A local independent Christian school is breaking with more than half a century of tradition by changing its name.
Zion Lutheran Elementary’s new name is being kept under wraps until this Saturday, when the school hosts a special celebration where the name will be revealed.
“It’s going to be a huge day,” says principal Jon Mayan. “We’ve been working up to it for literally the last 16 months.”
The school will be laying out the welcome mat Dec. 10, extending an open invitation to the community to take in performances by the school choir and hand chime ensemble, along with a giveaway of 200 Christmas trees to local families.
Local dignitaries have also promised to attend the event, which starts at 3 p.m.
Mum’s the word until then, but Mayan offers the hint that the new name better reflects the school’s mission to offer a Christian education in a caring school community that emphasizes traditional values along with high academic expectations for students.
“There’s been speculation, and there’s been some leaks, because we wanted to talk to people to get a sense, does this resonate with you?” Mayan said.
Those in the know say the new name is “the logical choice,” he added.
The decision to adopt a new name after 52 years wasn’t done lightly.
It was reached after holding focus-groups, consultations and conducting research which proved something long suspected – that the name, Zion Lutheran School, was confusing for potential parents and students.
“There were some misconceptions out there,” Mayan said. “People weren’t sure what ‘Zion Lutheran’ was. They might have thought it was just a school for our congregation or ministry.”
The name has served the school since 1959 when it opened, built on a nine-acre property at what’s now 60 Ave. and 180 St. purchased by the congregation of Zion Lutheran Church, which has been part of the Cloverdale community since 1934.
The church later relocated to the same property, and in the early 1970s the congregation formed a separate organization to build and operate Zion Park Manor, a seniors’ residence that’s also on the property.
Today, the school, located at 5950 179 St., has an enrollment of 135 students plus 30 preschoolers, and a teaching staff of 12. It offers preschool and elementary classes from Kindergarten to Grade 7, along with offering daycare services and before-and after-school care.
The school is open to all-comers, Mayan said, adding there are presently Christian and non-Christian students enrolled.
“We’re trying to create an idea for families that this can be a place that provides daycare, early learning programs and elementary education,” Mayan said. “We’re having the second generation of families going through now. There are alumni still living in the area that are bringing their kids to our doors, which shows you how long we have been part of the community.”