Saginaw, MI January 8, 1978
The fruition of many dreams, many prayers and a lot of hard work was about to become reality. A very chilly day greeted us as we huddled in the middle of a farm field in Saginaw Township. Looking around in all directions you only saw fields and trees and if your eyes were really good you could make out the Greek Church half a mile away. I was eleven years old and was surrounded by my parents, brothers & sisters, some of my best friends and their families and a whole lot of friends that I didn’t know yet, strangers for now.
A man in a white-collar stepped forward and offered a prayer to start the ceremony. The main attraction was a shiny shovel and the men who took to the shovel to turn the dirt. We were not witnessing gardening by the masses, although you could say we were planting a seed, we were breaking ground. The ground that was broke and the seed that was planted grew to become the building and grounds of Valley Lutheran High School. Dreams, prayers, hard work.
The idea was to continue a Christ centered education beyond the K-8 that currently existed in many of the area Lutheran Churches. The school started in the basement of Faith Lutheran off of Bay Rd in Saginaw and today was the day that the building of the new school would begin.
For the past 38 years Valley Lutheran has done what the founders had visioned and so much more. Over that time frame, Valley Lutheran has nurtured the faith, educated the minds and created over 3000 Christian leaders through their high school education. The future looks bright.
May 29, 2015 it is 10:15am and I am sitting in a chair in the front row in the gymnasium(Chapelgymnatorium formerly known as the Carpet Dome) of the high school I graduated from, Valley Lutheran High School. I am an invited guest along with about 60 others and we are surrounded by roughly 350 students of Valley Lutheran.
It’s hot. I’m sweating. I’m smiling and emotional. It is a smile of pride and a smile of feeling blessed. I sit next to my parents, one of my many sources of pride and I know that my daughter Sydney is somewhere behind me among the students, another source of my pride. Three generations, a shared dream, hard work and answered prayers.
A man in a white-collar(metaphorically speaking Pastor Korte actually was wearing a tie) steps forward and offers a prayer to start the ceremony. We were invited to join in the students chapel this morning and also a special ceremony to burn the schools mortgage. Debt free. As Al Kaul(VL ’87) would say in his message a little later, similar to how we are in God’s eyes, debt free.
Such an occasion is spectacular in scope and it of course has to have a hiccup or two. One such arose with the fire codes. The Township fire code would not allow the burning of two sheets(yes one was fine) of paper indoors. No worries, a ceremonial urn was placed outside the double doors of the Chapelgymnatorium for the burning.
Two couples earned the honor to burn the mortgage by being the highest bidders at the schools annual auction. My parents Dennis and Nancy were one and Dave and Donna Sting were the others.
My parents represented the beginning. They both served the school when it was first organized and built. They continued on with service on the various boards and foundations. They are founders, parents of alumni and this year grandparents of a student. They showed me what it meant to give back, to serve.
The Stings represent the future. They are new to Valley Lutheran and have a granddaughter who is freshman and two more behind her. They thought enough of what Valley Lutheran means to their grand children to bid high.
As the ceremony progressed and the burning began I was waved over along with my friend and fellow alum Rodney Wakeman to the burning. We stood with my parents, the Sting’s, Dr. Brandt and Kyle DeWees(development director). Call it one of the perks of the position, or call it dumb luck, it is a moment I won’t forget. I am lucky enough to be the President of the Board of Directors of Valley Lutheran this year and Rodney is the President of the Valley Lutheran Foundation. coincidence? I think not. Rodney’s parents were there in the beginning too. Dreams, prayers and hard work.