In 1959, a group of Christian men and women began meeting regularly with the establishment of a Lutheran high school in Orange County as their purpose. With no campus, no buildings, and no staff, the school was only a vision of its founders. But at the end of each meeting, one of those founders would pass around his hat, and all would offer whatever change was in their pockets.
Finally, in 1973, Lutheran High School of Orange County opened its doors to students. Under founding principal Herbert Stuenkel, the campus was modest: just nine academic classrooms, a library, a couple laboratories, and a few ancillary facilities. But the founders and families were energized by the prospect of this new school. Lutheran High School graduated its first class, numbering fifteen, in June of 1976.
Throughout the past 45 years, our family has certainly grown. Enrollment that first year was just shy of 100 students; today we welcome over 1,300 young men and women every day.
Facilities have indeed grown as well. In 1973 the building consisted of two hallways and a small front entrance. Later years saw the addition of two more hallways; creating a perfect square embracing first a patio, then a gymnasium.
In 2000, the God’s Plan…Our Future construction campaign increased the size and scope once again. Thanks to the generous support of donors, parents & alumni, the campus once again grew in size with the addition of new faculty offices, an expanded parking lot, landscaping, and five new classrooms. The next year added more enhancements: a second story addition, ten new classrooms, including biology labs and a greenhouse, a multi-media resource center and an entirely new football/soccer field with state-of-the-art artificial turf and an all-weather track.
In 2002, the gym that had previously been in the center of the school was moved to a freestanding "field house." The 1,800 seat gym rests at the top of the building, while the lower level is home to a 3,400 square foot weight room, a wrestling room, a state-of-the-art team room, offices, and a training room.
In the Fall of 2003, the Alexandra Nechita Center for the Arts opened in the space once occupied by the old gym – the heart of the school. The 740-seat performance hall is home to drama, dance, instrumental and vocal music productions, guest speakers and special chapel services.
And in 2014, Orange Lutheran embarked on its biggest expansion yet with the Beyond Expectations project. Completed in just over a year, the project added 40,000 sq. ft. to the school's footprint. Included in the upgrades were a 12,000 sq. ft. student union and cafe, a lower gym, a weight room, study pods for group learning, and a new training room and locker rooms.
Orange Lutheran has been blessed with the love and support of our friends and families making these incredible improvements possible. We look forward to what the Lord has in store for us as we remain a high-quality academic institution that disciples young people for Jesus Christ.