The 29th Annual St. John’s Student Leadership Retreat

Every summer, two weeks before the upcoming school year begins,  twenty-four 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students from the St. John’s Lutheran School Student Leadership Team attend an on-campus “retreat.”  The morning sessions of August 5th, 2019 provided this year’s team the opportunity to plan, prepare and strategize for the major events it will host for the upcoming school year, including:

      • Spring Spirit Week planning
      • Packaging 75 Open House “Survival Kits” for the incoming 6th graders
      • Habit of Mind presentation training with Mr. Mercier


  • Habitudes (Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes) training with Mr. Mercier


    • Peer Counseling training with Miss Doyle
    • Life Group Leader training with Mrs. VB
    • Shepherding instructions with Mr. Stuewe

After eating lunch with Dr. Hollatz,  Mrs. VB was gracious enough to host a team building pool party at her house.  This gave our Student Leaders an opportunity to get to know each other in a fun, safe, encouraging environment.

The St. John’s Student Leadership Team is excited to serve our schools student body, our congregation and community.  What a blessing it is to have such a dedicated group of students and teachers who want to make a positive difference in the lives of so many people during the 2019-2020 school year.

By: Mr. Nathan Mercier, 6th grade, Student Leadership


Peru Project – Part II

In part 1 I outlined this project which St. John’s students have been supporting for the past 9 years.
Once my wife, Patty, and I have a list of projects our work begins. One of the major projects we wanted to take on was quickly started:  the awning to cover the space between the two classrooms.
The biggest consideration was where the awning would be of most benefit. The next was timing:  how to get the structure built and the awning made so that both would be done before we leave in July.  Two different people are needed, a carpenter and an awning maker.  The last consideration was that the entire structure needed to be done in such a way that it can be unassembled and moved when the government comes through with the funds to remodel the school. This could be as early as this September or up to several years.
Lola wanted the space between the two largest classrooms covered. (See the first picture.)  This decided we then began to work on how to best coordinate structure with awning.  The carpenter gave us a time frame for completion just before we were to leave Perú. That meant the awning person would have to work from dimensions given by the carpenter rather than taken from the actual structure. This is risky at best. In the end we decided to have the carpenter build a structure the same size as the structure covering the play structure. (See picture #2)  to our amazement these dimensions fit almost perfectly into the desired space. And even better: because the two structures will be identical it will allow  Lola to design the space in the new school around the shade structures, placing  them end-to-end. It will add continuity in the long-run.
This decision also allowed the awning person to take more accurate measurements from the existent awning for the new awning. We took bids from several awning makers and chose the one who offered quality and the best price. It would cost about $850 for a high quality, water/weather proof material made to special order and installed.  About a week later we returned from a short trip to Cajamarca to find the rolled up cover (photo #3) hand delivered and ready to installed when the carpenter finished his work.  It weighs about 300 lbs.
The carpenter was called and came to the school to get the measurements for the awning structure. We agreed on a price (about $1500 equivalent in national money: Soles) and we went to Trujillo to exchange dollars. (Picture 4 shows the structure being put in place.) While there we went to a local store called Sodimac to see if they had prefabricated shelves the size we wanted. Sodimac is a Homedepot-like store which recently has come to Trujillo. While convenient it doesn’t offer a lot in terms of shelving. Nothing we could find fit the dimensions needed.  We wanted to steer clear of donating something which would just be makeshift. The units we did see were expensive and low quality.
So we began looking for plan B.  A family member recommended a young man in the town who had recently built some cabinets for a local restaurant. The young man’s name is Meikel and he works with a material he calls melamine, a kind of particle board covered in formica-like material. He could build sturdy shelves to the dimensions we wanted at less cost than the prefabricated odd-sized units we had looked at.  It did mean more footwork for us, but assured something which will endure the hard use they will receive, while adding uniformity to the classrooms.
The photos 5 and 6 show Meikel, the handy man, constructing the five shelves in our living room. It took he and his wife two days to put them together and they looked great.
Part three:  going shopping for things on the wish list.

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Peru Project Update!

The Perú project is well under way. For those who dont know, the students at St. John’s have been supporting a small preschool in the coastal town of Las Delicias, Peru for the past 9 years. The school provides education to the poorest children in the small town.   The significant impact these donations have had over the years can be viewed here:
This year we arrived at the school on June 14th, 2019 to determine how we could best help the school.  The fund had over $7,000 which was raised over the past several years by SJLS students. We hoped to do something with technology for the students, and as well to replace the awning structure donated by St. John’s 8 years ago. This original structure was only to be temporary and outlasted our expectations considerably.  Being made of metal the ocean breeze has eaten away at the structure and awning. We planned to replace it with a wooden structure. The first picture shows the original awning and it’s poor state of condition.
The present principal is a real go-getter.  Since the beginning of her time at the school she has recognized the importance of St. John’s donations and has done her part to meet expectations.  All of this can be seen in the video link given above.  The principal, Lola Kong, let us know that the best technological support we could give would be large screen televisions with USB ports. They have free access to educational videos. This seemed a very viable way we could help. As seen in the second photo, far left, the television for the 5 year olds is small and ineffective.
As well, Lola expressed the desire to have a series of shelves,  all of the same size and color to replace the makeshift shelves used around the classrooms. (see the third photo) These makeshift shelves have served a purpose but not being made for storing things, they were second best.
And finally Lola gave us a “wish” list of items they could really use:  dolls for the children to play with (see video link mentioned above—at the very end), as well as puzzles, musical instruments, costumes (firefighter, police, nurse/doctor, carpenter), hand puppets, a First Aid box, megaphone (for emergency drills), basketballs, volleyball, soccer balls, cones for PE, curtains for the 5 year old classroom, play kitchen sets, magnifying glasses, rulers, plastic chairs for adults (12 for parent meetings) and PE/emergency whistles to name a few.
Patty, my wife, and I had our work cut out for us. In my next installment I will show the progress being made.
Doug Stone, Spanish Teacher grades 7-8

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! 

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.