WHITEWATER — On Dec. 18, two Whitewater High School seniors and 21 juniors participated in the 63rd Annual WHS National Honor Society Induction Ceremony in the WHS auditorium, as they joined with 28 current members of the Minneiska Chapter established in 1956.
Nathan O’Shaughnessy, WHS associate principal, extended a welcome to the audience to “an exciting celebration of outstanding achievement for juniors and seniors at our school.”
In addressing the 23 inductees, O’Shaughnessy commented: “Your hard work, persistence and effort has paid off. It is an honor to be in the company of so many talented individuals.
“You are being commended for your success inside and outside of the classroom, for your hard work, for your commitment to helping others in the community and school, and for embodying what is meant by the ‘Whippet Way.’”
Following a singing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” and an a capella rendition of the “William Tell Overture” by the WHS Music Masters Ensemble, WHS Principal Mike Lovenberg offered opening remarks in recognizing “our new inductees and their membership into such a great organization.”
“Whitewater High School has historically focused on creating and sustaining an environment for achieving college and career readiness while becoming a school that exceeds expectations in academic pursuits,” he noted.
Lovenberg acknowledged that being a member of NHS includes maintaining an exemplary grade-point average, “representing a society that always places a strong emphasis on academic performance.”
Still, he cautioned, “We also know that the world is filled with many smart people who don’t always demonstrate the morals and ethics that are at the very core of what it means to be a member of an honor society.”
Referring to the four pillars upon which the NHS is built, Service, Leadership and Character, along with Scholarship, Lovenberg stated, “Each of you were chosen for membership into this organization because you are already hitting the mark in each of these areas.”
In closing, Lovenberg told the inductees, “Each of you are well on your way to making wonderful contributions to our world, and are well on your way to leaving a legacy that will carry on for future generations of Whitewater High School students.”
WHS Guidance Counselor Pamela Sonmor-Wintz has served as advisor for the NHS for 17 years.
She told the audience, “Students selected for membership are high-achieving young people who have demonstrated academic excellence, positive decision-making, inspirational leadership, and an impressive record of service to school and community. The standards for membership are very high and the young people here tonight have worked extremely hard and proven themselves worthy of this honor and recognition.”
Sonmor-Wintz installed each of the new officers for the NHS: Abby Grosinske, President; Allison Ceranske, Vice President; Broderick Frye, Treasurer; and Bryce Hibbs, Secretary.
Turning to the officers, Sonmor-Wintz said, “The world today needs faithful and compassionate leaders and our school is looking to you to lead its students. May you have a very successful year, and at the conclusion of your term of office may it be passed on with the satisfaction that much was accomplished for the welfare of our school and our organization.”
Each of the newly installed officers offered their thoughts regarding one of the fundamental principles of the National Honor Society, founded in 1921 by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Regarding Leadership, Abby Grosinske observed: “Being a leader and having leadership has nothing to do with how old you are, what you’re interested in or your intelligence level. Being a leader is about how you carry yourself, how you interact with others, and your integrity.
“Not just anyone can develop these traits,” she continued, “but those who do, do so by pushing their limits, trying new things, being willing to help others along the way, and taking time to reflect on their actions.”
Grosinske told the inductees that they are expected to be leaders in the school by “taking ownership during group projects, helping out teammates at practice, and making connections with underclassmen so they are prepared to become leaders themselves.
“You are here tonight because of your efforts to make Whitewater High School a better place to come to school, your classmates better people and yourself a better person,” she added.
Bryce Hibbs focused her remarks on Character, defining it as “a combination of mental and moral qualities and traits that make each individual who they are, and distinguishable from others,” and which are “demonstrated through someone’s personality, behavior and actions.”
“Character,” she emphasized, “is not something you just have. It is developed slowly over time by life experiences, how you handle them and what you learn from them.”
For Hibbs, elements of good character include loyalty, honesty, accepting outcomes and being accountable.
Moreover, people of good character are “willing to make sacrifices for others, value commitment and respect, and would do the right thing, even if it was of no benefit to them other than a great feeling in their heart. They face challenges head on, strive for the best outcome, learning along the way.”
Broderick Frye offered his reflection on the NHS pillar Scholarship.
He began by citing the definition of Scholarship found in the NHS Constitution as “a commitment to learning and growing on an educational path. It means making the most of the educational opportunities provided and seeking out learning . . . It stems from a desire to contribute to this world in a positive way by building on one’s own knowledge, skills and talent through different experiences.”
“Here at the Whitewater chapter we do value grades, yet the willingness to learn is deemed higher,” he continued, advising the inductees that to truly learn something requires befriending the subject, an idea he learned from the philosopher Augustine of Hippo.
Frye concluded with a challenge: “Become friends with your school subjects. Enjoy what you are learning. Don’t treat school as something you have to do; rather, treat it as an opportunity to expand your knowledge. That is the true meaning of a scholar.”
In considering the meaning of Service for NHS members, Vice President Allison Ceranske asked her parents why people do service work. They told her, “Service is a part of being human; it makes one feel good to help people who need it. Service is the right thing to do. Service is what we do out of the goodness of our hearts, not for show.”
Service work, she said, can be “tough,” offering as an example participating in a summer mission trip: “You endured humidity and high temperatures, you performed tasks like painting walls or pouring cement, and you did this all out of your comfort zone.”
Ceranske continued that service work, such as time spent cleaning up the side of roads littered with a year’s worth of trash, also can be unpleasant, gross, and exerting.
“Service work shouldn’t be looked at as a chore but as an opportunity for growth,” she told the audience.
After the inductees each were introduced by a current NHS member, each was presented with a pin and a certificate by Lovenberg and O’Shaughnessy, congratulated by Sonmor-Wintz and the officers, and signed the NHS Registry.
At the conclusion of the induction ceremony, Grosinske led the inductees in the NHS Pledge: “I pledge to uphold the high purposes of the National Honor Society to which I have been selected; I will be true to the principles for which it stands; I will be loyal to my school; and will maintain and encourage high standards of leadership, character, scholarship and service.”