Our Story Begins in the 1960's...
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”-- Matthew 7:24-27
“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” --1 Corinthians 3:11
Sept ’60 - Martin Luther High School (our original name), opens with 65 students. Classes are first held in the education building of Christ Lutheran Church, Woodside, with 3 full-time + 5 part-time teachers.
June ’60 - Herbert Geisler, Sr. accepts the Call as Principal and teacher.
April ’61 - The Reverend Frederick C. Hinz becomes Headmaster.
Also in April ’61 - Martin Luther High School purchases PS 72 (known as George Clinton School), in Maspeth from New York City for $87,000.
Two weeks later - A fire guts the building. The existing building is renovated and a new wing was built, giving the school its distinctive ‘L’ shape. The architectural firm of Shreve, Lamb, & Harmon is chosen to design the building and the Auserehl & Son Contracting Corporation of Jamaica is approved to build. The original blueprints of the school can still be viewed today.
Nov ’63 - Renovations are complete and the school moves to our present building. The Ridgewood Times highlights the event on November 7, "Tomorrow will mark a great date in the life of a young Queens high school. On this day Martin Luther High School will move from its temporary quarters in Christ Lutheran Church...to its new million-dollar building, 60-02 Maspeth Avenue, Queens"
The new building includes 18 classrooms, a cafeteria, library, chapel area, gymnasium, and science rooms. As per the original plan, the Chapel and cafeteria area will be converted into 5 additional classrooms and later a separate building off the main entrance will be constructed for a permanent Chapel and cafeteria.
Students met for daily Chapel in the 1st floor assembly area next to the cafeteria, which was furnished with Chancel furniture received as a gift from Chapel of the Redeemer, Flushing.
June ’64 - 1st Graduating Class with the Baccalaureate service is held at St. John's, Glendale on June 19th. 2 days later, the Commencement exercises are held, conferring 55 diplomas to our 1st graduates.
Late ‘60’s - Our Board of Directors establishes the Scholarship Fund to assist families in financial need with the rising cost of tuition. Guided by Headmaster Rev. Hinz and the board's Scholarship Committee, the Fund grows through individual gifts from faithful donors, the annual scholarship appeal and interest from wise investments.
Fall ’66 – The stunning artwork in the form of faux stained glass windows is installed facing Maspeth Avenue. Students under the direction of art instructor, Doris Lindemann, produce the fifteen panels interpreting the Te Deum Laudamus, an ancient canticle of the Church. The artwork remains in our Prayer Chapel and in Room 102 today.
Later in ’66 –The National Honor Society of Secondary Schools grants our membership charter.
June ’70 - The Board of Regents of the State of New York announces that Martin Luther High School was admitted to the University of the State of New York as a four-year high school. Headmaster Pastor Hinz proudly states: "Accreditation means that Martin Luther High School has met standards of instruction, equipment, maintenance of physical plant and financial stability as laid down by the State Education Department. It is a further assurance to our students and parents that anyone who enrolls at Martin Luther High School is receiving a quality education."
Fall ’70 – Martin Luther High thrives in its new location and enrollment exceeded 600 students (1970-1972). 3 classrooms were built in the former Chapel area; Chapel has since been held in the gymnasium.
Fall ‘72 - The Scholarship Committee awards the 1st scholarships of $200. each to 11 students.
’72 - Our Board of Directors and area pastors approve that our Religion Department initiate the celebration of Holy Communion during the ’72-‘73 school term.
Under the direction of Rev. Arthur Gillespie, Dean of Chapel, intensive preparation is conducted in every religion class prior to the Reformation Day Festival. Pastor Herbert Dick of St. John's Lutheran Church in College Point provides the elements and the vessels for the service. Both Reformation Day and Epiphany Communion services are a mix of traditional and contemporary liturgies. Worship leaders include students and faculty. A third such service is also held on Ascension Day. A periodic celebration of the Eucharist continues until 1999.
’73 – 28 students received scholarships of $250. each. As the Scholarship Fund grew, the interest was used to support the Academic Excellence Scholarship Competition and families with financial need through the Grant-In-Aid program – thanks the generosity of faithful donors who clearly had a high regard for Christian Education.
The ‘80’s - Brings many expansions, updates and changes to the academic, athletic, and extra-curricular programs of Martin Luther High School.
Fall ’80 - The International Thespian Society admits Martin Luther High School. This society is dedicated to promoting drama at the high school level. Member benefits include the right to attend conferences and receive scholarships for worthy students. Students earn hours through participation in on-stage and backstage work.
Sept ’81 - An All-Lutheran Band program launches. Focusing on students in the fifth and sixth grades in Lutheran elementary schools, 9 schools participate in the 1st year and 200 children are enrolled.
Also in Sept ’88 - Our school purchases the property on the corner of 61 Street and Maspeth Avenue from St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. The property continues to be a gathering place for special events and overflow parking today.
Nov ’81 - The Athletic Department offers 6 Varsity sports for boys (basketball, baseball, wrestling, soccer, cross-country, and track) and 4 for girls (volleyball, softball, basketball, and track). It then expands its offering to both boys and girls with co-educational teams in wrestling, soccer, and cross-country, along with a competitive intramural program (5K, Archery, Badminton, Basketball, Floor Hockey, Indoor Soccer, Volleyball, and Wrestling.
Nov ‘82 - All-Lutheran Band program reaches a total of 330 students. The program continues until June ‘09.
Fall ’85 - Our school turns 25 - The school began its twenty-fifth year of operation with the theme "O Give Thanks Unto the Lord." 600 attended the Opening Service. The Executive Director of the Lutheran Schools Association, Dr. Melvin Kieschnick, was the speaker for the occasion.
Aug ’88 - Headmaster Rev. Frederick Hinz retired after 28 years of faithful leadership. He and his wife, Mrs. Esther Hinz, were recognized for their dedicated service to the school and the Martin Luther Thrift Shop.
Also in ‘ 88 - the Board of Directors issues a Divine Call to Mr. Ben Herbrich, who has been with the school since 1964. He accepts the Call to serve as Executive Director, having completed 24 years as a commissioned minister/teacher at Martin Luther and 17 years as its Principal.
Summer ’89 – A new computer laboratory with 24 student units, printers, and a teachers' unit is installed on the 3rd floor.
Feb ’91 - Ms. Elizabeth Crowe (Class of '70) accepts the Call to serve as Principal of our school. Ms. Crowe was previously serving as Principal at Chapel of the Redeemer in Flushing.
Nov ‘ 92 – Athletic Director, Mr. James Regan (Class of '76), organizes our First Walk-A-Thon. 102 gather for at Kissena Park in Flushing to promote the benefits of physical activity. Our Walk-A-Thon helps raise funds toward the purchase of a new van for the school's many extracurricular transportation needs. Participants gather monetary pledges from friends, relatives, and neighbors before the event. Note: Since then, Walk-A-Thon pledges have supported new locker installations, bathroom remodeling, a new van, and class activities and events. Each year, Walk-A-Thon Man and his various family members visit our school to encourage participation by our students. Despite evildoers such as Nap Man and Captain LazyPants who attempt to thwart Walk-A-Thon Man's efforts, the faithful walkers prevail.
’92-’93 – Our Board of Directors revises the constitution and bylaws of the Association to include various other church bodies, most notably the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Members and congregations of both the Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the ELCA Synods are given the vote and the right to hold office on the Board.
Also in ’93 - after an intense study, our Board of Directors decides to retain the name of Martin Luther High School despite the occasional confusion by the general public with other schools named after the civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
April ’97 - The first Celebrate Kids Auction is held in the gymnasium of the school on under the theme, "A Stroll Down Main Street, USA," the successful event yields funds, which are applied to improvements in the academic program. Note: Since then, the Celebrate Kids Auction raises funds for various specialized projects and to support student scholarships.
The 21st Century and our School turns 40! Under the theme, "Smart School--Smart Choice," the ministry of Martin Luther utilizes renewed energy and devises smart plans for the future, the Board of Directors announces bold projects to carry the school into its fifth decade of service to students of Brooklyn and Queens. Mr. Herbrich explains the goals of the school's forward movement: "While increasing scholarship funds to support future generations of students and families, we are unveiling state-of-the-art technology which will impact both current and future instructional excellence."
Also in 2000 - 40th Anniversary Celebrations showcase the school's progress in the Smart School--Smart Choice venture. The Scholarship Fund grows, Smart Carts are supplied to each classroom, Internet access is provided throughout the building, the rear entrance of the school is upgraded, and the school yard is improved
Spring of 2000 - The school unveils its new state-of-the-art Computer Lab with 25 new computer workstations, A/C, a new ceiling and new lighting all funded by an anonymous donor.
Mar ’01 - Our new Fitness Center is officially unveiled. Complete with free weights, treadmills, stationary bikes, and strength-training equipment, it was funded largely through the efforts of students, who raised over $45,000 during the three previous Walk-A-Thons. Thanks to fundraising and generous donations, the Fitness Center is a staple to the Athletic Department at large. Updated machines allow for cross-training opportunities for athletic teams and so students, faculty, and staff can make health a priority.
Also in ’01 - Renovation begins on 3 new science labs with A/C, new ceiling lights, new storage cabinets, and upgrading safety devices.
Sept 11th ’01 - The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center left the community of Maspeth reeling. In addition to friends and family of Martin Luther alum, Martin Luther School loses 2 of its own when Eustace (Rudy) Bacchus (Class of '71) and F.D.N.Y. First Responder Paul Gill (Class of '85) perish. Note: Each year, a special prayer is offered for those who lost their lives on the anniversary in Chapel.
Mar ’02 - The William and Grace Miller Conservatory was dedicated. Perched high atop the gymnasium, the room offers a spectacular view of the New York skyline. This new addition provides students an opportunity to learn botany. It has created an environment that motivates students to explore the sciences more in-depth.
’04 - “Are WeThere Yet?” 3-year Capital Campaign launches to raise funds for 1st floor Administrative Offices renovation,
Fall ’05 - Smart Saturdays program is implemented to expand children's horizons by enabling them to explore new frontiers through fun, hands-on learning experiences and day trips to the city. The curriculum was designed by principals and staff members of Lutheran elementary schools in Queens. Students in grades 4-8 participated in science, math, robotics, and other enrichment classes. Note: The program continued through June 2008.
Summer ’06 - The main office complex and guidance suite are renovated. Supervised by Mr. Webster Schott, the school's representative for the construction, crews work in the original lobby area (new administrative offices) and Room 101 (the new guidance suite) simultaneously.
Nov ’06 - The dedication of the entire complex is held on November 28. This major renovation is the result of the 3-year fundraising campaign, "Are We There Yet?" which began in 2004.
Also in ’06 - The Martin Luther High School Foundation is established to support the Mission of the school by forming the basis of a financial support structure for long term stability and to provide deserving students scholarships and grants-in-aid. Monies donated to the Foundation are invested and used to ensure the future of the school. Persons who provide for Martin Luther in their wills or estate plans are recognized as members of the Frederick C. Hinz Society.
’07 - Cultural shifts on the East Coast and the wake of the Great Recession of 2007 dealt some devastating blows to local congregations and parochial schools. Families simply could not afford to provide their children with a private education. Several Lutheran elementary and middle schools were forced to shutter their doors.
A pillar of the Brooklyn community, St. Mark's Lutheran Church and School, experienced devastating challenges after structural damage to the school rendered the building unusable. Students were temporarily moved to Martin Luther High School until a decision could be made regarding the future of the school.
’09 -’10 - Martin Luther School turns 50! The theme selected for our celebratory event is "Lift Up Your Hearts," the familiar words which form part of the preface of the Lutheran liturgy. On September 25-27, a Grand Reunion of all alumni is held on Friday evening, a Worship Celebration at the school on Saturday afternoon, a Gala at Terrace on the Park Saturday evening, and Friends and Family event at Queens Botanical Gardens on Sunday afternoon.
Notable attendees of the anniversary celebration included the Rev. Herbert Geisler his wife, Gladys (former faculty) and his son, Dr. Herbert Geisler Jr. (Class of '67). Mrs. Esther Hinz, wife of the Rev. Frederick Hinz, and Dr. Joseph Walsh, longtime history teacher, were also in attendance. After serving as Principal, Herbert Geisler left in 1969 to enroll at Concordia Seminary, Springfield, IL where he received his Masters of Divinity and became a pastor. Rev. Hinz was taken to the Glory of our Heavenly Father when he passed away in early 2009 before the anniversary celebrations were held. A memorial service was celebrated in the school gymnasium, shortly after.
June ‘10 - Randall Gast is appointed as the Executive Director.
During his tenure he grew the International student program and fostered many relationships with various agencies to bring more students to our school. He was student-focused and coached the basketball team while always setting an example of his Christian faith in action. He led the services on Sundays for the congregation from St. Mark's and was very involved in our community.
Also in ’11 - Martin Luther School opens it’s Middle School to 6th-8th graders in response to lower attendance rates in the high school, the nearby Lutheran elementary school closings, and available space in the Maspeth Avenue building. These changes prompted the creation of a new association: The Martin Luther School Association.
‘12 - Martin Luther High School is renamed Martin Luther School and is approved for renewal of accreditation with the Middle States Association, this time for grades 6-12.
’13 - Martin Luther School pairs up with Monroe College to offer students the opportunity to earn college credit by taking college courses in the high school building.
Also in ’13 - Martin Luther School expands its International Student Program, welcoming students from all over the world including China, Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Germany, and others. Our International students bring a unique diversity to our school and provide MLS with expanded ministry opportunities.
’14 - Martin Luther School teams up with Concordia College, Bronxville and St. Joseph's College to continue to provide students with the opportunity to get a head start on college by offering accredited STEM courses.
With a strong tradition of faithful faculty, staff, and students, Martin Luther is a close-knit community. In fact, with former faculty, staff, and alumni all over the country, and the world, you’re never far away from someone who has been impacted by Martin Luther School. Similarly, we frequently welcome back all Cougars when they are visiting the city they once called home!
Fall ’17 - Martin Luther School’s (MLS) Board of Directors and Foundation announce our Reset for Growth Initiative and invest several hundred million dollars to update the facility with new lighting, signage, painting throughout the building, technology, furniture and a redeployment of faculty and staff to better serve today’s diversity and students’ needs. Research showed that our small size + 9 other reasons make MLS the Small School. Smart Choice.
Oct ’17 - MLS runs its 1st newspaper ad campaign in all 8 local editions of the Queens Ledger to support its HarvestFest ’17 Open House for the Community to see all the recent improvements to the building and invite students to become Cougars for a Day so they can experience
Over the past 58 years, Martin Luther School has viewed its role in the community not just as a place of education, but a place of ministry. From the very beginning, a Christ-centered ministry has been the number one priority of Martin Luther School. Reflecting ever-growing educational needs and trends, Martin Luther School adapts its curriculum to reflect an ever-changing society. While maintaining our ministerial integrity, it has continued to grow as a strong college-preparatory school, offering Advanced Placement, STEM Courses, and SAT Preparatory courses and where 99% of our graduates attend college.
This tradition of closeness extends to the community of Maspeth and surrounding areas as well. Community organizations and athletic leagues use the gym facilities in the evenings and throughout the year MLS hosts various activities for all ages. On Sundays St. Mark’s Lutheran Church meets for service and fellowship in our cafeteria.
From its beginning, our school developed a student body rich in ethnic, religious, economic, and social diversity underpinned by our deep respect for the beliefs of all others - a tradition that continues today.
Much appreciation to Stephen Grosch (Class of '76) for his research and writing of the Martin Luther School history.