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National Honor Society

National Honor Society

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The National Honor Society (NHS) is a recognition program for high school students in grades 10-12 in the United States and in several other countries. NHS honors those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship
A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further education. Scholarships are awarded on various criteria usually reflecting the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award.-Types:...

, leadership
Leadership has been described as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task". Other in-depth definitions of leadership have also emerged.-Theories:...

, service
Community service
Community service is donated service or activity that is performed by someone or a group of people for the benefit of the public or its institutions....

, and character
- Art and entertainment :* Character , an agent in a work of art, including literature, drama, cinema, opera, etc.* Character , a 1997 Dutch film, based on the novel by Dutch author Ferdinand Bordewijk* Character , by Dark Tranquillity...



In 1921, the National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Association of Secondary School Principals
The is the preeminent organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and aspiring school leaders from across the United States and more than 45 countries around the world...

 (NASSP) officially established the National Honor Society. Under the leadership of Dr. Edward Rynearson, principal of the Fifth Avenue High School, Pittsburgh, PA, the organization grew from the original Alpha Chapter at the Fifth Avenue School to more than 1,000 chapters by 1930.

Based on the NHS constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

, four purposes are said to guide NHS chapters, which are the following: "To create enthusiasm for scholarship, to stimulate a desire to render service, to promote leadership, and to develop character in the students of secondary schools." These purposes are supposed to translate into the criteria used for membership selection in each local chapter.

NHS is sponsored and supervised by NASSP, which appoints a National Council—the controlling body of NHS. In addition, National Council members serve as the selection committee
A committee is a type of small deliberative assembly that is usually intended to remain subordinate to another, larger deliberative assembly—which when organized so that action on committee requires a vote by all its entitled members, is called the "Committee of the Whole"...

 for the NHS Scholarship, which has been administered annually in schools with NHS chapters since 1946.

In 1929, NASSP founded the National Junior Honor Society
National Association of Secondary School Principals
The is the preeminent organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and aspiring school leaders from across the United States and more than 45 countries around the world...

 (NJHS), a sister organization
An organization is a social group which distributes tasks for a collective goal. The word itself is derived from the Greek word organon, itself derived from the better-known word ergon - as we know `organ` - and it means a compartment for a particular job.There are a variety of legal types of...

 to NHS, to recognize students at the middle level
Middle school
Middle School and Junior High School are levels of schooling between elementary and high schools. Most school systems use one term or the other, not both. The terms are not interchangeable...



It is estimated that over one million students participate in NHS and NJHS. Chapters are found in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, many U.S. Territories, and Canada.

Once selected, a student is awarded membership in the local chapter at an induction ceremony. With induction, each member assumes obligations as outlined by the chapter and the national constitution. The chapter must conduct a services project for the school or community and see to the development of an individual service project for each member. Chapters may choose to sponsor fundraising projects or otherwise involve themselves with the school to reach the chapter’s goals. In addition, regular meetings of the chapter are held to conduct chapter business.

Selection Criteria

The NHS National Council establishes the national standards for every NHS chapter. Local chapters create their own bylaws that must comply with the NHS national constitution.

Any student in grades 10-12 in a school that has both an official charter of and an up-to-date affiliation with the national office of NHS, is eligible for consideration for membership in NHS. All membership selection is handled through the local school chapter.

The NHS chapter establishes guidelines for selection that are based upon a student’s performance in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership, and character. Specific standards for these four criteria may vary from one school to the next. Such variations are accepted as long as they do not fall outside the parameters set by the National Council of NHS.

All chapters are required to record and publish the criteria and general procedures used in their local selection processes. Final selection is made by a vote of the five-member Faculty Council, a selection committee appointed by the principal. The NHS adviser supervises the selection process and maintains copies of the local procedures.

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