by Emma Fitzhugh | news editor
As they sit in their second period class, the announcements seem to flitter across the screen every few seconds; reminding the students about upcoming dates and events. Along with campus news, the dates and times for various club meetings are also displayed. Then comes the honor societies, and information about how to apply. Suddenly, the students realize something.
“It happened that one of the English III AP kids, they were watching simulcast, and they had something on there for like National Honor Society and I think it was something for like Spanish Honor Society and then one of the kids turned around and said, ‘Why isn’t there an English Honor Society?,’ and I thought about it, and I realized no school that I’ve ever been, or anywhere have I ever heard, that there’s been an English one,” English III AP/GT teacher Gabriel Oviedo said.
Excluding National Honor Society (NHS), there are approximately six honor societies on campus. These include National French Honor Society (NFHS), National Spanish Honor Society (NSHS), National Art Honor Society (NAHS), National Science Honor Society (NSHS), Quill and Scroll: International Honorary Society for high school Journalists, and the newly formed National English Honor Society (NEHS).
“And so I said, ‘I don’t know.’ So I looked it up and in fact there is an umbrella organization that charters local chapters (NEHS is associated with the organization Sigma Tau Delta, & the National English Honor Society for high schools) and so I came back and I said, ‘Is this something that you, all of you are interested in?’, and they said yes, so I said okay,” Oviedo said.
But getting an honor society established and approved has specific procedures.
“And so last year and over the summer we established it, because you know its not just like you decide to have it. You have to coordinate with the national offices and whatnot, so we did that, filled out an application, it was accepted, we got chartered, we had to write a constitution, all that,” Oviedo said.
In fact, not only is this a new organization for the school, but it is a rarity among other local high schools as well.
“It’s the only one in North East. I think there are fewer than five in San Antonio. But this is the first time that a North East high school has an English Honor Society. So it’s sort of a big deal for us. And the kids like it because you know, they’re like inaugural members, it being the first year, and you know when they apply for things it’ll say perhaps National English Honor Society and no one else in North East at least will have that. So the kids like that little distinction,” Oviedo said.
Similar to other organizations, this society does have several officers and has specific requirements for juniors and seniors interested in joining. These requirements include a 2013-2014 unweighted average of at least a 95 for the spring semester of English, and at least an 80 GPA (spring semester) for every other class.
“We have seven officers, you know traditional things like President, Vice President. We have a fundraising chair, a community relations chair, so our overall goal is to promote an awareness and an appreciation of English, written and performance, and so we do that either through community service, locally- here at school, or in the broader community, and through fundraising, either here or in the community,” Oviedo said.
Even though the society didn’t have any members at the time, the officers were elected based on an application and interview process, according to Oviedo, and plans are already underway for this year.
“You know it’s a tough question because we’re just starting; we’re going to have our induction and we’re trying to get poet laureate Laurie Ann Guerrero of San Antonio to come and speak to the kids during the induction so that’ll be the first thing, the second thing is that North East has an after school program at elementary schools, and so our first community service project will be to take some of the members to Roan Forest and Cibolo Green to talk with the kids, read books, and conduct activities based on the books that they’re reading,” Oviedo said.
In addition, the sponsors would also like to take the members to an assisted living center and have them write a story based on information provided by an elderly individual.
“Next semester we’re going to try and take some kids to some assisted living centers nearby, there’s one near the school at Independence Hill near Reagan, and what they’re going to do is they’re going to interview some of the elderly people there, asking them like their life story, you know about their marriages and great loves of their lives or whatnot, and they kids are gonna you know take copious notes, and then they’re going to come back and turn it into a one page, first person narrative about their lives and then we’re gonna frame it and give it back to them, so the family has a little memento of something that was important to that particular person,” Oviedo said.
For Those Who Excel in the Arts
Another society that plans to focus on community involvement is the National Art Honor Society (which is a local chapter of the National Junior Art H.S. & National Art H.S.), which is now sponsored by Ms. Shinn.
“Well, one of my goals for the club this year is to make it a very service oriented club. And so in our meetings we’re not really making art or anything like that; we’re talking about what we could do to benefit our community. So thus far this year we have participated in the Buddy Walk, we did face painting there, and that benefits the Down Syndrome Association of San Antonio,” Shinn said.
And with about 90 members, Shinn explains how most of the students seem very interested in the elements of art.
“It’s all art oriented, and really my goal was; most of the students in the organization are very talented individuals. And I feel like one of the best ways they can share their talent is to share it with the world, and help make their community especially a better place,” Shinn said.
One way in which these members are getting involved in the community is by decorating a computer lab at a local elementary school, according to Shinn.
“Mr. [John] Hinds, the principal of Encino Park, reached out to me earlier in the year and said they had this computer lab that they wanted to make over into sort of an outer space theme, and would we be interested in helping, and I said absolutely yes. We’re actually beginning our transformation of it this weekend; Saturday [October 10th] I have a group of kids going out there and we’re gonna start just by painting everything black, and then over the course of the next week or two I’m gonna have the more advanced skilled students go and create basically a replica of the galaxy,” Shinn said.
In addition to community projects, the officers of NAHS are also interested in pursuing more school-based activities.
“I’m an art girl; I live in the art room. Honestly, I think it’d be really cool if we did a lot more murals and stuff, but I’m just kinda, we already have the computer lab, so you know, trying to chew that before we do more. But I’m going to need to talk to Mr. Mehlbrech about that because you have to get him to okay it,” senior and President of the NAHS Sarah Whyte said.
Even though art is her passion, Whyte went on to explain how some NAHS members are simply interested in other aspects of art, but can still be involved with the society.
“I think it’d be really cool if we had splashes of colors, we also have some like, designs and maybe also one for some people who are photography people. I’d think it’d be cool if we had like a picture made out of photos kinda mural, because not everyone in NAHS is a drawer, some of them are more into photography, so I think that’d be a fun thing for those people,” Whyte said.
For Those Who Excel in Spanish
Although they don’t exactly create murals, the Spanish Honor society (a local chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish & Portuguese, or AATSP) will be creating their own piece of artwork in preparation for an upcoming festival.
“Well our most current plan is to celebrate el Día de los Muertos [Day of the Dead] with our club in San Antonio at La Villita. There’s a big weekend celebration for it, and we’re gonna build an altar in honor of Lady Bird Johnson and enter it into their competition. So there’s monetary prizes if we win, and that’s what we do in a couple weeks on that weekend; November 1st,” co-sponsor of SNHS and new Spanish teacher LeAnn Henderson said.
Not only will these students be involved in this celebration, but they will also work alongside the Spanish club to raise awareness about cancer.
“We have our induction ceremony for the new members and I think we do that in January, and we are planning other kind of social activities, like to go and see Spanish movies together as a club, and service projects like helping to sponsor the cancer walk with the Spanish club,” Henderson said.
However, even though Henderson admits that, as seen with other societies, some students do seem to join the SNHS for reasons other than genuine interest, this society does have one aspect that makes it slightly different from other organizations.
“For the officers we really see a lot of interest. You know, it’s nice that you have that added thing that you can put on your college apps, but there’s definitely interest, otherwise it’s a lot of work to do and you could just be in the club. So, in fact, how we do our officers, it’s the people who are most dedicated and want to come, they show up and come, so it’s not like we hold elections- they just eventually take over a leadership position,” Henderson said.
As officers, these students essentially run the meetings, according to Henderson, which typically have about 15 people in attendance.
“The officers come up with ideas for events and plan events, and send out the reminders. They pretty much organize and help run the meetings, and those kinds of things. We’re every Tuesday after school in Ms. Meyer’s room next door,” Henderson said.
For Those Who Excel in the Sciences
Being an officer himself, Vice President Chris Joseph explains how the Science National Honor Society hopes to maintain its members by finding out what scientific careers they are most interested in.
“We want to try and get the members this year to provide what kind of careers they want to look into, so like a doctor, if one of them wants to look into like a chemical researcher, we can try and find someone for that just so we can create awareness for different types of positions there are in science, and kind of get those kids to pursue those careers,” Joseph said.
What sets the SNHS apart from something like the American Chemistry Society or the Chemistry club is the fact that the SNHS recruits guest speakers to come talk to the SNHS members, versus having the students conduct in an experiment or similar activity.
“We have guest speakers, and we’re going to try and have more of them. Usually what they do is they give their own presentations on whatever career they’re currently in, and then we open it up for our kids to ask questions if they want,” Joseph said.
Another way this society hopes to maintain its members is by attempting to promote the organization more.
“We’re definitely going to try and have bigger meetings, because the meeting’s were always in Mr. Cunningham’s room and maybe like 30 kids would show up, even though there are like at least 80 in the group, so we’re gonna try and make sure that attendance is more like a, more push. We want to push attendance more and we want to push like, in general that’s why we have like all these posters all over the place; we’re just trying to push the information that’s provided at these meetings,” Joseph said.
Joseph went on to explain how the SNHS would also like to remind its junior members that if they would like to remain a member, they must apply again & meet the grade requirements.
Once the members are established, meetings will be held in Ashely Lockridge’s room, who is the society’s new sponsor as well as an APES teacher.
“The applications are due next Friday. We’ll have our induction November 18th, and then we’ll start having meetings after the 18th. Juniors and seniors can join; they have to have a 95 in their science class as well as overall, and they need to have taken at least two science classes and be currently enrolled in another one. And these are weighted,” Lockridge said.
According to Lockridge, whether a student is merely interested in science or is confident that science is definitely what they want to pursue, they should still consider joining the SNHS.
“I think either, either or. I think the original premise of it was pursuing a career in science, but I don’t think that’s, I mean in high school it’s hard to know for sure what you’re gonna do. So yeah, either is great,” Lockridge said.
Joseph seems to agree with Lockridge, who goes on to explain how he originally became involved with several different science organizations before becoming Vice President of the SNHS.
“For the past three years I’ve been involved with the honor society. I’ve had, because the sponsor over the past two years has been Mr. Cunningham, and I’ve had Mr. Cunningham for like three years, so its just I’ve always been involved with him and he’s always taught me a lot about Chemistry so it just made sense for me to join,” Joseph said.
In addition to the impact that his teacher made on him, Joseph went on to explain another reason why he values the society.
“I want to be a cardiologist. I’ve been involved in it for a couple years, and its been an organization that I like a lot, and it gives a lot of good information to a lot of kids that want to pursue scientific careers. So I just always wanted to be involved,” Joseph said.
For Joseph, being involved this year means that he and his fellow officers will try and work together to ensure that things run smoothly.
“Most of us really like, our roles aren’t really separated as much as they are collaborative. So a lot of us, in our meetings we work together to plan out how we’re gonna spread the word, how we’re gonna organize, how we’re gonna create the applications, how we’re gonna organize events, so it’s kind of a collaborative thing. No one person does more than the other,” Joseph said.
Regardless of the officer’s efforts to encourage members to attend the mandatory meetings, Joseph seems to acknowledge the fact that some students join the society with the sole purpose of placing it on their college application, but believes that it is partially the responsibility of the society’s leader to ensure that this does not happen.
“Probably, like there probably is a good amount of people that join the honor societies like English, or Science, or even just normal National Honor Society just to be able to say that they have it on their resume, but I feel like part of that has been at the fault of the organization in the past, because they haven’t been as involved. But I feel like this year, not just for the Science Honor Society but with the other honor societies, we’ve all kind of like, emerged from I guess the ashes of what the past couple years have been,” Joseph said.
But this doesn’t apply to just the SNHS.
“Like National Honor Society has batten down the hatches, you know like you have to be at all the meetings and you have to like work and do the hours, and National English Honor Society is now just emerging, and Science National Honor Society we’re going to try and bring in more and more speakers, and not force the kids to show up to the meetings, but encourage them that they would want to come. Because we’re not trying to punish the kids or like, control them, we’re just trying to encourage them to get the information from our society,” Joseph said.
If you would like to see a complete list of all of the organizations that are available to students, click here.