When Trinity Lutheran High School was established, there were 15 students, one full-time teacher and six part-time teachers.
While construction started on the permanent building on North County Road 875E on the north side of Seymour, classes were conducted at First Baptist Church in Seymour.
Two of the teachers, John Anderson and Leah Schneider, are still at the school today. He teaches social studies, and she is the sole music teacher.
At the time, Anderson also taught English and math.
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“I taught in a Sunday school classroom with the students at tables rather than desks,” he said. “Relationships were fairly informal given our small numbers. We all got to know each other rather well. We were in classes together all day and ate lunch together. Sometimes, parents would bring in special lunches for us, and when groups at First Baptist had a luncheon, they would occasionally include us.”
Schneider said seven of the students were in band, and they marched in the Seymour Oktoberfest parade.
“As we marched by, I heard many spectators comment that they didn’t know Trinity had that many students,” she said. “Well, actually I had supplemented the band with many middle school prospective TLHS students, and we marched with over 25 students.”
As TLHS celebrates its 20th anniversary Saturday, the two teachers who have been there from the start are excited to be a part of the milestone.
Anderson was teaching middle school in Iowa when one of his longtime friends, Joel Landskroener, was named Trinity’s first principal and asked him to come there to teach.
“I’m trained for high school and saw Trinity as an opportunity to work with friends and to teach at the level I preferred,” Anderson said.
Schneider was part of a committee researching the possibility of opening up a Lutheran high school in the area in the late 1990s and was happy to be the first music teacher when it became a reality in 2000.
“As it turns out, I was and still am the only music teacher for TLHS after 20 years,” she said. “It has been a tremendous blessing for me to serve at Trinity for 20 years. As the student body grew in numbers, so did our music program. I am able to offer choir, band, guitar and applied music classes.”
It will be a busy day on the Trinity campus Saturday. Sporting events include a volleyball tournament from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Bollinger Athletic Complex and a home soccer game at 1 p.m.
From 1 to 5 p.m., Student Ambassadors will provide tours of the school to families. At 3 p.m, there will be an information hour for seventh- and eighth-graders with Principal Clayton Darlage, Assistant Principal Marianne Wischmeier, Athletic Director Ryan Cremeans and Financial Administrator Angie Kerkhof.
After that, seventh- and eighth-graders and their families can eat for free at one of the food vendors set up, including St. John’s Lutheran School Sauers eighth grade fundraiser, Redeemer Lutheran Church walking tacos, Zion Lutheran Church apple dumplings and Trinity FFA. The vendors will be set up from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be tailgating from 4 to 7 p.m.
Coming a long way
Since its establishment, Trinity has graduated nearly 500 students.
The school now has 19 clubs, 18 sports teams, fine arts programs and 158 early college credit offerings. Plus, it has been named a Four Star School five of the last six years; has earned an A rating 12 times in the last 13 years; has achieved 20 sectional championships, six regional titles, five semistate teams and two state runners-up; and has achieved four state championships in Academic Super Bowl and robotics.
The current school enrollment is 135 in grades 9 through 12, and there are 20 staff members.
The school has come a long way since those first classes in August 2001 at First Baptist Church. That was done while 41 acres of a cornfield were cleared to make way for a 50,000-square-foot building. The land was donated by Don M. and Emmylou Bollinger.
When the new $3.6 million facility opened in Jan. 6, 2002, the school had 19 students and the building included 10 classrooms, two science labs, a library, offices, a dining hall, a computer lab and a 900-seat gymnasium. More than 50 parents, students and community members helped with the move.
“Moving into our own building in January 2002 was exciting,” Anderson said. “While the school might seem small in comparison to many high schools, it is, from my perspective, 10 times larger than when I started.”
He said the small school allows everyone to form a community and know each other.
“And for a teacher, it means I can know my students on a more personal level and develop positive relationships with them that work outside the classroom,” Anderson said.
Schneider also said moving into the new building was exciting.
“I am so appreciative that we are able to offer a Christian high school education as an option for our community and pray that we will continue to serve students for many years to come,” she said.
Built on a firm foundation
Clayton Darlage, the school’s current principal, said he credits Trinity’s success in the last 20 years to “without question our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.”
“Throughout the last 20 years, he has blessed the Trinity community with generous people, too numerous to count, who have been willing to sacrifice their time, talents and treasures to promote success and growth of Trinity Lutheran High School,” he said.
Twenty years ago, he said Trinity was built on a firm foundation.
“We will never waiver from our commitment to remain grounded in God’s Word and carrying out our mission to prepare Christian servants and leaders by empowering students with skills to share their faith when given the opportunity,” Darlage said. “This will surely continue to bear fruit for Trinity, our community and society.”
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the school is important to Darlage.
“We must give thanks to God for the countless blessings that have allowed Trinity to successfully mold Christian servants and leaders,” he said.
“It’s also important to recognize best practices from the past 20 years and keep them as a firm foundation to grow our school,” he said. “Though we are undeserving, God’s grace and mercy allows us to learn from our shortfalls and make adjustments in order to strengthen our ministry and provide a Christian education to more students.”
Darlage said the school will continue the many great programs and expectations that have been established and also build on the programming to meet the needs of current and future students.
“Trinity Lutheran is a high school option for families in southern Indiana that believes in preparing God-fearing and productive citizens,” he said. “We believe our high expectations, rigorous and personal classroom instruction and numerous servant leadership opportunities for students will promote the development of Christian servants and leaders, which our society desperately needs now and the years to come.”
Furthermore, school officials are excited about advancing programming in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, health science education and business education.
“We are blessed to have the opportunity to celebrate successful extracurricular teams and co-curriculars groups,” Darlage said. “Our leadership team at Trinity is committed to building and growing opportunities for students in the years to come. Very soon, some exciting news will hit the papers, which will definitely create more excitement for our future Cougars. Stay tuned.”
If you go
A 20th anniversary celebration is set for Saturday at Trinity Lutheran High School, 7120 N. County Road 875E, Seymour.
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Volleyball tournament in the Bollinger Athletic Complex
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Food vendors set up include St. John’s Lutheran School Sauers eighth grade fundraiser, Redeemer Lutheran Church walking tacos, Zion Lutheran Church apple dumplings and Trinity FFA
1 p.m.: Home soccer game
1 to 5 p.m.: Tours of the school
3 p.m.: Information hour for seventh- and eighth-graders with Principal Clayton Darlage, Assistant Principal Marianne Wischmeier, Athletic Director Ryan Cremeans and Financial Administrator Angie Kerkhof
4 p.m.: Seventh- and eighth-graders and their families can eat for free at one of the food vendors
4 to 7 p.m.: Tailgating
Information: Call 812-524-8547 or visit trinitycougars.org or facebook.com/trinityluthhigh