Alumni awards to be presented in May

The Awards Committee of the Bethel College Alumni Association has selected three alumni to recognize with awards during Alumni Weekend, May 19-20:

Richard Littlebear ’83, Lame Deer, Mont., will be honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award. He is president of Chief Dull Knife College, a position he has held since September 1999.

Dr. Littlebear’s work has included education specialist, director of elementary school bilingual projects with Indian children and parents, college English instructor, lay advocate in the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Court system, grant writer, coordinator of community education in elementary schools in Lame Deer and Busby, Mont., and legal investigator who served as a translator for non-English speaking clients.

He was instrumental in designing the test for Cheyenne language speakers, helping implement the Class 7 Licensure process. He also developed the idea of a language immersion camp to provide experiential Cheyenne language and cultural learning opportunities for Cheyenne people who do not know their native language to begin the process of learning and speaking it. Dr. Littlebear is one of seven members of the Northern Cheyenne tribe who both speak fluently and write the Cheyenne language proficiently.

Joan Banman Wiebe ’57 and Leonard Wiebe ’57, North Newton, will receive the Outstanding Alumnus Award. The Wiebes have spent their career in church work, including church planting.

Leonard was the founding pastor of two Mennonite congregations, Maplewood Mennonite Church in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1960 and Peace Mennonite Community Church in Aurora, Colo., in 1986. In between, he was pastor of Faith Mennonite Church in Newton. In addition to congregational work, he has served on several conference- and church-wide committees, including the Commission on Home Ministries of the General Conference Mennonite Church (1980-92), the GCMC’s Commission on Overseas Mission (1999-2001) and the board of Mennonite Mission Network (2001-03). He is currently on the Western District Conference Home Mission Committee, where he has served since 1999.

Joan has served as a music teacher for K-12 in Wakarusa, Ind., and the director of Maplewood Mennonite Church Preschool in Fort Wayne. She was executive director of the General Conference Mennonite Church’s Women in Mission organization from 1977-86. From 1988-99, she held administrative positions at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colo., and directed an Elderhostel program sponsored by Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colo.

The Wiebes retired from pastoral ministry in 1998. From 1999-2001, they were co-directors of the Development Office for the General Conference Mennonite Church. They have also served in several interim pastorates.

For more information on the award recipients, see the spring 2006 issue of “Context” magazine, which will be mailed to alumni in early April.

Couple’s gift of glassware gives auction an extra shine

Like any small college with loyal alumni, Bethel is often the beneficiary of generous gifts. Donavon and Deloris Schmidt’s recent donation had a little extra sparkle.

The Schmidts, of rural Newton, are longtime collectors of American glassware. They gave a portion of their collection--more than 600 pieces, about 20-30 percent of the total--to be sold at auction on Feb. 18. The pieces were mostly Imperial’s Candlewick pattern, with a few pieces of A.H. Heisey (Crystolite, Plantation and Rose Point), Fostoria (American, Baroque and Brocade) and Imperial Cape Cod. The glassware sold for nearly $16,500.

Donavon is a 1959 graduate and was the physical plant director from 1987-1999 (he retired from Bethel in 2000).

Basketball teams place four on academic All-America teams

Four Bethel basketball players have been named 2005 Daktronics-NAIA All-America Scholar Athletes, as announced by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics on March 21. To be considered for this honor, student-athletes must be at least a junior, must have attended the institution a minimum of one full term, must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and must be a member of the varsity basketball program.

women’s basketball, junior Emily Rothlisberger from Riley was selected. Emily is a two-year letter winner and starter for the Threshers. She is an elementary education major.

For the second year in a row, the men’s basketball team received three selections: senior Jimmy Charles from Clearwater, and juniors Kent Peters from Goessel and Ricky Snyder from South Hutchinson. Jimmy, a two-year letter winner and one-year starter for the Threshers, is a mathematics and secondary education major. Kent is a two-year letter winner and a business major. Ricky, a transfer from Hesston College, is a one-year letter winner, majoring in chemistry and secondary education.

Thresher forensics fares well at Tenessee tournament

The Bethel forensics team earned seven awards at the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament in Jefferson City, Tenn., March 10-13. With only four members of the squad competing, the Threshers placed 12th overall out of 40 teams from colleges and universities across the country.

In the individual events section, Lindsey Miller, senior from Haven, placed third overall in extemporaneous speaking. She also advanced to semi-finals in informative speaking and received an award for being in the top 30 percent of competitors in poetry interpretation.

Becky Schulz, freshman from Newton, advanced to semi-finals in extemporaneous speaking. Sophomores Peter Miller, Partridge, and Cory Buchta, Newton, each received an award for being in the top 30 percent of extemporaneous speakers at the tournament. These results placed Bethel as the top extemporaneous speaking team at the tournament.

During the debate section, Lindsey Miller and Peter Miller first advanced to quarterfinals, where they defeated the top-seeded team to advance to semi-finals. They ended up taking third at the tournament.

The Bethel squad’s final competition of the 2005-06 year will be the 2006 American Forensic Association-National Individual Events Tournament at the University of Florida in Gainesville April 1-3. Bethel has qualified six students in 11 events, the highest number of qualifications in 20 years.

Students and staff spend spring break doing hurricane cleanup

Fifteen Bethel students and three staff members spent spring break doing hurricane cleanup in New Orleans from March 20-24 through Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS).

The group worked 8- to 9-hour days, carrying unsalvageable household belongings from damaged homes; removing carpet, insulation, floor and ceiling tile, shelves and bathroom fixtures; and stripping the interior walls of plaster and drywall to prepare for future restoration. The homes belonged to individuals and families who did not have flood insurance and anticipated little if any financial support for rebuilding.

The workers also removed refrigerators from the upper floors of a six-story housing complex for senior citizens. The eventual goal is to clean the apartments and permanently restore electricity so residents may return.

The students who went were Jerel Fast, junior from Boulder, Colo.; Adam Gaeddert, junior from Hutchinson; Peter Goerzen, junior from Newton; Heidi Johnson, junior from Topeka; Aaron Linscheid, junior from North Newton; Joel Linscheid, sophomore from North Newton; Lindsey Miller, senior from Haven; Peter Miller, sophomore from Partridge; Jonathan Nathan, sophomore from Moundridge; Miriam Regier, sophomore from Newton; Jess Rempel, junior from Denver; Tobias Ruhle, junior from Wuppertal, Germany; Bryce Schmidt, sophomore from Freeman, S.D.; Tina Schmidt-Tieszen, junior from Newton; and Robert Weaver, junior from Wichita.

Bethel staff members Erin Schmidt, Brian Stucky and Melanie Zuercher accompanied the group. Among others assigned to the MDS unit that week were eight Amish and Mennonite men from Ohio, and 10 volunteers from Eden Mennonite Church, Moundridge.

The volunteers heard many stories of peril, rescue and heartbreak from appreciative homeowners, relatives or neighbors.