Saving South

My high school experience was vastly different from the average American’s high school experience. I had a Christian education. I had only a handful of teachers. My school building was a double wide trailer. My graduating class had five people – four boys and me. My teenage years were extremely difficult, but my high school experience was one of the best experiences of my life. Hearing that Lutheran High South – Newport, Michigan may close is heart-wrenching news.

I could write a 500 page book on all the ways LHS benefited me. I’ll try to keep this simple and get to the main point, which is this: LHS has something to offer that no other high school in its location can offer, and that is a Christian education.

This world bombards Christians with temptations. Drugs, alcohol, premarital sex, to name a few. This world slanders Christians, often making us feel like we need to hide our faith. As teenagers grow in their independence and identity, the most important thing for teenagers is to be surrounded by people who will nurture their faith.

Allow me to share my story. I struggled with clinical depression as far back as I can remember, which is about four years of age. My first thoughts of suicide occurred in fifth grade. My family and I survived a home explosion just after I finished my seventh grade year. By the time I entered high school, I was drowning in depression and anxiety and questioning my faith in God. I was blessed with Christian parents, but they needed a support system. They needed to know their daughter’s faith and emotional well-being were being noticed and cared for at school.

My teachers at LHS never gave up on me. They never stopped teaching me that I mattered. Integrated into every school subject was the lesson that God created me and loved me and had a plan for me. My teachers prayed for me and with me. There were many times depression almost won. There were times I could no longer fight it, but my teachers and my principal never stopped fighting.

My LHS teachers and classmates were my family. By the time I graduated high school, my faith was stronger than it had ever been. I was on my way to becoming stable. The relationships I made at LHS have lasted me throughout the years since. In fact, my classmates and teachers literally became my family; My sister met her husband at LHS. I met my husband at LHS. His parents, our teachers, are now my mother-in-law and father-in-law. His brothers are now my brothers-in-law. I cannot imagine my life without them. And the best thing yet, we now have a daughter together. I am so grateful our baby, Esther, will grow up in a loving Christian family – a family she would not have had LHS not been there.

The ways God blessed me at South became even more obvious to me while I was in college. I was studying to be a teacher, and I was doing my field work in the Ann Arbor public schools. One of the high schools I worked in is said to be one of the best high schools in the state. In fact, students are not assigned to that school according to where they live; they attend that school by winning a lottery. I was excited to work there. One day, euthanasia was the topic in the debate class. The discussion began with students debating whether or not the elderly and terminally ill should have the right to assisted suicide. To my horror, the question eventually became “Should those suffering from clinical depression have the right to commit suicide?”  All the students – over 50 of them – came to the agreement that if someone has been diagnosed with clinical depression, assisted suicide should be an option for them. Had this discussion happened among my classmates at LHS, I know any one of my teachers would have stepped in and reminded us that even if we are broken and suffering, God has a plan for us. We still have value. We still can be used by Him to do amazing things in this hurting world. The teacher in this classroom did not say a single word. Those students went home that day believing suicide was an answer to clinical depression. I guarantee that with how common clinical depression is, at least one of those students was struggling with it. I can also guarantee that had I experienced that debate and the silence from my teacher while I was a teenager dealing with clinical depression and suicidal thoughts, I might not have come to school the next day because I might not have been alive the next day.

I close with this thought: One of my college professors recently wrote an article on his blog, Day1Of1 – A Mile in My Schu’s titled “Kathleen Elizabeth” about the death of one of his students. He struggled with the feeling that teaching did not matter, because life ends in death. No math, science, or literature class prevents death. But he finally realized that teaching his students about God and His love and the hope we have of heaven is what makes any teaching job worthwhile. I know we have recently lost an LHS graduate to cancer. How beautiful that he was able to receive a Christian education during the last few years of his life. How miraculous that he could have assurance of Salvation through Jesus, and that Lutheran South could play a small part in that.

I beg you, the Lutheran High School Association, to give Lutheran High South more time to recruit students. I understand money and low enrollment is the problem. I understand parents hesitate to send their teens to a small school that doesn’t have all the extracurricular activities and sports other schools have. But I ask that the LHSA will give South another chance, because the Monroe area needs a school like South. Teenagers need a safe place to learn. Give the alumni, the teachers, and the current students more time to get the word out that South offers something more important than secular class ever could. It is a school that offers the Word of God, in religion classes, chapel services, and any extracurricular activity. Give us time to share our testimonies with the community. I guarantee that once people hear our stories, they will want their children to have a Christian high school experience, too.

For all the saints. To God be the glory. Amen.

Sincerely,
Shelby Lucas (nee Zink)
Class of 2006
Third graduating class

 

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