Wisconsin Lutheran High School will break ground on a dramatic expansion on Friday as part of a $6.7 million project aimed at enhancing the school’s amenities and better blending its arts programming with other curriculum.
Phase one of the project, just about complete, has renovated parts of the school’s interior, including adding air conditioning to 18 classrooms and introducing sound technology to the school’s band room.
Phase two is anchored by a new two-story, 29,400-square-foot wing that will provide a designated setting for WLHS’s “STEAM” programming – defined by science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
While the Milwaukee-based high school has been offering courses across the arts, with classes in language arts, practical arts, textile arts, fine arts and industrial arts, it is now moving toward more integrated programming. In this way, the school plans to intersect its arts curriculum with its STEM programming so that students receive a well-rounded education, said Pastor Kenneth Fisher, president of WLHS.
“It’s connecting left brain and right brain activities in a way that rounds out our students more fully,” Fisher said.
For example, the school could integrate engineering classes with textiles arts classes through the use of its 3D printer and computer-aided design software, according to Matt Bilitz, director of mission advancement.
Until now, the school has not had adequate facilities for many of its STEAM offerings, Bilitz said. The current facility is 200,000 square feet.
In addition to outfitting the school with a new entrance, the wing will add music classrooms, a dedicated performance choral room, a student center, and classrooms for family and consumer sciences courses. The wing will also contain designated classroom space for Project Lead The Way, STEM-based programming that Wisconsin Lutheran High School rolled into its offerings close to four years ago.
“Serving our students better is worth investing in the future, and this is a way to serve our current students better and expand our program for the needs of the next-generation students,” Fisher said.
Full-scale construction of phase two, led by Catalyst Construction, will begin at the start of June with completion expected in December. The high school hopes to begin using its new wing at the start of the next school year’s second semester in January 2015.
Funding for the project has come from several contributors, including individual donors, major foundations, dozens of Lutheran churches that support WLHS’s academics, and students and faculty.
WLHS administrators are hopeful that the new wing and STEAM curriculum will also help “attract a wider variety and more international students,” Bilitz said.
While two dozen of the WLHS’s 762 students are international students, the school is determined to grow that population to at least 70.
WLHS is located at 330 N. Glenview Ave. in Milwaukee.