Members of the Iron Bridge Society joined J. Richard Thomas and Lancaster Mennonite School student leaders for breakfast on April 15 in the Rutt Academic Center Community Room to discuss “What Challenges do Christian Leaders Face Today?” Each student leader shared a highlight and a challenge from this school year, and Iron Bridge Society members gave advice based on their own leadership experiences over the years. The Iron Bridge Society is a group of people that is passionate about leaving a legacy of Christian education by including LMS in planned giving and/or estate plans.
Alumnus Lawrence King, who graduated 65 years ago, advised the leaders to “work had, but have fun, too.” His wife Shirley added: “I have always appreciated LMH and encouraged my children and grandchildren to come.”
Harold Mast (1965) told students that “things happen at LMH that have far-reaching effects.” His wife Ruth (1966), who Harold introduced as a “positive fringe benefit” of attending LMH, urged student leaders to always “keep Christ as your focus.”
Assistant Superintendent Miles Yoder said that he is encouraged by what people do after they graduate and told a story that illustrated “never give up on anyone.”
Teacher Ryan King, the FFA advisor, said that he enjoys being able to “take my passions into the classroom.” However, he noted the challenge that in the Hans Herr chapter of FFA he has “50 students with 50 different interests.”
The challenge of diverse interests was echoed by Student Council member Zach Yoder. Planning and implementing the first-ever Homecoming dance was his highlight, but it was difficult to meet “diverse expectations” of what a high school dance should be. Eric Peachy, the Student Council president, said that WinterFest was a highlight for him, but the challenge was letting everyone know what was going on.
Captains of several athletic teams attended the meeting. Cody Hurst (lacrosse), Kaleigh Gerringer (softball), and Jeremy Newswanger (baseball) shared a common highlight of strong positive social interaction among team members. However, they shared the challenge of encouraging team members to be focused and to take practices seriously. Garyd Martin, the boys volleyball captain, said his challenge is to “motivate people to be the best player they can be.” Two senior editors of The Millstream student newspaper talked about their joy in helping younger students. Ben Rittenhouse, assistant editor-in-chief, said his biggest challenge was “coming up with articles that students can relate to” and Caleb Bornman’s challenge was communicating with everyone involved in producing the newspaper.
Bornman also spoke as a representative of the Tech Crew, saying it is “the favorite activity I’ve ever been involved in;” however, the time commitment is a challenge.
Ben Zook, the head of the school’s literary magazine, Silhouette, enjoyed passing the publication on to a “new generation,” but faced the challenge of raising school awareness about the magazine. Kimberley Vun, representing the International Student Association, said that communicating with people from around the world is both the biggest highlight and greatest challenge. Fellow ISA member Brett Sauder added that his leadership is tested by trying to “get international students out of their comfort zones” and to engage with American society.
Superintendent J. Richard Thomas concluded the meeting with seven points about leadership that he gleaned from his long career at the helm of Lancaster Mennonite School and various church positions, including moderator of Mennonite Church USA.