The National Honor Society (NHS) elevates a school’s commitment to the values of scholarship, service, leadership, and character. These four pillars have been associated with membership in the organization since its inception in 1921. Learn more about these four pillars of membership here.
Today, it is estimated that more than one million students participate in NHS activities. NHS chapters are found in all 50 states, US Territories, Canada, and around the world. Chapter membership not only recognizes students for their accomplishments, but challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service.
As such, NHS chapters and students are in schools that care not only about student achievement, but also community engagement.
NHS students and their peers volunteer in their communities at the highest rates and make connecting with and serving within the community a priority. The average chapter contributes:
- 1,000 hours of school/community service
- $26,000 in charitable donations
- 1,000 pounds of food to local, state, and national causes
- 100 pints of blood
National Honor Society membership is invitation-only and a specific honor. But Everyday Scholarship, Service, Leadership, and Character are shared values of schools, communities, and families.
Everyday Scholarship is a commitment to learning and growing on an educational path. It means making the most of the educational opportunities provided and seeking out learning, not only in school or similar settings, but also personally. Everyday Scholarship doesn’t require a minimum GPA—but it does require effort. More importantly, 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.
Everyday Service is seeking out and engaging in meaningful service. It calls for a service mindset, the desire to seek opportunities to help others as well as acts of service. As Honor Society students, many young teens and young adults at local chapters are required to meet minimum service participation requirements.
Although hours are important, Everyday Service is seeing a need and fulfilling it voluntarily. Sometimes it’s driven by a passion for a specific cause or people in need. Other times, it’s driven by personal or family need, like taking care of siblings or other family members, or maybe even working part-time to help with family finances.
Everyday Leadership builds on Everyday Service. Service and leadership oftentimes look very similar. Everyday Leadership is carrying oneself with dignity and taking ownership and responsibility for one’s own actions and participation. Being a public speaker, playing quarterback, or having an official title is not required for Everyday Leadership. Everyday Leadership means being an agent—someone who takes action and responsibility—of your own pathway.
Everyday Character is valuing diverse cultures and building relationships that reflect love of self but also concern for others. There are endless attributes to good character: perseverance, respect, integrity, honesty, sacrifice—the list goes on. Good and noble character is a high calling. Oftentimes we don’t “see” character unless there is a public display of self-sacrifice, or more often, a very public mistake. Everyday Character is not about praiseworthy or blameworthy behavior but the personal commitment to ethical and compassionate decision making that affects oneself and others.