Talk of establishing a "Valley Lutheran High School" in the Fox Cities began in the mid-1940s. With several large Lutheran elementary schools going strong, it seemed natural to expand the Christian education opportunities on the high school level. At the time, less than a dozen Lutheran high schools existed in the entire United States. The closest was Fond du Lac's Winnebago Lutheran Academy. After a variety of setbacks, FVL was founded in 1953 by an association of Wisconsin Synod members in the Fox River Valley. In 1958, the "association" was reorganized into a Federation of 16 congregations who pledged to support the young high school. Currently, the Fox Valley Lutheran High School Federation is a partnership of 43 WELS congregations within a 30-mile radius of campus.
- 1940s - 1953: The Organizational Years
- 1953 - 1957: The First Campus (Jefferson School)
- 1957 - 1965: The Oneida Street Campus Opens
- 1966 - 1976: Oneida Street Campus Expansion
- 1977 - 1999: The "Rise Up & Build" Expansion
- 2000 - 2015: FVL Moves to Meade Street Campus
- 2016 - Today: Meade Street Campus additions
1940s - 1953: The Organizational Years
History of FVL - 1940's
Talk about starting a "Valley Lutheran High School" began in the mid-1940s.
At this time there were only nine Lutheran High Schools in the entire United States.
On September 21, 1947, a worship "rally" was held at Appleton's Goodland Field. Records say about 1600 supporters came to rally for the cause of starting a Lutheran high school in the Appleton area.
Fox Valley Lutheran High School Association organized. Fifteen acres of the Greiner Farm were purchased for $15K as the future site of the school at the corner of N. Oneida Street and HWY 41.
The earliest architect drawing of the proposed high school envisioned a multi-story building designed for 800 students at a cost of $750K. Only $18K was raised in the first three years of the effort and these plans were scrapped.
Leaders worked to spread the word about starting this new high school. What today is called the BEACON newsletter was first printed in 1950 and had only question marks for a title because they were still looking for a name!
This financial report published in the first BEACON reveals the school's cash assets at the time were just over 69 dollars!
In June, Appleton's old Jefferson School building became available. It had been "retired" by the city two years before and then rented by the Catholic schools as a grade school for two years. It was rented from the city for $1.
Leaders learned that Jefferson School was available on June 25, 1953. FVL opened in September. Imagine the work it took to open the high school in only 60 days!
1953 - 1957: The First Campus (Jefferson School)
Opening Service for the new high school was held on Sunday, Sept. 13 at Jefferson School. Seven freshmen arrived at school the next day, and were joined by another the next day. FVL's first year enrollment was 8 students. According to early accounts, they called themselves "The Elegant Eight."
From the Cross & Crown yearbook - photos of the original eight students in 1953 and 1957. In the top photo is Mr. Richard Buss, a Seminary student who accepted an emergency call to teach at FVL
Rev. Harold Warnke is called and accepts the role of full-time Principal, a role he holds until his retirement in 1974.
From only eight students in the first year, FVL grew to 53 in its second - 37 freshmen and 16 sophomores.
Interscholastic sports program begins with teams for 8-man football and basketball. The movement to create a Federation of churches to support the school is discussed. By September of 1955, enrollment had grown to 120.
Purchased in 1948 as the future site of the high school, it was time to clear the land to make ready for the new school building. Mr. Gerhard Kaniess is seen in the middle of the left photo.
Two School Songs ("Onward FVL" and "Alma Mater") were written. Credits go to music instructor Mr. Kurt Oswald, Marilyn Zirbel, Yvonne Kegel, and Mr. Armin Albrecht.
- FVL Ladies Guild organized
- 400 attend Groundbreaking Service for Oneida Street campus on August 5
- First FVL Homecoming is held
- Grade School band lessons offered by band director Rev. Hogey Bergholz
On a cold February 3, 1957, a cornerstone laying ceremony was held. Rev. G. A. Schaefer of Trinity-Neenah is pictured laying the cornerstone. The preacher was Rev. Walter Pankow. The building itself would not be finished for many months.
- Student publications are launched - the Cross & Crown yearbook and the Carrousel newspaper.
- First Junior-Senior Banquet is held
From the Cross & Crown yearbook - photos of the original eight students in 1953 and 1957. In the top photo is Mr. Richard Buss, a Seminary student who accepted an emergency call to teach at FVL.
The first graduation service was held in the gymnasium of St. Paul Lutheran Church in downtown Appleton.
1957 - 1965: The Oneida Street Campus Opens
Federation of area WELS churches formed to assist with school's financial needs.
FVL's campus had one of the strongest telescopes in the state of Wisconsin when the Elias Observatory was moved to campus by a generous gift from the Fuhremann family.
School enrollment continues to grow. With growing student body comes need to expand.
Artist's rendition of the new campus addition
1966 - 1976: Oneida Street Campus Expansion
FVL Foundation established with $100,000 bequest to provide grants to assist families to afford tuition costs.
First foreign exchange students hosted.
Twentieth school year begins with over 500 students and a budget of over $300,000. FVL has 25 Federation congregations and 27 teachers.
Rev. Wayne Borgwardt becomes principal at retirement of Rev. Harold Warnke. First girls' interscholastic basketball games.
FVL's trademark logos were designed by students in the mid-1970s.
Girls' interscholastic sports program begins. Rise Up and Build expansion program seeks to provide needed improvements.
Pastor Harold Warnke breaks ground for the "Rise Up & Build" addition. Regents Chair Rev. John Brandt at right.
Construction on the new addition is underway.
1977 - 1999: The "Rise Up & Build" Expansion
Twenty-fifth anniversary observed with over 650 students and 34 teachers. Rise Up and Build construction completed, dedicated, and occupied.
The Carousel school newspaper--first published in 1956--is renamed The Fox Tales. The student newspaper was discontinued in 1994.
June 10 - the Fox River Valley Lutheran Youth Band (FRVLYB) marches for the first time as a unit in the Appleton Flag Day Parade. The band included students from FVL, WLA, and KML. The group was renamed Lutheran Vanguard of Wisconsin in 1990.
Rev. James Plitzuweit becomes principal. He is shaking hands with Mr. Gerhard Kaniess who had served as interim principal.
First computers installed in school. The first computer lab featured Texas Instrument computers with cassette recorders for memory storage. The photo above is a terminal in the library tied to FVL's IBM mainframe computer.
Woodshop program joins printing in manual arts curriculum. Mr. Jon Roekle accepts call to teach these classes.
- Foxes girls track team takes WISAA Class B state title!
- The Foxes boys basketball team defeats perrenial powerhouses Green Bay Premontre and DePere Abbot Pennings to earn a trip to the State BB tournament.
FVL's first induction for its chapter of the National Honor Society
Thirty years of Christian training with 630 students and 36 teachers. Thirty-two Federation congregations operate FVL with a budget of over $1,000,000.
Winterfest inaugurated to assist funding the school music program.
Girls track team wins WISAA Class B State Championship.
Rocky the Fox is adopted as the name of the school mascot. Pictured are the three costumes over the years. Early school coloring books called the fox "Freddy" or "Foxy."
FVL defeats Xavier 23-6 in the first-ever Apple Bowl game. The teams began playing in 1960 and have played each year since 1972. The Apple Bowl trophy is in memory of famous Appleton sports personalities John Paustian and Bob Lloyd.
God Bless Our Families family ministry program begun as education component of FVL's Fresh Start effort. Funding A Fresh Start financial goal set at $1.5 million to retire debt and refurbish school.
Mr. Paul Hartwig becomes principal. FVL Foundation exceeds $1 million in assets.
Long Range Planning Committee established to consider future plans, including possible relocation of the school.
Fortieth anniversary marked with open house and Federation-wide art showing. 560 students and 37 teachers.
Long Range Planning Committee established to consider future plans, including possible relocation of the school.
FVL Foundation exceeds $2 million in assets.
Purchase of Rahmlow farm as site of new campus.
Negotiations with Appleton Catholic Education System (ACES) finalized. FVL General Board approves construction of new campus.
Girls softball team wins the State Championship!
The official FVL web page debuts on the Internet thanks to CyberGeek club advisor Mr. Matt Schlawin and a dedicated group of students interested in this new method of communication.
Groundbreaking for new campus takes place in March. Building construction begins in April. "Topping Out" ceremony is celebrated in November.
FVL's Guided Studies program is begun under the supervision of Mrs. Donna King to better serve students with special academic needs.
2000 - 2015: FVL Moves to Meade Street Campus
- Cornerstone Laying service marked on May 21.
- Handing over the keys of Oneida Street campus to ACES occurs June 14.
- The new school opens to 605 students with 38 faculty on August 25.
- The dedication of new campus takes place September 10.
- Foxes football team wins Division 3 State Championship.
- First baseball & softball games held on FVL campus.
- Foxtail Meadow Nature Preserve hosts first-grade school visitors.
- First soccer games held on FVL campus.
- Fifty years of ministry marked with open house and special anniversary service.
- Girls' basketball team earns state runner-up honors.
- 2003-04 marks the beginning of the I-20 program at FVL.
The Purdy Family and All Saints Episcopal Church donate a complete set of marionettes, scenes, and props. This becomes the FVL Fox Folk Marionette Troupe.
- Mr. Robert Fischer accepts his call as FVL's first full-time Mission Advancement Director.
- FVL becomes a member of the 10-team Eastern Valley Conference after six years in the Valley 8.
FVL hires an International Student Coordinator to assist with this growing area of ministry.
- Enrollment reaches the 640 mark, including 40 international students.
- Martin Luther, Oshkosh becomes 40th Federation member.
- Taher Foods becomes the first outside provider of FVL's food service program.
- FVL's Peer Leadership Group is formed.
- Rev. Leon Ehlert is named as the first recipient of the Trout Educator Award
Foxes boys soccer team wins WIAA D2 State Championship.
- Immanuel, Clayton becomes 41st Federation member.
- Boys' soccer brings home second place trophy in state Div. 2.
- FVL Stem Academy opens its doors. All-weather track renovation completed.
- Enrollment rises to 569, with 50 international students from 13 different countries, including 10 from China.
- Mortgage reduced to under $3 million as Growing in Grace continues to meet its goals.
- Solar panels installed to save on electricity costs.
- Dinner Auction raises $104,000 to top the hundred thousand mark for the first time.
- Accreditation team recommends that FVL receive exemplary accreditation status
- FVL Schools incorporated as a separate entity.
April - Bargain Garden celebrates its 20th anniversary topping $1M in sales and $500K in support of FVL.
Mr. Craig Charron accepts call to become Guidance Director.
First-ever FVL Kinderfest Event held on campus.
FVL Schools hosts Daddy-Daughter Dance with over 400 attending.
Wireless internet available throughout building.
- Legacy Project to raise FVL Foundation assets to $5M unveiled with $60 for 60 years gift program.
- Principal Hartwig, Business Manager Robert Becker, and Athletic Director Gene Strusz announce their retirement plans.
- Mr. Steve Granberg begins first year as Principal. Mrs. Martha Baldwin named Director of Operations.
- Mt. Olive-Suamico joins the FVL Federation.
- Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (School Choice) begins at FVL.
- Mr. Ben Priebe accepts his call as Enrollment Director.
- Foxes begin competition in new North Eastern Conference (NEC).
- FVL & FVL Schools raise $58K for our sister schools in Lusaka, Zambia.
2016 - Today: Meade Street Campus additions
- New 1-to-1 technology initiative allows every student to have a laptop as part of their tuition cost.
- Metals Shop opens & classes begin - taught by Mr. Mark Krause.
- Automotive training program partnership with FVTC begins.
- Senior high jumper Ben Gucinski sets the overall state record at the WIAA state meet in June.
- Fitness Center renovated and competition gym floor refinished.
- October - Erika Priebe wins the WIAA D2 Golf Championship.
- General Board approves Let the Children Come building expansion program at a cost not to exceed $5.6M in late September.
- Groundbreaking Ceremony held November 5.
- Construction for the Let the Children Come building project begins in March.
- FVL is recognized as a PLTW Distinguished School.
- The LTCC expansion is completed in August.
- Dedication Ceremony - October.
- Colten Schild named Wisconsin Baseball Player of the Year.
- Zayne Rodencal and Louisa Marxen receive the 2018 National Strength & Conditioning Assoc. All-American Athlete of the Year Award.
- Soccer and football fields are vandalized and home seasons need to be played off campus.
- Fox Cities Stars Girls Hockey Team (two FVL players on this co-op team) win State Championship.
- FVL's Metals program received the first-ever Excellence in Technical Education Award.
- April - Principal Steve Granberg accepts call away from FVL; Mr. Alan Nolte accepts Interim Principal call for 2019-20.
- August - School opens with enrollment of 683, largest in school history
- November - Mr. Jeff Loberger accepts call to serve as FVL's first President (originally titled Principal of Administration).
- January - Mr. Alan Nolte (right) accepts call to serve as FVL's new Principal of Education. (President Loberger is also pictured).
- March - Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers orders closure of all state schools due to COVID threat. All instruction goes online for first time in FVL history. The class of 2020 celebrates a drive-by distribution of diplomas.
- August - FVL opens with a mix of 658 face-to-face and online students due to COVID. Temp checks and masks are mandated for students, staff, and faculty.
- FVL accepted into the Special Needs Scholarship Program (SNSP).
- February - FVL Cheer & Stunt Team takes 1st place at State, the first time in 20 years FVL brought home a state title.
- August - FVL opens with its largest ever enrollment of over 740 students, including the largest freshman class ever of over 220 students.