Racking up points demeans virtue of NHS
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:43AM
Being a member of the National Honor Society brings on ambiguous feelings.
National Honor Society, a national organization based on the pillars of scholarship, service, leadership, character and citizenship, recognizes high school students on their commitment to these qualities. Sounds great. Sign me up.
And yet, there’s a catch.
Membership is “selective,” based on previous volunteer experience, extracurricular activities, GPA, and teacher rankings. Last year, I was privileged to be invited to join the Hinsdale Central Chapter of NHS. As an active member, I am obligated to complete an individual service project, a group service project, and 35 hours of community service by the end of third quarter.
The requirements for membership are fitting for the recognition, and the service is rewarding. And yet, I find myself questioning my motivation to participate. After hours of volunteering somewhere, I feel guilty asking my supervisor to “verify” my work hours for NHS. With one signature, all the hours of volunteering — all the good intentions — become numbers in a point system.
And disturbingly, that point system is not universal. What it means to be a member of NHS at one school does not necessarily match what it means to be a member of NHS at another. The official website of NHS states, “All selection of new Honor Society members is undertaken at the local chapter (school) level.” If a student is denied membership at one school, who is to say they do not meet requirements at another?
The inconsistency in evaluation nationwide does not stop students from maintaining the organization’s five pillars, though. Those who don’t meet the extracurricular involvement and GPA requirements may be the ones to learn from. My friends and peers who donate their time and effort regardless of any hour requirement command my respect.
What may be the most inspiring idea in all this, though, is the potential for NHS to change point-keepers into community-givers.
Maybe they’ll come back next time not in search of a signature.~.
Emma Harrison is a senior at Hinsdale Central High School.