Organization encourages youth leadership and service

14 years ago

Organization encourages youth leadership and service

    Established in 1921, the National Honor Society (NHS) is the nation’s premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students. 

    More than just an honor roll, NHS serves to honor those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of Scholarship, Leadership, Service and Character. These characteristics have been associated with membership in the organization since the beginning.
    In order to be eligible, a student (juniors and seniors) must maintain a cumulative average of 85, demonstrate leadership qualities, participate in activities which serve the school, and exhibit good school citizenship.
    Faculty members vote on the students who have maintained an 85 cumulative average. If a student receives at least 20 percent of the faculty vote, it serves as a recommendation for his or her name to be placed in nomination before the faculty council, although any student on the eligibility list may be nominated by a council member.
    Five faculty members constitute the voting board of the faculty council, but other faculty members also serve on the council for discussion and evaluation purposes. This council consists of department heads, club advisers, athletic coaches, guidance counselors and administrators. The council meets at least twice a year to select members, consider dismissals and warnings cases.
    Junior selection for NHS is in the spring and Senior Induction is generally in the fall.
    NHS members must maintain the standards of the society in order to retain membership. Any member who fails to meet the standards of his or her election shall be promptly warned by the chapter adviser, or his or her case shall be passed upon by the faculty council.
    Today, it is estimated that more than 1 million students participate in activities of the NHS. NHS chapters are found in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, many U.S. Territories, and Canada. Chapter membership not only recognizes students for their accomplishments, but challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service.

History of the Organization

    In 1921, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) officially established the National Honor Society. Though many local and regional honor societies existed prior to 1921, no nationwide organization had been founded.
    Under the leadership of Dr. Edward Rynearson, principal of the Fifth Avenue High School in Pittsburgh, the organization grew from the original Alpha Chapter at the Fifth Avenue School to more than 1,000 chapters by 1930. Equipped with a constitution, an emblem and motto, and a group of dedicated principals as coordinators, the new NHS organization quickly developed into one of the country’s leading educational groups.
    Four main purposes have guided chapters of NHS from the beginning: “To create enthusiasm for scholarship, to stimulate a desire to render service, to promote leadership, and to develop character in the students of secondary schools.” (from the NHS Constitution) These purposes also translate into the criteria used for membership selection in each local chapter.
    In 1929, the NASSP turned its attention to middle-level schools and expanded the scope of its concern for recognizing outstanding students by establishing the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS). With its own constitution and handbook, NJHS has established criteria that parallel the emphases found in the NHS with an added purpose to encourage citizenship.
    Both the NHS and NJHS are sponsored and supervised by NASSP, which appoints a National Council — the controlling body of NHS. In addition, National Council members also serve as the selection committee for the prestigious NHS Scholarship, which has been administered annually in schools with NHS chapters since 1946.
    The day-to-day administration of NHS national concerns is handled by the NASSP Department of Student Activities, headquartered in Reston, Va.

Emblem and Motto

    The emblem of the NHS is the keystone and flaming torch. As the keystone is the binding element of an arch, on which associated parts are dependent, so are the structures of our system dependent on the virtues, which are represented in the NHS and the firm basis of education.
    The light emitted by the torch is light, which guides all NHS members to higher ambitions for moral and social values. At the base of the keystone are inscribed the letters C, S, L and S, which stand for the four basic principals of the organization: Character, Scholarship, Leadership and Service.
    The NHS motto is “Noblesse Oblige”; the colors are blue and gold and the flower is the yellow rose.
NHS in northern Maine
    There are 19 Northern Regional NHS chapters. The northern region includes all of Aroostook County and parts of Washington and Penobscot counties. They are: Ashland Community High School, Caribou High School, Central Aroostook High School, East Grand High School, Easton High School, Fort Fairfield High School, Fort Kent Community High School, Hodgdon High School, Houlton High School, Katahdin High School, Lee Academy, Limestone High School, Madawaska Middle/High School, Mattanawcook Academy, Presque Isle High School, Southern Aroostook Community High School, Van Buren High School, Washburn District High School and Wisdom High School.
    The NHS is not a money-making organization. Its goal is to promote scholarship and sponsor activities which serve the school, to stimulate a desire to render service, to promote positive leadership and to develop character.