Luther College celebrates Women’s History Month in March with lectures and music

DECORAH, IOWA—Luther College will celebrate Women’s History Month in March with a series of events, which include lectures and a Center Stage Series concert. A Luther alum will return to give a talk on her book. 

“The identity studies department wants Women’s History Month at Luther to be intentional in showing how it intersects with Black History Month and Asian and Pacific Islander History Month through our events,” said Char Kunkel, head of the identity studies department at Luther. “We want to honor women’s history, but show how it intersects with other identities.” 

“People ask, ‘Why Women’s History Month?’ The month celebrates what women are doing now, but to me the stress on history is even more important,” said Kate Narveson, professor of English, who helped organize Women’s History Month events. “We need reminding that our opportunities as educated women in the US are a privilege not known by most women, won by brave and unfinished efforts to dismantle restrictive structures and imagine equal lives.”

Women’s History Month at Luther includes the following events: 

Grace Ji-Sun Kim, an ordained Presbyterian minister and professor at Earlham School of Religion in Indiana, will give the Sihler Lecture, “Theology of Visibility,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall. In 2021, she published “Invisible,” a book on theology; throughout her career she has published and edited more than 20 books. Kim is also the host of Madang, a podcast which discusses topics such as Christianity, religion and culture. At 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 6, in the Center for Faith and Life Main Hall Kim will speak at a chapel service honoring International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8.  

Mary Jane White, poet and translator, will give the talk “In Love with Another’s Words: The Translator as the Literary Ambassador” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, in the Nansen Room of Dahl Centennial Union followed by a Q&A with Lise Kildegaard, professor of English at Luther. White translated the work of Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, who was called one of the greatest poets of the 20th century by the American poet Joseph Brodsky. 

The all-women tenThing Brass Ensemble will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7, in the Center for Faith and Life Main Hall as part of the Luther Center Stage Series. The 10-piece brass ensemble formed in 2007 and performs selections from composers like Mozart, Bernstein and Bartok. 

Lydia X. Z. Brown will give the Price Distinguished Lecture, “Until We All Are Free: Disability Justice Interventions in Queer, Trans, Feminist Movements,” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall. Price is a queer, disabled and East Asian advocate, organizer, attorney, strategist and writer. They also serve as the director of public policy at the National Disability Institute and are the founding executive director of the Autistic People of Color Fund. The event is co-sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio. ASL interpretation will be provided. Attendees should also refrain from wearing any fragrances to this lecture. 

Luther will continue to celebrate women’s history in April with a talk by alumna Sheri Brenden, class of 1981, about her book “Break Point: Two Minnesota Athletes and the Road to Title IX” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall. Her book focuses on two Minnesota high school athletes and gender equity in girls’ sports before the passage of Title IX. One of the athletes is Sheri Brenden’s sister, Peg Brenden, class of 1976, who will also speak at the event. A reception will follow. 

About Luther College

At Luther College in beautiful Decorah, Iowa, students explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

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Luther College Giving Day returns March 7

DECORAH, IOWA—Gnome is where the heart is for Luther College’s Giving Day, which  returns for its ninth year on Thursday, March 7. The annual event aims to celebrate the Luther community while raising  money for the Luther Fund, Luther’s unrestricted current fund that supports all students, faculty, staff and community endeavors on campus. 

“Giving Day at Luther remains one of my favorite events because we get the opportunity to see the generosity of our entire community,” Mary Duvall, vice president for development said. “Each year, we see beautiful notes come in alongside these gifts that honor faculty, staff, and others across the Luther community that have made an impact throughout the decades.” 

Luther College’s Giving Day returns March 7.

While all gifts made to the Luther Fund on Giving Day will be matched by the Gnome Team, a group of donors whose generosity supports the success of Giving Day, this year, some gifts will be tripled.

This year, some gifts will be triple matched during special “power hours.” For example, during the “Grounded and Global” power hours from 9–11 a.m. and again from 5–7 p.m. All donations made by members of the Decorah community and anyone living abroad will be tripled, in celebration of Luther as a school grounded in Decorah that sets students up for success all over the world. A full schedule of power hours is available on the Giving Day website

“I love Giving Day because of the way it brings together every person in the Luther community to have an impact,”Duvall said. “The fun and energy it generates is incredible, and this year, I’m especially looking forward to the Gnome-fluencers on social media.”

There are many ways to participate in Giving Day: 

  • Join the Facebook event and see fun posts and videos leading up to and throughout the day. 
  • When you make a gift in honor of Luther faculty or staff,  Luther staff will share your dedication with that person and connect you both in an email that same day.  
  • New this year, those in the Decorah area can stop by The Landing Market for Luther Day at the Landing, a day in which 100% of all sales made at Justin’s and The Buzz will be matched with an equal gift to the Luther Fund.

Last year, Luther celebrated over $1.1 million raised at the end of Giving Day. These donations go toward essential financial aid, life-changing study abroad programs, and community-building student groups on campus, all of which shape Luther into a vibrant community filled with young adults ready to face a changing world. These donations make the Luther experience and shaping students as engaged citizens possible. 

About Luther College

At Luther College in beautiful Decorah, Iowa, students explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

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Decorah Robotics Teams have a Strong Showing at their League Tournament

The Decorah Robotics teams finished their season by competing at their league tournament competition this Saturday at Peet Junior High School in Cedar Falls. The tournament featured 26 area robotics teams all competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) competition.

At the beginning of the school year, these FTC teams–comprised of high school students– were given an obstacle course scenario. Teams then designed, built, and programmed an 18 x 18 x 18 inch robot that they could control in order to score as many points as possible within that scenario.

This year’s competition is called Centerstage and required teams to place hexagonal pixels onto a slanted backdrop, launch paper airplanes into landing zones, suspend their robots onto trusses, along with many other scoring opportunities in both an autonomous and driver-controlled playing period.

The freshmen/sophomore Decorah team, Thor’s Thunder Squad, competed in their six qualification matches, going 3-3 and placing 12th at the competition. Their robot excelled at efficiently picking up pixels from the center using two widening pinchers, and the team could suspend their robot on the trusses using flexible hooks attached to two rack-and-pinion raised towers. Thor’s Thunder Squad also finished second in the Control Award category, which is awarded to teams who demonstrate innovative thinking to solve game challenges through the use of sensors, machine learning, and autonomous control. The team had programmed their robot to sense where a randomly-placed scoring element was located, using machine learning and a webcam on their robot that allowed them to score bonus points during their autonomous program.

The junior/senior Decorah team, The Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Men and Women, went 4-2 during their qualification matches, earning them a 6th place finish. They were the first team drafted in the playoff round but lost to the eventual league champion team, the Falcon Bots from Parkersburg. The Wacky Wavers designed their robot to funnel pixels through two boot flywheels into a 3D printed box. The box was then raised up on a set of drawer slides and dropped onto the backdrop using a servo motor to tilt the box. The junior/senior team finished in second in the Connect Award category, which is awarded to teams who best connect with their local STEM community. The team did outreach events throughout the year with Boeing engineers, Gemini, Inc., and the high school freshmen, along with livestreaming many of their practices and competitions.

“I am very proud of our teams this year as both placed high in the standings and ranked higher than we ever have in their two award categories,” says Brett Wilker, the Decorah Robotics coach. “Many of the students in our robotics programs are interested in pursuing careers in engineering, robotics, or computer science; and through this program, they are given the opportunity to learn the skills that will make them successful in these fields.”

Thors Thunder Squad

Photo IDs:Thor’s Thunder Squad poses in their pit area. From (l-r): Joey McFarlane, Evan Madsen, Alec Fleshner-Einck, Eden Scheidel, Keagan Steines, Elias Sassaman, Owen Rix, and Jack Hammel

The Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Men and Women

The Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Men and Women pose in their pit area. From (l-r):

Seated: Emily Myers and Montana Jump-Gerleman.

Middle Row: Chloe Sabin, Andie Gegax, Quinton LaBelle, Brock Christensen, Bryce Elsbernd

Back Row: Mason Myers, Cody Carolan, Jerald Thompson, Phuong Doan, Kellen Roffman, Travis Nordheim.

Pre Match

Pre-Match:

Members of the Decorah Robotics teams prepare to compete together in a qualification match.

Two Decorah High School Speech Groups Honored with Critics Choice Banners

Two Decorah High School groups were selected as banner recipients at this year’s All-State Speech Festival held in Ames over the weekend: a Musical Theater performance of “tick, tick…BOOM!” and a Radio Broadcasting performance entitled “KWAK.” This is the first time in school history that Decorah has won a banner in the area of Musical Theater and the second time in school history that Decorah has won a banner in Radio Broadcasting.

Approximately 90 Decorah High School students made the trip to Ames over the weekend to perform at the festival at the Iowa State Center on the ISU campus.

Sixteen Decorah High School events were nominated as outstanding performances and joined other elite speech students from across the state to share their performances with a professional critic.

At the All-State Speech Festival, each critic selects one performance at the end of the day and awards a banner to that entry, signifying them as “best of center” in that category. In the eyes of the critic, the banner winner represents a “state championship” quality performance that stands out above the rest.

Cast members of the musical theater performance of “tick, tick…BOOM!,” directed by Gabriel Twedt and Carrie Kauffman, include Libby Phillips, Hayley Stowe, Gwen Thompson, Oliver Brummel, Ezra Vorvick, Connor Evelsizer, Lucas Hanson, and Bethany Hanson.

The critic praised the musical theater cast for their creative storytelling, dynamic musical acting skills, and a “performance that stuck with her throughout the day.” The critic was curious about how the story of “tick, tick…BOOM!” would be told, as it is not traditional musical theater storytelling. The critic loved the way that the focus was on the ensemble, even though most of the songs are traditionally written for 1-3 performers. This piece told the story of musical theater writer Jonathan Larson while exploring the themes of living a life governed by love and passion instead of by a fear of failure.

Cast members of the Radio Broadcasting “KWAK,” directed by Gabriel Twedt and Carrie Kauffman, include Tommy Hammel, Hannah Arendt, Lily Sandhorst, Alex McGohan, Jerald Thompson, Addison Wicklund, and Camryn Holland.

The radio broadcasting follows the Waddleton duck family as they deliver news from the pond at the “quack of dawn.” However, as the broadcast unfolds, the family starts to fall apart, all while delivering fowl-related news and commercials for duck dating apps. The critic praised “KWAK” for the memorable writing, perfect vocal delivery, and delightful sound mixing. The critic explained that once they heard the performance, “there was no other choice for the critic’s choice. It was undeniable. Perfection.”

“It is incredible to be able to tell stories that make an impact. Whether it’s the tragically beautifully story of an important musical theater writer or the pun-filled adventures of a family of ducks, our students work hard to deliver memorable storytelling,” speech directors Molly Holkesvik, Gabriel Twedt, Carrie Kauffman, Rachel Breitenbach-Dirks, Lyra McKnight, and Annika Krieg shared. “A big thank you to all involved in the fire truck parade, the ringing of the victory bell, and for supporting all of our performances throughout the season. Saturday night was a true celebration of our entire speech team.”

Tick Tick.Boom Banner

“Tick, Tick…Boom” photo ID

Front row (l-r): Hayley Stowe, Bethany Hanson, Gwen Thompson, Libby Phillips

Back row (l-r): Oilver Brummel, Ezra Vorvick, Lucas Hanson, Connor Evelsizer

KWAK Banner

“KWAK” photo ID

(l-r): Addison Wicklund, Lily Sandhorst, Hannah Arendt, Camryn Holland, Tommy Hammel, Alex McGohan. 

Absent from photo: Jerald Thompson

DHS Students Participate in Wartburg’s Unified Sports Day

On Saturday February 10th several students from Decorah High School and Decorah Middle School traveled to Waverly to participate in Wartburg College’s 25th annual Unified Sports Day through Special Olympics Iowa. The Unified Sports program is a way for Special Olympic athletes to learn new sports skills and participate in games alongside general education students.

At this event the Decorah students explored sports they know like basketball, soccer, baseball, volleyball, and pickleball; as well as sports that were new to them such as golf and bocce ball.  Throughout the day, the students rotated through stations with Wartburg students to participate in each of the sports, capping off the day with a Unified Sports basketball game with members of the Wartburg basketball team.

DHS Unified Champion Day.jpg

Photo ID:

Front (l-r): Kamryn Leuenberger, Johnathan Bean, Sky Pasche, Daniel Bean, and John Lippe

Back (l-r): Donnie Hrdlicka, Essa Miller, Jude Ryan, Haley Stinson, and Braden Ramstad

Decorah FFA Chapter Celebrates National FFA Week 2024

The Decorah FFA will celebrate National FFA Week from February 17 through . Throughout the week, FFA members, alumni, sponsors, and chapters all over can raise awareness about the FFA organization and the daily impact it has on its members. Agricultural education allows FFA members to achieve premier leadership, personal growth, and career success.

There are currently sixty-nine members in the Decorah FFA. The chapter organizes programs all year to help grow leaders, build communities, and strengthen agriculture. The Decorah FFA will have its annual FFA Awards Program on Thursday, , to honor all the year’s accomplishments. The general public is invited to attend. More information can be obtained by contacting any Decorah FFA member or the Decorah FFA advisor, Joni Bruvold.

The Decorah FFA Chapter works to create a positive impact on the members’ futures by preparing them with leadership skills, personal growth opportunities, and a successful career. Members have opportunities to participate in career development events and leadership development events. This past year, members have competed in various activities and contests including dairy cattle and dairy products evaluation; parliamentary procedure; conduct of meetings; public speaking contests; floriculture; livestock judging; record keeping; and attending district, state, and national convention.

2.2024 Decorah FFA Chapter

Photo ID: (l-r) 2023-2024 Decorah FFA Chapter:
Row 1: Creed Monroe, Brody Courtney, Annika Brynsaas, Anders Lovstuen, Jeramiah Rediske,
Travis Nordheim, Derek Tieskoetter
Row 2: Madelynn Dahl, Hadley Alexander, Elora Schnitzler, Lyla Lovstuen, Andrew Carolan,
Mason Brumm, Aiden Helgerson, Michael Clement, Nick Farley, Karlee Bullerman, Ryan
Rocksvold
Row 3: Kiele Eberling, Ryan Bigler, Mara Lovstuen, Kamryn Werges, Mara Wyatt, Ciara
Wedmann, Karlie Einck, Peyton Schultz, Rylee Averhoff, Annika Schmelzer
Row 4: Isabella Schnitzler, Brinlee Courtney, Eden Scheidel, Lauren Holthaus, Thea Zidlicky,
Jerikah Dodd, Austin Helgerson, Kale Christopher, Kolton Werges, Cade Averhoff, Jordan Sims
Row 5: Gabe Monroe, Braden Hemesath, Logan Frye, William Kruse, William Hahn, Toby
Schnitzler, Henry Brynsaas, Dominick Duffield, Jake Teslow, Kaid Headington
Not pictured: Brooke Anfinson, Caiden Bruns, Camren Darling, Braunwyn Darrington, Ayden
Guevara, Jacob Hageman, Noah Heiselman, Tristan Hunter, Jackson Irwin, Christopher Larson,
Kaylee Larson, Blaine Leidahl, Raleigh Lensing, Rashell Lippe, Karter Orris, Hunter Quandahl,
Kayleigh Smith, Haley Stinson, Gracie Thompson, Olivia Wyatt

2.2024 Deccorah FFA Chapter Officer Team

Photo ID: (l-r) 2023-2024 Decorah FFA Officer Team
Row 1: Travis Nordheim, Sentinel; Anders Lovstuen, Treasurer; Jeramiah Rediske, Reporter;
Derek Tieskoetter, Chapter Assistant
Row 2: Brody Courtney, Vice President; Creed Monroe, President; Annika Brynsaas, Secretary

2.2024 Decorah FFA Chapter Photos 11th 12th

Photo ID: (l-r) 2023-2024 Decorah FFA 11th –12th Grade Members
Row 1: Anders Lovstuen, Elora Schnitzler, Kiele Eberling, Kamryn Werges, Mara Wyatt, Annika
Brynsaas, Ciara Wedmann
Row 2: Brody Courtney, Derek Tieskoetter, Austin Helgerson, Jordan Sims, Kolton Werges,
Jeramiah Rediske
Row 3: Logan Frye, Kaid Headington, Creed Monroe, William Hahn, Travis Nordheim, Cade
Averhoff
Not pictured: Brooke Anfinson, Caiden Bruns, Camren Darling, Braunwyn Darrington,
Christopher Larson, Blaine Leidahl, Rashell Lippe, Hunter Quandahl, Kayleigh Smith, Haley
Stinson, Olivia Wyatt

2.2024 Decorah FFA 9th 10th

Photo ID: (l-r) 2023-2024 Decorah FFA 9th – 10th Grade Members
Row 1: Madelynn Dahl, Hadley Alexander, Lyla Lovstuen, Andrew Carolan, Mason Brumm,
Aiden Helgerson, Michael Clement, Nick Farley, Ryan Rocksvold
Row 2: Isabella Schnitzler, Brinlee Courtney, Ryan Bigler, Mara Lovstuen, Karlie Einck, Peyton
Schultz, Karlee Bullerman
Row 3: Eden Scheidel, Lauren Holthaus, Thea Zidlicky, Jerikah Dodd, Rylee Averhoff, Annika
Schmelzer
Row 4: Braden Hemesath, William Kruse, Gabe Monroe, Toby Schnitzler, Henry Brynsaas,
Dominick Duffield, Jake Teslow, Kale Christopher
Not pictured: Ayden Guevara, Jacob Hageman, Noah Heiselman, Tristan Hunter, Jackson Irwin,
Kaylee Larson, Raleigh Lensing, Karter Orris, Gracie Thompson

DecorahCSD NEW Digital Backpack

February 15th, 2024

Dear Parents and Community Members,

We are excited to introduce the DCSD Digital Backpack, a paperless platform designed to streamline the distribution of non-district information throughout the school year. The Digital Backpack serves as a centralized hub where you can find a variety of resources, including summer camp opportunities, sports leagues, after-school activities, and upcoming events.

With the Digital Backpack, you can easily access new activities every week, providing your student with a wealth of opportunities to explore and engage with their interests outside of the classroom.

Note that all events submitted for inclusion in the Digital Backpack will be subject to approval in accordance with district policy. The posting of any event does not imply endorsement of the program by the Decorah Community School District. For more information on our distribution policies, please refer to our website: http://tinyurl.com/DCSD-DBP

We encourage you to take advantage of this convenient resource and explore the diverse array of opportunities available to our students. 

DCSD Digital Backpack: http://tinyurl.com/DCSD-DBP

Submit an event: http://tinyurl.com/DCSD-DBP-Submit

Thank you for your continued support,

Tim Cronin, Superintendent

Award-winning Luther College management professor connects students with Decorah businesses for learning experiences

Hongxiao Yu took her students to local businesses, like Pulpit Rock Brewery, as part of her curriculum.

DECORAH, IOWA—Hongxiao Yu, assistant professor of management at Luther College, won the inaugural Excellence in Collaboration Award this year for forging connections between the college and Decorah businesses like Impact Coffee, Pulpit Rock Brewery and the Landing Market. 

“Visits to local companies allows Luther students to hear firsthand the success stories and community-centric values of these businesses,” Yu said. “I want to connect the academic curriculum with real-world experiences for students.” 

The award, presented by Luther and the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce, honors collaboration between Luther and the Decorah-area community. For the past two years, Yu has brought students from her management classes to meet with local companies to gain insights on how businesses operate. 

“Professor Yu is extremely intentional about connecting subjects in class to local businesses,” said Samuel Scott, a senior management major who took Yu’s marketing class in spring 2023. “Her efforts to link classroom material to real life application has been integral to my learning in the management department.”

Yu also invited local managers and business leaders to share work experience with Luther students. For example, Linnea Carlson Rahlf, class of 2020 and marketing director of Decorah Area Bank & Trust Co., gave students practical advice to help guide their professional journeys. 

“As a Luther alumni and Decorah employee, sharing my real-world career experience with the students was rewarding. Creating connections between the classroom and our community helps all of us grow,” said Rahlf. “Their questions were insightful, and I enjoyed the opportunity to hear what interests today’s Luther students. In life and work, we’re all always learning from each other. I appreciate Hongxiao reaching out and making the connection.”

Yu also took students to Impact Coffee.

Yu has also hosted a Lunar New Year celebration for the past two years at the Landing Market to foster cultural exchanges, where she cooked traditional Chinese food for community members to ring in the holiday. During the 2023 celebration, the event sold out. 

To continue to strengthen the college and community connection, Yu joined Luther’s Center for Ethics and Public Engagement (CEPE) Advisory Board. The CEPE designs opportunities for Luther students and the community by inviting speakers, organizing book groups and hosting events. 

Yu was one of 12 nominees for the award, which focused on collaborative projects between the campus and community in areas like career services, historic preservation, cultural heritage, manufacturing, small businesses, safety, tourism, research, internships and experiential learning that expanded services, added skills or enhanced the Decorah experience. Nominations for the 2025 award will open in the fall. 

About Luther College

At Luther College in beautiful Decorah, Iowa, students explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu

 

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Luther College’s Asian Student Association and Allies celebrates 40th Anniversary with series of events this spring

ASAA hosted the first Dashain Festival, a Hindu festival in Nepal, at Luther College.

DECORAH, IOWA—Luther College’s Asian Student Association and Allies (ASAA) continues to celebrate 40 years on campus with a series of events including lectures, performances and a Center Stage Series concert this spring. The organization was founded in 1984 by students who were largely from Southeast Asia. 

Adrianna Tam

“Today, Luther has 58 international students from 13 Asian countries, as well as Asian-American students,” said Adrianna Tam, assistant professor of music and faculty advisor to ASAA. “As a second generation Asian-American myself, I am impressed by these and all of our international students not only because I have studied abroad myself, thousands of miles from home, but also because my parents first came to this country to pursue higher education.”

Events 

Campus Ministries will host an ASAA celebration chapel at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 16, in the Center for Faith and Life’s Main Hall. Brian Caton, professor of history at Luther, will speak on the history of ASAA and Tam will provide musical selections. 

At 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17, in Noble Recital Hall, Luther’s music department will ring in the Lunar New Year with A Thousand Tongues: An AAPI Recital with highly acclaimed AAPI musicians from the Twin Cities area along with Aurora and Collegiate Chorale. The program will celebrate Asian and Asian-American identities through song and storytelling. 

Grace Ji-Sun Kim will give the Sihler Lecture, “Theology of Visibility,” at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 5, in the Center for Faith and Life’s Recital Hall. In 2021, she published “Invisible,” a book on theology. Kim is also the host of Madang, a podcast which discusses topics such as Christianity, religion and culture.

At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10, in Noble Recital Hall, Tam will perform along with her mother, Jing-Ling Tam. Jing-Ling Tam is a professor of choral and vocal arts at the University of Texas at Arlington. 

Lydia X. Z. Brown will give the Price Distinguished Lecture, “Until We All Are Free: Disability Justice Interventions in Queer, Trans, Feminist Movements,” Wednesday, March 13, at 6 p.m. in the Center for Faith and Life’s Recital Hall. Price is a queer, disabled and East Asian advocate, organizer, attorney, strategist and writer. They also serve as the director of public policy at the National Disability Institute and are the founding executive director of the Autistic People of Color Fund. 

Small Island Big Song will perform for the final Center Stage Series concert of the year at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, in the CFL’s Main Hall. The collective is composed of artists and performers from 16 island nations across the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Tickets are available to purchase through the Luther Ticket Office

History of ASAA

The ASAA was founded Feb. 14, 1984, as the Asian Student Association as a way for Asian students, who, at the time, were largely Southeast Asian refugees and first-generation immigrants from countries like Laos and Cambodia. The organization’s members aimed to advocate and organize for themselves on Luther’s campus. 

The students came to Luther through an English as a Second Language (ESL) program, which was designed to help students access Luther’s liberal arts education. 

The ASAA wanted to showcase their members’ cultures to the campus and Decorah community. In 1984, they organized the first Ethnic Arts Festival, featuring food, music and other performances. This event was so popular that it was celebrated annually until 2020. In the early 2000s, the group added “allies” to their name in order to include a wider audience on campus.

About Luther College

At Luther College in beautiful Decorah, Iowa, students explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

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Rev. Lamont Wells to deliver Black History Month Keynote Address Feb. 21

DECORAH, IOWA—Rev. Lamont Wells, the executive director of the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities (NECU), will give the Black History Month Keynote Address at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21, in the Center for Faith and Life’s Main Hall. His lecture will share insights about ecumenism, queer identity, social justice and inclusion and how these themes motivate him as a faith leader and community organizer. 

“It is an honor to have Rev. Lamont Anthony Wells join us for Black History Month at Luther College. He is truly living history as the first African American to lead NECU,” said Robert Clay, chief equity and inclusion officer and assistant to the president for community engagement at Luther.  “He is doing great work to move Lutheran education forward with the NECU strategic plan through the lens of belonging to ensure Lutheran colleges  are truly living their missions so that all students may flourish.”

In addition to serving as executive director of NECU, Wells is also a United Nations Fellow fighting for human rights around the world. His address is part of a series of Black History Month events on Luther’s campus this month. 

Wells earned his bachelor’s in sociology and religion from Morehouse College 1995 before receiving his Master of Divinity and master’s in Christian education degrees from Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta in 2003.

Before being named NECU’s executive director, Wells served as program director for ELCA campus ministry and as president of the African Descent Lutheran Association. 

Established in 2015, NECU connects the ELCA’s 26 colleges and universities to promote their shared mission and identity.

About Luther College

At Luther College in beautiful Decorah, Iowa, students explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

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