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Reviving the National Junior Honor Society

SHEFFIELD - Forty-two Jr. Bulldogs have been initiated into the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), breathing new life into a program which has not been available at Sheffield Junior High School for the last four years.

The new seventh and eighth grader members were inducted into the organization during a special ceremony held on Thursday, March 21.

Junior high school social studies teacher and Junior Honor Society advisor Andrew Franck said that students were able to dress up and given the opportunity to be celebrated publicly.

Franck said that the event was attended with overwhelming support from the community, including students’ families, friends, teachers, system administrators and school board members.

Sheffield High School National Honor Society Advisor Robyn Cosby and five of her Honor Society students conducted the ceremony for the Jr. Bulldogs, made presentations, led a candle lighting and tapped each junior high inductee on the shoulder to formally initiate them.

Two high school Honor Society members had the privilege of initiating their siblings during the ceremony, Franck said.

“You look at athletes, they have numerous opportunities to be celebrated--signing days, for example. This was a rare opportunity for us to formally recognize our students for their academics and character,” Franck said. Franck explained that interest in the Honor Society began to stir last year, when junior high faculty started discussing how there were limited recognition opportunities available for excelling middle school students. Junior high principal Stephanie Wieseman suggested that the Honor Society be reintroduced and Franck said that teachers were supportive.

Sheffield Junior High School was officially approved to relaunch its Honor Society in January after teachers filed all the appropriate paperwork and local donations supplied the school’s annual membership dues.

Out of 137 seventh and eighth-graders, Franck said that about 50 percent were eligible academically for membership, which requires an 85 cumulative grade point average.

Interested students then submitted resumes and were assessed by a five-member committee on their level of service, citizenship, leadership and character.

After this process, the committee narrowed the selection to 42 students and the Sheffield National Junior Honor Society’s first official meeting was held on March 5.

“These students are meeting criteria set nationwide,” Francks said. “We are very excited that we had this many who were eligible.”

During their first meeting, Franck said that the students conducted elections according to Robert’s Rules of Order and nominated their peers for leadership roles.

Students voted for their candidates via online form and the society selected the following students for elected leadership positions:

• Ja'Tavian Carroll - President;

• Thomas Pride - Vice President;

• Derrick Hood - Secretary; and

• Jaleah Johnson - Treasurer.

The club will meet twice a month and Franck says that the members are currently taking it upon themselves to lay out the SJHS Honor Society bylaws.

The main benefit of having the Honor Society, Franck explained, is that it is one of the many building blocks which the school can use to prepare Sheffield students for high school and ultimately, for them to successfully move into college or a career.

Franck also said that the society emphasizes student service, which he says prepares kids for college service requirements, connects them to their community and instills leadership qualities that will lead to job opportunities and advancement.

The Junior Honor Society scheduled its first service event in collaboration with Earth Day, Monday, April 22. Society members walked both the Sheffield junior high and high school grounds and picked up trash to beautify the campuses.

Franck says that looking forward, he hopes that the society can begin to travel and participate in both state and national Honor Society conferences.

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The Sheffield Junior High School National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) inducted 42 new members during its ceremony on Thursday, March 21.

By Scott Johnson