Immanuel Lutheran School, the educational ministry of Immanuel Lutheran Church, will celebrate its 75h anniversary this weekend.
"Through the Years," a booklet written by Erma Jean Haas, church secretary for 33 years, will be available at the celebration.
"One of the reasons I wrote this history was for posterity," she said in a recent interview. "The other was to wrap up all the material I had accumulated into one package."
Haas's review of history includes a look at the early years of worship by Lutherans in this part of the country, plus a history of the Immanuel Lutheran Church and a history of the school.
"I believe you will note at least three things which stand out in the lives of these Lutheran Christians — both then and now," Haas writes.
"They were clannish!
"They felt a deep desire to worship their Lord and Savior.
"A great deal of importance was placed on the Christian education of their children."
Immanuel Lutheran Church opened its first Christian day school in September 1933 in the church basement.
September 1933 was more than 75 years ago, but the school is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Why? Because there were some years when the school was closed, owing to a lack of a teacher.
Also, it should be noted that the school opened in the red brick church building at 12th and Spring streets, the former location of the church. The current church building at 801 W. 11th St., was dedicated on May 18, 1958.
In that first school were 25 students in eight grades with one teacher, Rudolph Baerns, who had attended Concordia College, River Forest, Ill.
Children were picked up in an old school bus the congregation bought. It was driven daily by the Rev. Paul Streufert, the church's pastor. He drove a 50-mile route. Meanwhile, Baerns drove the pastor's car on another route to pick up children, and a carpool brought children from Newburg, Haas notes in her booklet.
"What dedication!" she declares in the booklet. "These parents did indeed have a deep desire to provide a Christian education for their children."
Three years later, the enrollment had jumped to 66 pupils.
"A portable building was secured from the slums of St. Louis which the congregation felt could be rebuilt and used for a school building," Haas writes. "It was purchased for $50, disassembled and hauled in pieces, by truck, to Rolla, which cost another $450. It was completely rebuilt by members of the congregation and dedicated in May of 1936."
Haas notes that the building still stands on West 12th Street between the old church and the parsonage; it has been remodeled for housing.
The church and school continued to grow. There were difficulties with filling the pastorate and the school teaching position from time to time, but that didn't stop the growth and the need for more space.
By the time the Rev. William J. Friederichs of Chickasha, Okla., was called to minister here in 1954, "the church was filled on Sundays making it necessary to use folding chairs in the center aisle and the church vestibule. The need for more space to carry out the parish ministry, the school ministry, as well as the campus ministry was evident."
The congregation bought five lots along 11th Street between Spring and Poole avenues, just one block from the old church and school.
During the Lenten season in 1955, the congregation decided to build a new church building. The school continued to meet in the building put up in May 1936.
Groundbreaking for a new church house took place in May 1957. Worship in that building began a year later and soon the congregation began planning a new building for the school.
The new school was built on West 11th Street; it was finished in January 1960.
The old church was sold to the VFW, which later sold it to the Rolla Bible Church, which held services there for several years. It has been sold again and now serves as student housing.
Instruction in the new schoolhouse began in January 1960.
Over the years,, there were changes such as the addition of a library and office.
"Two more rooms were added to the school, making it possible to have two grades per room, plus a kindergarten classroom," Haas writes.
The congregation continued to see a need to build to expand ministries, especially for the school's students and for the campus ministry.
"The educational building, with the added space would be known as The Family Life Center," writes Haas. "It was dedicated on July 23, 2000."
The school, which had been a kindergarten through sixth grade institution for many years added seventh grade in 2008. This year, eighth grade was added as a pilot program.
"The school has been providing academic excellence with a Christian focus to the children of the Rolla and surrounding areas for 75 years," Haas writes. "The alumni of ILS have gone on to be pastors and teachers, doctors, dentists, nurses, soldiers and race car drivers and —most importantly — Christian men and women."
The school has an enrollment of 54 students.
Current staff is as follows: Sammye Elliott, principal and grades 3-4 teacher; Kent Golchert, grades 5-8 teacher; Sue Burgdorf, grades 1-2 teacher; Cindy Fish, kindergarten teacher; Shawna Cochran, preschool teacher.
More than 70 teachers have served the Immanuel Lutheran School over the past 75 years.