With graduations happening across the world right now, many people are thinking about what the students will become—what majors they’ll pick, what activities they’ll choose, and eventually what jobs will kick-off their futures. However, there’s another often-overlooked angle about what these students will become. They’re going to become alumni. Engaged alumni are a phenomenal resource for the educational ministries of the Missouri District.
When Tami and Tim Behnke won a pig roast with four other couples at an auction for Green Park Elementary, they weren’t necessarily looking for a project. However, it occurred to them how easily they could use this as an opportunity to continue to support the school that meant so much to them.
Both Tami and Tim Behnke attended the school, though they did not date until the end of their attendance at Lutheran High School South. Every year, the Christmas music reminds them of holiday activities from Green Park School. The close-knit community allowed them to attend a 40-year eighth grade reunion. She says, “I don’t know how many people get to attend their eighth-grade reunion like that.”
Behnke cherishes her time at Green Park, as well as what she sees unfolding in the school today. She points out, “[The children] carry bibles in their backpacks like it’s a math book.” Like many schools, Green Park receives significant support from the congregation. Behnke is grateful for all the congregation’s members who supported the school, so she and her kids could attend. She wants future generations to have the same benefits.
After seeing how easy it was to host a successful fundraiser, they decided to do it again. They held MaiFest, described as “OktoberFest in May.” Building on their previous success, they worked with the school leadership to increase the number of current parents who attended this year’s fundraiser.
It was a simple set up: people paid to attend and received a meal, drinks and enjoyed live music. The crowd reflected the legacy of the school’s impact as well as its current educational ministries. The school’s original secretary, Helen Bretenfeld, showed up alongside the parents of enrolled kindergartners.
Terri and her husband, Bill, also enrolled their children in Green Park. Terri has many fond memories of coaching her daughter’s volley ball team. She says, “I think it’s so important to keep that Lutheran education continuing, it’s just so formative. That’s why I worked outside the home, there’s just no better use for that money.” Dalton points out that many students from Green Park have gone on to become teachers, which amplifies the school’s impact across even more lives, as these teachers are now influencing a new generation of students.
It wasn’t difficult to get donations from the community. Much of the food and drinks were discounted or donated. If you’re interested in supporting a Lutheran school in your community, Behnke has this advice: “Don’t be afraid. It all fell together for us and it was easy to get deals [for our event.]”
Engaged alumni are a phenomenal asset to the many educational ministries across the Missouri District. If you don’t have an active alumni association, there’s no reason to wait. An alumni association will grow each year, as students graduate and reflect on the contribution their Lutheran education has had on their faith, character and professional journey. Contact Alan Freeman to learn more.