From left, clockwise: Benjamin Bergey ‘11, professor of music, earned alumni award honors from his alma mater Christopher Dock High School in Pennsylvania this fall. Andrew Jenner '04 with his family, and D. Keith and Ellen Slaubaugh Helmuth, class of ‘59, were among the alumni honorees at Eastern Mennonite School in Harrisonburg. (Courtesy photos)

Four alums honored by high school alma maters

Four EMU alumni – Benjamin Bergey ‘11, Andrew Jenner ‘04 and D. Keith Helmuth and Ellen Slaubaugh Helmuth, class of ‘59 – are being honored by their respective high school alma maters this fall.

Bergey, assistant professor of music at EMU, is one of two awardees of the Young Alum of the Year Award at Christopher Dock High School. The award, based on the demonstration of academic, spiritual and lifestyle practices carried out since graduation, was announced in mid-September in an edition of Dock’s alumni newsletter. Dock also awards male and female recipients in categories of Outstanding Achievement and Distinguished Service. 

At EMU, Bergey directs the choirs and orchestra and teaches courses in music theory and conducting. He conducts the Rapidan Orchestra in central Virginia and is director of music at Harrisonburg Mennonite Church.

Read more about Bergey in this article about his teaching preparations for this semester and also his role as music editor for “Voices Together,” the new hymnal for Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.

Andrew Jenner ‘04 is the recipient of Eastern Mennonite School’s Community Engagement Award. He is co-founder of the free, online independent news source, The Citizen, and manages Paradise Energy Solutions’ Virginia branch. For many years, he was a full-time freelance journalist with a publications list including The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Chicago Tribune,, Slate, Atlas Obscura, Discover Magazine, Stars and Stripes, and Modern Farmer, among others. In addition, he reported regularly for Harrisonburg’s NPR affiliate, WMRA 90.7 FM. Read more on the EMS website.

Eastern Mennonite School is also honoring D. Keith and Ellen Slabaugh Helmuth, class of ‘59, with the Lifetime Service Award. The couple, who live in New Brunswick, Canada, “have — together and individually — pursued environmental education, organic farming, community economic and social development work, writing for publication and public presentation, the founding of Quaker Institute for the Future, and book publishing on environmental themes.” Read their profile. 

The couple met as juniors at Eastern Mennonite High School and then attended then-Eastern Mennonite College during the 1955-56 school year, Keith wrote in an email to EMU News. He transferred to Kent State, while Ellen stayed at EMC. They married in 1958, spent the next two years as leaders of a Voluntary Service Unit in Iowa City and graduated from the University of Iowa in 1961 and 1962 respectively.

“More than you need to know, but all part of the story,” he graciously said. For those who are curious, a student is considered an alum of the institution upon completion of one year. 

Keith and Ellen are considered members of the class of 1959, the class they would have graduated with if they had stayed at EMC. 

Congratulations to all!

Are we missing someone you know of who earned admiration and recognition from their alma mater or organization? Please let us know! Email