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A great multitude: Cleveland Lutheran High School Association

Lutheran West High School has served thousands of students in the Greater Cleveland area with a Christ-centered education for more than 60 years.

In Revelation 7:9, we get a glimpse of heaven. It’s a beautiful picture: in Christ, “a great multitude” will come together from every place, speaking every language, all to gather around to worship our Lord.  

Already today, in Cleveland, Ohio, we see a shadow of this reality. 

The Cleveland Lutheran High School Association’s (CLHSA) Lutheran High School West is the most diverse school in the largest county of Ohio. 

“Our school looks just like Cleveland itself,” said Chris Steinmann, superintendent of the CLHSA. “It’s 50% boys and 50% girls, and 49% white and 51% other races. It’s socio-economically diverse, and even church backgrounds vary at one-third Lutheran, one-third other denominations and one-third no church background at all. All of these students attend school together, and it’s incredibly powerful, just a hallmark of who we are and what we do.” 

Shifting times
For most of history, said Steinmann, the association’s high schools have had dozens of “feeder schools” around northwest Ohio to funnel students into the high schools. But in recent years, circumstances have started to shift.

“In 2004, [the local Lutheran schools] graduated 210 students, and we didn’t have to recruit any for the high schools,” shared Steinmann. “But this year, there are only 65 graduating kids in these local schools. We believe in growing the kingdom of God through Christian education, so we wanted to create our own feeder school to focus on that goal.” 

Lutheran West expanded in 2004, allowing the school to enroll 500 students. With the 2023-2024 addition, they anticipate the ability to increase enrollment to 900 students.

An accelerated plan, an invaluable partner
So, in 2019, CLHSA began planning the development of a new middle school.  

“It began with some work on our end, pre-budgeting and working with churches and schools, collaborating and fundraising,” Steinmann said. 

In the middle of all of this planning, a property came available – right next door to Lutheran West. Although they hadn’t yet planned exactly what to do with this potential property, they immediately got in touch with Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF). Before long, a loan was underway to purchase the property and build a middle school from scratch.  

“Dan [Brown] has been a great partner for us,” Steinmann said. “We were able to call him and share what we were thinking and have some back and forth about finances. LCEF has been an invaluable team to work with—just a super easy partnership that makes the process smoother. We’ve had a long history with LCEF, so this is a continuation of that relationship.” 

The school broke ground at the beginning of 2023, and the project is slated to be complete in the summer of 2024 with enough room to house a total of 900 students on campus. In the meantime, the middle school has already moved into the existing Lutheran West campus. 

A good problem
Even though the new space wouldn’t be ready for a couple of years, Lutheran West wanted to begin bringing middle schoolers onto campus right away. In 2022, they added grades six through eight—and instantly had 119 middle school students that first year.  

The high school, which has been sharing Christ through Christian education for more than 64 years, was expanded in 2004 with a goal of hosting 500 students. But with the middle school addition, they had nearly 680 students on campusa good problem to have for a school that deeply desires to focus on discipleship for students who know Jesus and evangelism for those who don’t. 

As Lutheran West and the association’s other high school, Lutheran East, continue steadily growing and attracting more students, they are even more grateful for the opportunity to expand their campus to accommodate everyone comfortably. Lutheran West’s goal is to enroll 900 students, and for 2024, the projection is already at 715 students. 

“It’s been really exciting for the community to conceptualize this,” noted Steinmann. “There are students whose great grandparents went to this school, and it reminds us of how the school has been here for generations. We pray that God’s work continues to be done and His name is proclaimed for another 75 years.”