Eastern Mennonite School

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For schools of a similar name, see Eastern High School (disambiguation).
Eastern Mennonite School
Eastern Mennonite School Seal Logo
faith • academics • integrity • service
38°28′15″N 78°52′30″W / 38.4708°N 78.8751°W / 38.4708; -78.8751Coordinates: 38°28′15″N 78°52′30″W / 38.4708°N 78.8751°W / 38.4708; -78.8751
Harrisonburg, Virginia, VA
Type Private School
Religious affiliation(s) Mennonite
Established 1917
Head of School Paul Leaman
Enrollment approx 390 [1]
Student to teacher ratio 12:1
Color(s)           Royal Blue and Gold
Athletics 19 Interscholastic Sports
Mascot Flames
Accreditation VAIS, MEA, AdvancED
Average SAT scores (2012) 561 reading
544 writing
558 math
Eastern Mennonite School Building.jpg
EMS School Building

Eastern Mennonite School (EMS) is a K-12 private school in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It is affiliated with the Virginia Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA.

Mission and philosophy[edit]

"Eastern Mennonite School joins home and church in calling students to faith in Jesus Christ, academic excellence, personal integrity, and compassionate service in the world."

True to the school’s mission, EMS teaches students the way of peace within the global community, which is especially important in a fluctuating social, spiritual, technological and economic climate. Faculty seek to teach examples of peacemaking in history and in current affairs. Chapel speakers are invited to tell their stories of building bridges and peacemaking in the world. The Elementary School emphasizes gathering times and a peace building curriculum that seeks to instill values that will create harmony and peace in our community and beyond. Students experience the Christian mission of the school through Bible curricula in each grade, K-12; they attend daily chapels (6-12), have weekly elementary school gatherings, and have weekly Neighbor Group meetings (6-12). Twice a year, the staff invites a Spiritual Renewal Speaker to hold week-long chapel meetings with the students.

Regular student trips to distant cities, states, and countries take place through annual E-terms (week-long Experiential Term), domestic and international Touring Choir trips, and biennial Discovery trips that take students on educational learning experiences to the American west coast and back. Furthermore, the changing world has come to EMS as increasing numbers of international students attend the school, giving local students a chance to make friends from China, South Korea, Germany, and various countries in Africa and Central and South America.


Eastern Mennonite School began in 1917 as a high school and Bible school, adding college classes as the institution grew. In 1964, the school built a new building on Parkwood Drive directly below what was then Eastern Mennonite College, now Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). In 1968, EMS expanded schooling to grades 7-12 and was renamed Eastern Mennonite High School. In 1982, Eastern Mennonite High School officially become a separate legal entity from Eastern Mennonite College, with its own governing Board of Directors. The sixth grade was added in 1995. In 1997 the school expanded its outdoor athletic facilities, adding improved soccer and baseball fields. In 2005 the school created Eastern Mennonite Elementary School. To shape its identity as a K-12 school, the organization was renamed Eastern Mennonite School, encompassing all three divisions - Elementary, Middle, and High schools. In 2006 the school expanded its facility to include a new 650-seat auditorium, fine and performing arts classrooms, expanded and renovated Science wing, and other additional classrooms. In the summer of 2009, the school renovated the gym, adding a new hardwood floor, better lights and new bleachers. Beginning with the 2010-11 school year, in conjunction with long-term administrator retirements, the school transitioned its administrative structure so that titles more accurately describe the administrative job descriptions. The Head of School reports to the Board of Directors, serves as the Chief Executive Officer, and works with the school's Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) consisting of the Director of Academics, Director of Advancement, Director of Business Affairs, the Elementary Principal and the Secondary Principal.

Academic departments[edit]

  • Art
  • Bible
  • Communications Technology
  • English/Language Arts
  • Family & Consumer Science
  • Math
  • Modern Language
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Technology Education

Support programs[edit]

Learning Support Services[edit]

Learning Support Services (LSS) advocates for students experiencing academic challenges by: assisting with acquisition of skills and knowledge necessary for classroom success and social acceptance; nurturing confidence and self-worth; and striving for integrity of performance commensurate with ability as valued children of God, their family, and church. Learning Support Services, including Reading and Study Skills (RSS), Intensive Individualized Instruction (III), and English for International Students (EIS), is designed to foster success for every student; therefore, students who need academic assistance, based on their documented or perceived abilities or because of the demand of the EMS coursework, are eligible for the services appropriate for their needs.


The EMS library strives to be a 21st-century learning environment in which members of the school community are encouraged to be effective users of information by asking questions, reading enthusiastically, thinking critically, and demonstrating creativity. The library moved to an automated system in the mid-1990s. The space was renovated in 2004, which added a computer lab that could accommodate a class group.

School counseling[edit]

Holding sacred the established value and uniqueness of each person as a child of God, school counseling interweaves personal development, curricular, and co-curricular support within the communal context of family, school, faith, and professional resources. The heart of school counseling's intent is helping students transform personal obstacles in life and learning into profitable growth experiences within the guiding lights of Christian disciplines (e.g. patience, forgiveness, empathy). Emanating from this core is EMS’s emphasis on Gifted Behaviors for healthful living, social relations, and preparation for life-giving careers, thereby making every effort to help students realize their unique gifts and become effective and passionate lifelong learners.


The percentage of Eastern Mennonite School students that participate in co-curricular activities is generally between 93% and 95%. Whether through athletics, the performing arts or a club, students are connected to the school community when they participate in co-curricular activities.


The elementary division of Eastern Mennonite School is part of the Blue Ridge Area Athletics Association. BRAAA is a group of area Christian elementary schools who have come together to provide team competition in sports. This league was formed primarily to give younger students exposure to team play, to focus on developing basic skills, and to learn and demonstrate sportsmanship with teammates and competitors. The elementary division has two seasons including fall soccer and winter basketball. All teams are co-ed, and are coached by parents and officiated by either parents or high school students. Practices are generally once a week with games scheduled on Saturdays. The seasons last approximately two months. Students are divided into teams according to their grades. Kindergarten, first, and second graders play on one team and third, fourth, and fifth graders play on another team.

The middle and high school divisions currently have a total of 26 teams: eight teams each fall and winter season and ten teams in the spring. All of the boys’ teams participate in the Virginia Independent Conference (VIC). The girls’ teams participate in the Blue Ridge Conference (BRC). Both conferences are for private schools in the state of Virginia. All varsity teams are eligible for post-season VISAA state competition. The Middle School level emphasis is on cultivating student interest, skill development, proper technique and learning the rules of the particular sport more so than winning. Team Membership includes sixth, seventh and eighth grades. The Junior Varsity level has winning as a goal but more importantly is the advancement of fundamental skills and team strategies in preparation for the varsity level. Team Membership includes eighth, freshman and sophomores (sixth and seventh when no middle school team is offered.) The Varsity level emphasis is on fielding a team with the best opportunity to win while maintaining high levels of sportsmanship. This may result in unequal playing time. Although winning is important, other factors like developing team unity, significant individual progress and team improvement are vital keys to a successful season. Team Membership includes eighth through twelfth grades.

Performing arts[edit]

Each year in the elementary division, all fourth and fifth grade students perform a full-length drama for their parents and peers. Recently, this has taken the form of a "Dessert Theater", featuring a dessert buffet during intermission. Drama is often part of the "special days" at the elementary division. Special Days are planned by "committees" of students with representation from each grade, and include themes such as Pajama Reading Day, Storybook Character Day, Crazy Hair Day, and Sports Day.

Each year the middle and high school divisions provide an opportunity for students in each grade level to participate in a drama production. Regularly scheduled stage productions include a middle school play, a high school musical, and a senior play. These stage productions also provide an opportunity for students to participate off-stage as sound and lighting technicians, stage managers, and assistant directors. In addition to dramatic stage productions, other opportunities in performing arts include participation in a full orchestra, jazz band, and small vocal and string ensembles. These are in addition to larger choirs that are part of the music content area of the curriculum.


Clubs play an active role in the life of students at Eastern Mennonite School. Students sign up for clubs that interest them and many choose to participate in multiple clubs. All clubs have a faculty or parent sponsor to provide leadership and supervision. Each year, an effort is made to offer clubs that meet the interests of all age groups; however, students may also request a specific club be created and sponsored if sufficient interest is expressed by a group of students. Examples of clubs available at the elementary division include Chess Club and First Lego League. Middle and high school division clubs include Automotive, Board Game, Chess, Comforters for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Equestrian, Fly Tying, Math League, Set Design & Painting, Open Art Room, and Table Tennis, to name a few.


Touring Choir looking over the beautiful scenery in Albania

Eastern Mennonite offers E-Terms (High School) or Explore Week (Middle School) for one week during the school as a learning week for students at Eastern Mennonite School. There are numerous E-Terms to choose from when they are introduced during the month before E-Term starts. They can range from going to Tennessee, DC, Touring Choir, Philadelphia, or stay local. These E-Terms are for students to learn more outside of the classroom, do community service and represent Eastern Mennonite School as a community.


External links[edit]