Managing Editor’s note: Matt Weaver is certainly a familiar face at EMS as young alumnus of the year, as father to one alumna and three current students, as Board of Director member, Alumni Board volunteer, and coach of the 2017-18 Girls Varsity Basketball Flames. Although his actions speak volumes about his commitment to EMS, his chapel address during our Centennial Homecom- ing offered words of wisdom we simply had to share with our readers. We hope these excerpts ignite the Flame – past, present, and future – within each of our readers to keep us reflecting Christ’s light in our second century.
We are celebrating the 100th year of Eastern Mennonite School—that is amazing. I am proud to be part of a family that played significantly in the founding. My children are fourth-generation EMS’ers. More than 20 years before my Grandpa Weaver graduated in 1939, his future grandfather-in-law Daniel Martin knew that there was a need for advancement of the church and spiritual guidance in educa- tion for its young people. So my great-great grandfather raised money by traveling through not only Virginia but Maryland and Pennsylvania—pitching his and others’ ideas to those who also felt and sensed the call for such an institution to be erected. As we know today they were successful—and students began to come from far and wide. The school that I would come to know here would continually grow and change to offer an even more impactful Christian education experience. It was through daily chapels that I learned to sing—modeling from older students and faculty. I fondly remember special relationships with certain teachers that were developed—and I spent more time than just class time with many of them in various after-school student electives. As an athlete I had coaches who modeled not only Christian character but an emphasis on my relationship with the Lord first, above my performance on the court. My experience with Touring Choir was a life-changing one—I was afraid to go out for any choir until my Senior year. After making Touring and Chamber Choir, I felt like I had truly missed out all EMS Homecoming 2012 with those other years. Our school has since added a cafeteria, auditorium, classrooms, athletic fields—all additions that amped up the ‘ulti- mateness’ of the EMS experience. Recently we broke ground on the next chapter—to bring EMES to our campus. We have brought the vision of leaders like my great-great-grandfather full circle. I cannot wait for the pride that I will feel when my own grandchildren are able to attend elementary school on the same ground where Daniel Martin first spied cornshucks and cattle six generations earlier. If this school is to be everything that my family before me, myself, or my kids have known it to be—it will depend on you. Stay in touch. Stay connected. When the school needs volunteers—raise your hand!! If there is a financial need—give as the Lord leads you to. Come to a sporting event, come to a musical, go catch the Touring Choir in one of our local churches, come to your class reunions, just come! You have been given the gift of the ultimate high school education—by your parents, grandparents, your church—by someone. You are set for life in so many ways. You have received both a quality education and high Christian values in the process. You have been modeled to and taught by committed Christian teachers. You have served others and your commu- nity. You have lifted your voices in praise to God, and supported and prayed for one another in times of need. Looking back at my own experiences—what I experienced as a teenager in THIS SCHOOL—I am literally overwhelmed by the sum of the equation between this school and me, and wonder what different outcome to the lesser my life would be if not for EMS. I’m sure in retrospect all 3,711 graduates before today would say the same. While my roots run deep, it will be the families from new saplings that are most important in our school’s continued success and existence. Families which look to write a new story and craft their own tale of a new heritage are what will keep our doors open for the future generations. Our mission statement defines and summarizes my own story of church, home, and school—I stand humbly before you as a product of all three. Let’s all do our part to ensure that generations to come will tell the same story! Go from these halls and apply what you’ve learned and how you’ve learned it to the greater good of humanity, your community, and the church!