Earlier this month, the Edinburg (TX) High School chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) received one of the 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Awards: the Service-Learning Champion Award.

The award announcement notes that the chapter “has been a major asset in helping the South Texas Literacy Coalition with community outreach. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the group was instrumental in setting up and preparing for drive-by distributions and handed out more than 10,000 free books to students whose families are financially challenged. In addition, they have developed literacy activities, presented bilingual online book readings, and are presently hosting a virtual book club with the goal of helping students develop a love for reading and writing. Many of the members also serve with South Texas Literacy Coalition as interns, helping to manage the office and organize literacy resources. In addition to these efforts, the members of the Edinburg Chapter of the National Honor Society assist other nonprofits in the South Texas Region, including the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, Ronald McDonald House, Greater Gold Foundation, Capable Kids Foundation, and Kiwanis International.”

In this post, Kendra De la Garza and Armando Delgado, co-sponsors of the school’s NHS chapter, discuss their program and the award.

Kendra: While our students are proud of the award they have attained, they really just see it as an affirmation of the hard work they invest day in and day out. They lead and serve for all of the right reasons; this accomplishment reflects their efforts.

Every year, I challenge our kids to think about what their legacy is going to be as members of the National Honor Society; every year, they surpass all expectations. What started out as a few events per year has now grown to over 10 to15 community service events per month.

Armando: To say that our kids have everything they need in life would be a big stretch of the imagination. There’s a lot of poverty and our school is in an area that struggles economically. So, the fact that these students are stepping up and making the contributions they do to the community, and realizing they really do make a difference, is great. They show that a good attitude can take you a long way in life.

Kendra: The biggest thing for our students is perspective. As one of the poorest counties in Texas, we have many economically disadvantaged students. Many have parents who don’t make a lot of money, but when they participate in events where they’re able to give necessities like blankets or canned food to those who are so excited just to receive them, it really puts life into perspective. Many of our students use these perspectives as a catalyst to change their futures. They go on to pursue postsecondary education with an immense desire to change their family’s future and provide a better life for their parents.

Armando: I stress the importance of being humble and having a strong work ethic to these students—but the reality is, I really don’t have to. They are supremely motivated and driven to make a difference in our community; they just need guidance every once in a while. We stay true to the student-led concept of our organization, and as advisers, stay in the background while they lead one another.

Kendra: When I took over eight years ago, the officers made it their mission to leave a legacy, and every year, the goals and expectations for our organization have grown exponentially. Now, if you’re part of the Edinburg High School Chapter of the National Honor Society, you are recognized by the school and community as a strong leader with great character.

We have 60 members, and we’re about to induct 75 more. Each student that is part of our organization is expected to complete 50 community service hours—25 each in the fall and spring. These kids live the four pillars of NHS: scholarship, service, leadership, and character; and as advisers, we are so proud of them and can’t wait to see what’s in store for their futures.

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