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Making Concordia what it is today

Four longtime faculty, staff retire from influential positions

By Ashley Wiehe
From the Spring 2016 Cadets Magazine

At the end of the semester, Concordia Lutheran High School will be graduating 155 of its seniors, and with them, four of its longtime faculty and staff members. 

This year, the high school is celebrating the retirements of Terry Breininger, executive director and former assistant principal and teacher; Paul Fluegge, history and government teacher; Dianne Moellering, music and band teacher; and Kevin McGuigan, director of buildings and grounds. 

Combined, they have more than a century’s worth of experience at the high school, and they have all had a hand in transforming Concordia into what it is today. 

Terry Breininger: A Look Back, A Look Forward

Terry Breininger will retire as Concordia’s executive director after eight years as the head of the school as well as many other years of service as a student, teacher, assistant principal, parent, grandparent and head of the Concordia Educational Foundation. 

It has been interesting to sit down and prepare my last article for “Cadets Magazine”…

I’ve reflected back on four years as a student (no, not 5 or 6), 25 years as a staff member serving in a variety of positions and responsibilities, 10 years as a parent of three young Cadets and soon to be six years as a Cadet grandparent.

I’ve mentally rehearsed the history of CLHS from its founding in 1935 as a collaborative effort among Concordia Junior College, Luther Institute, several local Lutheran congregations and other members of the local community. The opening of the first new, unique high school building at the corner of Maumee and Anthony in 1953 and its expansion within five years are future planning notes to keep in mind. The new campus on the current site opened in 1963 when I arrived as a freshman. Through the years since, many major additions and refurbishings have attempted to provide appropriate space for new Cadets and new programming.

I’ve also thought about the founding of the Concordia Educational Foundation in 1959 and the truly unique gift that that represents within secondary education and our Lutheran church body, currently providing more than $600,000 (and growing) in annual support for the high school and our students.

I thought about the names of teachers, administrators, staff, board members and other volunteers who have helped Concordia through challenging times and have paved the way for its continuing growth and success. If I listed certain names without others some would wonder what I was thinking.

I personally reflected on past events including sports, musical performances, plays, class parties, service events, and class, group and school trips that made my world richer and more memorable. The dozens and dozens of classmates that I see periodically (or not) and are friends to this day really stand out.

Underneath all of this is the concept of “Christ-centeredness” that has continued to grow through the years, that you can feel at CLHS and that grounds all that we do, are and hope to increasingly become at Concordia.

It has truly been my privilege to serve at something and someplace that is and has been so important to me, my family and to so many people near, far and some now sainted.

Thank you to staff, board members, volunteers and many others who through their work and planning have put Concordia Lutheran High School in the strong position to move forward and increasingly become “acknowledged as one of the best high schools in the country” (Vision Statement – 2012 Strategic Plan).

But, that will be Mychal Thom’s story. Go Cadets! 

Dianne Moellering: Striking up the Band

God has truly guided Dianne Moellering throughout her career. 

When her husband, Tom, was led to the area, she followed and waited for God’s plan. Within time, He called her to a 23-year career at Concordia in 1993. 

“I can tell you incredible stories of how God led us,” she said. “He has been an incredible force in our lives.” 

Moellering, an institution at CLHS for marching band, came to Concordia, surprisingly, with no marching experience. But she set to work to build a program in the elementary schools, which, in turn, grew into an award-winning program in the high school. 

“(We’re) not shooting for a win, but shooting for the best you can be,” she said. “We always set our sights on being better than yesterday.” 

And while the Concordia Marching Cadets have made it to state consistently in recent years and won the Class C State ISSMA Championship in 2013, it’s the students that she will remember most — not the trophies. 

“They are such neat people. That is one thing I will miss,” she said. “And the music … the process of learning together.” 

As she sets her sights on retirement, she is looking forward to a new sense of time — time with grandkids, time to clean her house and time to set her own schedule. 

With her absence, there will be big shoes to fill, but Moellering asks for one thing to continue: That Christ remains at the center. 

“The amount of talent … (the students) don’t know what they have,” she said. “That look in their eye when they play something they couldn’t think they could play. That is just the best.”

Paul Fluegge: The Memories Abound

For the past 31 years, Paul Fluegge has taught a countless number of students at CLHS — all with fond memories of the longtime history/government teacher and football coach.  

His classes were filled with quirky sayings, laughter, a few sarcastic jokes and maybe even a song or two. But mostly, they were classes filled with engagement that made students think deeper about the subject at hand. 

“He had a way of making each and every single person use their own critical thinking skills,” said Marah Bradbury, Class of 2012. “He allowed everyone to form their own opinions in every situation. I truly loved and appreciated his class every day.”

Fluegge came to Concordia in 1985 to teach and to coach football. Since then, he has always taught history and government classes — two subjects that never tired for him or his students. 

“It’s all different for the kids. That’s why I like teaching history,” he said. “It’s always fresh for them so as a result it stays fresh for me.” 

In retirement, Fluegge plans to travel with his wife, Kathy, who is also retiring from Holy Cross Lutheran School later this year, and possibly even get a part-time job. 

“We’ll see how it works out,” he said.  

But he does plan to continue coaching football as an assistant coach next year — a way for him to stay connected to his students for a bit longer. 

“I never thought I would be here for 31 years. I never thought I would be in teaching this long,” he said. “It’s just been a lot of fun. Been good. It’s kind of amazing how fast it goes.” 

Fluegge hopes that he has made a difference among his students — a change in their lives because of his teaching. But there’s no doubt for his students. In a small or large part, he has influenced them all for the better. 

So, there’s only one response from his students that is fitting to a statement like that: “What the hang Mr. Fluegge?”

Kevin McGuigan: The Backbone of the Organization

Most do not know the influence that Kevin McGuigan, director of buildings and grounds, has had on Concordia.

They do not know the many construction and renovation projects that he has overseen or the daily maintenance that he has ensured was kept up. They know they have clean grounds and a solid roof over their heads, and that’s enough for McGuigan.

McGuigan was sought-after for the director position in 1994. He previously worked for Towne House in Fort Wayne for 15 years.

“I’ve always been interested in repairing things,” he said.

At his first job at Mike’s Carwash, he used to stay late and rebuild the brushes on the machines. That interest grew and became a full-blown career in maintenance.

“I enjoy a challenge,” he said.

In 22 years, McGuigan has helped to shape the physical building into what it is today, from removing the carpet in the hallways to overseeing the additions in the academic wing and on the front of the school as well as the construction of Zollner Stadium.

“For 22 years Kevin has consistently worked long and hard to deliver services and provide facilities that far exceeded the budgetary limitations with which Concordia has often had to work,” said Executive Director Terry Breininger. “His commitment to Concordia has been at the highest levels throughout his career at CLHS. He leaves big shoes to fill.”

On March 31, McGuigan retired from Concordia. While going to the lake and hunting are his primary goals, he is looking forward to making his own plans.

“I want to do what I want to do,” he said. “Having nothing to do will not bother me.”