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Oak Grove History

Our History and our past Presidents

"My dear friend, you show a fine loyalty in everything that you do for our fellow-Christians, strangers though they are to you. … Please help them on their journey in a manner worthy of the God we serve."

III John 5-6
New English Bible

The History of Oak Grove Lutheran School

Original Oak Grove School HouseThe history of Oak Grove Lutheran School is truly a journey of faith. Through the highs and lows, Oak Grove's leaders persevered, helping the school overcome fiscal turmoil, survive the Depression, and rebuild after floods.

Oak Grove was the dream of Reverend Elias Aas, a leading pastor in the Lutheran Free Church at the turn of the century. He saw the need for a Christian high school for girls of Norwegian heritage living in rural areas. In 1906, Oak Grove Lutheran Ladies Seminary was opened in its first building, "the Castle."

Over the years, Oak Grove has grown and changed, never losing its foundation in Christian values and faith. A second building (the current Jackson Hall) was completed by 1923. Boys were admitted for academic study in 1926. The Depression almost forced the school's closing but a bold decision to dispense with tuition for a year kept the doors open. A junior high was added in 1978 and sixth grade in 1998. The devastating flood of the Red River in 1997 caused major damage to the campus, but resulted in unprecedented volunteer support from the community and, with the help of many, the school was rebuilt and opened its doors again in the fall.

As Oak Grove neared 100 years of Christian education, an expansion opportunity arose. Oak Grove opened a south Fargo campus in 2005 to house a primary school. With the addition of the south campus, Oak Grove doubled the grade levels it served. The centennial mark also gave room for north campus renovations and building projects. In 2005, Jackson Hall was renovated and a concourse added between it and the Darwin Gorder Gymnasium. In May 2006, Oak Grove demolished Fossum Hall & Auditorium on the north campus to make room for a new building dedicated to the fine arts. A year later, the Scheels Center for the Performing Arts opened, a new area for the arts, rehearsal and worship. In December 2008, a complete renovation of Darwin Gorder Gymnasium was finished and the Ellig Center for Health & Wellness was added to the complex, along with a new lobby, concessions area, school store, locker rooms and more.

In the spring of 2009, Oak Grove fought against the rise of the Red River in another record setting flood. Grovers prepared and protected the north campus, but unfortunately on March 29, 2009 a breach occurred in the steal cofferdam to the north of Benson Hall. The river water caused overwhelming damage to the campus grounds, Benson Hall and Jackson Hall. School leaders did not give up, but set yet again to rebuild and open the school's doors to educate students in a Christian setting.

As one of the few schools of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Oak Grove serves students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. Oak Grove provides a fully accredited academic program, and studies integrate Christian faith perspectives into the curriculum, equipping students with values for lifelong Christian service.

Oak Grove maintains high academic standards, preparing students for college and service in the world. Small class sizes and a 12:1 student-teacher ratio provide students with an educational experience in which they thrive. Oak Grove students consistently score higher in local, state and national achievement tests, and more than 96% of graduates pursue degrees in higher education. The high school academic program includes Advanced Placement (AP) classes and dual-credit opportunities with Concordia College.

Oak Grove educates more than 440 students in grades pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Oak Grove is growing and expanding, but ever mindful of the mission "to express God's love by nurturing students for academic achievement, lifelong Christian commitment and loving service throughout the world."

Oak Grove Lutheran School has been blessed with faithful leaders during its existence. Here is a list of Oak Grove Lutheran School's leaders. 


Reverend John E. Lobeck, Interim President


1907-1925, 1930-1937

Reverend Jens E. Fossum, President



Reverend Gustav Nordberg, President



Reverend Thor H. Quanbeck, President



Reverend Clarence A. Larson, President



Reverend Ernest G. Larson, President



Reverend Robert A. Krueger, President



Mr. Jerome M. Gorden, President



Reverend Nelson Preus, Interim President



Reverend Paul Baker, President



Mr. Darwin E. Gorder, Interim President



Reverend John G. Andreasen, President



Bruce A. Messelt, President



Dr. Marilyn J. Guy, Interim President



Mr. Mike Slette, President