McAnally Middle School in Fort Worth, TX, inducted its first group of National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) students last spring. Kate Thomas, the NJHS adviser and an eighth-grade science teacher at the school, learned a lot that first year about how to run a chapter and, more specifically, how to put together a smooth induction ceremony. She offers a few tips for new advisers seeking advice on successful induction ceremonies.
We used the script for ceremonies that is available on the website, and we altered it to meet the needs of our campus. In our ceremony, we went over the five pillars (scholarship, leadership, service, character, and citizenship), we lit the candles, the students signed the sign-in book and got their certificates, and then they said the pledge. NJHS induction materials emphasize the importance of having the outgoing officers play a big role in the ceremony, but we obviously didn’t have that since last year was our first induction ceremony. What we did do at the end of the year, however, was hold honorary inductions for about 10 of our functional academic students. (Those are students with special needs who are getting good grades but aren’t doing grade-level work.) My officers ran the entire ceremony. It was amazing and everyone really enjoyed it. We’ll build on that experience as we induct out seventh graders at the end of this school year.
- Be organized.
As I said, we started with written materials from the NJHS website. Once I printed the script, I put that and all the other materials for the ceremony in a binder. I shared the relevant parts with each person who was going to participate. I then highlighted their sections and let them know they could change it to fit their needs. They then finalized their section and sent it back to me so I could update the binder. We placed the binder on the podium so students could flip through the pages during the ceremony. One of the things that took a little time beforehand was lining up all the students in alphabetical order in the hallway so they could walk in and be in the same order as the roster announcing the inductees.
- Involve the students.
For our next ceremony, I think we will probably have our principal again offer welcome remarks, but I would also like to include a welcome from our chapter president and then have our officers go over the five pillars and do the candle lighting. The students really like to take the initiative. It’s their chapter so it’s meaningful to them and shows their leadership. We don’t have a lot of clubs at our school that allow the students to take on leadership roles. So, a lot of the students who ran for office wanted to know what they could do and how they could be involved in planning different activities. And as teachers, any help we can get is great. If you let the kids take the lead, I think they can totally handle it, especially the eighth graders.
- Keep the parents and families informed.
We did a little meet and greet with refreshments after our ceremony. We asked the parents and families of our students who were just inducted to donate snacks. It was very simple, but I think it made the ceremony feel a little more formal, and the students and their families all enjoyed it. More broadly, it’s important for the families of current and prospective NHS members to know what’s going on. I recently sent out invitations to students to apply, but I know that doesn’t mean their parents are always going to see the invitation. That’s why we make sure to communicate with parents, as well. We want to make sure to keep everyone in the loop.