By Matt Bunke, Community Editor
Mayer Lutheran High School has been commemorating its 50th anniversary all year long, but next weekend, it is finally time to truly celebrate.
The school will host its 50th Anniversary Celebration over the course of three days, starting on Friday, June 29, and running through Sunday, July 1. The long weekend gets started on Friday with class reunions, continues Saturday with a picnic and much-anticipated concert, and concludes Sunday with a worship service featuring an alumni choir.
"It’s just a great opportunity to celebrate the blessings not only of our school, but also the blessing this ministry has been to Mayer and the whole region," Mayer Lutheran Executive Director Joel Landskroener said. "We have just shy of 3,000 alumni who are serving communities – many in the region here – in many different ways. (This celebration) is just the right thing to do. Celebrations are always good for schools, churches and institutions, and this is our chance."
Friday evening include several class reunions. Landskroener said each of the school’s graduating classes – the first was in 1964, after the school opened its doors with an all freshman class in 1961 – was invited to host its own reunion on Friday, although some classes have been more active than others.
The first four graduating classes – 1964-67 – will hold a reunion at B’s on the River in Watertown. The class of 1972 will also hold a reunion, as will the Class of 2000. There will also be a current and past faculty reunion at the high school from 6-8 p.m.
The bulk of the activities, however, will take place on Saturday, June 30. The day gets started with a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at 9 a.m., and from noon to 6 p.m., the girls’ volleyball team will be hosting a number of activities and games for families and children. The Army National Guard will also have its large inflatable obstacle course on site.
A community picnic will take place Saturday beginning at 4 p.m., featuring Uncle Neddy’s Famous Pork Chops. A free will donation is being accepted for that dinner, and Landskroener said an invitation was sent to all residents in the Mayer and New Germany communities.
One of the highlights of the weekend will be Saturday’s 7 p.m. concert by Erin Bode in the Fine Arts Auditorium. Bode, the daughter of a Lutheran minister who grew up in Wayzata before moving to St. Louis, is a nationally recognized jazz singer who had an album in 2006 that reached as high as No. 17 on Billboard’s top jazz albums chart. Tickets for the concert are $15, and money from the sales will go to the school’s student aid fund.
The weekend will wrap up Sunday with a 2 p.m. worship service. The service will be led by Mark Schoen, a Mayer Lutheran graduate who now lives in Wisconsin. The service will also feature an alumni choir, and will be held in the Fine Arts Auditorium.
"The worship service will be a great way to thank the Lord for 50 years of blessings given to this school," Landskroener said. "It will just be a fun and uplifting worship service."
The three-day celebration will mark the culmination of the school’s 50th year, which was celebrated in numerous ways throughout the school year. The first school year at Mayer Lutheran – which was first called Carver County Lutheran – was the 1961-62 school year. This year, the school posted in its hallways a photo of each graduating class that has ever gone through the school.
"When you walk down the hallway you can see every kid who has graduated from Lutheran High," Landskroener said. "That was a nice project that was neat for our kids to connect. A lot of them have parents or aunts or uncles up there. One kid even has a grandparent who is up there."
In addition, the school has hung various 50-year banners and decorated the hallways throughout the year, and developed a 50th-year logo that was used on letterhead and stationery. A Founders’ Luncheon was held earlier this year for any school founders that are still alive, and the school’s choir and band both performed at each of the 12 churches that are part of the ownership group of the school. Landskroener said normally the choir and band perform at only about three or four of the churches each year, but this year made a special effort to get to all of them.
Landskroener said it was impossible to tell how many people might show up for the weekend’s festivities, but organizers are hoping to pack the 600-seat Fine Arts Auditorium for both the concert and worship service, and are preparing for up to 1,000 people for the picnic.
"It will be a great time to get together and have a meal," Landskroener said. "Hopefully the weather will be really nice so people can be all over and just enjoy the campus."