The National Honor Society induction ceremony celebrates and recognizes new members


Amid the darkened auditorium, the nascent members of the National Honor Society (NHS) will walk across the illuminated stage as their names are individually called on Nov. 19. Rows of candles lined on the stage will await them, signifying their entrance as they ignite the candles.

With each beaming flame, the students not only are inducted but are committing themselves to their community and the four pillars of the NHS: character, scholarship, leadership, and service.

“[The NHS] is an important thing to be inducted into,” NHS advisor Patricia Richardson said. “To have met those [requirements for admission] is important. It’s a national club, so the ceremony recognizes that students have met those national levels.”

The requirements mentioned by Richardson include maintaining a GPA above 3.5 and obtaining two teacher recommendations that highlight each student’s leadership, service, and academic accomplishments. These applications are then reviewed by Richardson, who admits juniors and seniors that meet the sufficient levels.

Despite the necessary academic requirements, Richardson says that the service and leadership aspects are just as valued, if not valued more. If students aren’t accepted, she claims that these characteristics are “usually what’s missing.”

Once inducted, the most important part of being a member is the service opportunities it brings, according to Richardson. This “real-life” implication of being a member is also spoken about at the ceremony through several speeches by a guest speaker and student board members.

“The biggest piece to me is the service,” Richardson said, “it’s pushing [students] to go out and do some service [for] their community. It also pushes for the ideas of leadership and character, so it’s pushing them to do those things.”

With students volunteering at local organizations and events, they are often encountering new, unfamiliar people and places. Richardson hopes students will be pushed “outside of their comfort” zones, and volunteering helps to accomplish this goal.

“I think [the NHS] helps [students] to be more globally aware and more familiar with things outside of Forest Hills,” Richardson said. “[It helps students] see how not everybody has the advantages and privileges that we have here in our community, and it gives them a chance to see the needs that other people have around us here in Grand Rapids.”

Senior Anabel Varghese—who is the head of communications on the NHS board—says that one of the reasons she joined the NHS, among the opportunities it gives for leadership and service, was to “have an edge” for her college applications.

Laura Bainbridge, Assistant Director of Admissions at Hope College, says that membership and leadership positions in the NHS are valued when admitting students. The skills acquired by the society are “all good skill sets to observe and participate in prior to college,” according to Bainbridge.

“National Honor Society is a reflection of students’ commitment to academics and community,” Bainbridge said. “These values are held high at Hope College and knowing students have shown commitment to these values gives us some insight to the student themselves.”

After being a member for over a year, Anabel has gained insight and learned several lessons from her time volunteering. Specifically, she’s learned about patience, which she says may help her in future situations.

“[I learned about] patience,” Anabel said. “I volunteer at my church with a fourth-grade class, and you can’t yell at them because then they don’t listen. You have to be patient with them.”

Richardson hopes that other members will also gain life lessons from their involvement in the NHS. She claims it’s important to have a “servant-leadership” piece to a person’s character, and she believes being a member aids in this process.

For students who have prospects of joining the NHS, Richardson recommends for them to become involved in local and school events by volunteering. Principal Steve Passinault’s Service Club is a beneficial way to do so, according to Richardson.

“For freshmen and sophomores who’d like to become members of the NHS,” Richardson said, “I would encourage them to get involved in service projects that are offered here at school. This also starts to show leadership because it gives them chances to start to be a leader in a group.”

For the students who are joining this year, Anabel hopes that through the opportunities that the NHS provides, students will enhance their leadership skills and will see the importance of helping people in the community.

“[I would tell new members],” Anabel said, “to make use of your time wisely while you’re here. Don’t just be worried about your grades. Concern yourself with things that matter more than just a number, like the community and your character. And have fun while you’re at it.”