This year, enrollment in WELS’ high schools reached more than 7,000 students, a first in WELS history. That is 10.9 percent growth across-the-board since 2020.
WELS’ 27 area Lutheran high schools and two preparatory schools provide a Christian education not only to WELS young people but also to other teens from the community. Twenty-three percent of students in WELS high schools this year are from other Christian churches, while 11 percent are mission prospects, people from a non-Christian church or without a church home.
“In these trying and troubling times in America, we are seeing more people saying, ‘I want Jesus for my kids’ or ‘I want Christian values.’ They want to know that’s what their kids are going to hear at high school,” says James Rademan, director of WELS Lutheran Schools. “And high schools are excited and poised to share that gospel message.”
Read on to learn a little bit more about our WELS high schools.
Sharing a life-changing hope
Huron Valley Lutheran High School, Westland, Mich., has been providing Christian education in southeast Michigan for 48 years. Its emphasis of providing the life-changing hope of the gospel to its students and community will continue this next school year—but under a new name: Hope Christian Academy.
“We don’t have a large number of WELS kids in the area, and we know we had the ability to do more ministry with more families,” says Matt Foley, principal at Huron Valley/ Hope. “That was really the impetus behind seeing if we could reimagine how our ministry looks so we could better maximize the resources that God was giving us.”
The name change is just one piece of the school’s plan for the future. It also is adding grades six to eight, starting with the 2023–24 school year, hoping to attract more non-WELS students from the community. In planning for that change, the school re-examined its entire program of ministry and its educational philosophy, focusing on the core values of innovative education, extraordinary connection, and the life-changing hope of the gospel.
Besides connecting with families locally, the school also is working with Palabra de Vida, Detroit, a WELS Hispanic mission congregation 30 miles away. (Huron Valley Lutheran High School students from Palabra de Vida, Detroit, are pictured in the featured image above helping with the congregation’s Christmas for Kids in 2022.) For 10 years, Huron Valley has provided scholarships to the church’s youth to attend the school; about four to eight come each year. Now the congregation and school are issuing a joint call for a Spanish teacher at the high school who also will do teen ministry at the church.
“We’re praying that the Lord would bless these things and bring people onto our campus or lead to more interactions between our people in the community,” says Foley. “All we’re called to do is to be faithful with the gifts that he gives us. So we’re going to work hard on our plan and then see how the Lord blesses it.”
Prepared to serve
The vision of Northland Lutheran High School, Kronenwetter, Wis., is to “prepare each student for this life and for eternity through premier Christ-centered education.” With a 30 percent growth this past year—from 63 to 81 students—Northland continues to look for ways to serve its students, its community, and its Savior.
One of the ways Northland prepares its students for this life is by providing trade courses—construction, electrical, woodworking—taught by parents and local community experts. The school also works with area engineers, architects, and computer scientists to discover other specific skillsets these potential future employees may need as well as to connect businesses to students for on-the-job training and employment possibilities. It is looking at starting a medical program in the 2024–25 school year, offering more opportunities due to the high presence of bio-medical jobs in the area. “We want to do whatever possible to keep them in our communities and in our churches to strengthen our Christian mark in our part of the world,” says Ryan Wiechmann, principal at Northland.
Students will also have another opportunity to gain more real-world experience—this time in ministry work. The Board for Home Missions recently approved a new mission start in Kronenwetter, which will meet on Northland’s campus. “One of the Christian life skills that we measure in our curriculum is for our students to be confident witnesses for Christ so they can lovingly, logically, and scripturally share the hope they have in Jesus,” says Wiechmann. “What an advantage to have a mission church right on our facilities so it becomes so very real.” Wiechmann says the students not only can be a work force for the new mission pastor but also can take what they learn and get involved in their own congregations—now and in the future.
Did you know that WELS offers an online option for high school? Amazing Grace Virtual Academy offers a fully online curriculum for ninth and tenth grade and is adding 11th grade for the 2023–24 school year. Six full-time students currently are enrolled. Amazing Grace Virtual Academy has been providing online courses to supplement class offerings of WELS high schools and middle schools since 2010. The program has grown to serve about 350 students annually from more than 50 WELS/Evangelical Lutheran Synod high schools or middle schools.
Learn more at amazinggraceva.org.
Author: Forward in Christ
Volume: 110, Number 05
Issue: May 2023