NHS Inducts 66 New Members

Nora Toscano, Editor-in-Chief

On December 5th, Wantagh High School’s chapter of the National Honor Society inducted 66 new members, including both juniors and seniors. The inductees were joined by family and friends to celebrate the hard work and dedication they have put into their academics and extracurriculars during high school. Board of Education members Ms. Laura Reich, Ms. Tara Cassidy, Ms. Jennifer Perfetti, and Mr. Adam Fisher were also in attendance, along with administration members Mr. John McNamara, Dr. Paul Guzzone, Mr. Nick Pappas, and Dr. Christopher Widmann. The ceremony’s keynote speaker was Wantagh English teacher and Sportsnite advisor Ms. Alexandra Zarella.

In order to be considered for National Honor Society, students were required to have earned an unweighted average of 90 or above. After being asked to apply, students documented their extracurricular activities and community service projects, demonstrating service, leadership, and character: three of the four pillars of the National Honor Society. Ultimately, each student’s application was reviewed and approved by the Faculty Council. 

Dr. Guzzone gave the first speech of the night, congratulating the inductees on their accomplishments and discussing the many challenges this class of inductees went through to get to this point, including COVID restrictions and hybrid learning. Mr. McNamara’s speech followed, thanking the parents for their strong support of their children through their academic and extracurricular pursuits and remarking on his own son’s induction, which has given him an understanding of the dedication that NHS students have put into their work. Board of Education President Ms. Reich stated how proud the inductees should be of their hard work and praised them for pursuing academic and extracurricular excellence, even during COVID. 

Ms. Zarella, the ceremony’s keynote speaker, discussed the quote by John Dewey on which the ceremony was based: “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” She talked about her own experiences in therapy, and how she went into it thinking the doctor would tell her “everything that was wrong and how to fix it immediately,” but eventually “learned to not listen to reply, but listen to understand.” She also remarked on the continuity of education, how it exists both inside and outside the classroom as it recently had for her. “As you continue whatever path of education you choose in life, learn a little about a lot of things, and recognize that your real education came from within your home,” she said. “…Yes, you’ve excelled on chem quizzes and English essays and math midterms, but really it has been the life lessons – the traditions, memories, and bonds that have shaped you into the graceful, capable, outstanding young people sitting here today.” To close an extremely compelling and heartfelt speech, she reminded the inductees to “keep living, keep learning, and keep listening.”

The candle lighting ceremony followed, with the candle of knowledge lighting candles of scholarship, service, character, and leadership. Once the candles were lit, Vice Presidents Cathryn Popadin-Lesniak and Caitlin Wiffler led the inductees in the induction pledge and certificates were distributed. Co-Presidents Katherine Killian and Nora Toscano concluded the ceremony with speeches in which they reflected on opportunities for education and the importance of learning. 

Ms. Psihos, the advisor of the National Honor Society, shared, “I’m proud of all the seniors for the way that the ceremony ran, especially the Executive Board and our volunteers who helped everything run smoothly. Everybody stepped up their game and it was nice to see the seniors supporting everyone inducted.” Ms. Psihos put in weeks of hard work to organize the ceremony and assure everything went as perfectly as it did to ensure the inductees were rightfully honored for their amazing achievements. “It’s impressive to see that the juniors have their priorities where they should be: academics first, and service second,” she said.