Our Savior Lutheran School Profile – Aiea , Hawaii
In 1970, Our Savior Church began a preschool and daycare. We opened our elementary division in 1973. Our Savior joined three other existing Hawaii Lutheran LCMS schools; the oldest was founded in 1948. The school accommodated 100 kindergarten through 6th graders, served by four synodically-trained teachers and one full-time secretary/bookkeeper. Grade 7 was added in 1976, grade 8 in 1977. Between 1975 and 1977 a two-classroom frame building and a three-story, 10 classroom, concrete and block building were added. In 1978, we reached a capacity enrollment of 70 preschool students and 255 K-8 students. In 1988, Our Savior Church and other founding members formed the Lutheran High School of Hawaii Association. We definitely need more space or more buildings; presently, OSLS has approximately 236 PreSchool-8th grade students, with 13 full-time faculty, 15 part-time assistants, 1 full-time office manager, 1 full-time principal, 1 part-time bookkeeper, and 2 pastors.
Our Savior Lutheran Church was founded in 1961, by the Messiah Church congregation, 'Ewa Beach. 'Aiea's local families gathered for worship in Alvah Scott Elementary, a nearby public school. After purchasing a piece of the AmFac farmland abutting a creek, our church building was constructed. Our Savior is one of the largest Lutheran worshipping communities in the state; we have approximately 300 members. We average 180 in church attendance. We have 2 worship services each Sunday, 8:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. While we have a good mix of ages, the congregation has a large number of military families, giving its attendance a young-family characteristic, but the military presence makes it very transient. The Bible determines our doctrines, and we maintain an outreach posture. Our pastor and youth director emphasize serving the families by continuing a vibrant Sunday School, a high school youth group, and middle-school mid-week classes and activities, all of which are open to non-church members. Currently, our school has 39 congregational children attending our school, or 17% of our 236-student enrollment. (This compares to a 30% member-to-nonmember average district-wide.)
Additionally, while our school has serving our congregational members as a priority, we have enrolled people of other faiths, including the non-Christian families, since our opening in 1970; we view these families as sharing and outreach opportunities.
Our ministry function and our staffing policy require we use the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s calling process. This calling process has our school board give a divine call to certified and synodically-rostered Lutheran-trained teachers to serve our church and school community. With a deepening Lutheran-certified-teacher shortage, we often reach out to the O’ahu community for qualified teachers whose qualifications, experience, attitudes, and philosophies maintain our level of quality. Likewise, we reach out for church members to serve in our staffing openings, but often maintain quality through recruiting from the community. Our staff members need Christian commitment and quality characteristics to serve Our Savior Lutheran School.
Our school is known for its academic program. Our traditional structure, which cautiously considers the latest educational innovations and fads, consistently focuses on individual achievement (developing your blessings and practicing the best stewardship). The largest number of our graduates attend Lutheran High School and others attend private and public high schools. We do well, not because we’re elitist, but because we teach students that they are blessings of God who have received many blessings, and they should practice good stewardship of these blessings.
While we inform incoming parents we are not equipped for special-needs children, and we help parents find the best resources and placement for students with learning disabilities. Although we are tuition-based, we have 17 students receiving tuition assistance. Our Savior Lutheran School has a supportive environment due to our outreach mission and being blessed with many talents and capabilities.
When Our Savior Lutheran School began, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s, California-Nevada-Hawaii District subsidized our mission congregation. Nonetheless, the school was organized as a completely self-sustaining entity, requiring tuition and other revenues to cover the operating costs. For many years, our enrollment size and low salaries kept us financially solvent. Currently, expectations for smaller class sizes, teacher aides, technology, and increased teacher salaries keeps increasing tuition each year.
Parents are pleased with our quality, while they recognize how we have kept our tuition low, compared to other O’ahu independent schools. The SAT-10 standardized achievement test, given annually, places our students consistently in the national top quartile. Our teachers tutor our students and students from other schools. We have strong Computer, Band, Choir, Japanese, Spanish, and Physical Education, in addition to our strong academic preparation. Our annual events/programs include: Grade 5-8 interscholastic volleyball, basketball, cross country, track & field teams, the National Geography Bee, National Spelling Bee, Whole School Multicultural Day, Whole School Olympics at the University of Hawaii Track, grades 5-8 Trips to the Big Island, the North Shore, and on a Science Boat, State Science Fair, 3 Band Concerts, Monthly Choir performances, Whole School Speech Festival, Whole School Story-Telling Workshop, Thursday-night grades 5-8 Youth Activities. Our Savior’s athletic teams compete in the O'ahu Lutheran Schools’ Sports League. Girls and boys participate in 5th–8th Grade volleyball and basketball, cross-country meet, and track meet. Our after-school opportunities include piano lessons, lower-grades’ Japanese Club, the “Heavenly Harmonies” performing arts club, and the art club. Our student council has spear-headed many community outreach programs, fundraising and teaming with Loliana Family Shelter, River-of-Life Mission, and various Lutheran organizations.
We're a small school on a very dynamic campus; we provide activities, programs, community, and growth for our families. We've been blessed. We prepare our students for life. We give them tools to handle defeats and successes with joy and purpose. With Our Savior, they can handle life's ups and downs with everything in between and beyond.