Axtell, Nebraska downtown

image republished from Wikipedia

Great school is only one jewel in Axtell’s crown

Survey’s tell us that one concern of people considering the change to a rural lifestyle is the quality of rural schools. They shouldn’t worry. A recent Department of Education study found that nationwide, rural children did better than their urban counterparts in science and math, and that rural educators were more likely to report being satisfied with their working conditions.  Axtell, in rural south central Nebraska is a perfect example of what’s going on in rural education.

“More students want to opt into the Axtell school system than we can teach,” says Axtell Mayor Glenn Frecks. “Currently, the town is foreseeing the need to add another elementary school.”

Altogether, Axtell Community School has 310 K-12 students, with an average class size of only 22. The facility is thoroughly modern and recently remodeled, and the curriculum includes band and choir as well as a full range of extracurricular and sports activities. According to Axtell School Superintendent Tom Sandberg, Axtell students compete and shine in the Nebraska Quiz Bowls, area science and math competitions, and speech and music match-ups.

The school system is only the beginning

Being nearly equidistant between Kearney, Minden and Holdrege gives Axtell a high score for convenience. Plus, as Mayor Frecks says, “Our housing is affordable, lots are spacious and reasonably priced.” He also points out that sewer, water, and trash services are charged at a flat, based on lot size, of between $50-$70 a month, and that, “Taxes are minimal for a town of this size.”

A history of compassion

The tale of how Axtell became an enduring rural community possibly began with its storybook history. Although incorporated in 1885, a more significant date in its history might well be 1913, when a Swedish immigrant and Lutheran minister named K.G. William Dahl arrived in Axtell.

Having committed his life to Christian principles, Rev. Dahl believed it was the duty of people who followed Christ to provide for society’s outcasts. He established a home on the outskirts of Axtell for abused and abandoned people, and named it Bethphage. The first resident was a person with epilepsy. Bethphage staff soon were caring for children and adults with mental retardation and developmental disabilities as well as elderly without money or family.

Inspired by the leadership of Rev. Dahl, the members of the Lutheran Church in Axtell gave money, grew garden produce and prepared meals for the residents of Bethphage Village. The first volunteers were Lutherans from across the nation who volunteered a year of their life to develop the project. Many chose to settle in Axtell and their generous heritage lives on.

All information about Axtell courtesy of Rural Living.