Mount Rainier Lutheran High School off to early start

A new Tacoma-area Lutheran high school has opened its doors and is now enrolling ninth- and 10th-grade students for classes beginning in September 2003.

Mount Rainier Lutheran High School initially will hold classes at facilities provided by Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Tacoma until the school completes construction of a new facility on 30 acres at the corner of E. 72nd Street and Waller Road. 

The school expects to add 11th-grade classes in 2004 and 12th-grade curricula in 2005.

“Opening our doors is an exciting step in the process of creating a new high school option for students and parents in Tacoma, Puyallup and throughout the South Sound,” said Dr. Robert Malzahn, executive director of the new school.

Malzahn, who has a doctorate in education, said the school fills an educational need in the area by providing a Christ-centered, student-focused high school that combines the best qualities of public schools, private secular schools, faith-based schools and home-schooling. 

“Mount Rainier Lutheran provides a high-quality education by offering the diversity of public schools, the Christian component found in faith-based schools, a well-designed curriculum, and the personal attention afforded by small class sizes,” he said.

According to Malzahn, one of the main tenants of the high school is to give children the foundation they need to follow their dreams, regardless of the professions they choose later in life. 

The school’s academic course work is designed to prepare students for college, and Malzahn said he expects many Mount Rainier Lutheran students will go on to post-secondary education. 

“But, high school is about more than preparing kids for college, it’s about grounding students in the values that create happy, healthy, productive, caring members of our communities, regardless of their future vocations,” he said.

Early enrollment numbers at Mount Rainier Lutheran indicate that parents agree with the new school’s approach. 

Although no official public announcement of the school’s opening has been made, Mount Rainier Lutheran has already reached 40 percent of its first-year enrollment goal. 

The school currently has room for 45 ninth- and 10th-grade students at its interim facility.

The school’s planned Waller Road campus will be built in phases to eventually accommodate 600 students in grades nine through 12. 

Work on the permanent site is expected to begin this summer.

Malzahn was hired in July 2002 by an association of 25 local Lutheran congregations intent on opening the new school. 

He brings a wealth of experience to the job, having opened or taught at four different Lutheran schools across the country over the last 26 years.