Our Story Making a Difference Video
Robert Hall, Martin Luther High School's first Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Paul Steinhaus, Principal, were interviewed by Our Story Productions to tell the MLHS Story.
For more hometown stories go to Our Story Productions.
Martin Luther High School, Northrop began as a dream when area pastors and teachers met on November 4th, 1946 to discuss the possibility of beginning a Lutheran High School in Martin County. Those attending were: Pastors Degner, Heyne, Koberg, Krause and Malkow; Lutheran Teachers Gottschalk, Groenke, Krause, Metz and Otte. Another meeting was held on January 6, 1947.
On March 3, 1947 a group of 33 concerned Missouri Synod clergy, teachers and laymen formed the Lutheran Education Association. The purpose of this organization was to plan for a Lutheran high school in South Central Minnesota and for the betterment of Christian education in all aspects for our young people.
By the year 1949, this group had grown to 64 members. Regular meetings, banquets and activities were held. The first Lutheran eight grade combined graduation took place in May of 1953. The first Baccalaureate Service for the Lutheran high school youth was also held that same month. The first LEA fellowship banquet was held in October of 1953. The first combined Lutheran elementary school Spring Musical was held in April of 1954.
The first found Minutes of regular meetings of the LEA were from May of 1955. At that time Rev. O. Cloeter was president with Mr. L. Gottschalk as secretary. The governing body was referred to as the Board of Regents. Some members were: Mr. A. Fanter, Rev. O Hinricks and Mr. C. Brose. The speaker for that meeting was Dr. O. P. Kretzmann.
The fourth annual LEA banquet was held on November 11, 1956 at St. Paul’s in Fairmont, with Mr. H. Warnke of Fox Valley Lutheran High School, Appleton, WI as the speaker. The purchase of land for a high school was being considered and the dream continued.
During the month of April, 1957 a meeting was held at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Fairmont. It was decided that an option of land south of the new water tower in Fairmont be taken. Significant individuals at this meeting were Mr. L. Gottschalk, Rev. O. Krause, Rev. E. Heyne and Rev. A. Cloeter.
The October meeting in 1958 was significant in the fact that the LEA voted to incorporate. Their membership had grown to 84.
At a meeting in April of 1958 Rev. Arthur Drevlow spoke on Christian Education. It was decided to publish a brochure on Christian Education. A motion was made by Rev. Krause of Fairmont to purchase land. The motion passed. The dream comes closer.
As the 1960’s came, plans continued toward the dream of a Lutheran high school. More fund raising was done to accomplish this venture.
In 1961 members of the LEA signed the articles of incorporation. Charter members were: Herbert Schroeder, Rev. O.F. Hinrichs, Rev. Arnold Cloeter, Mr. Ruthenbeck; Elmore Ziemann and Arthur Nibbe. At the October 1961 LEA meeting, the Board of Directors entered into a Contract for Deed on 43.57 acres located in Fairmont at $500.00 per acres. The land was purchased from Art Stade. And the dream seemed a bit closer.
In April of 1963 an architect from Mankato was employed to draw the original sketches of the Lutheran high school in Fairmont.
The dream was brought still closer in 1964 when seventeen individuals signed notes to help purchase the land. Rev. Ruhlig became president of the LEA and plans to open a Lutheran Junior High were set for September of 1966.
In the spring of 1965 the dream began to fade as plans for the new Lutheran Junior High School were put aside. The later 1960’s through 1980 were interesting years as surveys continued as to the need of a Lutheran high school—the dream seemed to be only a dream.
In the spring of 1980 plans were renewed in earnest to begin a Lutheran high school. In a meeting on April 22, 1980 seven members of the PTL of St. James Lutheran School in Northrop met with Rev. Franzmeier (of St. James, Northrop) to talk about plans for beginning a Lutheran high school in this area. It was suggested to run a survey of interest from area congregations. Materials and information would be sought from others who were involved with the beginning of a Lutheran high school. The dream was revived.
These plans were shared with the LEA in their spring 1980 meeting. The LEA encouraged further research and suggested that a committee be formed to continue planning once the survey results were compiled.
Through the remainder of 1980 plans were made and meetings were held. The committee continued to meet with assignments being made to various aspects of beginning a Lutheran high school. A tour of Lutheran High School, Mayer was taken in September of 1980.
The results of the surveys were encouraging. Over the next two years the committees furthered their plans. Under the blessings of the LEA, an audio-visual program was developed and shown to area congregations. A coordinator of committees and plans was chosen to direct its efforts. Robert Flohrs was the first coordinator.
The LEA suggested that the area congregations should form some type of association for support of a Lutheran high school.
Congregations were asked to send representatives to a meeting on May 18, 1982 in Northrop to formally organize. Eleven congregations were in attendance from the Truman/Fairmont circuit. At that meeting a chairman was chosen and a set of By-laws were drawn up. This association would operate under the auspices of the incorporated LEA of Martin and Watonwan counties. Don Swift of Northrop became the new coordinator of activities in mid 1982.
A Board of Directors was formed from the delegates of the congregations. Their task was to administer the efforts of the association for starting a Lutheran high school. They began the process of calling a full-time administrator for the new high school. The dream becomes a possibility.
On October 5, 1982 the delegates gathered in Northrop to discuss progress and to determine the financial responsibility of the member congregations.
The board of Directors presented to the delegates a plan of assessment of $13.00 per communicant member per year to each associate congregation; and that tuition be $1,000.00 per child of each association congregation and a higher amount for the non-association congregations. Each congregation would be responsible for paying their share based on their assessment.
The delegates were to take this information back to their congregations for voter approval.
The next delegate meeting was held on November 9, 1982 in Northrop. A number of congregations rejected the assessment proposal and withdrew from the association. The delegates recommended these results to the Board of Directors. The dream begins to fade once more.
A second proposal was sent to the congregations for approval. Requirements for congregation membership into the association was changed to: 1)congregations distribute one envelope per family unit per month and regularly send the money contributed to the association treasurer; 2) elect delegates to represent these congregations at the association meetings; and 3) congregations full support the high school in all areas.
The February 8, 1983 delegate meeting was an important one. The delegates voted to pass the requirements for joining the association. Charter members included: St. James, Northrop; Zion, Fraser; St. John’s, South Branch; St. John’s, Antrim; St. Paul’s, Truman; St. Paul’s, Fairmont; St. John’s, Willow Creek and Trinity, Fieldon.
It was also decided that the high school be called “Martin Luther High School” (1983 was Dr. Martin Luther’s 500th anniversary of his birth) and that the school be located in Northrop.
After several Calls had been returned, another Call was extended to Mr. Timothy J. Fabry of Baltimore.
It was further decided that Martin Luther High School begin operating with grades 9 and 10 in the fall of 1983. The dream is beginning to be realized.
Mr. Fabry accepted the Call as the first administrator arriving April 23, 1983.
A temporary facility was found. Volunteers remodeled the general store in Northrop into three classrooms. Martin Luther High School would use the gymnasium, lunch room and church facilities at St. James Lutheran Church in Northrop. Martin Luther High School then incorporated its association of congregations into the “Martin Luther High School Association.”
On August 21, 1983 Martin Luther High School was dedicated to our Lord and classes began on August 28 with 19 students in grades 9 and 10. Lutheran high school education in southern Minnesota was offered under the guidance of three full-time and one part-time teachers. Each school day was begun with devotions and weekly chapel services were conducted by MLHS Association LCMS pastors. The dream was realized.
A building program was begun to erect a new school for the anticipated enrollment. Five acres was purchased from Barchengers for $1,000 an acre on the north edge of Northrop. The land in Fairmont was sold.
The second school year began with 38 students (a 100% increase). Four full-time and two part-time teachers were employed. Additional classroom space was made available at the Northrop City Hall.
In 1985 the commitment of many, and hundreds of volunteer hours, helped to build the 15,000 square foot school building located on the north edge of Northrop. This is the present classroom area.
The Lutheran Activity Center was built in 1987. Thousands of people have walked through the school doors to participate in special events. The building has been a blessing to the community in countless ways. It has provided God’s Word, comfort, wisdom, humor, music, food, friendship, and a bargain purchase to many! It has been a place to laugh and a place to mourn.
In 1998 the LAC addition was constructed. It houses the PTL concession stand, a classroom, storage rooms and upstairs weight room within the Lutheran Activity Center.
In 2000 a site committee appointed by the National Lutheran Schools Accreditation Commission studied and recommended MLHS for accreditation. MLHS was reaccredited in 2005 and in 2010.
Today eighteen Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations own and support their Lutheran high school.
Full association members are:
Immanuel Lutheran, Fairmont
Salem Lutheran, Madelia
St. James Lutheran, Northrop
St. John’s Lutheran, South Branch
St. John’s Lutheran, Willow Creek
St. Paul’s Lutheran, Fairmont
St. Paul’s Lutheran, Truman
St. Paul’s Lutheran, Wilbert
Trinity Lutheran, Fieldon
Zion Lutheran, Fraser.
Supporting congregations are:
Immanuel Lutheran, Galena
Our Saviors Lutheran, Winnebago
St. John’s Lutheran, Antrim
St. John’s Lutheran, Good Thunder
Trinity Lutheran, Trimont
Teenagers from Amboy, Blue Earth, Ceylon, Fairmont, Granada, Hanska, Lewisville, Madelia, Northrop, Ormsby, St. James, Sherburn, Trimont, Truman, Vernon Center, Welcome and Winnebago, MN; and Milford, IA attend MLHS. Students of all religions are welcome to attend.
Six full-time and eight part-time faculty make up the teaching staff. The school offers a complete college preparatory curriculum. Miss Rebecca Oerman is an adjunct professor with Concordia University, St. Paul and teaches PSEO courses. Advance Placements courses are also included in the course offerings.
A Christ-centered environment remains the primary focus at MLHS. Students attend devotions or chapels. Area pastors lead chapel two days per week. Four years of religion classes help students gain an in-depth understanding of the Bible. All curriculums must support God’s Word; text-books are reviewed regularly to insure that they are in-line with God’s Truth.
MLHS offers a wide variety of extra-curriculars. Boys and girls athletics include football, volleyball, cross-country, soccer, hockey, basketball, wrestling, baseball, softball, track and golf. Other offerings include band, choir, drama, newspaper, yearbook and student council. MLHS is a member of the National Honor Society and the Minnesota State High School League.
Since 1986 MLHS has graduated 511 young men and women. They have successful careers in all walks of life. Doctors, lawyers, physical therapists, psychologists, pastors, teachers, filmmakers, communication professionals, plumbers, electricians, carpenters and many other careers are represented among the MLHS Alumni. These alumni go out into the world and touch countless other people with their intelligence, character and faith that were enhanced at MLHS.
Mission Statement: Martin Luther High School, empowered by the Gospel of Jesus Christ in partnership with family and congregations, provides Christ-centered training and nurturing to help young people excel academically and lead active Christian lives.
The Vision of Martin Luther High School is to be an exemplary Lutheran Educational ministry.