Alumna Conducts Thesis Research in Hot Springs, SD – February 21, 2018

McKenziePerry-229x300.jpgKenzie Perry, SFLS Class of 2010, returned to South Dakota last summer to conduct impressive and important research on water quality near Hot Springs. As a geology and environmental studies double major at Gustavus Adolphus College, Perry hopes to attend grad school in the fall and apply the things she's learning through her research to a meaningful career in hydrology.

“I am not a rock person at all. I am captivated by the other side—the waterfalls, rivers, and any place where water is moving. Now, with more threats to water quality, understanding these processes is extremely important.” –Kenzie Perry, SFLS Class of 2010

Learn more about Perry's research on the Gustavus Adolphus website.


Alumnae Inducted into National Honor Society for World Languages – August 30, 2017

As immersion programs continue to grow in popularity, there is something to be said for slow yet consistent exposure to new languages.

Last spring, Anna Shane, Bria Berg, and Kristina Pike, all of whom graduated from Sioux Falls Lutheran School in 2015, were inducted into the National Honor Society for World Languages. During their time at SFLS, the girls were part of a class that began studying Spanish in kindergarten. Today they are quick to credit their success with the language to that early exposure.

“The Spanish education that I received from SFLS tremendously impacted my experience with the language in high school,” Shane said. “Those nine years of learning the fundamentals and laying down the basics made me extremely prepared. I had a leg up on most of the other students in my class freshman year, because I had been hearing the language and learning pronunciation for all of that time. It programmed my brain to pick up the high school material faster.” 

The trio of SFLS alumnae, along with other inductees, was recognized during a special ceremony last May. During the coming school year, they will participate in meetings and activities that provide opportunities to meet other individuals who share a passion for the Spanish language.

“I am looking forward to being able to surround myself with students and teachers who share the desire to teach and help everyone involved to become more fluent in Spanish,” Pike said.

To qualify for the National Honor Society for World Languages, students must be enrolled in a Spanish III course or higher, have a 3.5 GPA in previous Spanish coursework, have a 3.0 overall GPA, and be a student of good character.

As 8th graders, students at SFLS have the opportunity to take Spanish I for high school credit. Shane, Berg, and Pike took advantage of that opportunity, which opened the door for joining the National Honor Society for World Languages a year earlier than some of their peers. Since they started high school with a Spanish credit on their transcripts, the girls will also have the opportunity to take AP Spanish for college credit during their senior year.

This fall, Sioux Falls Lutheran School is expanding its Spanish program to include Fantastic Fives students. After watching two of her own children participate in the Fantastic Fives program in recent years, Spanish teacher Mrs. Melinda Wood is excited to introduce the kindergarten prep class to the language.

“When children are little they are like super sponges,” Wood said. “They are not afraid to soak it all in and say new words. They are fearless!”



Alumnus Lands Summer Internship with NASA – July 31, 2017

Before entering his senior year of college at Valparaiso University, Paul Flaten, SFLS class of 2010, is spending his summer as an intern at NASA.

Flaten discovered the opportunity through some simple online research and started the 10-week internship on June 5.

“My main project is to convert some legacy Computer Aided Design software from an old computer language called FORTRAN to a more recent language called MATLAB,” Flaten said.

The software Flaten works with is used by NASA to design the patch antennas that are used on research rockets deployed at Wallops Flight Facility. He has already completed his initial task of translating information from one computer language to another and is working with a mentor for the remainder of his internship to test how well the new language is working.

“We are currently in the process of fabricating some of the first patch antennas the new program has designed, and we’ll be measuring their performance in the facility’s compact antenna range,” Flaten said. “After that, we’ll implement any further changes to make the models as accurate as possible.”

To date, Flaten’s favorite part of the internship was his first rocket launch.

“The pictures and videos just don’t do it justice,” he said.

Before he completes his internship on August 11, Flaten will give a presentation summarizing the work he has done throughout the summer. He has also been selected to give a demonstration at a program called INSPIRE, where he will speak about wireless power and backscatter communication – the underlying principles of radio-frequency identification.

Raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Flaten considers himself “the product of a Lutheran education.” He attended Zion Lutheran Church’s preschool, Sioux Falls Lutheran School, and the Lutheran High School of Sioux Falls before venturing out of state to Valparaiso, Indiana, for college. He credits both the schools and the mentors he has met over the years for shaping him into the person he is today.

“I often marvel at the ways that Sioux Falls Lutheran School is impacting my life, even today,” Flaten said. “Early on, ADHD provided a serious obstacle to my education. I can only imagine where I would be if I had not received the support and attention of the staff and teachers at SFLS. Beyond that, I can’t stress how important it is to receive an education where faith and school are joined hand in hand. The knowledge and values that I started to cultivate at SFLS have been vital in defending and grounding my faith throughout my life thus far.”

At Valparaiso, Flaten is involved in the engineering honor society and the local student chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Under the direction of Dr. Dan White, he also conducts research regarding SatNOGS—a project based out of Athens, Greece, that is aimed at developing low-cost, easy-to-manufacture ground stations. Outside the world of engineering, Flaten participates in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the Crusader Pep Band, and the Valparaiso University Jazz Ensemble.

Flaten will graduate from Valparaiso in May of 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. While he’s not exactly sure what his future holds, Flaten envisions himself working somewhere in the space industry.

“I always go into these experiences trying to learn new things,” he said. “It’s always humbling but exciting to know that you still have a lot to learn and experience.”

Music Helps Alumna Connect with Church Community – June 12, 2017

Kadie Roozenboom.jpg

When you set foot inside Lord of Life Lutheran Church for a Sunday morning service, the worship band at the front of the sanctuary may look and feel similar to other praise bands you’ve heard. However, several members of this ensemble share something special in common – they received their foundational music instruction at Sioux Falls Lutheran School. 

Kadie Roozenboom, SFLS class of 2013, serves as one of the band’s two main pianists. She began taking lessons during her elementary years at Sioux Falls Lutheran School. While the school is known for its Local Best preschool, its robust K-8 music program offers opportunities for students to participate in classroom music, Suzuki-based violin instruction, band, choir, orchestra, guitar ensemble, and tone chime ensembles. Private music lessons, like the ones Roozenboom experienced, are also offered to students during the school day as a convenience for families who wish to enjoy uninterrupted family time during the evening hours.

“Mrs. Dooley gave me a great base of musical knowledge,” Roozenboom said. “I am regretful now, but I quit taking lessons in 5th grade. My older sister was one of the main piano players at church at the time, and when she had to go off to college I just started picking piano back up so I could fill in for her while she was away.”

When Roozenboom began playing again, she had no idea how much the decision would shape her church life and relationships. In addition to serving alongside other SFLS alumni in the worship band, she now helps out with Sunday school and serves as a crew leader with Vacation Bible School during the summer.

“Worship leading has had a huge impact on me,” Roozenboom said. “I know more people and have relationships with many people in my congregation, and I think that all started when I gained the confidence to play piano for church.”

A recent graduate from Washington High School, Roozenboom was also involved in numerous music ensembles during her high school career. She played in the marching band and the show choir backup band, served as the trumpet section leader in the marching band during her junior and senior years, and received the ballad solo in the WHS 2016 marching show.

“Sioux Falls Lutheran School set me up with a great education that carried over into high school and will soon serve me well in college,” Roozenboom said. “SFLS is the reason why I have the passion for music I do right now. But more importantly, it has a great, welcoming, Christ-centered atmosphere, which is why SFLS will always be such a family to me. The things I learned there gave me so much confidence in my faith when I switched over to a public school.” 

In the fall, Roozenboom plans to attend the College of Saint Mary in Omaha, Nebraska, where she plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in occupational therapy. 


Alumni Share Future Plans as High School Graduation Approaches – May 17, 2017

This spring, we caught up with a few Sioux Falls Lutheran School alumni to see what the future has in store for them as they graduate from high school. Check out their stories below!

Laramie Giles.jpgLaramie J.Giles

High School: Roosevelt High School

Activities: Cross Country, Track and Field, Sports Broadcasting, National Honor Society, Outdoor Campus Volunteer

Awards: Varsity letter in Cross Country and Track and Field, Champion in Broadcast Production in State Skills USA, Academic All-State Runner

College: South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City, South Dakota

Major: Atmospheric Sciences and Mereology

Scholarships: Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office and Deputies Association – Kim Schoenhard Memorial Scholarship Award ($1,000); SD School of Mines & Technology – Freshman Scholar ($1,000); SD School of Mines & Technology – Athletic Scholar ($1,000)

Career goals: Broadcast Meteorologist  

College activities: I will be running Cross Country and Track for the School of Mines.

My SFLS Experience:  I made lifelong friendships at Sioux Falls Lutheran School that helped me grow spiritually, mentally, and physically into the person I am today. I am still benefiting from all of the memories, friendships, lessons, and experiences I had at SFLS.


Jaden Maier

High School: Lutheran High School of Sioux Falls

Activities: Basketball, Church Worship Band, 4H Shooting Club, Hunting, and Fishing

College: Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Major: Automotive Technology

Scholarships: Beresford Chapter of Whitetails Forever – 4H Shooting Club ($200); Sioux Falls Community Foundation – Ralph and Doris Wallin Scholarship ($3,500); Build Dakota Scholarship Recipient

Career goals: I am blessed through the Build Dakota Scholarship to have a guaranteed job in South Dakota if I commit to working there for three years. My plan is to work in a local auto shop and work on my own toys on the side.

My SFLS Experience:  I struggled academically and would have fallen through the cracks at a big public school. At Sioux Falls Lutheran School, I had smaller class sizes with more one-on-one attention and teachers who wanted to see me succeed. They made themselves available for extra help whenever I need it, and I continued to get that attention at the Lutheran High School of Sioux Falls. I constantly received positive messages, encouragement, and reminders that, even though I might have tested boundaries, I was still loved. In addition to all that, I also received encouragement to explore what I was good at and go for it – I wasn't pushed to make decisions about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Instead, I was given the time and encouragement to figure it out for myself.


Nolan Behr.jpgNolan Behr

High School: Washington High School

Activities: Baseball, Basketball, FCA, Student Ambassadors, Shoes and Boots (tutoring), Link Crew, Chess Club, Young Life, Lord of Life Lutheran Youth Group, Sioux Falls Youth Bowling, National Honor Society, 2013 and 2016 LCMS National Youth Gatherings

Awards: Baseball Letter (x2); Basketball Letter (x4), Team Attitude Award (x3), Best Practice Player Award, Activity Leader of the Month – February 2017; Bowling – U15 Boys SD Pepsi Tournament High Scratch Game and Series 2014 & U20 Boys SD Pepsi Tournament High Scratch Game 2015; Top Ten Freshmen (academic), Academic Letter (all semesters), National Honor Society

College: Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa

Scholarships: Presidential Scholarship, Baseball Scholarship, Sue Kooiker Scholarship

Major: Social Work/Psychology

Career goals: Receive the best college education possible in order to obtain a meaningful degree and work in an occupation that I am passionate about.

College activities: Baseball

My SFLS Experience:  My time at SFLS was the start of increasing my knowledge and skills, as well as strengthening my faith, which prepared me excellently for the transition I went through when entering high school. Washington was absolutely great, and I wouldn’t change my decision of going there if I had to choose again. However, I want to return to the Christian atmosphere I first experienced at SFLS in order to develop my career and transition into adulthood to the best of my ability. I believe the best way to do that is by partnering my schooling and extracurricular activities with my faith in order to reach my full potential in my future career and upcoming life.

Huebert Earns College Credits through Learners to Leaders Program – May 10, 2017

As a high school junior, Sioux Falls Lutheran School alumna Cassie Huebert knew that she was interested in taking dual credit courses. Thanks to the Learners to Leaders Program sponsored by Smithfield Foods, she will graduate this spring with several college-level courses on her transcript.

Huebert was introduced to the Learners to Leaders Program by her counselor at Roosevelt High School. The program allows high school seniors to enroll in classes at Southeast Technical Institute and earn credits that apply toward their high school diploma as well as a variety of post-secondary programs.

“I am so grateful to have been a part of this program, and sincerely thank my counselors and Smithfield,” Huebert said.

As a senior, Huebert has taken college classes including student success seminar, computer essentials, speech, online medical terminology, CNA, and speech and online composition. She plans to pursue a degree in nursing from Southeast Tech after graduating from high school this spring.

“I’ve always loved the human body and what it is capable of doing,” Huebert said. “I am a hunter, so the graphic parts don’t bother me at all. It is rather interesting… I might start as a traveling nurse, but my overall dream is to be an OB/GYN or a midwife. Then eventually I’d like to move to the trauma unit.”

In addition to participating in the Learners to Leaders program, Huebert is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Society of High School Scholars. She credits Sioux Falls Lutheran School for giving her the determination to pursue her goals.

“Sioux Falls Lutheran School has greatly impacted my life as a Christian and as a student,” Huebert said. “You build relationships with teachers, friends, and most importantly God. I am so happy to see SFLS growing, and knowing that I once was a student at such a wonderful school brings me confidence for my next big steps in life.”


VandeBraak to Study Particle Physics at Labs across U.S. and Italy – May 3, 2017

Seth VandeBraak.jpgBefore heading to college in the fall, Seth VandeBraak – SFLS class of 2013 – plans to spend his summer studying particle physics as a Davis-Bachall Scholar.

The five-week program accepts a maximum of 10 incoming university freshmen or sophomores who hail from or attend a university in South Dakota. Throughout the summer, scholars study a variety of physics and engineering topics while learning from distinguished professors at a variety of leading laboratories and universities.

In June, the group will head to Lead, South Dakota, where they will spend two weeks at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. From there, they will travel to other research labs in the U.S. and conclude with a 9-day trip to laboratories in Italy.

VandeBraak is currently a senior at Washington High School. Beginning this fall, he plans to study aerospace engineering at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science.

“As an aerospace engineer, I want to push the limits of science,” VandeBraak said. “I want to help put men on Mars.”

Participation in the Davis-Bachall Scholar Program is just one of many accomplishments listed on VandeBraak’s resume. A few of his other achievements include earning a varsity letter and Academic All-State award in cross country, being named a South Dakota Boys State delegate in 2016, and earning the 2017 Academic Excellence Award, which honors the top one percent of high school seniors in the state of South Dakota.

“SFLS is where my desire to do my best began,” VandeBraak said. “I set a goal of being valedictorian at Washington High School after achieving that status at my 8th grade graduation from SFLS. Unfortunately, WHS does not recognize valedictorian or salutatorian, but they do rank students.”

VandeBraak will graduate at the top of his class at Washington this spring and hopes to end his senior year with a 4.52 GPA.


Bierwagen Named FCA Honor Athlete – April 20, 2017 

Alyssa Bierwagen Senior Picture.jpgAlyssa Bierwagen, SFLS class of 2013, was recently named one of 18 high school Honor Athletes in the state by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes of South Dakota.

Established in 1974, the Honor Athlete award recognizes high school and college athletes who use their influence to impact the world for Jesus Christ. Bierwagen was encouraged to apply for the award by Roosevelt High School cross country and track coach Jason Wagoner. She will be acknowledged at the 2017 Honor Athlete Banquet at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 24, at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. A social hour preceding the event begins at 6 p.m.

Bierwagen began running cross country as an 8th grader at Sioux Falls Lutheran School. She went on to join the cross country and track teams at Roosevelt High School, where she was named most improved athlete on both teams during her freshman year. Throughout her high school career, Bierwagen became a two-time cross country MVP and received the athlete of the meet award. She is also an active member of the National Honor Society.Alyssa Bierwagen Cross Country2.jpg

“Sioux Falls Lutheran School gave me a solid foundation in my faith while receiving a good education,” Bierwagen said of her time at SFLS. “It is a place that taught me compassion, kindness and world readiness.”

In the fall, Bierwagen will attend Concordia University, Nebraska, where she will run cross country and pursue a degree within the medical field. She has been awarded scholarships for academics, athletics and her Lutheran faith.