New NHS Members Surprised at Home

New NHS Members Surprised at Home

A south suburban school district got creative in welcoming new National Honor Society members this fall.

Swapping the typical in-school celebration for long-distance introductions was a given, but it was missing something, it seemed.

So students and teachers from Bremen High School District 228 showed up at the front doors of new members with yard signs and goody bags and hosted a virtual meeting to induct them.

For Brianna Flores, one of the dozens of new NHS inductees at Tinley Park High School, the introduction was extra special because her teacher and math tutor, Rhonda Cracco, delivered the news late last month at her door.

 “Throughout my high school career, she would always be there for me and help me,” said Flores, a senior. “To take such a person to recognize me on my accomplishment … it was a little more meaningful.”

Brianna Flores stands in front of her home with her mom after receiving a yard sign recognizing her induction into Tinley Park High School National Honor Society and a goody bag put together for new members.

Like the other inductees, Flores said becoming a member was important to her because “it means for me my hard work and dedication were being recognized.” Students need a 4.4 grade-point average to be considered.

Flores also volunteers at Summit Animal Hospital, which she plans to continue as a member. Volunteering is expected of new members.

The teachers and staff who planned the event said they were determined to make it as special as they could, given the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kelly Henry, the Oak Forest High School NHS sponsor and school counselor who came up with the idea, said before the virus she typically held a banquet to welcoming new members.

That wasn’t an option this year, so Henry and staff coordinated three school buses to transport teachers and current NHS members to inductees’ homes with goody bags and yard signs.

“As soon as we got there, our kids jumped off the bus taking goody bags containing a candle, membership card, gold pin and treat,” said Henry. “I did receive a ton of emails and the kids were very appreciative.”

The school also held a virtual meeting several days later with each member holding the candle and reciting the NHS pledge.

“That made it more meaningful because it was a piece they could also do together,” Henry said.

At Hillcrest High School in Country Club Hills, sponsor and counselor Lindsay Lopez decided to drive to homes with faculty counsel member and social worker Shanyta Russell. They made it into a festive event by asking NHS president Ariel Ritchey to help decorate their cards beforehand and honking their horns once they arrived at homes.

“Some of them had their families ready and came outside,” said Lopez. “They were excited, I could tell.”

Hillcrest also held a ceremony several days later, with current members explaining what it meant to be a member and students each lighting a candle and blowing it out after the pledge.

Helping out the community, as well as the school and club, is also a big part of being a member for Ariana McLendon a senior Oak Forest High School who helped distribute signs and goody bags.

McLendon volunteers at GiGi’s Playhouse in Tinley Park, working with clients who have Down syndrome and need help with motor skills or socializing.

“Yeah it (being a member) looks good to colleges, but I like the community service part the most,” said McLendon, who plans to study psychology in college.

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