Welcome back, alumni! At Belleville Mennonite School, our relationship with alumni is important to us. We hope that you remain an active member of the BMS community, and participate in our programs and giving opportunities.
2013: Harry Lee Renno, ‘63 and Rebecca Barr, ‘00
2012: Dr. Beryl Brubaker, ’60 and Katie Neer, ’03
2011: Julia Alleman, ’61 and Michael Yoder, ’96
2010: Marv Peachey, ’60 and Dion Peachey, ’95
2009: Irene Shrock, ’59
2008: Elam Peachey, ’58
2007: Lester Yoder, ’57
2006: Joanne Kauffman, ’56
2005: Ralph Metzler, ’55
Definition and History: The Belleville Mennonite School Alumnus of the Year Award was established in 2003. The Young Alumnus of the Year Award was established in 2010. The awards celebrate the achievements and service of the alumni of
Alumnus of the Year Award: This award recognizes the individual whose life has reflected one of mission or service involvement and/or professional or business accomplishments.
Young Alumnus of the Year Award: This award recognizes the individual whose life has reflected one of mission or service involvement and/or professional or business accomplishments. The award winner must have graduated from BMS less than 20 years prior to the time the award is given.
Nominations: Nominations for the awards may be submitted to the Development Office (firstname.lastname@example.org, 717.935.2184) at any time. The candidates’ information is collected for discernment by a Nomination Committee which makes a recommendation to the Alumni Association Committee. The Alumni Association Committee determines the award recipients.
Nomination Committee: The Development Office and/or Alumni Association Committee will select a minimum of four members plus BMS staff to serve on the Nomination Committee. The term limit for committee members shall consist of two, two year terms; one, three year term; and one, one year term.
Award Presentation: The awards are distributed during the Faith Promise program each year.
Physical Description of Award: Plaque.
I am a recipient of the Rockville Fellowship bulletin and I felt that proverbial “leap of spirit” as I read the news of this reunion in the announcements. So, considering my absence in body, I wish to send all of you whom I once knew and all who are new to me, my prayers and best wishes for a sublime and prosperous additional seventy-three years and beyond, for the mission of Belleville Mennonite School.
One of the reasons for this leap of spirit was the fact that I was a student in first grade at the inception of Belleville Mennonite School or Kishacoqillas Valley Christian Day School as I believe it was originally named.
If I remember correctly there were eight grades with some twenty students. The building was in White Hall, renovated from a shop of some sort belonging to Bishop Emanuel Peachey into a makeshift but serviceable schoolroom. The door to the schoolhouse was directly on the property line belonging to my father,, Reverend Eli K. Zook, no more than thirty yards from the front door of our home! There was no running water, and only a single room with a small wood burning stove to keep us warm. In our small barn across the parking lot, my dad created a water fountain with a faucet below for the only running water available. Two outhouses were set up in Bishop Peachey’s cow pasture.
John B. Kanagy, my great uncle, was the schoolmaster who enlisted the support of the older students to assist in teaching the little ones like myself, to read stories about Dick and Jane, write simple notes and add two and two to get five!
Although I may have at times deserved it, I never got a spanking from my uncle but I could feel the pain when, one day, an older schoolmate we called “Flick”, was brought to the front and soundly spanked in front of everyone! I did have the honor one time to stand in shame at a corner for fifteen minutes. Otherwise, I was harmless!
By the time I was ready for second grade, a new three room structure with indoor plumbing was built just east of Belleville.
These then, were the humble beginnings of Belleville Mennonite School.
I would be delighted and honored to find out how many and who are in your gathering today that were with me in my first year of school in White Hall in 1945!
If you so wish I would love to hear from you and share your memories of our “Schooldays, schooldays, Dear old golden rule days!"
Very truly yours,
Herb Zook's Time at BMS
Mr. Herb Zook is someone that is remembered well by former and current BMS students and teachers. His time at Belleville Mennonite School began in 1981 when he served as a gym teacher, athletic director, and coached the boy’s basketball and soccer teams. Then in 1989, Herb, his wife, Marlene, and their daughters, Kim (Zook) Showalter and Michelle (Zook) Kline, left Belleville and began three years of volunteer service in Swaziland, Africa.
Herb recounts that he received a phone call in Africa from a BMS administrator who said, “I’ve never hired someone that I haven’t met before, but on the recommendation of the people at BMS, we would like to offer you your job back.” That is when in 1992 he and his family returned to the United States from Swaziland. “BMS did not hold the position for me, but after three years it became available again. That was an example of God’s timing and faithfulness.” (pictured is Mr. Herb Zook teaching the Class of '97 in 1993)
In addition to teaching PE, coaching basketball and serving as the athletic director, at various times Herb taught middle school math, driver’s education, Health, and girls field hockey from 1992 through 2008. When asked about his time over the years at BMS, Herb said, “I enjoyed working and interacting with teachers. There were disagreements along the way but that is all part of it. Also, I remember transitioning between administrators.” He continued, “I also enjoyed teaching middle school math classes. I remember giving students a donut if they completed their homework each night for the quarter. It was a small incentive that worked really well.” (pictured is Mr. Herb Zook teaching PE class in 1981)
A lot of extra time was required of Herb as the athletic director, coach and as a class advisor. Former students commented that they really enjoyed the summer basketball camps that Herb organized and hosted for middle and high school players. He remembers many Saturday’s spent at home Penn State football games running a concession stand with students and parents. Herb also mentioned that his wife Marlene helped at those events and also helped making homemade Christmas candy to sell for fundraisers for the high school classes he advised over the years.
Herb and Marlene’s daughters, Michelle, BMS Class of ’97, and Kim, BMS Class of ’99, benefited in many ways from the school community and from their dad working at the school and coaching them in basketball and field hockey.
In 2008, Herb took on the associate pastorate role at Maple Grove Mennonite Church, Belleville, and went from working full-time at BMS, to working part-time as the business manager. He retired from BMS in 2012.
“I have such fond memories of my time at BMS and only remember the good.” He said, “I’m really enjoying seeing my former students in the community in different positions and what they are doing and accomplishing. It brings me great joy to see them move onward and upward.”
God has truly blessed BMS with dedicated Christian teachers over the years and Mr. Herb Zook is one of them!
“During my 13 years at BMS I learned a lot about the value of community. The small school environment and intentional work of the faculty and staff to develop the lives, intellect and character of each student certainly helped develop my foundational values. I had good and bad times, easy years and really hard years. The community was consistent in its presence in my life. I didn't appreciate how meaningful and formative that community was for me until I was away from it for a number of years.
Community- in the sense that I am thinking of it- doesn't just happen. It isn't just a group of people who happen to regularly be in the same place. It's a commitment to being authentically present with one another, honoring and nurturing the individual qualities of each part to promote the wellbeing of the whole.
Reflecting on how my time at BMS prepared me for life after graduation, the gift of being supported, redirected, celebrated and challenged by that formative community is most meaningful to me. I carry those values into both my personal and professional life now and always enjoy coming home to the BMS community that has those same qualities it did when I was a student.”
This testimony was provided by Katie Neer, Class of 2003. Katie is a Nurse Practitioner at Bryn Mawr Hospital and resides in Conshohocken, PA. Katie’s parents, Lynn and Margaret (Hartzler) Neer sent their younger daughter, Charity, ‘05,to BMS as well. Margaret graduated from BMS in 1965.
Please share your alumni story with us! We love to hear alumni success stories and also are encouraged to see how BMS has worked in the lives of those who have graduated from the school. Email, email@example.com to share your story.
-Vernane (King) Stutzman, Class of 1964
- Dr. Beryl (Hartzler) Brubaker, Class of 1960 and BMS supporter
– Jen (Varner) Nafziger, Class of 1998