Outgoing fifth graders at St. John’s Lutheran School won’t have to leave for Hannibal Middle School this year.
And if things go according to plan, they won’t have to do that any more.
The voters council at St. John’s approved the school’s expansion to the eighth grade and the word got out Tuesday morning.
“With Hannibal Christian Academy closing, this was an opportunity for us to help out those families who were missing out on that Christian education,” St. John’s principal Matt Koenig said. “It’s been kind of an underlining dream or underlining goal of St. John’s to get back into eighth grade. It happened quickly because of the closing of Hannibal Christian Academy, but the board has been talking for a while about this.”
It’s been decades since the school went up to eighth grade. Finances and competition with the Hannibal Middle School caused the school to be scaled back to the fifth grade, but now with one less Christian school, St. John’s is seizing opportunity.
“We offer smaller class sizes. So there’s more one-on-one opportunity with the teacher and the student. It’s a chance for them to get educated in that one-on-one basis. I think the other thing is that we have the opportunity to offer — I don’t want to say it’s a higher level of education — we have the ability to push our students more because of those smaller class sizes, our students are coming out better off in the long run. When they get to the middle school, they are above most of the middle school children that are not from a private institution. Our education is higher and it makes our students succeed and excel more in the middle school and high school,” Koenig said. “We’re revamping our computer lab to make it into a classroom and we are looking at curriculum and all that right now. We got the space.”
Within the final weeks of summer St. John’s is looking to hire two part-time teachers and get enough students enrolled to go forward with their expansion.
“There’s always apprehension. The turnaround time is very minimal, we have to get a classroom ready and hire teachers in four or five weeks which is always a tough undertaking, but it’s always an undertaking. We’ll move through it in prayer, we’ll move through it in faith and we always come out with God’s will in what we want to do,” Koenig said. “We’re trying to get the word out right now, and hopefully we’ll have at least 12 students if not more for next year and we’re looking at either more than that.”