I’m always pushing my students at Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine, MD, to be well-rounded scholars. When they start applying to colleges, I tell them that admissions officers don’t just want to see a student with good grades. They want to see your activities and how you are part of the school community. And one of the best ways to show that is by being involved in the National Honor Society (NHS).
Having an active NHS chapter can help shift the culture toward high achievement. Sometimes students think it’s uncool to be the smart kid, so when they see football players, cheerleaders, and all other types of students being part of the organization, it shows that it really is cool to be smart.
I see our NHS students as role models, especially for the 9th graders. That’s why we invited our 9th graders to attend this year’s induction ceremony in November, where we inducted 40 new students. I think it’s important for the younger students to see NHS students’ exited faces when they’re inducted and connect to our NHS members, who are not only leaders in the chapter but also are active in other schoolwide groups, including ROTC and student government. It’s great for the NHS students to be seen in different contexts throughout our building. Ultimately, I want the 9th graders to aspire to be like these older students.
Like students in most NHS chapters, ours participate in a lot of service projects, such as partnering with our environmental sciences program to do beautification projects on our grounds. NHS students also provide tutoring and academic support for their peers, mostly during lunch hours.
I would love to see our NHS chapter grow. It speaks volumes about the culture of a building when you have many students who qualify for membership. One challenge is that some of our first-generation college-bound students aren’t really aware of the benefits of NHS, especially for college admissions. I would like to see our current students engage in more mentorship opportunities so we can build a bigger pipeline of students for the program.
I also promote the program whenever I can, whether on the morning announcements or when I’m on cafeteria duty or in my regular robocalls and texts to parents. I want all our students and parents to know about NHS and how it benefits our kids.