By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — National Honor Society (NHS) is an organization comprised of the top high school students in the country. The Marshfield chapter of NHS is in its 90th year of existence. The national organization was founded in 1921.
Danielle Dieringer, a communication arts instructor at Marshfield High School and co-advisor with NHS, said the organization works to promote the development of young leaders with an emphasis on academic achievement. A grade point average of 3.75 is required to qualify for NHS.
“It’s about academic excellence. That’s the first thing you have to demonstrate to be invited. Then it’s about making a commitment to maintain that academic excellence and demonstrating civic awareness and leadership,” Dieringer said.
Two of NHS’ leaders are seniors Rebekah Cravillion and Lara Prebble. Cravillion is the special projects coordinator, and Prebble is the president of the organization.
Cravillion said that she came to Marshfield High School from another school district in her freshman year. In her time at Marshfield High School, Cravillion has found that organizations like NHS and the advanced placement (AP) program have given her more opportunities to excel as a student.
“I’ve really definitely seen how this high school stands out,” Cravillion said.
In addition to academic excellence, volunteering is a prerequisite for being accepted into NHS. Fifty volunteer hours are required to be accepted into the organization as a junior, and 75 hours are required if a student wants to join as a senior.
“Volunteering is important, and a part of NHS is volunteering with others. … It’s good because it gets the Marshfield High School name out there, and it makes volunteering more exciting. … You’re more enthused to do it when you’re volunteering with friends,” Prebble said.
Prebble added that in addition to the initial volunteer hours requirement, students must volunteer throughout their time in the organization.
NHS students have contributed volunteer hours to numerous organizations in Marshfield. They helped set up Rotary’s Winter Wonderland this year, have baked cookies for Hope Lodge, and have volunteered for Salvation Army, Chestnut Avenue Center for the Arts, and many other groups and events. On a monthly basis, NHS collects canned goods to take to local food pantries.
Dieringer said that the canned good collection is a way to keep the idea of helping others at the forefront of the students’ minds.
“This is another nice way for the kids to learn about helping out your neighbors. (The students’) time is precious because they’re involved in so many things in school, and they’re taking, obviously, honors and AP courses. This is another way to help out your neighbor, feed your neighbor,” Dieringer said. “We want them to be conscious community members.”
NHS’ latest project is an effort to collect hats, gloves, and books for local children in need at Lincoln Elementary School. The 80 students in NHS will bring in items to help with the collection, and they are hoping to collect the materials in multiples of 90 to commemorate the organization’s anniversary.
Dieringer pointed to former United States Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird as NHS’ most distinguished alumnus but added that all members make an impact.
“Every single kid who’s been in it has been remarkable,” Dieringer said.
Dieringer added that longtime co-advisor to NHS Katherine Campbell has been a fixture and driving force behind the organization’s success in Marshfield.
“Katherine Campbell has been heading up NHS since she retired from the high school, and she’s really the heart and soul of this (organization). If anyone serves as a role model on how to give and how to volunteer, she and her husband John … are truly impressive,” Dieringer said.
Cravillion plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison next fall, and Prebble will go to Wellesley College near Boston. The work they have done at Marshfield High School and with NHS will prepare them to be leaders at the college level and beyond.