LANSING | Declining enrollment and recent closures of parochial elementary schools led officials at Luther East High School to decide to close at the end of the school year.

The Rev. Warren Mandel, who chairs the governing board that oversees the high school, said the decision was made by the board April 29.

Enrollment at the high school had declined to 45 students for the current academic year. Of those, 17 are in the graduating class that will receive their high school diplomas today during ceremonies taking place at Trinity Lutheran Church. The school and church are both affiliated with the Lutheran Church, Missouri synod.

Mandel said the small size of the student body was made worse by the fact that area parochial schools that traditionally fed students into the Luther East High School system have closed in recent years.

“It makes it unlikely that the Luther East student body would grow anytime soon,” he said.

Luther East Principal Dale Cooper declined to answer questions about the decision when he was contacted this week, saying only that ceremonies to mark the closing of the chapel on the campus at 2750 Glenwood-Lansing Road were held Thursday.

The school opened in 1978 but was not given full recognition by the Illinois State Board of Education until March 2006. Classes were not in session Friday.

Thursday, “was the last day,” Mandel said of Luther East as a school, although he said the board will continue to pay the 12 faculty and staff members through the end of June. Mandel said those people will focus their attention for the next month on easing the transition for the remaining Luther East students as they figure out where to transfer in order to complete their high school educations.

The Rev. Paul Appold, pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, said the commencement ceremonies at 2 p.m. today will include portions devoted to the closing of the school.

He also said the closing of Luther East does not impact the elementary school operated by the church at 18144 Glen Terrace.


Senior Copy Editor

Jeanette is a journalist with The Times Media Co. who has worked as both a reporter and editor. She has a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.