After a major gift from the Darren C. Jubel Charitable Foundation, Affton’s Lutheran High School South now has the means to build a major new performing arts center on campus.
The donation amounted to $6 million, including $2.5 million for immediate use and $3.5 million to be released after additional donors pledge $4.5 million. Principal Jonathan Butterfield said the second part of the donation is about to be unlocked.
“Darren always thought of Lutheran South fondly and really enjoyed his time as a student there,” said Melissa Markwort, Jubel’s niece and executive director of the foundation. “The school meant so much to him, and we believe this challenge gift will enhance the phenomenal performing arts programs and curriculum the school has to offer.”
The expansion is approximately 39,000 square feet and will include areas for multiple classes and programs. Butterfield said it could be ready for use by fall 2023. The largest room is a 622-seat performing arts theater with a working stage – the area will also serve as a chapel for worship at the school scale.
“When we first sat down with the architect, we said our highest priority was to have a space to hold a chapel,” Butterfield said. “For us as a Lutheran Christian school, worship space is essential…it’s who we are.”
In addition, the band and choir will have new music practice rooms and use the theater for performances. Outside of show programs, the new building will have a studio for the school’s digital journalism program, where students will host a weekly live news show.
“What we really appreciate at school is for kids to be involved in activities outside of the school day,” Butterfield said. “The more children participate in extracurricular activities at school, the better their overall high school experience will be.”
Currently, all of these programs use more general classrooms or gymnasiums throughout the school and do not have a specific area to call. The school currently uses the main gymnasium for its chapel.
Butterfield said the school had many attempts to build something like this over the years, but never had the funding or the opportunity to do so.
“This gift has certainly opened up the fact that this can become a reality because it’s such a transformative gift,” Butterfield said. “I don’t think this could have been a reality in the past without such a large donation.”