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Published: Saturday, 1/21/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Lutheran school in Woodville, oldest in U.S., marking 150th

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Kindergartner Madi Hammer uses her imagination and a couple of telephones for an activity during recess at Solomon Lutheran School in Woodville. The school opened its doors Jan. 20, 1862. Kindergartner Madi Hammer uses her imagination and a couple of telephones for an activity during recess at Solomon Lutheran School in Woodville. The school opened its doors Jan. 20, 1862.
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WOODVILLE -- Solomon Lutheran School, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary, recently attained the distinction of being the oldest school in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

It was the second-oldest until a school in Fort Wayne, Ind., closed last year, according to Melissa Ramirez Cooper of the ELCA Communications Office in Chicago.

Being the oldest Lutheran school is more than just a matter of dates and numbers, according to Cori Jacobson, an alumna who has two children enrolled in the K-6 school.

"For a small community like Woodville [population 2,000] and a congregation like Solomon Lutheran Church to support a school like Solomon for so long, it's pretty incredible. It is a strong testament to the value we place on the school," Mrs. Jacobson said.

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One of the reasons Solomon remains popular from one generation to the next is the way it integrates education and religion.

"What I love about sending my children to a school where they go to church is they see their faith and God's presence in their lives completely, versus church being someplace you just go on Sundays," Mrs. Jacobson said. "I think it's a wonderful way for them to start off their lives with God."

The school opened Jan. 20, 1862, just 10 days before the Union launched its ironclad ship the USS Monitor during the Civil War.

"To think back what was going on 150 years ago is just amazing, and the time frame of what was happening in the country with the Civil War," said Natalie Schiets, Solomon's principal. "They were actually speaking German at [Solomon] church."

The sesquicentennial celebration begins with a special worship service at the West Main Street church, at 10 a.m. Sunday.

After the service, a soup and salad luncheon is to be served along with a birthday cake.

Natalie Schiets, principal of the school, in the gymnasium/cafeteria at the school. Solomon Lutheran School, a kindergarten through sixth grade school in Woodviile, Ohio, on January 19, 2012. The school is the oldest school in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America denomination. Natalie Schiets, principal of the school, in the gymnasium/cafeteria at the school. Solomon Lutheran School, a kindergarten through sixth grade school in Woodviile, Ohio, on January 19, 2012. The school is the oldest school in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America denomination.
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A 150th Birthday Celebration Dinner Dance is set for March 17, with a worship service March 18 followed by an open house that will include "A Walk-Through Solomon Time" history presentation.

Other events will include a school "family and class reunion" on July 1 and a 150th anniversary school carnival in the fall.

The school also has its own Facebook page, where friends and alumni are posting memories of Solomon.

For the walk-through in March, each classroom will represent a specific period of the school's history, Ms. Schiets said.

"We will have artifacts, old diplomas, pictures -- we have a lot of pictures -- to depict an era," she said.

One classroom, for example, will show what was going on at Solomon and in popular culture from 1862 through 1890, Ms. Schiets said.

Solomon has 72 students enrolled in kindergarten through eighth grade, plus 35 nursery and preschool students.

At its peak, the school had 130 in kindergarten through eighth grade in 1915.

About 40 percent of the students are children of Solomon Church members, according to Ms. Schiets. The majority of the students come from a variety of Christian denominations, but the school also has non-Christian students.

Solomon School officials hope to raise $150,000 for an endowment fund, operating expenses, and financial aid during the anniversary.

Contact David Yonke at: dyonke@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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