Next year will be Orange Lutheran’s 50th anniversary. In 50 years, Olu has managed to go from relative obscurity to one of the biggest Christian schools in the entire state of California. We have sports teams who routinely win not only CIF titles but who have also won State titles. We not only succeed in sports but there have also been investments in our arts programs and facilities. Next year will be Orange Lutheran’s 50th anniversary and with the school having such a short history, the question is raised on how a school founded only 50 years ago became such a powerhouse.

In an attempt to find an answer to this question I decided to talk to someone who attended the school around the time it had just opened up. Considering that fifty years ago was not actually very far in the past, it was not particularly hard to find an alum to talk to about the school’s evolution.

Ron Mason is an Orange Lutheran alumni who attended the school from 1980 to 1984. He played several sports while attending Orange Lutheran including football, and while he was not the first class to graduate, he was among the first-he is also my father.

One of the biggest changes Mr. Mason has seen is the school’s level of athletic competition. Back when he was playing football, Orange Lutheran was not the trinity league level school that it is today. He played in “the arrowhead league, and [he] would definitely say the level of competition was not high.” He was playing against schools that “might not even exist anymore, some of them felt like they were in the middle of nowhere.” He would like it noted that Orange Lutheran did win what [he] believes” was its first tournament once he joined the team.

Athletics were not the only things that changed. When he attended the school “It was literally a third of the size it is now” Orange Lutheran students might be accustomed to seeing the school as a square but “when [he] attended it was just a ‘U,’ all of the classrooms where [students] do art were not there.” 

Things like the cafe were not even conceivable “[He] ate where the Nechita is now,” instead of the theatre there was a “big open-air courtyard with tables where everyone ate together.” 

Social life was also a far cry from what it is now seeing as at the time there was only “about 400 or 500 kids on the entire campus,” He recalls “[knowing] basically everyone” since “there were only about 100 kids in every grade” and since “most of them were from feeder schools like St. Johns or St. Pauls” he had “basically grown up with half of them.” 

Some things don’t change though. When asked if he remembered Nancy Paul, he responded that “[he] definitely did, at every sporting event [he] would see her on the sidelines taking stats down.”

Before starting this interview I wasn’t entirely sure what my thesis was going to be. I knew I was curious about Orange Lutherans past, and high school in the ’80s is a bit of an infamous concept, but what made this click for me is when my dad said that He “has always been impressed with how successful Orange Lutheran became” he remembers “schools that are thought of as being small today” being “much bigger than [Orange Lutheran].” 

He reiterated several times that he was impressed with what Olu became. To be completely honest I don’t know if I would have had the vision to see Orange Lutheran become what it is today so I suppose that the entire Olu student body can be glad that there were people around who did have the vision, and who put in the hard work it took to see Olu succeed.

“Orange Lutheran never had the biggest campus or the most resources, so it is a credit to the school and all people that worked there for so many years that it has become the powerhouse that it is today.”

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