Enrollment / FAQ

2323 E. 12th St. ∙ The Dalles, Oregon
(541) 701-9137Contact Us

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  • Columbia Lutheran School
  • 2323 E. 12th St. The Dalles, OR 97058
  • Columbia Lutheran School
  • (541) 701–9137

Frequently Asked Questions

What grades do you have?
See Kindergarten-4th and 5th-8th Together.
I noticed it’s called a “Lutheran” school. What does that mean?
It means that we are part of the centuries-old tradition of Lutheran education. Lutheran congregations support Christian education for their members and members of the community who may not be Lutheran. This is meant as an alternative to public education, where the Christian roots of learning are not acknowledged, and the Christian worldview is suppressed.
The Christian teachings included in our classes and activities are based on the Bible, as understood and confessed by the Lutheran Church over the centuries since the Reformation. We define “Lutheran” in terms of the teachings themselves. Those that agree with definitive Lutheran teaching are considered “Lutheran.” Those in disagreement are not. Our purpose is not to convert our students to our brand of Christianity. Lutheranism is the lens through which we read the Bible and understand Christian teaching. Unlike some other present-day denominations, this makes it very easy for our parents to know exactly what sort of Christian teaching their students receive. It’s documented in the Lutheran Confessions.
What are the professional/spiritual requirements for teachers and staff?
  1. Teachers are called ministers of the Gospel, and will be members in good standing at Bethany or a sister congregation (ELS or WELS), which means that they are in full agreement with what we believe.
  2. The ELS and WELS elementary school system provides a certification for teachers. Our teachers are either required to have this certification or to work toward it.
  3. In addition to the regular worship or Bible study activities of the congregation, teachers will attend at least one annual teachers’ conference in our church body, and we will have periodic meetings for study and spiritual growth between the pastor and teachers.
What curriculum is used?
  1. The Classical model (see The Classical Model) defines the overall approach at CLS, as opposed to progressive American (i.e. John Dewey-type) education. As implemented in Lutheran schools, there are features that further distinguish it from classical curricula in Protestant, Roman Catholic, and other European traditions.
  2. The classical model does not require a set, specific published curriculum; rather, it is a methodology and philosophy of learning that accommodates many different kinds of resources. We use A Beka in lower grade levels (the Grammar stage) and children progress into Saxon math and the Beginning Christian English series later on. We are not dependent upon a single publisher or source, but integrate a variety into our classically-oriented sequence.
  3. Distinctive features of Lutheran classical education are emphasis on the proper division of Law and Gospel, the understanding of the “two kingdoms” (Referenced later by the American founders, surfacing in the 1st Amendment freedom of religion), and the doctrine of vocation.
  4. We recognize that any good thing a Christian does in faith is “christian” in nature, so works by authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, Jane Austen and Victor Hugo, and even the study of Creation through mathematics may have their places in a classical Christian curriculum.
  5. By the same token, we see that western civilization is based upon roots in the ancient Roman and Greek worlds, which produced great works that have helped to define our present-day world. Though these works are not necessarily “christian” works, they are still essential to a classical education for conveying knowledge with understanding, as well as developing moral character and cognitive skills.
  6. The classical model is not elitist, but a universal approach to education for all children, so that they learn to use their God-given gifts as good, Christian citizens in the fullest and most beneficial ways.
Do you have a teacher/student ratio limit? Are there aides?
  1. Our projected cash flow worksheet calls for hiring a paid classroom aide when the ratio exceeds 15 students for each teacher.
  2. Volunteer aides help our students to manage their assigned activities when the teacher focuses especially on lessons for another group.
  3. The size of our classrooms limits the size of our combined-grade classes to 15 students.
How does the school accommodate children who have academic, social, or emotional challenges?
  1. In a multi-grade classroom, students are not all expected to perform and learn in exactly the same way. While we use traditional grade levels, students will each learn at their own level, which may be different from their nominal grade in certain areas.
  2. Every student faces challenges of some kind, and some challenges are impossible to predict. As a school, we are in partnership with parents to find the best way to meet those challenges and educate our students.
  3. Good discipline is expected of all students, though we believe that every human being is also naturally inclined to do wrong. Misbehaving students will be taught that God forgives our sins, but His forgiveness does not remove earthly consequences of what we have done. The proper distinction between Law and Gospel teaches students to repent and be restored to God’s favor through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
What kind of multimedia/technology tools are used in the classroom?
  1. Teachers have the use of a multimedia projector and audio.
  2. We have several computers in the classroom for online components of the curriculum and for certain assignments. Students are encouraged to keep their personal data on a USB thumb drive.
  3. Our computer systems include common office software as well as a wide selection of educational game-like activities, from typing tutors to programming activities similar to the Logo language from years ago. The operating system is Edubuntu.
  4. We use web filtering by Dan’s Guardian, making use of a large, maintained site blacklist to avoid inappropriate material.
  5. Our system for periodic formative assessment (Measures of Academic Progress) makes use of our classroom computers for student testing.
  6. Students are allowed to use the computers recreationally only when required classroom work is finished.
What is the format/content for chapel and/or teaching the Bible in the classroom?
  1. The principles of the Christian faith and the biblical worldview are integrated naturally into all subjects.
  2. There is daily/weekly memory work from the Bible and a few other sources.
  3. There is a Bible history class in earlier years, which eventually transitions into a class based upon Luther’s Small Catechism. The core of the Small Catechism consists of the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer.
  4. Each day begins with a prayer in the classroom, and four days each week we have a 15-minute chapel service using the Office of Prime (p. 108 in the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary).
  5. A longer chapel service meets once each week, normally conducted by the pastor. It usually follows an order for morning service called Matins, which includes singing of various psalms and canticles, the Lord’s Prayer, an ancient hymn called the Te Deum Laudamus (Latin for “We Praise You, O God”), other prayers and hymns, and a short sermon – all in English. The dress code on that day is more formal than other days.
What is your Statement of Faith?
See Our Faith.
What is your educational philosophy and mission statement?
Our mission statement: “To provide a quality classical Christian education for the families of the Mid-Columbia area, preparing students for their current and future God-given roles and supporting parents in their vocation to educate and nurture their children.” Also, see School Philosophy.
Is there an after-school child care program?
Extended care is available by reservation for times before and after school, between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00, and again after 3:15 p.m. until 5:30. (Subject to adjustment according to the needs of most families.) There is an hourly cost for this care, which can be billed with tuition. Students may use the time to work on homework, or if that is finished, to entertain themselves quietly.
Is there any standardized or state testing?
The State of Oregon no longer requires standardized testing for private schools, however Columbia still uses regular testing to assess the learning and needs of our students. This testing is conducted three times in a regular school year, with availability for more specialized tests at other times. All tests are taken on the computers, with a separate audio-visual test for students in grades K-2 who do not yet read well enough to take the other one. These tests are excellent for the multi-grade classroom, because they are adaptive, meaning that instead of measuring student knowledge against one monolithic standard for their grade level, the test measures student performance in a number of different areas on a continuum spanning multiple grades. If a student gives a correct answer, the next question will be harder. If a student gives a wrong answer, the next question will be easier. In this way, the assessment results measure student performance and learning better than state testing has ever done. Teachers have quick feedback about individual student strengths or areas of concern. This system is provided by the Northwest Evaluative Association.
What extracurriculars do you offer?
  1. Besides weekly P.E., we have a scheduled time for music and the arts.
  2. We collaborate with The Dalles Christian Home School Band, providing weekly practice space in return for the possibility that our students may participate as band members.
  3. Otherwise, music lessons are available on piano and certain other instruments for students in third grade and up.
  4. All students participate in a chorus, which sings at the same annual concerts (Christmas and spring) when the band performs, and in church services at Bethany about once a month.
  5. There are extracurricular classes for older students held as needed, according to the interest of participants. These include Latin and other classically-oriented studies.
  6. When we offer higher grades, those students may participate in sports events with other schools in TELSS (The Evergreen Lutheran School System). The nearest sister school is Grace Lutheran in Portland.
Do you use any secondary languages?
  1. Classroom instruction is in English.
  2. Part of the classical curriculum includes teaching the Latin language, a basis for English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Romanian. Studying Latin strengthens understanding of those languages, enhances the study of history, math, and science, broadens one’s view of the world, and trains the student in important learning skills.
  3. Our model school uses Rosetta Stone to offer instruction in a wide variety of present-day foreign languages. With sufficient interest, we can do the same.
Do you have a fundraising program with required participation? If so, how does it work?
  1. No. Families who prefer not to participate in fundraising have the option of paying the full unassisted tuition rate, which will be higher than the subsidized tuition at other private schools, but is certain to cover anticipated operating costs of the school, providing a stable cash flow for the school’s continued existence. So far, this is the overwhelming choice.
  2. On the other hand, some families may prefer to spend time fundraising if it means their tuition will be lower. Families who wish to reduce the cost of tuition are strongly encouraged to participate with the Columbia Lutheran School Boosters organization for fundraising and special projects. The Boosters are organized separately from the school, and are self-directed. They wish to avoid frequent fundraising drives in which participants must sell things, by focusing instead on larger-scale fundraising opportunities, and those involving simple lifestyle adjustments, like making all possible family purchases with scrip.
What opportunities are there for me to volunteer at the school?
See Volunteers.
How is the school board structured? How can I become a board member?
  1. Voting board members are confirmed members at Bethany, elected to 18-month terms on a rotating basis by the Bethany voters’ assembly. The chair is a voting member of the congregation. The school board members are expected to accept specific, delegated areas of responsibility and report back to the board at its regular meetings. The pastor and church president are ex officio non-voting members of the school board. The school board reports to the Bethany voters’ assembly at its quarterly meetings.
  2. The board can appoint its own advisory members from inside or outside the membership of the church, for a 1-year term. The appointments must be confirmed at the next quarterly Bethany voters’ meeting. Those interested in serving should attend a board meeting.
  3. The board can also invite others to act as resources for the board, providing services or information on an ad hoc basis.
Is the school accredited?
We are on track to apply for accreditation with the Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education. The CCLE is not connected with any particular church body, but represents interests in classical education among all Lutherans.
How do you handle lunches?
Students should bring bag lunches from home. We have a refrigerator set apart just for lunches. We are also investigating the possibility of having some simple hot lunches catered, which could be purchased ahead of time at a prearranged cost.
What is the dress code/cost for uniforms?
  1. The Handbook covers the dress code in detail. Parents may use any source they wish for clothing that follows the uniform dress code. For durable, professional uniforms, we suggest a company like Dennis Uniform. Our dress code provides the option of a school plaid. When there is sufficient interest from our families, we will choose a plaid from Dennis Uniform or a similar company, which parents may order.
  2. The Boosters operate a uniform exchange for growing students. Parents may find it to be an affordable alternative to new clothing.
How much is tuition?
Since tuition rates depend upon the enrollment, which is hard to predict before a school year begins, the tuition rate for the next year is capped by the school board in the spring of the previous school year, and a target enrollment is set. If the enrollment exceeds that target, the school board can reduce the tuition in the month before classes start.
We invite you to visit the school to discuss the specifics of this year’s tuition amounts, and to discuss tuition assistance opportunities. Please call or email the school to arrange it.
How do I qualify for tuition assistance?
  1. Tuition assistance is connected to the Boosters fundraising efforts as described above.
  2. For families who participate in fundraising for tuition assistance, there is a formula in our Parent and Student Handbook describing how your tuition assistance will be allocated to you from the fundraising proceeds.
  3. Bethany Lutheran Church has the option of providing scholarship money for children of its own members at Columbia Lutheran School. These scholarships are credited to the students’ tuition in the same way as fundraising, as described above.
How does our tuition compare with other private schools in the area?
  1. One of our goals is to make the final cost comparable to other area private schools, though we fully expect that our undiscounted tuition rate will be higher. Our tuition rate reflects the full, unsubsidized, expected cost, while other schools often charge a lower tuition with “fine print” about extra family obligations. This makes our costs, operation, and value more transparent than most schools.
  2. Since other area schools assume a certain amount of subsidy and mandatory fundraising when setting their tuition rates, you have to add those obligations in both time and money to know the total cost. The total will be comparable to the cost of attending Columbia Lutheran School.
  3. Families concerned about tuition prices have considered which is the more efficient use of their time: constant fundraising activities meant to lower the tuition rate, or the time needed at work to make up the difference with regular pay. With reasonable family budgetary discipline, it’s possible for parents to provide a better education at CLS, without the hassle of fundraising obligations and penalties. This also leaves more time for being involved in a child’s education.
When does school start? When do I need to have my student registered?
  1. The annual calendar is linked in the navigation column to the left. The mandatory school year starts in the latter part of August, but students who would benefit from extra reading instruction will start three weeks earlier.
  2. All K-4 students new to CLS should plan to start on the earlier date. Returning students may start on the later date. Watch for other limited activities during the 3-week Running Start for students in 5th grade and up.
  3. Current students are urged to register in or before the April registration drive. Their seats will be reserved until April 30. New students can register any time, but may have to wait until May to confirm availability.

Page last modified August 07, 2017, at 05:07 PM by PastorJacobsen.
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