Opinion: It take a lot to get into National Honors Society


NHS members Virgil Guo, Anahi Sanchez, Natalie Sanchez, Addie Penner, Keegan Schrieber and Natalie Jones pose for picture at NHS event.

Everyone knows Newton Railers bleed black and gold. However, those are only two colors being represented by Newton High School students. This is because every year, National Honor Society members proudly display their blue and gold apparel throughout the halls and in the community.  

National Honor Society (NHS) is a national organization that works to empower, advocate, and recognize well-rounded high school students, according to the NHS. By providing NHS students with a framework focused on specific values, students are given opportunities to participate in and lead service projects based on the organization’s four pillars. Science teacher and NHS Sponsor Adrianne Wedel said these pillars are always sought after in NHS members.

“A National Honor Society member embodies the four pillars of the organization of character, leadership, scholarship, and service,” Wedel said. 

Every year, applications are sent out to eligible students at the start of the spring semester. In order to be considered eligible to apply, applicants must be in their sophomore or junior year and have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 in either the Magna Cum Laude or Kansas Scholars’ curriculum. This means that students technically have to get through two admission cycles in order to become full members, as not everyone who wishes to join is invited to apply. Once invited, students must submit a Google Drive folder with character references, a service and leadership survey, and an application essay. 

“Students must have and maintain an unweighted 3.5 GPA while completing either the Magna Cum Laude curriculum or Kansas Scholars Curriculum,” Wedel said. “Applicants must provide five character references and provide a list of activities, service, and leadership completed in high school.”

To be successful in completing the application, students must have prior academic accomplishments and qualifying community service projects. This makes the service and leadership survey uncomplicated to fill out if students have a whole list of service projects and leadership positions under their belt. However, students that were not as involved in their first two years of high school, might struggle to present themselves as well-rounded individuals. English teacher and NHS Co-Sponsor Mandy Knoll said that working towards getting accepted into NHS is not something students should start working for only once they get invited, instead, they need to have started way before invites are sent out. 

“Students need to always be working on the pillars,” Knoll said. “They are something that all students should work towards as citizens, and I think that starts long before freshman year.” 

This might discourage students from applying if they believe the NHS expects too much from them. They might find it arduous to have to work hard to show and convince the NHS acceptance committee they possess all of the qualities a NHS member should uphold. However, current members, who have the power to change the chapter’s bylaws, voice their approval regarding the admittance standards. This makes change or facilitation to the application process improbable. 

“I believe that the standards for NHS are set just right,” senior Maxell Masem said. “The academic requirements are definitely able to be met as long as you are willing to work for it.” 

Overall, the NHS is a reputable organization that works to better the lives of those in the community through the development of strong leaders. Consistently, every year a new group of students who are able to demonstrate that their academic and community achievements are in alignment with the four pillars is admitted into the NHS chapter. However, there are also students in their sophomore year who are deferred until the next academic year if they are still in good standing by the next application cycle. Nonetheless, fear of rejection should not be what deters potential applicants, as those who take the initiative to apply and successfully complete the application process enjoy various benefits as members.

“It is very fulfilling to be a member,” senior Olivia Antonowich said. “We do a lot of meaningful service projects and have a lot of fun as a group.”