News and Blog Posts

Applicants Welcome for Discovery Program

March 14, 2019
By Andrea Wenger

High school students interested in a month-long, cross-country group learning experience about land and water resources are invited to apply to join the 2019 Eastern Mennonite High School Discovery trip. A limited number of spaces remain available on the biennial excursion.

Students currently in 10th, 11th or 12th grade are welcome to apply to join 20 current EMHS students for this life-shaping experience. Participants will travel by bus coach, sleep in tents, eat, laugh, learn, play and pray together from June 4 to 29.

The excursion will be led by Lee Good, EMHS science teacher, who joined previous Discovery trips in 2011 and '13 and  led trips in 2015 and '17. Additional faculty and staff, a cook and a nurse will round out the leadership team.

This year's itinerary will include:

  • A visit with Wendell Berry, renowed environmentalist and author, in General Butler State Park.
  • The Land Institute, Salina Kansas, to tour a cutting edge research facility, focused on perennial grains. The group will talk with founder Wes Jackson, a pioneer of perennial grain research.
  • Time along the Colorado River, following its inception in the Rockies to the border, the group will explore its power and human attempts to control it. Trip includes an overnight river ride.
  • Time learning on the West Coast about immigration, the ancient Redwoods, and Google’s driver-less cars. They will visit Portland, Ore., a green city that is paving the way for urban local food, eco-friendly transportation, and minimal-impact housing. They will hear from David James Duncan, author who struggles honestly with the difficult questions of life and environmental preservation. In Glacier National Park, the group will explore the ice pack. They will learn about varied farming practices in a community in Freeman, S.D., and visit Goshen College's Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center.
  • The group's last day together will be on the Amish farm of David Kline in Holmes County Ohio.

“We’ve seen nature’s miracles, primordial redwood forests, snow-capped mountains in the desert, towering anyons, and tumbling rivers. We have felt small and big, fatigued and inspired, peaceful and awed. We will never be the same.” -- a past participant


The Purpose

Part of the purpose of Discovery learning is to enable students to become exposed to diverse perspectives on pertinent issues facing our nation and world.

"Students will wrestle with dichotomies when they see opposing viewpoints and, ultimately, form their own perspectives," explains this year's leader, Lee Good.

Faith development, academic excellence, a deepened understanding of stewardship, and building positive
relationships with neighbors are key components of the program. Academic credit for EMHS is optional. Students from other schools would work with their school adviser to discern if credit is available in their system.

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” -Wendell Berry



The cost for students outside of the EMHS sytem is $3,200. This includes all food, lodging, transportation, materials and fees. Incidential costs will be minimal. Students may want access to some cash for souvenirs or ocasional snacks.

There will also be costs incurred in getting set up with gear for the trip, including camping and  hiking gear. Advice and support will be provided in making those purchases and a local outfitter will offer a discount to Discovery participants.

Transportation will provided by Schrock Travel, Tour and Charter, Winchester, Virginia.

Contact us

To learn more or express interest, contact Lee Good, science teacher and Discovery leader, by email. Applicants must complete a process which includes an interview with Mr. Good. Applications are due April 15 with a deposit due May 1 to hold your spot.

Creating a School Culture with Dignity for All

March 14, 2019
By Andrea Wenger

Creating a school culture that supports the inherent dignity and worth of all "isn't rocket science," Kathy Evans, told Eastern Mennonite School teachers and administrators in February. "But it's really hard."

Restorative Justice in Education circles include: Repair
and transform conflict; build and maintain healthy 
relationships; create just and equitable learning


Evans, professor of teacher education at Eastern Mennonite University, led two professional development sessions on restorative practices in education. It’s becoming more common to hear about restorative discipline in schools, Evans noted. But we want to shift an entire school culture to a place of respect and mutual concern.

Restorative concepts aren't new to EMS. Administrators and teachers often use a circle process to create safe space for difficult conversations. In a circle, participants face each other and pass a "talking piece." Only the person with the talking piece may talk; others listen. Participants can "pass" when the piece comes to them. Everyone has a chance to be heard.

This fall, teachers practiced circle process skills in a staff meeting. Justin King, high school principal, and Maria Archer, K-8 principal, facilitated. Each week, Archer emails middle and high school teachers ideas to use in their student Neighbor Group meetings in circles or general discussion. Examples include: “Are ‘success’ and happiness the same thing?” “What does respect look like between students?” “Between students and teachers?” “How does gossip affect a school community?” "What is gossip and how does it affect a community?" "Who is a bystander?" "What role(s) do they play in a community?"

Heidi Byler's third grade class uses a circle regularly so if it is
used in times of conflict, the process feels familiar and comfortable.


"Using circles for general discussion helps everyone become familiar with the format," Archer explains. "That way, when we are dealing with a conflict or a difficult situation, the process is not new."

King admitted at the fall practice time with faculty, that some students -- and adults -- may be skeptical. "What is this 'mumbo jumbo?' students may ask," he laughed.

But, he explained, there is something special about sitting in a circle. "It slows us down. When we make time for one person to share and others to focus on them, it's hard not to listen."

Middle and high school teachers are using the model and other tools to work toward a school culture where every student is known and "nurtured to their capacity" as Evans encouraged.

Maria Archer, K-8 principal, starts a Neighbor Group 
conversation, using a talking piece.


Circles have been implemented for more than 10 years at the elementary level. Students learn through peacebuilding classes and Mennonite Education Agency’s Encounter Bible curriculum. The materials build on the concept of Shalom, which includes talking about building peace with creation, God, myself and others.

"We are committed to making sure we -- students and teachers -- are accountable to each other,” says Archer. “When restorative practices become a part of our everyday lives, conflicts are addressed  and, most importantly, each person has a voice."

Evans came to the school twice in February for early morning professional development. "We're fortunate to have this resource so close to us," says King. EMU was the first university in the country to offer restorative justice programs within a graduate teacher education program.

Evans co-authored with Dorothy Vaandering, The Little Book of Restorative Justice in Education: Fostering Responsibility, Healing, and Hope in Schools (Justice and Peacebuilding) in 2016.

The children came… help them get in!

March 13, 2019
By Andrea Wenger

Recent gifts to the Let the Children Come campaign have brought Eastern Mennonite School within $23,000 of their move-in goal to prepare a home for their K-5 students.

"We are so grateful for generous donors who took us in late February to within $55,000 of the goal. That gift inspired others, and now we are within $19,500," explained Paul Leaman, head of school.

In addition, a former board member - having heard of the two recent gifts -- stepped forward to commit the final $5,000 if the school raises the $19,500 needed by March 31 to fund renovation of the former Menno Media building with classrooms, art and music rooms, a library and a welcoming entrance for elementary. 

With the gifts, pledges and encouragement, Leaman invites others to help the school reach its goal. "Every gift counts," he notes. Contact Paul Leaman, head of school, at 540-236-6012 or by email. Or, make gifts to the campaign directly online.

Building progress update as of March 11, 2019

(progress reports come weekly to staff by Mike Stoltzfus, director of business affairs)

New signage along Virginia Ave.

Many window openings have been enlarged to accommodate new windows.  Classrooms will  have lots of natural light.

The first floor is entirely framed in and the second floor is almost done. Exterior framing should be finished the week of March 11.

Holes cut in the lower level floor have been filled in with concrete, finishing the structural reinforcement of the shell of the original building.

Trumbo Electric, Blauch Brothers (mechanical and plumbing), and Liberty (sprinkler) are working together and being creative to keep the ceilings as high as possible to give the classrooms a large, open feel. 

Site work has been done, including tree removal and preparing for the office and eventual gathering space on the west side of the building.

Up Next... Build a Bridge

When the move-in goal is complete, the school will turn its sights toward constructing a pedestrian bridge to connect the two sides of campus, a project necessary before students begin using the new building.

Consider purchasing a brick as part of the effort to Build a Bridge! Read more. 





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