The National Honor Society at Seaside High School is a hive of quality students who show excellence in scholarship, service, leadership and character.
“These kids are all top-notch students,” said math teacher Mitch Ward, who has been the group’s adviser for about 20 years.
Juniors and seniors are invited to apply for the National Honor Society if they have grade-point averages of at least 3.5 and have demonstrated exemplary character, service and leadership. They apply at the start of each new school year.
The school’s four-member National Honor Society Faculty Council sifts through the applications and selects those who make the cut. Once a student is inducted into the local chapter — which takes place during a ceremony at a student body assembly in January or February – they do not have to reapply. If their GPA drops below 3.5 they are given a probationary period to pull it back up, but Ward said that is a very rare occurrence.
The number of Seaside chapter members varies from year to year. Usually membership hovers between 40 to 60, with about 20 to 40 new students inducted annually.
For the most part, Ward allows the members to manage themselves under the leadership of six officers, who are selected at the end of each school year for the following year by a vote that excludes outgoing seniors. This year’s officers include president Cosma Davis, vice president Brenda Lopez, treasurer Sophia Trevino, secretary Bridgette Malone and co-sergeant at arms Aunnuka Brown and Zachary Marston. They all are seniors.
A ‘feather in their cap’
The National Honor Society, established in 1921, is the nation’s premier organization to recognize outstanding high schoolers. An estimated one million students nationwide participate in activities of the National Honor Society and its middle level counterpart, the National Junior Honor society.
“It’s a really good feather in their cap for college applications,” Ward said. “Across the country, it’s very recognizable.”
Davis agreed, adding membership is good way to demonstrate to college administration officers that a person was recognized by faculty as an outstanding student.
“It’s more of a recognition,” she said.
Davis said she has had great success with her college applications, even those for oversea schools, and she believes her National Honor Society membership is a factor.
Getting things done
Once a student is awarded membership into a local chapter, he or she assumes certain obligations. According to the organization, chapters must conduct at least one service project for the school or community and encourage development of an individual service project for each member. Additionally, chapters may choose to sponsor fundraising projects or involve themselves with their school to reach other chapter goals.
The Seaside chapter meets when necessary and participates in at least one community service project per year. For the 2015-16 school year, several members joined the North Coast Land Conservancy in November to plant early blue violets as part of a habitat restoration project on the Clatsop Plains.
“It was really fun to learn about what (the organization is) doing,” Davis said.
Sometimes the members volunteer for track meets or other school events upon request. It can be difficult to do a lot as a complete chapter because a majority of the students are very involved in other school activities, she said.
As president, Davis enjoys communicating with and leading this particular group of high-caliber students.
“I share something in common with all the members,” she said. “It’s easy to work together to get things done.”