The First Day of School
In January 1946, delegates from forty-four of the forty-eight Association congregations directed the Board to start classes that September. The Board offered the first principal call to Dr. Paul W. Lange, a former Lutheran elementary school teacher, director of curriculum for the Gary, Indiana, public school system and one of the “founding fathers” of the LEA.
When he arrived in April 1946, the Army was still in the process of moving out of the facility. It would take a herculean effort by volunteers and Board members to refurbish the building. All Board members participated and encouraged many others in sponsoring congregations to participate. Two original Board members, Dr. William A. Kramer (future Associate Secretary of Schools in the LCMS) and Richard Oberman, vice president of Mercantile Trust, helped direct the many volunteers who swept, cleaned and painted. A third, Herbert W. Waltke, graduate of the former Walther College and now an investment banker, provided a unique link to the past by helping revive Lutheran secondary education in St. Louis. A dedication service took place on August 25, 1946. Dr. O. P. Kretzmann of Valparaiso University was the principle speaker. Lutheran High School opened on schedule with 248 freshmen and sophomore students and an operating budget of $80,000. Tuition for Synodical Conference members was eighty-five dollars per year and $160 for all others. Until 1960, the congregations annually funded 50% of the operating budget. Lange would shepherd and teach with eleven faculty. The seven men were Gordon Baillie, Hubert Buenger, John Grundmann, music director William Kirchhoff, Athletic Director Erv Leimer, Vernon Lintvedt and Erwin Sagehorn. Four women taught classes: Edna Beane, Helen Dirks, Esther Feddersen and Gladys Simmler.