Lutheran schools throughout northeastern Indiana opened their doors Sunday to the public to highlight their academic endeavors intertwined with Christian morality. One of those, Emmanuel-St. Michael, is in its eighth year of increased enrollment, said Principal Jake Pennekamp. "We're seeing internal growth," he said, explaining that both Emmanuel and St. Michael Lutheran churches have been increasing their membership by going out into their respective neighborhoods. In turn, members have been putting their children in the school, which has 115 students in kindergarten - 2nd grade at the Getz Road campus and 197 students at the Union Street campus in grades 3rd - 8th. Our total student enrollment is 312 students. The parishes joined their separate schools together in 1962.
Pennekamp cited two other factors that could be boosting enrollment: School Choice, a state program that gives public funds to parents who qualify to use vouchers to pay toward private education, and uncertainty about Imagine Schools since Ball State University said it would not renew its charter for next year. Two Imagine families had attended Emmanuel-St. Michael's open house, Pennekamp said early Sunday afternoon.
The school has added to its staff. Susan Murphy, who teaches fourth grade, said, "We're doubling each grade."
Murphy and Jennifer Cunningham, a seventh-grade teacher, discussed the benefits of a Christian education. Teachers will give students prayer cards with a message, such as "I prayed for you this week." Private schools care for the whole person, not just their academic success, Cunningham said.
Murphy said it "gives them something outside the ABCs."