In the current educational system, students are flooded with information 50 minutes a period, seven periods a day. However, oftentimes that learning isn’t carried into situations outside the classroom. This is where honor societies such as the National English Honors Society, or NEHS, greatly contribute to the enrichment of the learning on and off campus.
“I started this honor society with the intent to promote literacy on campus,” senior and NEHS president Brandon Boies said. “In today’s age a lot of kids don’t really engage with English outside of the classroom setting and we wanted to change that.”
NEHS is a nationally recognized organization, dating back to March 2004 when it was chartered by Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society. The official website details the foundations of each chapter, as well as the criteria necessary to obtain membership.
“Because it’s a honor society more is expected out of the students involved and we do have standards and expectations coming into it,” Boies said.
Even though it was officially started towards the end of last year, this fall marks prime activity time and the club is off to a strong start, according to senior Mackenzie Cunningham.
“At the first meeting, you could definitely tell how excited everyone was to be a part of something new,” Cunningham said.”Probably since we’re all a bunch of English nerds, it was easy to bond with people off the bat.”
Just like with any extracurricular activity, college applications were not far from students’ minds.
“I wanted to be involved in something that colleges potentially look for and since my friends were joining, it seemed like fun,” senior Nathan Rose said.
The first test of the year has come in the form of a sponsored book sale on Friday Oct. 27, in conjunction with Cliff’s Books in downtown Deland. When club sponsor and English teacher Robert Vickery introduced the idea, members were eager to jump on board, both to spread some knowledge and generate revenue.
“The bookstore owner, Cliff, agreed to split some of the profits with us for setting up and tearing down the sale area,” Boies said.
The day before the big event, Rose and Cunningham both loaded up their cars with boxes of materials, moving over 80 boxes from the Deltona store to the media center.
“I was one of the people to help bring the books from the store in Deland and set up the tables in the media center,” Rose said.
However once the bell rang for first period and the students began trickling in, it was evident that their work was for a worthwhile cause.
“When kids showed up with five or 10 dollars in their pocket, they were willing to spend money on the books that peaked their interests,” Boies said.
In almost an eerie way, the large student response seems to confirm the predictions that guided the club into existence in the first place; that exposure to literature has become limited to the brief scope of what’s covered in the next VLT.
“A lot of students aren’t really familiar with poetry and literature until it’s forced upon them, which can be boring and repetitive at times so this was a way to break that cycle,” Cunningham said.
With a final balance for the day being upwards of $500 and nearly 30 percent of that coming back to the school, there’s no question about the successfulness of the sale. But Boies is determined not to stop gaining momentum.
“That was our first event of the year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we’re going to be able to create this year. Moving forward from this, we’re going right into the next one which is reading books to kids in the hospital over the holidays,” Boies said.
But money and memberships aside, the most important part of the organization’s values is still about creating an environment for fostering learning. In between events, there are times for discussions and collaborations among students ranging from the best format for a poem, to the correct grammar to use in a thesis.
“Throughout this year I hope to work with other members to improve my English and literature skills,” Rose said.
And for others, it’s simply a way to plug in to the place we call home for seven hours out of the day.
“Being involved in a club is an amazing opportunity in itself,” Cunningham said. “You get introduced to a completely new community of people and have the chance to grow with them.”