A little more than three years after it moved into a much larger location, Holy Cross Lutheran School has expanded again.
A wing of the school on the Far East Side has been extended, doubling its size. It went from five classrooms to nine — each measuring about 1,000 square feet — plus two locker rooms.
“It’s cool to watch our school grow,” eighth-grader Mae Collyard said.
When Holy Cross Lutheran moved into its new school at the end of November 2015, enrollment stood at 67. Today it is 105, and next school year 115 students are expected.
The new school is at 734 Holy Cross Way off Highway T. It includes the Kids Crossing Early Learning Center, which also expanded with the move, so instead of taking children starting at age 3, they can now start as young as 6 weeks old.
The addition was dedicated Feb. 17, and students moved in Feb. 22. Holy Cross Lutheran School and Kids Crossing Early Learning Center will have an open house from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.
The old school was located at 2670 Milwaukee St. in rooms that had originally been built for Sunday School. Holy Cross parishioners — now numbering 900 — were able to continue using the sanctuary for a time after the school was moved. Then services were held in the gym in the new building until a sanctuary was eventually built and completed last September.
“Schools like ours are sort of holding their own or losing enrollment,” said Chris Poetter, school principal and teacher. “Our goal is to reach out to the community … to learn about our faith-based school.”
The fifth-graders, who were temporarily in a teachers’ workroom, and the sixth-graders, who were in a room in the church portion of the building, have taken two classrooms in the wing extension. Two other classrooms are being used for art and music, and one is now vacant.
As enrollment grows, it is expected other combined classrooms will be divided, and art and music may be moved elsewhere in the building, said Pastor Bernt Tweit, who serves with pastors Mark Bartels and Mark Marozick.
Room to flourish
The school has been cramped, Poetter said.
“Piano teachers are in the closet trying to give piano lessons,” he said.
After-school programs like robotics and the chess club, which was canceled because of lack of space, can now flourish, Poetter said.
“So it (the space) gives us opportunity,” he said.
Pam Starkenburg, who is in her 18th year teaching at Holy Cross, now has a class of 12 kindergartners, but next year the number could be 20 to 25.
Teacher Joel Koschnitzke, who is in his third year at Holy Cross, has enjoyed being part of the growth.
“We’re pretty blessed that we’re growing,” he said. “It will be different when there is no construction going on.”