tuhy
Dorothy Daniel Bruning
Betty Belencak Duda
Shealy Emmeline Best
Judy DeCoste Duda
E. Virginia Bellhorn
Mary Ann Tesinsky Weisenbarger McNamara
Rev. John Kucharik
Caroline (Carrie) Foust Jakubcin
Peggy (Margaret) Baisch Lukas
Linda Duda Beasley Nichols
Rev. William von Spreckleson
Mary Lou Linck
Jeanne Pyle Wacker
Rev. Ed Rossow
Karen Hartman West
Dr. Janet Smith
Rev. Wally Arp
Rev. Brian Roberts
Rev. Gary Schuschke
Rev. Scott Abel
Blanca Sliva Delgado
Erica Barbari Rojas
Rev. Tige Culbertson
Anne Marie Bartek
Christina Moore Nugent
Mary Ann Nickle
Rev. Lawton Thompson