Valley Lutheran High School was recognized for its designation as a School of Distinction by the National Lutheran Schools Accreditation (NLSA) Commission in a presentation at the school Thursday, Nov. 8.

The commission met in July and accredited 121 out of roughly 2,000 Lutheran schools nationwide, and Valley Lutheran was 1 of 5 accredited schools — and two in the region — to be named a School of Distinction.

Peace Lutheran School also received the designation.

“I feel this is an affirmation of what we’re doing here at Valley,” Executive Director Dr. John Brandt said. “Often times when I talk about the building campaign, I’ll say, ‘What goes on inside inside these walls is really what is important. You can have whatever building you want, but what goes on inside is the difference.’”

Michigan District Assistant to the President and Superintendent of Michigan Schools Travis Grulke was on hand during the presentation to present Valley with a plaque.

“To be distinguished obviously sets them apart,” Grulke said. “It’s not that they’re better than others, but there is an excellence across the curriculum they offer to parents, to families and to students. That distinguished aspect means other Lutheran schools can come in and learn what they’re doing.”

Valley was named an Exemplary School during the last accreditation process five years ago, before the name of the award was changed to School of Distinction, meaning Valley has twice been recognized nationally for its excellence.

“When our school is recognized with a strong accreditation, an athletic team or after-school program, I think that’s a credit to the quality of schools that send kids to us,” Brandt said. “These kids don’t come to us as blank slates. Peace Lutheran School’s recognition as a distinguished Lutheran school is further evidence of the quality of Lutheran schools in our community.”

The accreditation process began more than a year ago with teachers Barb Doyle and Heath Vincent chairing the process, with aid from Academic Dean Dr. Lisa Meyers.

The process included surveying parents, students, faculty, and board members to accrue an in-depth understanding of Valley Lutheran from multiple points of view. The entire staff at the school collaborated on the process, which included compiling the information into write-ups to be presented prior to the NLSA’s in-person visit.

Countless hours were put into making sure every “I” was dotted and every “T” was crossed.

During NLSA’s visit in May, Valley was critiqued on several different areas including purpose, governance, student services, facilities, relationships, professional personnel, and teaching and learning.

“What consistently shines through is the strength of the relationships we have at our school,” Doyle said. “The accreditation team thought everything was well organized, but they could see the positive relationships here the moment they walked through the door.

“I look at these people and what we do every day, and I recognize that what is happening here is pretty incredible. It’s nice to see someone else recognize that.”