Recognizing academic excellence despite pressures from COVID
On Friday April 23, I attended an induction ceremony at Trenton Elementary School for six new members of the school’s National Elementary Honor Society. I went mainly because my grandson Alex was attending the induction ceremony. Last year Alex was inducted. This year, he played one of the main roles in inducting this year’s winners.
The National Elementary Honor Society came into being in early April 2008. The goal of this organization is to “provide meaningful and authentic recognition to elementary school students,” according to an article by the National Association of Headmasters. elementary schools heralding the birth of the organization. In fact, the NEHS offers the same type of honor to elementary school students that the National Honor Society has bestowed on high school students since its founding in 1921.
Students in grades four to six can become members of this honor society provided the school has a charter for its chapter. Students must meet certain requirements to become candidates for induction. They are assessed for membership on the basis of the “four pillars” of honor society: scholarship, responsibility, service and leadership. Students must do more than excel academically. They must also model exceptional behavior in these other areas.
Holly Ball presided over the ceremony. Alex had an important student role. He was responsible for lighting the central candle that was in the middle of the candles representing scholarship, responsibility, service and leadership. Members of society stepped forward to light the candles and briefly talk about the meaning of each pillar. Two current members have taken the pledge of allegiance. The current seven members played a role in the ceremony.
After Ms. Ball and the Councilors recognized each inductee and handed over their cards and pins, Alex administered the National Elementary Honor Society pledge:
“I am committed to supporting the lofty purpose of the National Elementary Honor Society to which I have been selected, striving in every way, in word and deed, to make its ideals the ideals of my school and to my life.
This ceremony was a brief and refreshing breath of relief from the pressures of the past year. Students across the country have struggled with academic obstacles that few students have encountered in the past. Stopping to recognize the excellent performance of some high-level students seemed appropriate. I wish these kids could get something that feels like a fight to pay for all their fights.
The ceremony should also remind us that even in the midst of hardship, some students still find a way to achieve excellence. The 13 Trenton Elementary students who are now part of their school chapter of the National Elementary Honor Society demonstrated a true dedication to learning and character. Despite “virtual learning” in a county facing great challenges in broadband availability, they not only completed their assignments, but they excelled.
I would like to greet Ms. Ball and the NEHS counselors from Trenton Elementary School: Julie Mercer, Michelle Basden, Frankie Sanderson and Amanda Wuestman. They went beyond their normal duties to recognize excellence. Students must do their part to strive for excellence, but teachers are the ones who must have the heart to ensure that excellence is honored and lauded.
Due to COVID restrictions, attendance at the ceremony itself was limited. However, Jones County Schools live-streamed the entire ceremony – and also posted it to her YouTube channel. You can watch the event at www.youtube.com/c/jcpssocialmedia. You can also subscribe to the channel to attend other events, including school board meetings.
I am confident that each of the current members of the Honor Society will keep their promise by becoming living examples of scholarship, responsibility, service and leadership, both now and in the years to come.
They got off to a good start. I sincerely hope that they will strive to end with the same commitment to excellence. Congratulations to all of you.
Mike Parker is a columnist for The Free Press. You can reach him at [email protected]