2021 NHS Inductees Recognized Through Virtual Ceremony

%22Headphones%22+by+James+F+Clay+is+licensed+under+CC+BY-NC+2.0

“Headphones” by James F Clay is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Elizabeth Alton

Last Wednesday another round of WESS Sophomore and Juniors were inducted into the National Honor Society (NHS). National Honor Society is an organization with chapters in schools all around the country that recognizes students who display qualities of scholarship, leadership, service, and character in their communities. The induction ceremony was held over zoom, but despite the virtual barriers it still brought the opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of an amazing group of leaders within the school.

NHS, which started with the first round of sophomores last year, has provided selected students with the opportunity to improve the school through leadership and innovative projects. Junior Kiki Dattoma, who is also the historian of NHS finds that it’s a uniquely valuable experience for students, especially in the midst of the pandemic. 

“NHS is such a camaraderie of students, and especially during the pandemic it’s hard to find that kind of bond with your peers,” Dattoma said. “We all share ideas, and although we are in different committees we still come together as a group at the end of the day, and I think that’s extremely important.”

With COVID, this year has certainly been like no other in recent memory and as a result, NHS’s faculty advisor Molly Porcher had to adapt. Alongside the changes that she herself made, including planning a virtual induction ceremony, she has recognized that quality of adaptation and resilience in this class of NHS members as well.

“I think that everyone who was selected this year has shown some degree of resilience, because this is a very unique class to be inducted and that specific trait is really evident in everyone who made it in this year,” Molly said.

And in the face of the reseilance, they’ve continued to show leadership as well. That said because school looks drastically different this year, being a leader in the physical school building also looks different than being a leader during remote school. The NHS committee review team discussed that change when going through students applications.

“Another [quality] that we talked about a lot in the committee review is leadership, and what actually counts for and demonstrates leadership,” Molly continued. “Everyone here showed either in the classroom space which could just be being a leader in your breakout room to being a leader in a different part of your community, in your religious community, in your home life, or something else.”

Students have had to persevere through a combination of their leadership and resilience in our new virtual world. Engagement is one of the qualities that has been necessary to adapt to virtual school, whether that means having your camera on or making the choice to umute on zoom. 

“[This group of inductees is] always engaged,” Marcus Hopper, president of the WESS NHS chapter, said. “I’ll never forget, I remember this one time I think it was a couple years ago I was working with [Sophomore] Sidney [Widensky] on a tour, and those tours are very important and something that each of us try to do [well]. We try to talk to the students there individually to really see what they’re looking for in a high school. I remember seeing Sidney talk to this one kid, and she kept him so enageed, and it just showed…what we’re trying to accomplish. We’re trying to do something bigger than ourselves and just impacting one student is very important, and each of these inductees really shows the quality of engagement.”

Principle Jessica Jenkins also attended the induction ceremony and expressed pride in this year’s inductees. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of the group of students who preserved despite all of the challenges that they’ve had, to rise to this occasion, in this setting, is incredible,” Jenkins said. “Because just showing up every day is all we want, and we want kids to be in this social emotional space where they feel like they can show up, and everybody here did show up. Not only did they show up but they continued to lead, and that, I think during the pandemic, considering that we have not seen you in a year, and everybody still rose to that occasion.”

While a virtual ceremony was the only option for recognition this past week, with dates starting to be floated for a high school reopening, there’s going to be some sort of in person ceremony when that is possible. 

“We can do this when we bring you back in person in a socially distanced way, so when we give out your formal certificates,” Jenkins explained. 

In the meantime though, the virtual celebration had just as much impact as any other one in person.

“Seeing the excitement and the joy, and seeing people happy and celebrating people really makes me feel better, and I’m sure it made everyone else feel a little better too, just to be in a space where we’re talking about good things that are happening and people accomplishing things and recognizing achievements,”  Porcher said. “So even in a virtual world it’s really nice to have that as part of our experience, and I think it’s important to continue to have some sense of not normalcy but continuing with things that recognize and value our students for what they’re doing, and the kind of excitement and joy that we got from tonight.”