The Rocket Flame

Lighting a Path for New NHS Members

Back+Row%3A+Owen+Cooper+%2811%29%2C+Addy+Crouse+%2811%29%2C+Alliah+Fluent+%2811%29%2C+Meredith+Iverson+%2811%29%2C+Kace+Dorty+%2811%29%2C+Colby+Starr+%2811%29%2C+Macen+Wilt+%2811%29%2C+Carlee+Jackson+%2812%29%2C+Tanner+Myers+%2812%29%2C+Aleesha+Cramer+%2811%29%2C+Jaide+Wolfe+%2811%29%2C+and+Hailey+Embree+%2811%29.+Front+Row%3A+Kaitlyn+Ebersole+%2812%29%2C+Cameron+Flemming+%2811%29%2C+Bella+Shupp+%2811%29%2C+Brynn+Taulton+%2811%29%2C+Kyla+Shoemaker+%2811%29%2C+Ashley+Dukehart+%2811%29%2C+Morgan+Shughart+%2811%29%2C+Emily+Horst+%2811%29%2C+Alyssa+Sensinger+%2811%29%2C+Maddie+Akers+%2811%29%2C+and+Kierra+Griffith+%2811%29.+

Back Row: Owen Cooper (11), Addy Crouse (11), Alliah Fluent (11), Meredith Iverson (11), Kace Dorty (11), Colby Starr (11), Macen Wilt (11), Carlee Jackson (12), Tanner Myers (12), Aleesha Cramer (11), Jaide Wolfe (11), and Hailey Embree (11). Front Row: Kaitlyn Ebersole (12), Cameron Flemming (11), Bella Shupp (11), Brynn Taulton (11), Kyla Shoemaker (11), Ashley Dukehart (11), Morgan Shughart (11), Emily Horst (11), Alyssa Sensinger (11), Maddie Akers (11), and Kierra Griffith (11).

Imagine yourself feeling anxious as you wait for your name to be called. Your hands are sweaty and your heart is pumping at a thousand beats per minute. When your name is finally called, multiple hands clap in unison as they recognize and acknowledge your academic achievements and induct you into a society. This society is known as the National Honor Society, which highlights students who do well academically as well as showing the four pillars that define the society.

On January 17, 2020, 24 new members were inducted into this organization. Before a student can get into NHS, they must first get an NHS invitation and this is the first step of the induction process.

“In November of the school year, Mr. Stull and I run the GPAs for juniors and seniors…students need a 3.85 GPA for this year,” said Mrs. Jenna Sheaffer (Faculty). 

This is one part of the criteria that everyone cannot meet, but the advisors have discussed a change that can impact the inductees for next year. 

“Next year, the GPA is going to go up since the weighting  system might change,” said Sheaffer. “We have discussed with Mrs. Troutman of maybe allowing the top 15% of the class to apply for NHS. Because we didn’t change the weighting system this year, we invited 40 students to apply. This doesn’t show how the inducted members are a selected group of students.” 

If a student reaches the GPA requirement, they must also reflect the four pillars that define NHS.  

“Everyone meets scholarship (that’s the 3.85). Character is the harder one to talk about because we want students who are well-rounded and nice people. The other two are service and leadership,” said Sheaffer. 

Once students fill out the application, the induction process is determined by the Faculty Advisory Committee, who help decide who is ultimately inducted.

“There’s one teacher from the four main subjects – Math, English, Social Studies, Science,” said Sheaffer. “Then we have Mrs. Johnson who does the pool area, and Mrs. Martin from the tech/art department, and both Mrs. Troutman and Mr. Bradley helps out.”

In some cases, there is a limit to how many students get in, so not all applicants may get in the first year. At this point, the committee has to choose the best candidates.

“It’s a goal to have all four pillars, but no one is perfect, so there are times where we take things into consideration,” said Sheaffer. “For example, someone could be at school 15 hours a day and not have as much community service hours so we try to weigh the pillars.”

When the final decision is made, acceptance letters go out to the parents of those students who got accepted. From here, the parents often decide whether they tell their kids or they try to keep it a secret.

“It was very exciting to hear that I got into NHS,” said Colby Starr (11). “I get to see all of the hard work that I put in over the years and how it finally paid off.”

After the acceptance letters go out, the induction date has to be set and from there the planning process for the ceremony takes place.

“The planning of the ceremony gets stressful sometimes because you are planning a school-wide event and you have to tell teachers and we have to send out an alternate schedule,” said Sheaffer. “Mrs. Amsley does all of the RSVPs because we need them to hold seats in the auditorium of all the family that’s coming. We also throw in a cookie and punch snack time afterwards, so Mr. Stull and I have to order the food. Then we have to set up the stage with the chairs, the podium, and the table with the candles…Mrs. Blair irons all of the covers for us.” 

At the beginning of the induction ceremony, Mr. Samuel Dickey (Faculty) started off by thanking the people who put the event together. Then he invited Nicholas Alfree (12) to the podium to read off the names of the newly inductees and explain what they are a part of both in and out of school. 

“I did a mission trip with my church and I helped out at retirement homes by playing the guitar and playing games with them,” said Kierra Griffith (11). “It was important for me to get into NHS because I value my academic achievements and I want to help people as much as possible.” 

Once all of the new members have been introduced, Kamari Moser (12), Sarah Kimmel (12), Paige Hartman (12), and Megan Rummel (12) explained what each of the four pillars mean. After they spoke, they lit a candle to represent each characteristic.

After presenting the pillar of Service, Paige Hartman (12) lights the last candle.

           Finally, Mr. Rodney Benedick (Faculty) had each member repeat the NHS pledge. The ceremony ended with pictures being taken and a follow up snack held in the cafeteria. 

Puerto Rican Paradise

Puerto+Rican+Paradise

After two years of planning, a group of 16 students were ready to begin their six-day journey in Puerto Rico that included snorkeling, hiking, ziplining, touring the capitol, kayaking in a bioluminescent bay, and eating lots of beans.

This was the first trip Ms. Danielle Simchick (Faculty) organized and planned on her own with her students. Ms. Danielle Fox (Faculty) and Mrs. Marie Donahoe (Faculty) accompanied her. Sign-ups began in the Fall of 2017, where 16 students decided to participate in this experience. With two years of planning and fundraising, June 18, 2019 was the day the group of students and faculty would start their travels after saying goodbye to their families and boarding a bus to BWI. 

To prepare for this big trip, students made lots of packing lists and learned about all the places they would be visiting. It is crucial to know the background of all the places that they were visiting.

“It was a little nerve-racking at first, but then after the first day everybody got really comfortable,” said Simchick. 

After the group made it to the airport, they made their way to the plane for the four-hour flight straight to San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

“The flight was really fun,” said Colby Starr. “It was some of our first time on a plane together.”

After landing, they were picked up by their tour guide on a bus after claiming all their baggage. The students started to experience the hot and humid weather of Puerto Rico, so they stopped at a local beach near the airport and enjoyed a couple of hours in the water before heading to the hotel.

The first full day of Puerto Rico was mostly all on foot. The first stop of the day was zip

lining and hiking. The rest of the day consisted of the students touring San Juan with a tour guide. 

All of the faculty and students gather together for a picture in front of the La Fortaleza in San Juan.

Three more groups accompanied JB on this trip: groups from Kansas, Virgina, and Wisconsin, which made a full bus. Between sightseeing and other activities, the students spent a lot of time getting to know the other groups. 

“My favorite part about the trip was snorkeling,” said Starr (11).

The next day was dedicated to riding a boat out to a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico. Students spent their time swimming, paddleboarding, and eating lots of food. After some time, a tour guide took all the students out farther in the ocean to snorkel. Most students said was their favorite part was seeing the sea turtles, stingrays, and puffer fish. 

Later that night, on the way home the last stop of the night was to a bioluminescent bay in Vieques. A bioluminescent bay is a bay that has tiny organisms that will light up at night, causing the water to turn bright blue, and students were able to kayak through it.

 

While touring San Juan, the group takes a picture at one of the pit stops.

After all the water and hiking days, the rest of the trip was spent touring Puerto Rico in San Juan and Ponce. The last day was traveling to Ponce and staying in a new hotel for the night. 

“This experience taught the students how to travel, how to navigate through an airport, how to be on time, how to pack, how to speak and practice Spanish, and most importantly how to be flexible and go with the flow,” said Simchick. 

Even though there was a set schedule, the students learned how to be open to things changing, as well. 

Once the time came on the sixth day, everyone got up and did a little more touring before getting on the bus to head home. Their flight home was a layover, so their first stop was in Orlando for a couple hours before they would make it to BWI. By that time, the students were anxious to be back home and in Mercersburg. 

Late that night after making it to the airport and onto the bus home, the students arrived in the middle of the night with welcoming friends and families waiting upon their arrival. 

With lots of pictures and new friendships, the students will always remember this experience and all hope to do it again with Simchick next year.

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