Time for Students to Put the Honor Back in National Honor Society


Graphic by Mark Schaefer

Over the past few years the value of the National Honors Society has diminished due to high enrollment and students faking hours and projects.

Editorial Board

For nearly one century nationwide and for many years at RHS, the top high school students have joined the National Honor Society (NHS) and become recognized as some of the most distinguished students in the country.

As time goes by, however, the RHS chapter’s value and integrity are steadily declining as the club size is huge and many RHS students constantly find new ways to cheat the club requirements in order to obtain the regalia at graduation and put NHS on their college resume, previous and current members told the Rampage.

The methods of cheating include submitting false hours and being dishonest about senior projects which completely undermine the purpose of NHS and what it stands for. Students should take NHS more seriously to create enthusiasm for scholarship, to stimulate a desire to render service, to promote leadership and to develop character, all values listed on the NHS website.

Jillian Krawczel (‘18) was an NHS member who spoke about the culture of apathy in the club and admitted to not taking the club seriously.

“NHS responsibilities definitely weren’t one of my priorities just because of my other obligations in school and athletics,” Krawczel said. “It’s not something to be proud of but I think it’s safe to say the overwhelming majority of NHS members are in it for the resume builder and the [regalia] and all you really need to do to get it is pay your dues.”

In a Rampage-conducted poll of 40 current NHS members, 50 percent of members admitted to falsifying some or all service hours, and 87.5 percent said that they knew someone who was dishonest with service hours. Additionally, 47 percent of seniors responded that they were dishonest with some or all of their senior project.

“The project was easy to fake because all you need for evidence is a picture,” Krawczel said. “My project was organizing a trash pick-up so after lacrosse practice one day we just took pictures of some girls on the team picking up trash. It took maybe two minutes.”

By being a part of NHS, members are supposed to show that they are one of the most outstanding high school students in the nation. Through their yearly required 25 service hours (15 from tutoring) and their senior project to give back to the community, students gain leadership experience, acquire new skills and strengthen their character. However, being academically dishonest about their NHS work demonstrates lack of integrity and character and undermines what being in NHS is all about.

In addition to some students cheating on their NHS work, the growing size of the club has diminished the value of the organization at RHS. Admittance into the club is based on a faculty council of five teachers from varying departments who discuss each candidate. Currently, there are 179 NHS members, the most RHS has ever had.

In this year’s recent effort to combat the issue of the growing size and lackluster effort from its members, the current NHS sponsor and chapter implemented several rules including a new 75 percent attendance rule, an increase of the cumulative grade point average (GPA) requirement to a 3.6 on the 4.0 scale and a weighted GPA of 4.1, a requirement of 75 service hours prior to applying and a necessary form for new members to state that they will fulfill the responsibilities of NHS. These new implementations have decreased NHS numbers–84 members are graduating seniors and only 40 new members are joining next school year. Additionally, beginning this current school year, club sponsor and English teacher Christina Sutter will be spot-checking service hours through the provided contact information, she said. These new changes were prompted by the realization that the requirements and size of RHS’ NHS were not in line with those at other surrounding schools, Sutter said.

Not all members take part in submitting fake work, and unfortunately it is incumbent upon all NHS members to hold each other accountable. Many students do value giving back to their community through volunteer work and no one should stand for other members cheating their way through the club in order to pad their graduation regalia and resumes. A big part of NHS’ current problem is that only 10 percent of members surveyed said they take the club “very seriously,” according to the Rampage poll. Forty percent of members say they do not take the club seriously at all.

It is time for students to take responsibility for their commitment to the club and their community. RHS members need to heed the NHS mission statement and their sponsor’s advice and put the honor back in National Honor Society.