A total of 12 new members of the Jerry McVay Chapter of West Liberty High School’s National Honor Society were inducted Tuesday night, March 23, in a special ceremony at the school, welcomed by 18 present members of the special society.
Rotary of West Liberty representative Steve Hanson welcomed a socially distanced crowd on behalf of the West Liberty Lions and Rotary organizations, noting it recognizes “our outstanding students’ academic accomplishments, their commitment to excellence, and their dedication to developing the traits of character, leadership and service to school and community.”
He said NHS members “must be commited to acadmic excellence, to be willing to lead instead of follow, be of good character and be willing to serve others,” calling them “the elite of the nation.”
Duane Forbes, president of the Lions Club, pointed out this was the centennial year of the NHS organization that was founded to encourage students to “prepare themselves for useful roles in our society, to recognize them for high academic achievement and good citizenship.” He said the local chapter was established in the spring of 1958.
Forbes went on to say the new inductees were chosen “because of their enthusiasm for scholarship, their desire to render service to their school and community, their leadership in many and varied school activities and their overall character as seen in their school and personal life.”
Current members of the National Honor Society were first introduced by advisor Deborah Weiss including seniors Addison Cline, daughter of Carol and Stephen Cline; Janey Gingerich, daughter of Tonya and Patrick Gingerich; Isabel Morrison, daughter of Brooke and Chad Morrison; James Norris, child of Elizabeth and Tom Norris; Martha Pace, daughter of Lori and Thomas Pace and Chancellor Thrasher, son of Katherine and Jason Thrasher.
Four other seniors who were are current members of the NHS, were also invited to sign the permanent register after being unable to do so last year when the ceremony was cancelled because of COVID-19 pandemic concerns. They included Averi Goodale, daughter of Sara and Ben Goodale; Abby TanChinh, daughter of Somphone TanChinh; Allison Wickman, daughter of Kathy Terhune and John Wickman, and Paige Womack, daughter of Dawn and the late Brian Womack.
A total of eight juniors were also invited to sign the register including Rachel Aird, daughter of Krista and Jason Aird; Macy Daufeldt, daughter of Michelle and Matt Daufeldt; Grace Evans, daughter of Kristen and “Scooter” Evans; Sailor Hall, daughter of Trisha and Nathan Hall; Alyssa Harned, daughter of Laura and Kyle Harned; Reynolds Heath, son of Linley and Richard Heath; Mylei Henderson, daughter of Jackie and Scott Henderson and Charles Thrasher, son of Katherine and Jason Thrasher.
Two new senior members were inducted including Samuel Gingerich, son of Josie and Justin Gingerich as well as Candy Thammavongsa, daughter of Soudalak and Khamla Thammavongsa.
A total of 10 sophomores were inducted into the NHS including Ashley Barahona, daughter of Yessenia and Francisco Barahona; Brooklyn Buysse, daughter of Jackie and Andy Buysse; Beatrice Goldberry, daughter of Leanne and Robert Nelson; Finley Hall, daughter of Trisha and Nathan Hall; Morgan Hodge, daughter of Roberta and Stew Hodge; Magaly Kivi, daughter of Sonia and Shawn Kivi; Brandy Lopez. daughter of Maricela Aguero and Francisco Lopez. Tye Miller, son of Brenda and Jesse Miller; Sadie Peters, daughter of Meaghan and Brent Peters and Karla Velasco, daughter of Lucia and Juan Velasco.
A special candle lighting ceremony was included as Janey Gingerich lit the candle of Character, symbolizing the “finest moral and spiritual values” while Abby TanChinh lit the candle of Scholarship, signifying the “power of mind to dispel ignorance, superstition and fear through scientific investigation of truth.” Isabelle Morrison lit the candle of Leadership, pointing out a true leader “must be unselfish to serve others, humble to act in sympathy with their co-workers, be generous in action toward others and courteous to command respect.”
The final candle of Service was lit by Allison Wickman, noting the candle is based on the “golden rule of one who labors to give to other the joy that illumninates their own life.”
NHS president Martha Pace presented the NHS pledge which was repeated by new inductees.
Nick Salazar, the newest state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens is the youngest person to serve in that role in the organization's 62-year history in Iowa, was introduced as the special guest speaker for the ceremony. He was unanimously elected May 18 and assumed the role July 13. He's also a Muscatine native, where he had served as president of Muscatine LULAC Council 371 since 2016.
Then, serving as deputy state director for young adults he helped charter five collegiate councils including the one at Muscatine Community College. An increase in the Latino youth population led to the need for a collegiate charter, he said.
"It's important to give them a platform to do the same type of work we're doing at the adult level," he said.
"But the work does not stop today – we must continue to work to be people of good character, which serves others as leaders, who are always seeking to learn to make changes to better yourself, your community, and the world," Salazar said in his speech.
The 32-year-old has been involved with the organization since 2015. He said he was drawn to LULAC because of its "rich history of being on the front lines of many issues in the U.S., back to 1929." LULAC is the oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization in the country and Puerto Rico.
The National Honor Society is the nation's premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students. More than just an honor roll, NHS serves to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership, and character. These characteristics have been associated with membership in the organization since its beginning in 1921.
Today, it is estimated that more than one million students participate in NHS activities. NHS chapters are found in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, many U.S. territories, and Canada. Chapter membership not only recognizes students for their accomplishments, but also challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service.
In the spring of 1958, a group of students at West Liberty High School campaigned to start a local chapter. They chose to name their chapter after a classmate who had been killed the previous year in a car accident. Thus, the chapter’s name, the Jerry McVay Chapter of the National Honor Society was established.