I was recently invited to speak at the Piqua High School National Honor Society (NHS) induction ceremony where twenty new students were inducted into this exclusive organization. I accepted the invitation, because I appreciate that the NHS is one educational organization that rejects the nation’s “test results are all that matter” hysteria and for recognizing that factors besides grades and test scores are important to one’s success.
The NHS defines itself as “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.”
In other words, while students must be high achievers academically to earn induction, they must also be high character, service minded leaders who are intent on making our world a better place.
Just like the best among us aspire to do.
The PHS students to whom I spoke epitomize everything we want in our young people. They are respectful, intelligent, dedicated, goal-oriented, kind, compassionate, and humble. While they have certainly flourished academically, they are so much more than that.
Every one of them has volunteered an untold number of hours in their community and school, a number that many of us couldn’t have imagined donating when we were their age.
They are also self-disciplined enough to flourish in extra-curricular activities and/or hold down jobs while maintaining outstanding grades.
They also serve in leadership positions within both their school and community with a level of dignity, maturity, and selflessness that belies their age.
Frankly, our state and national leaders could learn a thing or two from them.
Sadly, our national media rarely acknowledges the millions of young people in our schools just like these students who are achieving great things and who show wisdom and self-discipline in doing so. For some reason the media insists on focusing on the lowest common denominator of our youth, thus giving anyone without the luxury of interacting regularly with school-aged kids the false perception that our schools are full of unethical, do-nothing heathens.
It is so unfair … and untrue.
Although our national dialogue would suggest that we have no idea how some children become successful while others fail, the difference between success and failure is not at all baffling. When highly motivated, intelligent young people live with parents who value the importance of education and who support their children in all they do and when those kids attend an outstanding school with a dedicated staff intent on teaching and nurturing them, success often follows.
In other words, their success is really not so difficult to understand at all.
While this particular evening was spent honoring Piqua High School students, my own experience has taught me that these same kinds of great kids are walking the hallways of every high school in Miami County.
We just don’t hear enough about them.
Tom Dunn is the former superintendent of the Miami County Educational Service Center.