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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.  Take a few moments to reflect on the testimonies shared below and learn more about what other alumni are doing and the ongoing impact of BMS in Alumni Spotlights!

2020 Alumni Award Recipients

Young Alumnus of the Year

Larry Kauffman, Class of 2001
Owner of The StewardShip Group
Alumnus of the Year

Rhonda (Harshbarger) Gibbons, Class of 1984
Owner of Harshbarger's Sub N Malt
 

Alumni Award Recipients 2005-2020

2020:   Rhonda (Harshbarger) Gibbons, '84 and Larry Kauffman, '01
2019:   Gregg Kanagy, '85 and Charity Kauffman, '03
2018:   Dr. Mark Zook, '68 and Denise (Yoder) Peachey, '10
2017:   J. Lorne Peachey, '57 and Ashlee Kauffman, '08
2016:   Conrad Kanagy, '82, Cassandra Byler and Hannah Peachey, '12
2015:   Ray Byler, '53 and Jewel (Mummau) Peachey, '00
2014:   Dr. Dennis King, '64 and Brian Renno, '96
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

 

Each year Belleville Mennonite School awards alumni with the Alumnus of the Year award, and a Young Alumnus of the Year award.  The recipients are nominated by fellow alumni and are individuals who represent a life of service, peacemaking and leadership under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

BMS alumni are represented all over the world and many of them are accomplished professionals or service-oriented missionaries.  As you come across BMS alumni, keep this award in mind and nominate a deserving alumnus!


Alumni Testimonies

I don’t really know how much different of a person I would have become had I not gone to BMS. But maybe that is the testimony of BMS’ impact. That I don’t have to wonder what I would have been like, had I not attended BMS. Instead, my parents made a commitment to send me, and my 3 siblings, to BMS, a place that reinforced the beliefs and disciplines that we were taught at home. It was impossible for me at that time to realize and to appreciate the sacrifice my parents made to give us a education with a Christian foundation. Now as a parent I realize those things. Our oldest son Declan is enrolled in the 3-year-old class that comes 2 times a week here. And a few weeks ago, as I wrote out a check for his tuition, I realized that this is the beginning of many checks that will be written over the next 23 years!

In all seriousness though. Why choose a place like BMS to educate our children? I’m not naive enough to believe that if we send our kids here, they’ll be protected from all the “bad” things that kids have to deal with at public school. For me it's that Biblical foundation that is woven into everything that is done here. So, we know that the things being taught in the classroom are consistent with scripture, we know that discipline will be handle in a Biblical manner, that the standard to which students will be held is the standard Christ calls us too. These are the reasons we choose a place like BMS.

We might choose BMS for the smaller classroom sizes, that allow for more individualized instruction. This setting that allows for students to explore and grow in their giftings. That’s what BMS did for me. I’m the kind of person that disappears in large crowds. But in a place like BMS I was given opportunities to grow and exercise my leadership abilities. I also had teachers who encouraged those things they saw in me. Those are the ways BMS impacted who I became.

- Adam Peachey, Class of 2001


"I am a 1996 graduate of Belleville Mennonite School. Currently, my four children attend BMS as 3rd generation students. I own and operate Dryhouse Farm along with my wife Maria who is a professor of nursing at Penn State University.  I am serving as BMS Board Vice-President as a 4th year board member.

I would like to share about influencing the generations.   I will relate this first to my passion and my occupation, the Holstein cow.  One of the main reasons I chose to return to Belleville and become a dairy farmer is because of my love of Holsteins, their pedigrees and dairy cattle genetics. 

Along with selling milk at Dryhouse Farm, we also generate additional income on the farm from the sale of genetics from Registered Holsteins.  With genetics, I am constantly trying to improve the next generation of my herd.  I study cow families, bulls, pedigrees, sale catalogs and try to keep informed of the trends of the dairy industry.

Each breeding or mating decision I make has an impact on the future of my herd. And it isn't only the resulting calf…it can affect her calf, and that calf’s calf for generations to come. A careless mating choice can wreck an entire pedigree and make future offspring less desirable for a customer.

The genetics I choose to put together influence generations to come.  There are similarities for Belleville Mennonite School.   

We are gathered here tonight to reflect on God’s faithfulness to the BMS community over the past 75 years.  We remember the times of extreme blessing and also the times when we weren't sure if we were going to be able to keep our doors open.  During these times and all times in between, we continued to be influencing the next generation.  And the next.  And the next. 

As we as a school community sacrificed, fundraised, formed committees, endured long meetings, discussed, discerned and prayed for the future of BMS, we were influencing generations to come.  The thing is, it wasn't only the current students that were the reasons so much energy was put into the decisions made at those meetings…it was so much bigger than that. 

At BMS, we are preparing students for the next steps after high school…college, trade school, missions and the workforce. We are proud of producing a wide variety of professionals, laborers and church leaders.

However, we have also produced Sunday school teachers who have taught and influenced community leaders.   We have influenced little league coaches who have coached doctors and nurses.  We have encouraged future pastors who mentored and guided lawyers and electricians.  We have influenced dispatchers who have become school board presidents.  We have inspired farmers whose children go on to be missionaries and take good news of salvation to the ends of the earth. 

So let’s remember that our influence here at BMS does not stop with our current students and the careers they choose.  We may have the chance to speak into some of these students' lives for only a year or two. However, what we do and say has the potential to stick with them as they leave here. 

Belleville Mennonite School has made disciples and equipped men and women for lives of service for 75 years.  And I’ll add to that, lives of influence … for the kingdom of God. 

May God give us HIS favor as we continue to be faithful servants at BMS. Let us be thankful for those who have gone before us as testaments of God’s sustaining grace.  Let us never forget the heritage of faithfulness that has been passed on through their Godly lives.  And most importantly, let us be leaders who do not sway from the Truth so that future generations will call us faithful as well.  

I want to leave you with my life verse.  1 Timothy 1:6 - And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

But I would change this a little for BMS: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work AT BELLEVILLE MENNONITE SCHOOL will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

- Michael Yoder, Class of 1996 (testimony shared at the 2020 Faith Promise Banquet)


"When I was asked to share my thoughts on how BMS influenced my life, it really got me to thinking.  My first thought was what on earth do I remember at age 69?  I often can’t remember what I did yesterday let alone 50 years ago!  I go into a room to get something and when I get there, I forget what I went for!  Sound familiar?  I hope I’m not the only one!  I hope they are only “senior” moments.

I learned much here and with mostly good memories.  There were some “not so good” memories, but I won’t go there, because any school that one may attend, one has experiences that you care not to dwell on and probably should not.

My mind goes back to our Bible classes taught by Ivan Yoder where we had many lively discussions about the Bible and how we interpret various verses and how they apply to our life.  The thing I remember the most about that class was the freedom to share our thoughts and opinions without being told we were right or wrong; but let’s talk about it.  And along with the serious sharing and discussions was laughter – so important in life!

While math, science, English, PE and all the rest are required subjects in school and are very useful in life – some more than others, depending on your vocation – I used sports competition as a driving force in my life.  And these were growing points as well; possibly the most important growing points for me as a young person.  While I was the first of my 8 siblings to really take part in sports, I was the type of person who found it hard to hold still!  So sports were my outlet! 

While I did not receive much support from my parents, I thrived on trying to be the best and winning at most any cost to my body.  Coach Del Glick had much influence in my life of my love of sports competition and intertwining Christian values on the court and in life outside of sports.  These values and truths of respectful and honest competition have come into play throughout my life; even now.

Who would have ever thought or dreamed in 1970 when we were seniors that on a weekend in March of 2018, Dar and I hosted Coach Glick in our home and we shared together our stores how each of us had lost our first spouse to cancer and how our life paths were altered in ways we never thought possible; all in God’s plan and wisdom for each of us.

In the years since 1970, two years of VS from 1971-1973, 40 some years of farming, my marriage to my late wife Jane, two children (Jason & Krissy), and deep involvement in BMS through years on the School Board and Church Advisory Committee, and Jane working in the BMS office, and lastly, mowing they yards and sports fields here from 2013-2018 while working for Renno’s Lawn Service after retiring from farming.  BMS continued to be an influence on us as parents and our kids and on who we are as people today, even to the extent of our pocketbooks!  But, I must add, it was and is worth it all!

I say all of this to say this: Relationships and how we conduct our lives in these relationships matter more and bring more happiness than any amount of education we can acquire.  Yes, education is important; don’t get me wrong or devalue that part of life.  But relationships have the potential to give long-lasting, fulfilling, happy and rewarding friendships that last a lifetime.  Our relationship with God is most important and to know him as Lord and Savior must translate to our relationships with all peoples in forgiveness and love.  These have been some of the most important things I have learned here at BMS.

To conclude what I want to share; again, I cannot overemphasize enough the importance of wholesome relationships.  They last your lifetime!  Life can be short; don’t shortcut yourself!

Now I want to make my story personal.  Relationships at BMS started to bloom many years ago and are still important in our lives.  When my late wife Jane was losing her battle with brain cancer in February of 2017, it was one of my classmates at BMS, Lynda (Byler) Miller who came to our home to help me take care of Jane with tender, loving and compassionate care in her last days before God took her home.  Grieving is tough and difficult!  That’s when one needs friends and relationships that are deep and lasting.

In the months that followed after Jane’s passing, I was too “young” to be alone.  I prayed for a new relationship with a Christian woman.  God answered; again through Lynda Miller.  I knew that Lynda had kept in contact over the years with a BMS classmate, namely Darlene (Briskey) Neuenschwander.  I knew Dar had lost her husband, Loren, to cancer some years before, but that’s all I knew.  I had seen her one time in 47 years.  Remember the saying, “only a phone call away?”  The rest is history!  If Dar would not have been a classmate at BMS, it would have been highly unlikely that we would have ever known one another and our relationship and marriage would not have happened.  We fell in love and we are so happy for second chances and lasting relationships!  Relationships do matter and they started here at BMS.  God is good; praise God for BMS!"

- Ray Yoder, Class of 1970 (testimony shared at the 2020 Faith Promise Banquet)


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.

- Katie (Neer) Alderfer, Class of 2003.  Katie is a Nurse Practitioner at Bryn Mawr Hospital and resides in Harleysville, PA.


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, rennogk@bmsprek12.org to share your story.

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"I know that her high school teachers and the biblical teaching she received at BMS was crucial in her desire to be wherever God wanted her to be.” 
-Gina Spicher, Class of 1986, talking about her daughter, Meredith, Class of 2014

 


 
 
"Our family is so grateful for the opportunity we had to continue our education and lifestyle at BMS."
-Vernane (King) Stutzman, Class of 1964
 
 
 
 

"I am committed to promoting our cherished Mennonite faith and practice and am grateful for the solid foundation provided by my home, church and BMS as I grew up in Big Valley.
 
One of the role models for my life is my father, who was among the founders of BMS and served as chair of the Board for many years. Thus, I grew up in a home where BMS was loved and supported sacrificially. My 4 sisters and I spent 12 years at BMS with my oldest sister, Carolyn (Hartzler) Conley of Newport News, VA, in the very first class in 1945."
 - Dr. Beryl (Hartzler) Brubaker, Class of 1960
 

"I loved my time at BMS and really appreciate the emphasis on Christ and all the discipling that came with morning devotions, Bible class, and chapels." 
– Jen (Varner) Nafziger, Class of 1998