SG NHS virtual

Photo by Karen Fried

Online screen shot of the National Honor Society event. (* indicates new inductee): Left to right, Row 1: Principal Nancy Gulbranson, *Olivia Mendez, *Kelsey Bratland, *Rachel Krenzke; Row 2: *Jacob Myrah, *Addison Deschler, Jacine Johanningmeier, Carter Bratland; Row 3: Amelia Solum, Spring Grove Chapter of the NHS advisor Julianne Lile, and Superintendent Rachel Udstuen.

By Jan Lee Buxengard

Special to The Caledonia Argus

Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Spring Grove Chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) held an online version of the annual induction ceremony on May 13 at 7 p.m. 

High school senior Addison Deschler, and juniors Kelsey Bratland, Olivia Mendez, and Jacob Myrah, as well as honorary member Rachel Krenzke, are this year’s inductees to the NHS. 

Along with current NHS members Carter Bratland, Jacine Johanningmeier and Amelia Solum, family members, NHS advisor Julianna Lile, Supt. Rachel Udsteun, Principal Nancy Gulbranson and Karen Fried, all joined in on-line in their respective homes. Due to the current situation, there was no speaker this year.

“This is our very first time online for the induction,” Gulbranson, Spring Grove School principal for 24 years, stated. “It is so good to see you all. We’ve missed you all. Since March 16, when life changed for all of us, I think of you daily - when a variety of things come up, when walking the hallway, or by something that reminds me of you. I think of your face even though you’re not in front of me.”

Lots of things have changed since March 16, she continued, “We are doing our very first online NHS induction. But what hasn’t changed is this … This is one of the most special nights that we have at Spring Grove Public School. 

“It’s a night of ceremony, honoring our students for all of your accomplishments. You were selected by a tenured committee of your teachers, which I hold in high regard. You’re here with us tonight with your families. 

“Even though we are not up at Giants of the Earth Heritage Center tonight, we’re still in a room. I’m glad you took the time tonight to share it with them. 

“For some, this night may be the first time being on an online meeting. Really just showing you a little bit of our technology becoming pretty common for you at school.” 

Julianna Lile, Spring Grove Chapter NHS advisor, conducted the candle lighting ceremony. 

“Membership to this society has been earned by the effective demonstration of the four qualities held in high esteem by the National Honor Society, which was created in 1921,” she read. “When it began, its main purpose was to create enthusiasm for learning, to promote leadership, to stimulate a desire to provide service, and to develop character. These four qualities continue to be celebrated as we honor those newly elected today.”  

The lengthy process of selection for this honor is taken seriously. Students with a 3.3 cumulative-grade-point average are asked to fill out data sheets. 

School staff meets to look over the forms, looking at each and every applicant for the NHS principles. Every tenured staff member then votes for five. Applicants need to be on at least three of each ballot to qualify for selection.

Current NHS members explained the meaning of each of the candles. The center candle represents the flaming torch in the center of the NHS emblem. 

Each of the four candles lit from the center candle symbolizes the organization’s four principles: character, scholarship, leadership and service. 

Once inducted, it is a lifelong membership, which can be helpful in job interviews and on a resume. People recognize that as a solid example of being a good citizen in life.

Last year’s honorees introduced the new members by reading a short bio highlighting their accomplishments in the areas of the NHS principles. A candle was lit for each of them as a symbol of their membership.  

“We are very proud of all of you,” Lile stated. “You have represented yourself, your school, your family, and your community very well.”

All members recited the NHS pledge together.

On the last day of school, members are to stop at the office and sign the SG Chapter of NHS record book, get their certificate, and seniors receive their honor cords to wear on graduation.

In advance of the ceremony, Lile and Gulbranson had personally delivered a yellow flower and program folder to each honoree.

In conclusion, Principal Gulbranson stated, “This carries a huge honor, but it also carries an obligation. This is not done. You are leaders and you need to continue to be leaders at school for the remainder of the year, in your community you’re in now and that you might live in someday, and moving forward in your vocation in life as well as wherever your life’s journey takes you. This will go with you forever because you were selected for these four pillar attributes.”

Gulbranson is retiring at the end of this school year. “I couldn’t end up with a better bunch of kids. I smile when I see your faces and I know why I did this job for 24 years and it’s because you guys are fantastic!”

School records show that since 1938, the Spring Grove Chapter of NHS has inducted 588 members to the organization. 

Through the years there have been generations of some families who have been honored. There is a plaque in the school media center with all the names listed on it.

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