Membership in Honor Society is elementary for area schools


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National Elementary Honor Society members Tess Fargo, left, Alina Slotwinski, Clary Ghary, Hailey Hubbard and Rebecca Boy at Quest Elementary School collected food for hungry families among their community service and academic accomplishments.

photo by Tracy Lally

Quest Elementary School this month began its fifth year as a National Elementary Honor Society member school, among the first in the country to obtain an affiliation to the national effort launched in 2008. It is the only member school among the four public elementary schools that serve the Viera/Suntree area, with Viera Charter School, now in its second year, recently joining. Suntree Elementary School parents and teachers are currently in meetings to consider membership.

“I would love to see all schools have a NEHS,” said Quest teacher Tracy Lally, in her first year as club sponsor. “I volunteered to sponsor NEHS because I could see no down sides. The dues are a nominal annual fee. It’s a win-win for all. I don’t mind donating my time because the students are willing to come into school early for our meetings and give their time to help others.”

The NEHS was established by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) in cooperation with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) to recognize elementary students in both public and non-public elementary schools for their outstanding academic achievement and demonstrated personal responsibility.

“Launching NEHS provides a continuum of excellence from elementary, to middle, to high school,” NEHS director David Cordts said. The program feeds into the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) and National Honor Society (NHS), the nation’s two oldest and largest student recognition programs, all under the NASSP program headquartered in Reston, Va.

Viera Charter School and Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy have memberships in NJHS, and HTEA and Viera High School are NHS members.

Students must meet academic benchmarks, but an equal emphasis is placed on reaching out to those less fortunate and developing leadership skills along the way to affect such positive change across society.

“The VCS chapter of NEHS provides an opportunity for elementary school students to earn recognition for their academic excellence and to benefit from participation in activities designed to improve the lives of all of their peers at school,” said Dina Engler, VCS sponsor. “With the new VCS NEHS chapter in place, VCS will further enhance its culture of achievement and the core values of scholarship, responsibility, leadership, and service. It’s more than just an honor roll; it is designed to provide age-appropriate experiences and relevant lessons for its members to influence the development of the whole child.”

Students collect food for the needy, volunteer outside school, raise money, establish and enhance recycling efforts and conduct a host of other activities, and then make posters, give speeches and encourage the spirit of giving among their peers and younger students. The selfless acts can have self-serving benefits, said one student member.

“The main reason why NEHS is important to me is because of the idea helping people lifts my spirits,” said Quest student Lily Yarbrough. “I’m not part of the organization because I’m ‘smart,’ I’m a member because making people happy and helping them smile is my ideal.”

For more information about obtaining club membership for a school from elementary through high school, go to nhs.us.