The National Honor Society (NHS) is an organization that recognizes outstanding achievements by high school students across the country. The National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) recognizes similar achievements by middle school students. Students in the NHS and NJHS are expected to display excellence in scholarship, leadership, service and character--characteristics that have been associated with the organizations since their inception in the 1920s.
The National Honor Society was founded in 1921 by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). It was the first nationwide honor society, and the concept spread quickly. By 1930, there were more than 1,000 NHS chapters across the country. The organization has continued to grow over time, and according to the National Honor Society website, more than a million students participate in NHS and NJHS today.
Each chapter of NHS and NJHS is governed by the national constitution of the organization, as well as by local bylaws of the chapter. The national constitution was developed by the National Council, the governing body of national NHS and NJHS chapters, while routine activities of each chapter are regulated by national office staff.
In order to be a member of the National Honor Society, students must perform well across a variety of areas. All NHS members must maintain a grade point average of 85 percent, or meet a standard of excellence deemed equivalent by the school's chapter. They must also perform acts of community service, demonstrate leadership ability, prove to be of good character and understand the concept of civic involvement. Since some of these qualifications are vague, each chapter of NHS may determine its own specific standards for membership.
There are several benefits to being a member of the National Honor Society. Since the organization is nationally recognized, membership can be denoted on resumes, scholarship applications and college applications. There are also scholarships available only to members of NHS, and national conferences are available for leadership and service training opportunities.
Famous NHS Members
Students in the National Honor Society today can consider themselves part of a long history of participation in the organization. Many actors, politicians, athletes, musicians and other famous people were involved in NHS. They include:
Actors: Alan Alda, Meryl Streep, Jon Voight Politicians: Bill Bradley, William Cohen Athletes: Troy Aikman, Dan Jansen, Cal Ripkin Jr. Musicians: Gloria Estefan, Van Cliburn, Maria Fortuna
Laura Binder has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been featured in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, as well as the Daily Northwestern, the official newspaper of Northwestern University. She has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Northwestern University, with a minor in political science.