National Lutheran School Week – Generations!

St. John’s is celebrating National Lutheran Schools Week.  As we celebrate the overall theme, REAL. PRESENT. GOD., we also focus on five emphases: Real Grace, Real Places, Real People, Real Time, and Real Praise. The Neben and Van Blarcom families have experienced every aspect of a REAL. PRESENT. GOD. at St. John’s, as students and teachers in the classroom.

Real Grace – God’s word and His grace has been taught for many generations at St. John’s Lutheran School through the Neben and Van Blarcom families.

Real Places – The classrooms at St. John’s Lutheran School.

Real People – Mr. Eldon “Nobby” Neben, Mrs. Rose Neben, Mrs. Stephanie  “VB” Van Blarcom, Mr. Jason Neben (Mr. & Mrs. Neben’s son), Miss Amy Neben (Mr. and Mrs. Neben’s daughter), Pastor Trevor Van Blarcom (Mrs. VB’s son), B. Van Blarcom (Pastor Trevor’s daughter)

Mr. E. Neben was principal while Mrs. VB and Mr. J. Neben were students.

Mrs. Neben was the school nurse while Mrs. VB, Mr. J. Neben, Miss Neben, and Pastor Trevor were students.

Mrs. VB taught Miss Neben in middle school.

Mr. J. Neben taught Pastor Trevor in middle school.

Miss Neben currently teaches B.

Real Time – Since 1960, a Neben and/or a Van Blarcom has been on staff at St. John’s in one or more of the following positions: principal, assistant principal, teacher, nurse, coach, and pastor.

Real Praise – Praise the Lord for teachers and administrators that work at St. John’s Lutheran School!  May God continue to receive our praise as we, the Neben’s and Van Blarcom’s, serve Him as partners in Lutheran school ministry.

St. John’s Lutheran School has a REAL. PRESENT. GOD. that has blessed generations in the past and is blessing generations to come!


National Jr. Honor Society

The St. John’s chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) has been busy.  Each year our members complete two all-member service projects: one in the fall and one in the spring. The first project this year was wholly member designed and executed.  Mrs. Kruse and I (Sr. Stone) feel strongly that the value in this project comes from members hands on learning in the process.  We step in and guide but let them do the work and learn what goes into creating and carrying out a service project.

The process begins with a brainstorming meeting.  Here members give ideas for possible projects.  Committees are formed and these members then go out and gather information.  At the next meeting, each committee presents their findings.  All but the most feasible projects are eliminated, a vote is taken, and then organization begins. 

This year our members chose to collect money for victims of hurricanes Florence and Michael in two ways: a donation competition between grade levels and an Otter Pop sale.  The Otter Pop sale was wholly member organized (where? how much? Who? when?).  It was a successful way to launch the donation cycle. In the end they raised over $100 in just one day. For the donation cycle, members chose homerooms to visit to remind students to donate, update them on amounts of money collected and to collect money which had been placed in their room’s donation bag.  The prize was a free-dress day.

The result of their hard work over the 4-week period was impressive.  They set a goal of $1500, an ambitious number considering they were competing with several other donation drives and had only 4 weeks for collecting.  In the end they raised $1570. 

For Mrs. Kruse and me it is a great pleasure to guide the students through this process and watch them use their individual gifts to find creative solutions to problems which come up.  They develop valuable skills for organization, as well as learn to approach and deal with the adults involved.  Our hats go off to this exceptional group of students! 

International Dining Table

St. John’s Students Get a Taste of Global Cultures

A heady but wonderful series of smells permeated the Sixth Grade foyer during the middle of January, as students enrolled in Mr. Smith’s “Cultural Mythology” elective presented their culminating semester projects.  Tasked with researching a particular mythology of an international culture, students produced their multi-media presentations and the handouts that recorded the most significant content.  It was, however, the samples of representative cultural food each group shared with the class that caused the most stir.

Students sampled treats from China, South Africa, Polynesia, Ireland, South Africa, Siberia, Slovakia, Japan, Mexico, and even from the mythical island of Themyscira, home of the Amazons.  While not all culinary delights were truly representative of the specific culture (“Lucky Charms” embodying Ireland might be a bit of a stretch), students truly gained a global experience: learning about each culture’s historical context, mythology, and cultural values. As an added bonus, students also may have discovered some unfamiliar types of cuisine.

The “Cultural Mythology” elective — along with its sister course, “Scandinavian Mythology” – is an element connected with one of St. John’s Lutheran School’s  Student Learning Outcomes: developing responsible global citizens.  Students in Sixth through Eighth Grades are welcome to select the course.

By: Mr. Kevin G. Smith, 7th grade ELA

Global Learners!

During the month of December the 5th graders embarked upon a journey to learn more about holidays and festivals around the world through the platform of PenPal Schools. PenPal Schools is a safe, online, global community where students from all over the world come together to learn from one another. The 5th graders read about various topics including New Year’s Day celebrations around the world and both religious and secular holidays around the world. They then shared their ideas on these topics by writing well crafted paragraphs to post online. This is where the fun started! The students were then able to connect with students from all over the world to read and comment on their writing. Our 5th graders connected with students from many different countries including Norway, Canada, Ukraine, Italy, Taiwan, Turkey, Sweden and many more!

The students were able to not only practice their reading and writing skills, but they grew in the area of digital citizenship through this project. When communicating with other students, we discussed making sure that the students showed their best work and treated others with respect. This was a great opportunity for our students to practice and utilize the digital citizenship skills that we have been learning throughout this year in a safe, real-life environment.  

A few student reflections about this project:

“PenPal schools is very cool. I learned how people all around world celebrate holidays. For me, the most interesting one was how in some parts of the world they celebrate Christmas and New Years in the summer!” – Maddie T. 

“I was so surprised that there were so many ways to celebrate one holiday. I also learned a few new traditions I can share with my family. Like covering the birthday girl or boy in flour from head to toe! I think this project was fun!” – Ella C.

“One thing that surprised me was that everybody was so nice and some people had different traditions and nobody would make fun of them and they only pulled out the good stuff about it.” – Miah L. 

“Many things surprised me about this project. One is that there are so many different people from other countries. It is also interesting that so many people can write in English so well even though they speak a different language at home. It would be so cool if I could go to all of the places one day.” – Riley H.

By: Mrs. Keelie Knego, 5th grade

Middle School Students Serving!

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.  If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV).  As we remember the greatest gift God gave us through sending His one and only Son Jesus into the world that long-ago Christmas to be our Savior, middle school students on Friday, December 21st, put the words of 1 Peter into action by making 100 fleece tie blankets and giving them as gifts to the patrons of the Orange Senior Center. 

Students completed the service project with their Bible study life group.  Each group is made up of sixth, seventh and eighth graders.  The student leader of each group retrieved the supplies of eight fleece fabric pieces, scissors, ribbon, cards and Christmas sayings and brought them to their group which was located somewhere throughout the middle school classrooms and hallways.  Once the group was organized, group members set to work putting fleece pieces together, evening them out, cutting strips, tying knots, folding, rolling, then tying each finished blanket with a ribbon and a St. John’s Christmas services card invitation with a special handwritten Christmas saying.

Once all the blankets were finished, they were piled into a car and taken to the Orange Senior Center by a group of eighth graders where a student explained the process of making the blankets and the location of our school in the neighborhood, and that we (St. John’s Lutheran School) are praying for the patrons and wishing them a Merry Christmas.  The students then passed out the blankets and gave hugs and the patrons were very appreciative of the gift they received.  In the end, the middle school students had a wonderful opportunity to use the gifts and talents God has blessed them with to glorify and serve Him by creating the hand-made blankets and presenting them as gifts to others.