Lutheran High North celebrated its 40th anniversary last year.
Now the private high school at 1130 W. 34th St. is focused on the future and serving the next generation of students.
Lutheran High North principal Dana Gerard said the school began a $225,000 renovation project in December to improve its “curb appeal” to a surrounding community that is rapidly developing and seeing an influx of young families. The work to upgrade the school’s front-facing exterior is a joint venture between Lutheran High North and the Lutheran Education Association of Houston (LEAH), which oversees the Garden Oaks campus along with two other private schools in the region.
“If you look around that community, there is a lot of investment being made in the community. They’re establishing new businesses, homes and apartments,” said LEAH executive director Randy Einem, the father of a 2003 Lutheran High North graduate. “We felt, ‘Hey, we want to invest in this community as well. We want to look our best.’ We recognized the facility needed a little love.”
Gerard said the renovation, which is being funded entirely by donations from community members, is expected to be completed by March. The red-brick school building already has been painted, with a charcoal-colored roof and gray siding replacing the previous blue-and-red color scheme, and the front portion of the parking lot has been repaved.
Also in the works is new landscaping in front of the campus, which will be complemented by a lion statue in honor of the Lutheran High North mascot.
“It’s exciting. You drive up to a whole fresh look,” said Gerard, who has worked at the school since the 1980s. “I’ve been walking into the same building for 35, 36 years, with the same colors and everything else. Now all of a sudden it’s like, ‘Wow, this is a whole different place.’ ”
Two Lutheran High North parents, Heights resident Joanie Sullivan and Timbergrove’s Fran Shearon, also like the upgrades and said they hope it causes more local families to take notice of the school and consider it as an educational option for their children. Gerard said enrollment has declined in recent years, with Lutheran High North serving 110 students this year.
Sullivan said her two children, one of whom is a recent graduate and the other is a senior, have benefitted from the small, family-oriented environment at Lutheran High North while also being challenged academically and engaged in some of the school’s extracurricular offerings. That sentiment was echoed by Shearon, who graduated from Lutheran High North in 1988 and said she is glad her oldest daughter, who is a sophomore, chose to go there as well.
Shearon, who teachers at another private school in Houston, called Lutheran High North a “hidden gem” and said it’s “up with the big boys” even though it might be smaller in terms of size and student body.
Perhaps outside perceptions of the school will change along with its exterior features. Gerard said he hopes Lutheran High North becomes the “school of choice” within the neighborhood.
“Was the building in need of a facelift? Yes, it was,” Shearon said. “But you can have an absolutely beautiful school, and if what’s going on inside the school is not well, if teachers aren’t teaching, children aren’t learning and it’s not a nurturing environment, then what good is the school?
“Lutheran High, they had the inside stuff already,” she added. “They had that for years. But now maybe they’ll make the outside match the inside.”