National Honor Society induction ceremony welcomes new members


Esha Gohil

Upper school National Honor Society (NHS) inductees stand and raise their right hand as they recite an oath committing themselves to the values and responsibilities of NHS. Established in 1921, the national association honors students demonstrating excellence in academic achievement, service, leadership and character.

by Olivia Xu and Trisha Iyer

The upper school’s National Honor Society (NHS) chapter welcomed new members in its annual induction ceremony that took place in the Nichols auditorium at 6 p.m. on Tuesday Oct. 12.

Established in 1921, the national association honors students demonstrating excellence in academic achievement, service, leadership and character. As a part of NHS, members are expected to help organize campus events such as the Service Fair, annual food drive and Open Houses. 

Sophomores, juniors and seniors with a clean disciplinary record who are not already NHS members were invited to apply to the program by Sept. 27. As part of the process, they were required to answer one of two prompts about honor and service as well as request two letters of recommendation from teachers highlighting the student’s leadership, service or character.

Co-president Angela Jia (12) began the ceremony by introducing NHS as the nation’s oldest and most prestigious student recognition organization, based upon its four core tenets of scholarship, service, leadership and character. She discussed scholarship, emphasizing the importance of a love of learning among students. NHS co-presidents Emily Zhou (12), William Chien (12) and Mir Bahri (11), then spoke about service, leadership and character, respectively.

Mir asked the new inductees to stand and raise their right hand and led them in reciting an oath committing themselves to the values and responsibilities of NHS. Then, upper school Mandarin teacher and NHS co-faculty adviser Shaun Jahshan lit the candle to represent the “flame of knowledge” casting a warm glow over the attendees and a stage decorated with pink, purple, and gold flowers.

“The flame of knowledge is a Harker thing,” Jahshan said, “but it’s also an NHS thing. It’s in the ceremony [guidelines] that the national organization has published. We used to even have everybody light their own candle in the auditorium, but that can get a little hazardous.”

Instead, each student received a miniature candle to light at their own convenience when they were called up by Emily in alphabetical order of last name to pose for a picture with their official NHS certificate of membership and with upper school mathematics teacher and co-faculty adviser Chris Davies.

After students received their candle and certificate, upper school speech and debate teacher Scott Odekirk was invited to give a speech. Beginning with a story about the death of his wife shortly after the birth of his daughter and the response of his community to his grief, Odekirk stressed the idea that only through facing challenges can one fully understand and build character.

“After my wife passed about six years ago, I learned a lot about just the way that communities come together and what it’s like to really suffer something tragic and sort of the way that that’s complicated and how that relates to service,” Odekirk said. 

Odekirk related the story of a neighbor named Nancy who would unobtrusively and consistently cook and leave meals for him in his months of mourning. He also hoped to give NHS inductees perspective into the other side of service: how the recipients feel. 

“Every day draws me to that memory: it’s not something that really leaves you,” he said. “In this speech, I tried to think about [that memory] not from the perspective of the person performing the service. Talking to a bunch of people about their personal stakes in service just seems hollow to me. I thought, by telling my story on this, that I could get people to think about service from the perspective of the person served.”

Angela, who has been a member of the NHS since her sophomore year, spoke to the joyful emotions of the ceremony. 

“Mr. Odekirk’s speech was really moving,” Angela said. “I definitely feel a kind of pride and happiness overall; this is my second year doing the ceremony, and last year it was all on Zoom, and it was much shorter. I think this year it’s really nice, it’s a lot more immersive. We got the candles back out!”

William concluded the ceremony by thanking the organizers of the ceremony and congratulating the newly inducted members.

This is the first year that Chris Davies will be faculty adviser for the NHS, but he hopes that this ceremony marks a shift to a new normal of service. 

“My hope is that we can rebound from a COVID pandemic year, where reaching out in-person and in the community was difficult, if not impossible,” Davies said. “And now we can really get out there in the community and meet people and help people.”  

Ramit Goyal (10), who became a full member of the NHS in Tuesday’s ceremony, expressed excitement for upcoming work with the organization.

“[I joined NHS because] I like to give back to the community and take part in different leadership opportunities,” he said. “[In the future] I hope to attend many different events, fundraisers [and] open houses and to serve the community.”

This year’s inductees are as follows: Defne Avkarogullari, Gautam Bhooma, Matthew Chen, Amiya Chokhawala, Amruta Dharmapurikar, Andrew Fu, Varun Fuloria, Justin Fung, Emma Gao, Ariana Goetting, Ramit Goyal, Ashley Hong, Trisha Iyer, Serena Janny, Muzzi Khan, Zubin Khera, Chloe Lee, William Lee, Catherine Li, Joe Li, Heidi Lu, Ashley Ma, Ipsita Mandal, Vikram Mani, Claire Miao, Isha Moorjani, Rahul Santhanam, Arushi Sharma, Julie Shi, Metrica Shi, Nidhya Shivakumar, Om Tandon, Benjamin Tian, Aniketh Tummala, Deeya Viradia, Cynthia Wang, Olivia Xu, Austina Xu, Fiona Yan, Gwen-Zoe Yang, Maryam Zehra and Kevin Zhang. 

This article was updated on Oct. 22, 2021 to include the number and names of inductees.