Already at the first meeting of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in June 1890, plans were made for a school. It was considered important for the children of the congregation to be taught to be Christian citizens in their community. Mrs. Giese and Mr. Herman Goetsch were the first two teachers when the doors opened. As the school population continued to grow, a fourth class became necessary by 1900. All classes were taught in German.
The first school building was sold and moved in 1903 for $200, and a new four-room school building was built on south 12th Street. By 1922 Bethlehem had grown to a school with first grade through eighth grade classes. School life was interwoven with the life of the congregation. In the summer of 1930, a fire broke out in the school which pushed back the start of the school year one week. Each classroom was fixed with a new metal ceiling.
In September 1948, kindergarten was introduced to the school. The class was located in the church basement because the school had become too small to hold all the classes. The basement was remodeled in 1950, and a new room was also added in 1952. With continued school enrollement growth, it was imperative to build a new building. The new building would include nine classrooms, a library, offices for the pastor, principal and secretary and a hall equipped for a gym. Ground breaking took place on April 27, 1958. The school was dedicated on June 14, 1959.
Bethlehem joined other Lutheran schools in the county to start the Sheboygan Area Lutheran School Association in 1969. This organization was designed so the schools would work together for the continuing of God's kingdom.
When the congregation turned 100 years old in 1990, the Century Room was built to connect the school and the church. This gave the congregation more room to visit after church services as well as new offices and workrooms. Two classrooms were added to the second floor as well. In 1993, the school suffered its second major fire. After one week, classes resumed in borrowed facilities at Christ Child Academy. Since then, the entire school was refurbished, and almost all furniture, equipment, and learning materials were replaced.
The decision was made in 1994 to embark on a program of self-study and school improvement using National Lutheran School Accreditation. The accreditation certificate was officially presented in September 1997. The school was reaccredited last in 2021.
Another building project came in 2005. This time a gym, locker rooms, a kitchen, a science lab and three classrooms were added to the building. Bethlehem also has improved its technology department by adding interactive flat panels to each classroom and updating Chromebooks in the classrooms and I-pads throughout the building.
Looking back through the years to humble beginnings of this ministry, we find that the one thing that has not changed is the Gospel of the love of God in Christ Jesus. It is the central theme of Lutheran education.
For over a century, young people have attended Bethlehem Lutheran School in preparation for life. Our graduates contribute to the quality of life in their homes, churches and communities around the world.