NHS silences stereotypes
February 6, 2009 · Updated 12:44 PM
By Safa Pinkens
“Beware of the teenagers!” laughed Nadia Arang, vice-president of the Arlington High School’s National Honor Society.
Another student, NHS member Marie Serica agreed that there is a generally negative stereotype of teenagers floating around the Arlington community, as in many other communities.
“It is good for people to see that there are teenagers who care,” Serica said.
NHS is national organization that focuses on bringing students together and exposing them to volunteer options in the community. The organization requires volunteer hours along with maintaining a high grade point average.
“It’s kind of annoying that grades have to be involved in it. I’d like to just volunteer,” said Randi Gorr, the treasurer of NHS whose favorite volunteer opportunity yet was the Save the World Foundation Benefit, an auction.
“I cleaned, I set up and I served cheesecake,” she said of her experience at the auction.
NHS motivates students to be involved where they might not be otherwise, explained Laurel Graves, NHS Parliamentarian.
“Before, I didn’t really do much volunteering outside my church, out of my comfort zone,” she said.
“I know that at first it was forcing people to do it, but eventually they have come to like helping out in the community."
Eric McElroy, another AHS student and NHS member, said that his previous volunteer experiences now seem to be less impressive in scale since he has been in NHS and has had much larger hour requirements.
“You never really realize how little you do and that motivates you to try harder,” said McElroy.
The organization can also force students to confront procrastination.
“I wanted to make a difference in my community, but I might have put it off until later and later,” reflected Leah Rensel, a NHS member at AHS.
Not only does NHS encourage students to make a difference, it also strengthens the interaction between Arlington’s school system and community, said Alexa Soriano, president of NHS at AHS.
Marilee Schneider, who has been the advisor to NHS at AHS for the past four years, agreed.
“The community learns from you that they are staying in touch with current youth and it also helps dispel stereotypes about youth,” Schneider said, adding that her own experience in NHS during her high school years resulted in a passion for volunteering.
“If I get a call, I go help. I have trouble saying 'no',” she confessed, smiling.
Members of NHS can only hope that Schneider’s love for volunteering is passed on to them, but I can already see it happening. Many teenagers, even outside of NHS, contribute huge amounts of time and effort to the community. However, NHS definitely helps teens learn the value of volunteer work and motivates them to actually get out there and lend a helping hand.
“Society is so focused on distancing you from the community; NHS helps bring you back,” said Schneider.
Through volunteering, both teens and adults from the school and the community can work together to make the world a little better. Each hand helps and maybe it will help silence stereotypes about troublesome teens by replacing them with friendship.
On Safa Pinkens
Safa Pinkens is a junior at Arlington High School who runs cross country and track and acts in school plays. She has a 3.98 GPA and writes periodic columns for The Arlington Times on events and activities at Arlington High School.