Service and discipleship are focus of Lutheran Schools Week at Trinity
BY JOY MARQUARDT
A week of fellowship and fun awaits students at Trinity Lutheran School in Merrill as they prepare to celebrate Lutheran Schools Week March 5-11, 2023, with activities focusing on service and discipleship.
“Making Disciples for Life,” the theme for the week, based on Matthew 28:18-20, has been emphasized both in and out of the classroom throughout the school year.
“It’s a week to celebrate what we do here all year,” said Trinity Principal Kathy Yahr. “It gives us a chance to focus on our school’s purpose, which is sharing the love of Jesus.”
The week of activities kicks off Sunday, March 5, with an 8:00 a.m. worship service commemorating Lutheran Schools Week. Students in grades K-8 will sing “Go into the World” to correlate with the theme of discipleship. A student-organized bake sale will be held following the service to raise funds for playground improvements.
“A group of students came up with the idea for the bake sale to kick off Lutheran Schools Week and to raise money for the playground,” Yahr said. “I am very proud of them for taking the initiative.”
As a service project for the week, the entire school is collecting donations to purchase a kayak for Camp Luther in Three Lakes. During the year, students have chosen to send cards to veterans and invited them to the school, made blankets and pajamas for those in need, donated to the Lincoln County Human Society, and collected offerings for Lutheran World Relief, among other service projects.
Classroom activities for Lutheran Schools Week will explore the concepts of sharing the light of Jesus in your future career, how athletes and other famous people tell others about Jesus, and how to share the love of Jesus with your fellow students. A Teacher Swap, exchanging teachers between the classes, concludes the week.
Special dress-up days will include a day to wear sports jerseys, dressing in blue for Spirit Day, Crazy Socks Day, and a Pajama Day, with each class writing a bedtime prayer. Anything But a Backpack Day challenges students to carry their books to class using nonconventional methods.
“This year for Lutheran Schools Week, we are doing a lot of classroom activities,” said fourth grade teacher Cinder Handlin, who serves on the planning committee. “I enjoy seeing the creativity of the students, and I love participating in the dress-up days.”
Throughout the school year, Handlin’s students have been learning about the topic of discipleship through classroom discussions, weekly chapel services, and by completing various service projects.
“We are trying to figure out how we can make disciples anywhere we go and how we can share the love of Jesus,” she said.
In her fifth year at Trinity, Handlin enjoys sharing her faith with her students and incorporates religion into all subjects on a daily basis.
“I try to incorporate our faith into everything as much as I can,” she said. “I think that just having faith is a good cornerstone or building block for every child. If they don’t have faith, it’s hard for them to go forward.”
Even though Trinity is a small school, students have the advantage of smaller class sizes and have an abundance of opportunities to be involved in sports, music, the arts, leadership organizations, and other extra-curricular activities. Elective courses range from outdoor cooking and baking classes to survival skills and robotics. The school has a National Junior Honors Society, Student Leadership Team, and a yearbook run by students.
“We have many electives and a variety of them are STEM activities,” Yahr said. “Last quarter we had a group of students learn to D.J., and they created a sound system for our first school dance of the year. There are just all kinds of things they wouldn’t get to do otherwise. There’s just so much going on here.”
In addition to extra-curricular activities, all classes at Trinity take field trips during the school year. Each class has the opportunity to attend a production at the Grand Theater and visit Council Grounds State Park, the Merrill School Forest, Camp Luther, and Camp Forest Springs. They also have gone to places such as Grandpa’s Farm, taken sleigh rides, and traveled to Minneapolis and Lambeau Field in Green Bay, among numerous other venues.
Field trips, additional classroom supplies, and improvements to the school are made possible, in part, by funds from the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) which raises money through events such as the Spring Flower Sale and the annual Spring Auction.
“We do really three main fundraisers each year,” said Beth Weinkauf, co-chair of the PTO. “In fall we partnered with Russ Davis Wholesale and sold fruit and cheese as a fundraiser, and we just wrapped up our Spring Flower Sale. The flowers will be delivered in time for Mother’s Day.”
The largest fundraiser of the year, the annual Spring Auction, is set for Saturday, April 15, 2023, with a dinner, raffles, and a live and silent auction at the Merrill Town Hall. Proceeds from the event will be used to install new lights in the school gym.
“The community has been very supportive,” Weinkauf said. “There’s something at the auction for everyone. It takes a lot of work, but it’s a fun event. It’s a nice night out.”
Auction items donated by the community, which vary from year to year, will include a golden ticket for early shopping at the Crooked Queen of Merrill, Green Bay Packer and Wisconsin Badger tickets, escorted fire truck and police car rides to school, special men’s and women’s raffle prizes, and a dessert auction.
The PTO also sponsors Popcorn Fridays, Reading Nights, Book Fairs, and teacher appreciation events during the school year.
A Trinity graduate, Weinkauf has a son enrolled in the school and has served on the PTO for more than five years.
“Things have changed since I was a student there, the world has evolved, but the fundamentals are still the same,” she said. “The core values are still the same. The faith-based learning is very important. It sets a good foundation to go out into the world and have that Christ-centered faith.”
Yahr, who is in her 20th year at Trinity, served 15 years as Principal and will be retiring at the end of the school year.
“There have been a lot of changes over the years,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed the people, the students, and the faculty and staff and working with the church leadership, and just all of the above.”
Trinity is currently taking enrollment for the 2023-2024 academic year and is a Wisconsin Parental School Choice Site. For more information or to schedule a tour of the school, phone 715.536.7501.