Northwest National Honor Society reconsiders rejections


The National Honors Society at Northwest is reconsidering rejected applicants for its fall induction.

The teacher drones on as sixth-period ticks on towards the end of the day on Tuesday, Nov. 14. Suddenly, letters come in from guidance. Juniors hurriedly open them to see if they have been accepted into the Northwest National Honor Society. Much fewer than last year are successful in this endeavor.

The next day, students came to school upset and angry. One of these students was Student A, who has requested to remain anonymous.

“I think people were justified to be upset,” Student A said. “It sucks to get a letter saying you’re declined when you truly feel like you’re deserving of it. It’s like a slap in the face.”

Student A felt that the already frustrating situation was not handled the best it could have been.

“What frustrates me the most was that when I wasn’t accepted, they didn’t tell me why,” Student A said. “The letter was extremely vague, and when I went to ask questions, they weren’t allowed to tell me.”

Student B, a student who was accepted into the Honor Society, felt similarly but also felt that students should handle the rejection more gracefully.

“Honestly, I think some of the people who were initially rejected should’ve gotten in,” Student B said. “However, I also believe that going to Ms. Hudson [math teacher and faculty adviser for NHS] and screaming to her about it isn’t the solution.”

Spanish teacher Gwen Stencler, who is Hudson’s partner in advising National Honor Society, agreed with Student B’s statement, and she wanted to clear up misconceptions that were being spread, such as teachers conspiring against students being allowed in. What ultimately happened was a discrepancy in the rubrics used from last year to this year.

“95 percent of the rumors are not true,” Stencler said. “There are no under-the-table dealings. We’re just reconsidering the validity of the applications. That’s all.”

Principal Ralph Kitley, who is now assisting the advisers as they review the applications, explains the rubric discrepancy further.

“After Ms. Rosa left (last year’s NHS faculty adviser), Ms. Hudson took over National Honor Society,” Kitley said. “She couldn’t find the old rubric they used to judge new students, so she found a new one. We didn’t take into consideration how the applicants would be affected by a new rubric and didn’t realize the discrepancy until after it was brought to our attention.”

Kitley explained that under the new rubric, there was more of an emphasis on quantity, number of activities, versus quality, amount of service hours. For example, if a student were to create their own non-profit organization and put 50 hours into it, it would count the same as running 5K run for charity once.

“We didn’t think it was fair to the students because they were being judged on a rubric that had changed with different requirements,” Kitley said. “I thought it was a discrepancy in the criteria that needed to be reviewed,” Kitley said.

Stencler also said that the students lacked vital information that would help them get accepted.

“I think the thing that students don’t know is that we’re not just looking for clubs or how many hours you’re putting in,” Stencler said. “We’re looking for leadership, and I think people didn’t understand that.”

Student A found the new standards for National Honor Society difficult to meet.

“They were initially [clear] but after they moved back the due date, which was when I submitted mine, they changed, and that was very frustrating,” Student A said.

There was also a difference between the electronic and hard copies of the application, according to Student A and Kitley, adding to more difficulties in the application process and more misconceptions about the requirements.

Putting aside the various misconceptions, Kitley has a solution.

“We’re trying to marry the two rubrics,” Kitley said. “That way, we can introduce the new standards, while making it more fair for the students.”

Kitley said a new induction date will be announced after Thanksgiving. He also commended the students’ respect and self-advocacy in approaching the administration with their concerns.

“There have been good attitudes all around,” Kitley said.

As for the future of NHS at Northwest, a new rubric will be created this summer where students will have to demonstrate evidence that they have fulfilled the four pillars of the society: Scholarship, Service, Leadership and Character

“The general plan will be for the School-Based Leadership Team to meet in the summer to come up with our own rubric specific to Northwest,” Kitley said. “At the end of the day, we want to do what’s in the best interest of our students with the understanding they will be held to the high standards of the National Honor Society.”