When several students give deep, intelligent, inspirational speeches, you can bet that you are at the National Honor Society Induction ceremony.
During a special ceremony held on May 24, 2016 at the upper school auditorium, four students – two seniors and two juniors — spoke of the pillars that bind NHS members together: scholarship (GPA of at least 3.5), leadership, service, and character.
The National Honor Society is a nationwide American organization that was officially established in 1921 to recognize and honor students who demonstrate excellence in the four NHS pillars. At ACS, the National Honor Society chapter is called the “Phoenician Chapter” and was re-established in 1999.
“Four main purposes have guided chapters of the NHS from the beginning of its establishment: ‘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,’” explained Suheir Sleiman, NHS Faculty Advisor.
This year 30 Grade 10 and 11 students were inducted into NHS's Lebanon chapter. In other words, the 30 ACS students have met or even excelled in the four areas that are the mainstay of NHS. “This is the highest number of students inducted at once, in recent years,” said Sleiman, beaming with pride. During the formal ceremony, opened and closed by Head of School Hamilton Clark and High School Principal Robert Evans, the students received their NHS certificates and stoles and were announced as members of the ACS Phoenician chapter.
The student speakers also impressed the audience with their depth and social engagement, as they highlighted the four cornerstones of the NHS society.
“A scholar is never satisfied by the bare minimum; [scholars] search harder, strive for the better, and delve deeper … to attain [a certain] level of higher learning," said senior Nadim Alame. “We might be sitting right now amongst the world’s future presidents, activists, leaders and so much more.”
Ryan AH., also a senior, reminded everyone what a true leader is.
“A common misconception about leadership is the idea that one must have a title to be a leader. Leadership has nothing to do with titles,” he said. “[Leaders] are more in touch with what they’re deeply passionate about. They intrinsically care more for others and receive more compassion in return. In other words, they’re more socially in tune … Leaders cause people to want to help them.”
He added, “Behind me are students who have displayed signs of leadership within their classroom, family, and community, all without having a title.”
For junior Joseph L., it is only through one’s outstanding character that the other NHS pillars can come out. “Character is the pillar that holds up a stage for your other attributes to shine,” he said.
A student is not inducted into the NHS society before actively demonstrating his/her commitment for the betterment of society. An NHS member is not someone who just crunches in community service hours, but someone who really believes in causing a positive impact, argued junior Karam ES.
“That is why NHS requires the candidates to write a reflection, in which they describe the impact of their actions on the community as a demonstration of their dedication to serving others and their communities,” he said.
Karam ES added, “NHS sees community service as an opportunity to reach out and walk in the shoes of the underprivileged … Living in Lebanon has imparted on us a sense of social responsibility. As members of the ACS community, we have been privileged to receive a quality education, one that we must use in the service of others.
Quoting John Stuart Mill, Karam continued, “A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction.”
Guest speaker Lucia Mock, a Grade 10/11 counselor, also emphasized the importance of not looking away, and to actively help, wherever we can.
“We’re living in a world, in a city, where suffering is commonplace – it’s become part of our lives. We see it every day in the streets, at school, on the news, and not 15 minutes away there are refugee camps where thousands of people live in poverty and without basic human rights. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming that you feel paralyzed, and the impulse is to insulate yourself from all of it,” she said. “But the truth is, we can’t insulate ourselves, we can’t look away. We can’t afford to do nothing. You, as the next generation of educated, privileged young people have the duty and responsibility to do something, to not look away when you see injustice.”
Mock added, “But more than that you have the responsibility to not look away from the people that are struggling. And I mean this literally – I’m talking about looking at people in the eyes. What I’m asking of all of you is more than community service, more than leadership, more than academic achievement ... Put down your phones, look them in the eye, and see their worth and their dignity and their strength ... In doing so, my hope is that you’ll find that these people’s humanity is linked to yours; that their existence is as important as yours, and that their energy and potential is as immeasurable as yours. And that it is your responsibility and duty and your privilege in this life is to find moments, however big or small, to use your intelligence, your education, your power to help the rest of the world see that potential as well.”