St. Paul School History
From its very beginning in 1948, and its formal incorporation in 1950, St. Paul Lutheran Church, with its two and one-half acres of land donated by Mrs. Martha Fenzau, planned for the Christian education of the children of the congregation. To this end, Miss Helen Kluck, a nurse and Lutheran deaconess, was installed on August 23, 1953, and opened the first session of kindergarten on September 12, 1953, in the basement of the home of Mr. and Mrs. Roland Priebe.
With the completion of St. Pauls first church in 1954, the kindergarten class was moved into the church building, using the overflow room at the back of the church for its classroom. The 1954 dedication brochure stated, "The Board of Education is contemplating the possibilities of a Christian Day School in the near future."
Recognizing this need to establish a Christian Day School for its fast-growing membership consisting of many young families with children, the congregation, in 1958, embarked on a Build to Grow in Christ program. Members had pledged $100,000 for the school addition. Additional land was donated by the Fenzau family; and groundbreaking, using a plow pulled by 125 children, was held on April 12, 1959. The cornerstone was laid on July 5, 1959.
Following a survey by the Board of Education, the congregation decided to begin the 1959-1960 school year with kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades. Mr. Charles G. Nehring, a 1959 graduate of Concordia Teachers College, River Forest, IL, accepted the congregation's call to serve as principal, teacher of grades 1 and 2 and director of music for the congregation and was installed on August 16, 1959. School began on September 8th; but, since the new building was not yet finished, both Miss Kluck's kindergarten class of 34 children and Mr. Nehring's 35 first and second graders used the overflow room space to hold classes. There was much joy when the new St. Paul Lutheran School was finished and formally dedicated to the glory of God on October 18, 1959.
The congregation's plan called for adding one or two grades each year until all eight grades were reached. Therefore Mr. Bill Rakow, called also as youth director, and Miss Vera Wunderlich began teaching in 1960. Miss Ruth Schmidt (Sievers) was called in 1961 to teach and also assist with the expanding music program of the congregation. During the early years of the school, Mrs. Anamae Landstrom and Mrs. Olivia Neubauer also taught sessions of kindergarten.
Late in 1962, plans were made to complete the educational unit with four new classrooms (two on the east end and two on the west end of the building) and a gymnasium/Fellowship Hall. The addition of wings to enlarge the church was also included. The theme in the brochure was Growing in faith, in hope, in love, which was borrowed as the theme for the 50th Anniversary celebration. The dedication of the new facilities was held on May 17, 1964.
The school year 1963-1964 had a total of 252 pupils in the day school, with only the 8th grade yet to be added. This was accomplished the following year with 16 students who became St. Paul's first graduating class of 1965. Most of the classes numbered over 30 students. In the early years, St. Paul also maintained its own bus, which regularly made two runs in both the morning and afternoon to bring children to and from school. Choir, band, and sports programs (which continue to this day) were begun in the 60's.
At the close of the 1969 school year, Mr. Nehring accepted a call to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Mr. Delbert Stegemann accepted St. Paul's call to become principal. Under his leadership, the beginning of Chicagoland Lutheran Special Education was formed; Apple computers were introduced to faculty and students; neighboring Lutheran congregations were offered reduced tuition costs to students of their congregations; and 5th graders attended the Walcamp Outdoor Ed. Program.
In 1975, the congregation called Mrs. Sievers to develop and teach pre-kindergarten classes for 3- and 4- year olds. St. Paul was now a PK3 - Grade 8 school. Mr. Stegemann retired at the end of the 1990-1991 school year. In 1991, the congregation contracted Mrs. Darlene Agner as principal. She served for two years and guided the school through a rigorous self-study which led to accreditation from both National Lutheran Schools Accreditation and the State of Illinois Accreditation. Mr. Brian Ryherd became the school's fourth principal in 1993, and Mr. Douglas Jacoby became principal in 1996.
In the 1990's, the congregation reviewed what was needed to help families with both caring for and educating their children. After the establishment of a special committee in 1997 and much discussion, the congregation passed a resolution to enter another building program to refurbish the chancel - and for the school, to add more classroom space, a much-needed school office, and a day care center, which would incorporate the pre-kindergarten programs. The kindergarten program would then change from its half-day format to a full-day program. The new addition and refurbished facilities were dedicated on October 24, 1999.
In 1999, Mr. Aaron Landgrave arrived as St. Paul's sixth principal just in time to help the new day care and pre-kindergarten center get ready to open. Parents and students will not forget the excitement of a new playground being built with many volunteers. During his years as principal, he guided St. Paul School through the aftermath of the 9/11 attack and its impact on schools; and updated programs, such as computers/technology bringing them into the 21st Century.
In 2008, Mr. Mark Hackelberg became the seventh principal of St. Paul School and remained in the position until 2010.
Then, in 2010, Mrs. Lana Hahn became our eighth principal. Today we thank God and celebrate more than 55 years of blessings on our school!
Click here for a list of the teachers who have served at St Paul Lutheran School in Oak Lawn Illinois.