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  • Writer's pictureLuke Bernthal

March Madness…St. Stephen Lutheran School Style!


“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

– 1 Timothy 4:8 (NIV 84)


One of my favorite times of year here at St. Stephen Lutheran School in Mountain View is the month of March. Most basketball fans know about “March Madness” because of the college basketball tournament that takes place during this month. Well, St. Stephen Lutheran School has its own version of “March Madness” each year!

On Wednesdays from January to mid-March each school year I teach the physical education (PE) class on basketball.This is a lot of fun, but can be a challenge since we usually have very diverse levels of basketball experience and skill among our students. This year, for example, we had students who had never dribbled a basketball before this school year, and we have a student who has played in multiple basketball leagues for several years now. To try and accommodate all skill levels we start with some of the most basic of basics (and of course do quite a bit of running!). From there, we build up the students' skills and basketball knowledge.

The class concludes with either a mid-March trip to our grade school basketball tournament in Wisconsin with other Lutheran grade schools like ours, or if there are no students’ families who are able to make the trip (which was the case this year), we have our own “Blue vs. Gold” (our school colors) games for our final two basketball PE classes.

I was blown away by how much improvement our students showed over the course of two months, and how quickly many of them picked up the game! It made for two very fun and exciting final PE classes. The Gold Team narrowly beat the Blue Team in the first round of games by just one point. We switched the teams up for the second round of games the next week and the Gold team won again this time by two points thanks to buzzer beating shots at the end of the 1st quarter and at the end of the game. What is March Madness without some buzzer beaters, right!?

I was most impressed and pleased with the sportsmanship all of the students displayed. Both teams cheered loudly whenever either team made a shot and showed great teamwork and encouragement toward each other. Those are life lessons that have far-reaching effects and importance in our students' lives long after they step off the PE basketball court.

In the end, everyone learned a lot, improved their skills quite a bit, and had a lot of fun playing together. So, unlike the college basketball tournament this month, in St. Stephen Lutheran School’s version of “March Madness,” everybody won!


– Pastor Luke Bernthal


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