“The responsibilities each of us have to our home community, our state, our nation and our world are many. Good citizens work together not only to improve our lives but the lives of all our fellow citizens,” - Jaden Colwell, Communications Chair, WAMS National Junior Honor Society, 8th grade student

WALLENPAUPACK -  Student leaders of the National Junior Honor Society spoke to the Wallenpaupack School Board, March 11, about their numerous accomplishments and opportunities to reach out to younger students and the community.

The students who spoke are all in 8th grade: Dakota Hubbard, President; Abigail  
Kirsten, Vice President; Maya Pagano, Secretary; Jaden Colwell, Communications Chair; Francesca Toppi, Active Committee Member  and Elizabeth Higgins, Active Committee Member.

Their advisor is Ms. Lauren Tenbus. This is her first year in this role.

“Throughout the year we have done some amazing things and have some great opportunities,” Dakota said. “From donating to troops to helping elementary kids to read, we have really extended our abilities to donate our time and finances.”

One of the Society’s programs, she said, is Reading Buddies. The Middle School students help 1st and 2nd graders with reading. They also have a chance to tutor students. Junior Honor Society students can pick the age of the pupil and subject they will tutor.

Abigail told about the Society’s fundraiser last October for hurricane victims. Students had to guess how many pieces of candy were in a jar. Just over $100 was raised for the victims. “During this process we learned that even the littleist of things can make a huge impact on someone’s life,” Abigail said.

The group did a service project for Dessin Animal Shelter, Maya said. In February, classmates were urged to bring in dog and cat food, toys and other items. They packed three boxes to take to Dessin, on February 25.

Jaden spoke of the Junior Honor Society’s Induction Program that is being planned for May 28. He said that to be considered for membership in the Junior Honor Society, a student must show traits of the five pillars the organization promotes, Scholarship, Service, Leadership, Citizenship and Character. A grade average of 98% or above is required, but academics is only part of it.

“Scholarship symbolizes a commitment to learning,” Jaden said, “A student is willing to spend hours in reading and studying, knowing the lasting benefits of an educated mind. Candidates have been charged to continue to expand their world through opportunities and scholarship.

“Service can be established through the routine of a day’s work,” the young man said. “Where many opportunities rise to help others at school and in the community. Leadership should apply to wholesome influence on the school. Leadership is sacrifice. A leader has self-confidence and will move forward when others hesitate. No matter what power and resources may exist in a school, community or nation, they are weak without the guidance of a wise leader.

Jaden continued, “Character is the force within an individual that divides each person from others. It creates for each of our individuality. It is a person that can respect themselves and everyone around them. Character is achieved, not received.

“Citizenship is responsibility that each member of our culture faces to live up to independent standards. The responsibilities each of us have to our home community, our state, our nation and our world are many. Good citizens work together not only to improve our lives but the lives of all our fellow citizens,” Jaden stated.

Francesca told the school board and administrators about the Society’s program, “Operation Gratitude.” The program’s slogan this year is “Make every minute count in 2019.” Their mission is to say thanks to the military. From March 4 through April 12, funds will be raised for care packages for active duty military abroad. Letters of hope and inspiration are also encouraged, for the service members.

Elizabeth said that this year the Junior Honor Society has expanded its services to the North Intermediate School students. Society members went next door (the schools are attached) to help their younger peers with homework. They also plan to volunteer for the Drama Club’s spring performance and the annual talent show. They will also be involved in an art competition to raise funds for the National Junior Honor Society.

“The leadership qualities we have learned will be with us as we move into high school and life beyond,” Elizabeth said. She and other members thanked the School Board and Administration for supporting the program.

Following the presentation, Superintendent Michael Silsby expressed thanks to the students and their advisor. “Each of you exemplify those pillars,” he told the 8th graders. “You’ve done wonderful things as individuals and as a group, and I can tell you as a school district we are very proud of you. We are glad you seized on those opportunities and hopefully this will make you a better person and we know it has made you a better student. And the fact that many of you are willing to share your talents with other students, whether at the Primary level or the Intermediate School through your interactions, we appreciate that very much. So we congratulate you and thank you, and we wish you the very best as we continue to support you throughout the system.”