Eighty-seven members of Watchung Hills Regional High School’s Class of 2013 were inducted into the National Honor Society (NHS) last Thursday.
The society inducts young people on a four-fold basis: scholarship, character, community service and leadership. The Watchung Hills chapter, one of some 13,500 such in the United States, was established in 1979. The organization is the oldest academic society for high school youth. It was established to “create enthusiasm for scholarship, to stimulate a desire to render service, to promote worthy leadership and to encourage the development of character in the nation’s secondary school youth.”
Inducted into the society were Class of 2013 members, whose names were announced by fellow inductees Clare Stomber (chapter secretary) and Rachel Hobble (chapter president).
Trevor Adriaanse, Neha Agrawal, Celine Alapatt, Nicole Alexandre, Kayleigh Askin, Austin Bark, Emilie Berman, Jessica Bethlahmy, Rohit Biswas, Leanne Block, Elana Borinksy, Vincent Chang, Woo Hyeok Chang, Woo Young Chang, Kevin Chen,
Salil Chowdhury (chapter vice president), Audrey Chu, Daniel Codos, Christopher Cottrill, Alexis Coven.
Also Sarah Decker, Michael DeJesus, Connor Dempsey, Theodore DeVico, Dana DiSarno, Katherine Dong, John Draikiwicz, Joshua Ehrenberg, Patrick Engelsman, Carlee Faccia, Celia Fusco, Keryn Gallagher, Kevin Glorius-Patrick, Brandi Goldman, Ari Goodman, Alan Gou, Luke Graboyes, Daniel Grant, Olivia Hampton.
Jessica Hoffman, Katherine Humphrey, Patricia Hwang, Katherine Ihringer, Rohan Jadvani, Ajay Kashi, Jennifer King, Jaclyn Kukoff, Felix Kung, Casey Lane, Hao Yan Li, Diana Liao, Sheree Liu, Kathleen Lo, Audrey Luo, Monica Mahal, Harley Maslin, Michael Maslin, Anika Mavinkurve, Milonee Mehta, Erin Murray.
Also: Kristina Murray, Courtney Novak, Alexandra Pasch, Brian Pester, Matthew Piekarski, Gregory Przybylski, Megan Rodrigues, Elyssa Rudnitsky, Jacquelyn Salustro, Alyson Schapira, Marissa Schwartz, Setu Shah, Stephanie Silva, Lauren Sinski, Ryan Smith, Jacob Strock, Joseph Testa, Robert Ulis Jr., Alexandra Varnerin.
Carlos Vieira, Carly Weisenfeld, Owen Whitley, Jessica Xu, Anika Yetsko and Hannah Yuhl.
As a prelude to the evening’s activities, words of welcome were extended to the gathering by the chapter’s co-advisors, guidance counselor Laura Dunn and Vivian Swartz, librarian.
Superintendent Frances Stromsland, who welcomed honorees and their families to the NHS induction ceremony for the twelfth time, congratulated the youth for having attained the high standards imposed by the 91-year-old organization.
The Pledge of Allegiance, led by Owen Whitley, and opening remarks by students Alan Gou and Matthew Piekarski, were followed by brief presentations which interpreted the four pillars of the society. Each presenting student lit a candle on the dais as, in turn, they spoke of: Character, Scholarship, Leadership and Community Service.
Character was interpreted by Jacquelyn Salustro. She said, in part: “Each and every student here has never strived to be anyone by compromising their character…Character is not something that can be taught to us, or copied from someone else. It’s part of our inherent makeup…We are so different because of who we are, and yet, because of what we stand for, we stand together.”
Scholarship was the pillar addressed in a humorous way by a duo, Olivia Hampton and Brian Pester. They shared with their fellow inductees some of the experiences, both within classrooms and outside, that had made their experience as students at Watchung Hills so memorable. The recital of their experiences evoked laughter and nods of agreement among fellow inductees.
Leadership was the theme of Jessica Hoffman. Her presentation—in verse—pondered “What really makes someone able to lead?” Her answer: Heart and courage to lead your own path; planning with logic, ability to get up from mistakes, speaking with a voice that is true to you; respect for one’s peers.
Robert Ulis addressed Community Service. “An individual aids the community solely for its benefit, and does not ask for anything in return. Though this action may seem insignificant, if each person does a little bit of community service, he world can make leaps and bounds toward being a better place.”
Vice Principal Steven Searfoss then certified the candidates and led them in reciting the NHS Oath. Each new member, in turn, came to the dais, where membership certificates were presented by Vice Principal Patricia Toubin , and honor cords, a symbol of their appointment to the society, were conferred by Vice Principal Terrence MacConnell.
Principal George Alexis, in concluding the student portion of the program, praised the “commitment to excellence” and the high level of academic achievement manifested by the newly-inducted members of the NHS. He stated that they would serve as role models and leaders among their peers.
As has been the custom over many years, the new inductees choose to recognize a faculty member who symbolizes for them the four standards of the National Honor Society. Their choice this year was social studies teacher Dr. Sean DiGiovanna, who, like the inductees, was presented with an honor cord as a token of his honorary membership in the National Honor Society. Student and teacher, we’re all on the same journey, he said— characterized by a hunger to learn, a search for truth. He himself, although not a scientist, likes to read about physics, demonstrating a “hunger to learn.” The hunger for knowledge and understanding is its own reward, he told the new inductees.
Jessica Xu concluded the evening’s ceremonies with a brief statement: Keep these ideals in your heart, she urged.