Celebrating scholarship is just as important as any other school club, and NJHS provides that space.

Twenty-one years ago, my principal asked me to advise the current National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) chapter at my middle school. I had never done it before, and it was trial by fire—luckily I was able to attend a workshop and found great resources to get me started.

Still going strong after all these years, my NJHS chapter is an important part of school for my “stand above” kids. They are the ones who always do the right thing at the right time. They need a place to belong, just like the athletes, art kids, and theatre kids. NJHS is made just for them, where we can celebrate scholarship and get together to do great things in our school.

Outside of our hallways, my NJHS students are giving back to their community. This particular year we held a canned food drive, because our local area didn’t have any left in their banks after the hurricane in Houston. The kids collected 10,000 cans from our school alone.

We’ve also gone international with our service; we collected 600 books to send to Puerto Rico, and one inspiring NJHS member turned his efforts to India. His family is from there, and when they were overseas for a visit, he saw groups of people sharing one pair of glasses. This sparked an idea—villages in India needed glasses, and he was going to help. He started a nonprofit to collect used glasses frames, then found an eye doctor in India to replace the lenses for people who needed them. It goes to show how Honor Society students can change the world. This can be especially true for NJHS members, since they often have more time to devote to their initiatives than high school students.

As an adviser for these extraordinary students, I have a front row seat to the future. I have the opportunity to watch them go on to do amazing things. They’re becoming National Honor Society (NHS) members at their high school, and many of my students come back as teachers. The impact of an NJHS chapter is truly unmeasurable.

As a seasoned adviser, I always like to see new advisers take the lead. As you get started, it’s important to make sure your bylaws are in order. Know what the rules of your chapter will be and how they fit into the national guidelines. Then, a good faculty counsel can provide a lot of support. And of course, your student officers will be vital in leading the direction of your chapter. You have to have kids that really want it. In our chapter, we even hold campaigns and give them a chance to present how they see themselves as an officer.

Having NJHS in your school is critical for school culture—I don’t know how a school functions without one. The students who are eager for success and who go above and beyond in everything they do need a place to come together, and NJHS is your opportunity to provide it.

For more information, and to start a chapter at your middle school or high school, visit www.nhs.us/why or www.nhjs.us/why.

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