Is NHS Overrated?

By Rachel Reisman

Photo Courtesy of National Honor Society

“My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.” – Indira Gandhi

The National Honors Society recognizes students who not only maintain a high academic record but also participate in extracurricular activities. In order to be inducted into the National Honors Society, it is important to show dedication to studies, as well as show leadership and service to the community.

Students throughout Briarcliff High school are exposed to an atmosphere where this achievement is stressed. In such an atmosphere, where approximately 30 percent of every class is inducted into the National Honors Society, many may wonder whether the responsibilities and requirements of becoming a member have diminished. Moreover, does induction into the National Honors Society recognize genuine talent or is it an accolade that is too easily achieved by too many and therefore, not an award that means very much anymore? In many high schools throughout the nation, only 10 percent of every class is inducted into the NHS, so should the standards be set higher in our school to lower the amount of kids who are inducted every year?

There are approximately 150 students in each class of Briarcliff High School. On average, 40 students will achieve the GPA necessary to apply for NHS. Part of the application process asks teachers to review the applicants to decide whether they meet not only the academic goals but also the moral values of the NHS. Teachers can deny a student’s application due to their specific experiences with the student. As an extreme example, if a student is caught cheating, a teacher may report this act, and in turn, the student can be denied admission to the society.

However, there are aspects of the decision process for teachers that are not as obvious. Mr. Muranelli finds this “weeding out process” extremely difficult. “How do you turn down a kid who has a lower GPA than someone who has a GPA that qualifies while the kid with the lower GPA has all the desirable characteristics?” asks Mr. Muranelli. The required GPA has even been increased in the past years to maintain a high standard of achievement. In the past, the required GPA was a 90 percent but the administration realized that this GPA requirement had to be modified, as too many students were eligible to apply. The GPA average was in turn raised to a 93 percent. Despite the hype of getting into NHS, Mr. Muranelli points out that it is not necessary to be in the NHS to get into a good school. Unfortunately though, there must be a cutoff somewhere.

Rachel Smedley, the National Honors Society co-president, points out that the percentage of the students that are inducted is a direct reflection on how high achieving the students in BHS are. If the students’ GPA averages are so high, than why not “unweight” the GPA? Rachel believes that this weighting serves to compensate for the difficult classes that students take with teachers that push their students, and therefore, the weighting is fair.

Once in the NHS, students are asked to take part in a multitude of events to improve the school community. NHS students are asked to tutor students in need of extra help, set up and run the blood drive, chaperone back to school night, lead tours for incoming Pocantico students, participate in the NHS induction ceremony, and, most importantly, serve as models for other students.

After speaking to teachers and students regarding Briarcliff High School’s qualifications for induction into the NHS, it is clear that the NHS serves as strong incentive to motivate students to achieve at a high level. Even though there is, traditionally, a high percentage of students from BHS who are accepted into the NHS, the requirements have not declined over time. In fact, the opposite is true. The qualifications have increased so that the recognition that a student receives after being admitted to the NHS is clearly a significant achievement and one that should make any student proud.

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