Induction Ceremonies

Induction of new members into the National Honor Society is one of the most important traditions associated with any NHS or NJHS chapter and is an important event for the student, the chapter, and the school. The ceremony, whether public or private, provides an excellent opportunity to dramatize the purposes of the chapter. Because membership in NHS represents high levels of achievement, the induction ceremony should also reflect high standards.

The induction ceremony is usually conducted by the officers and members of the local chapter and reflects local traditions. There is no "official" ceremony; the National Council firmly believes that schools should create their own ceremonies and procedures. The only stipulation the National Council has made regarding induction ceremonies is that they be "appropriate and impressive." The following descriptions from NHS chapters are offered to help schools plan their own unique events.

Phillipsburg MS

The main part of the NJHS induction ceremony at Phillipsburg (NJ) MS is traditional and very formal: the commons is dimly lit; new and old members walk single file to the strains of live classical music; the faculty council, administrators, and inductees are suitably dressed. The controlled elegance changes to exuberance and humor when the previous year's members present the new members with gifts to help them in the coming year. Some examples of the gifts are: a golden rake to use when they participate in the town's clean-up, Unicef boxes rattling with coins to start them off on another year of collection, an appointment journal to keep for peer tutoring, a lively dance to remind them to plan for a school spirit activity, a chef's hat to wear when baking for the induction ceremony.

The audience enjoys this presentation because the members use lots of entertaining props, but the activity is important for other reasons as well. The formality is broken and parents' pride shines through; parents, administrators, and new inductees see what members have been doing all year and what the new members responsibilities will be in the coming year; and the accomplishments of the departing eighth graders are celebrated publicly. The names of all committees and chairpeople are also printed on the program.

Submitted by Ellen C. Andresen, adviser of the Phillipsburg (NJ) MS National Junior Honor Society.

Colegio Karl C. Parrish

Selecting "Reach for the Stars" as its theme, the NJHS chapter of Colegio Karl C. Parrish in Barranquilla, Colombia designed an induction ceremony that compared the members to stars and explained the real responsibilities of membership. In her speech, Sabrina Duncan, NJHS president, stressed "?being a member of (NJHS) is more than just a title, more than just a few words. Being part of the Junior Honor Society means?standing up when facing obstacles, because we have to shine more than ever; it is finding a way through problems, because no fog can stop us from reaching there. It means not to sit and wait for things to happen, or for things to get better, but to make them happen to you. It is knowing that for doing something and for making a difference, we don't have to be officers. Up there, we are all stars, emitting large amounts of positive energy, having different positions, motions, sizes, chemical compositions, and temperatures?In time, we form a constellation, which is a society that succeeds by following laws. Five laws which guide every person here, making them not only successful in school, but in our future, while we journey through the galaxies?are character, scholarship, service, leadership, and citizenship."

Ledyard HS

The Poets' Society at Ledyard (CT) HS selects a senior each year to serve as Poet Laureate. This individual works closely with an English teacher who is an accomplished poet. The Laureate is responsible for a poem in each edition of the school magazine, one at graduation, and one to be delivered at the National Honor Society induction ceremony.

Rolla HS

In an effort to bring teachers and students together and increase teacher support at the NHS banquet, the Rolla (MO) HS NHS chapter presents "Most Influential Teacher" Awards. Each NHS senior names the teacher who has been the most influential in his/her life while at Rolla HS. Following the induction ceremony, each senior is called to the front and the NHS adviser reads out the name of that student's most influential teacher. Certificates and a pin or some other remembrance are presented to the selected teachers. The teachers do not know who chose them until the announcement at the induction ceremony. In addition to letting teachers know they are appreciated, the gesture also gives students an opportunity to reflect on the fact that others have helped them get to where they are.

Weedsport Central HS

NHS members at Weedsport Central HS in New York design their induction ceremonies to recognize the accomplishments of their youth while recognizing parents and teachers who help them along the way.


The current members of the NHS choose an inspirational theme, often related to a current song on the radio so the music can be incorporated into the ceremony. A candlelight ceremony is held in the evening to accommodate parent's work schedules. Themes which have been developed around songs on the radio have included "Reach" by Gloria Estefan, "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler, "You've Got a Friend" by James Taylor, and "Go the Distance" by Michael Bolton.

The current members meet the new inductees ahead of the event, interview the inductee and then introduce him or her during the ceremony. The introduction highlights their accomplishments and offers a personal insight gained from the interactions of the two students. Seniors are given a flower in recognition of their involvement with NHS.

In some years, parents and/or teachers have been given a tribute. The year when the theme was "Wind Beneath My Wings" each student gave a short statement of how their parents are the wind and then presented them with a flower. They also wrote personal invitations to teachers who made a special difference (we made sure each teacher received one) and asked them to come. A speech was given to honor teachers. Many teachers attended and were proud to hear how they make a difference.

The typical ceremony includes a covered dish supper prepared by the families of the current members held prior to the ceremony, or a dessert reception held after the ceremony. The families have gladly offered to make food and it results in more families attending. We decorate the cafeteria with candles, flowers, and tablecloths which helps create a formal setting.

For the ceremony itself, the students walk in with lit candles, either with each current member assigned to a new inductee or officers first, followed by seniors, juniors, and new members. A student usually gives a theme speech, the four characteristics of the NHS are explained with the candles lit, a guest speaker gives an inspirational speech, members are inducted, and others are recognized. The guest speaker is generally someone from the community, an administrator, or a faculty member. The members choose the speaker.

When students are inducted, the current member gives recognition to the new member before he/she receives the pin, certificate, and card. This part of the ceremony has been most effective as it helps the members get to know one another and helps them appreciate their different strengths.

We have also have a slide show with accompanying music that shows pictures of the students in NHS activities and in school related activities. The slide show uses a song connected to the theme or the theme song itself. Parents and students alike enjoy this presentation.

Submitted by Teresa Huggins, the former adviser of the Weedsport Central National Honor Society chapter.

Lindenhurst HS

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the National Honor Society, the executive board of the Lindenhurst (NY) HS National Honor Society chapter purchased a cake and lead the singing of "Happy Birthday" to NHS at a reception following the ceremony. A record 45 new members were inducted during the ceremony which featured speeches describing the true meaning of an NHS member. The formal reception for more than 150 guests was catered by the Culinary Arts class of the high school.

Edgewood HS

Edgewood Regional HS in Atco, NJ, recently conducted its thirty-eighth induction of members into the National Honor Society. The evening began with a banquet and the awarding of the third annual Staff Appreciation Award. For a staff member to receive this award, he or she must first be nominated by an Honor Society member. The nomination should include the ways the nominee taught, counseled, directed, coached, inspired or encouraged students to:

  • Do their best in a field of study or personal achievement
  • Uphold the principles that represent the NHS
  • Accomplish their personal goals and objectives.

The officers, faculty adviser, and the principal review all nomination letters and select the staff member who will receive the award.

The induction ceremony itself began after the banquet. In recognition of the 75th anniversary of the NHS, Edgewood decided to induct an honorary member, former New Jersey Governor James Florio who was a member of the chapter in 1979.

Chapter officers led the procession to "The Colors of the Wind," followed by a welcome address by Mr. Florio. A presentation of the objectives of NHS was given by the chapter historian. The chapter officers each read the meaning of one of the attributes of NHS members-scholarship, leadership, service, and character-and lit a candle. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the inductees by the chapter adviser. Each inductee received an official certificate, membership pin, and handbook. To finish off the festivities, the Alma Mater was sung. Finally the recessional began as members, both old and new, walked out to "Linus and Lucy."

Holy Redeemer HS

The traditional candle-lighting ceremony took on new life this year as the inductees gathered valuable lessons from The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint Exupery. An interpretive reading of the dialogue between the Little Prince and the inhabitants of Asteroids 325 through 330 proved to be entertaining and informative.

A lesson in leadership came from the king on the first planet. He insisted that his authority should be respected and he gave "reasonable orders" but to be an effective leader we know that one must "require from each the duty which each can perform." The second planet was inhabited by a conceited man who was always asking to be admired. To be sure, admiration is desirable, but our interpreter commented that good character consists in realizing that everything that is right is not always popular and everything that is popular is not always right.

The businessman on the fourth planet spoke of "matters of consequence" so we recognized service activities as proof of NHS commitment to today's "matters of consequence."

Finally, the explorer on Asteroid 330 became our scholar. There is a difference between that which is "ephemeral" and knowledge that will carry forth into the future. As the last candle was lit and the NHS pledge was recited, 22 more members left to live the lessons from The Little Prince.

Wappingers Falls JHS

The induction ceremony at Wappingers Falls (NY) JHS carries out a different theme each year. Last year's "Reach for the Stars" was seen in the foil stars that decorated the background stage curtain, the wire gift wrap halos worn by the ushers, and the program cover. The speakers on the NJHS qualities all indicated how reaching for the stars would improve that quality. The guest speaker, an avid star-gazer, gave a brief history of astronomy, indicating how each of the ancients, even those who were incorrect, contributed to our knowledge.

In honor of the Olympics, this year's theme was "Go For the Gold." Again, the speeches all reflected the importance of aiming high. The guest speaker was the coach of the winning Marist College basketball team. The inductees all wore a gold "medal," a chocolate gold foil coin hot-glued to a red neck ribbon.

McHenry Community HS

The Maurie Taylor Chapter of National Honor Society at McHenry (IL) East Campus HS had an induction with a touch of class this year. As the inductees and their families and friends arrived, beautiful music wafted throughout the Teaching Theater used for the ceremony. The music was compliments of a biology teacher and a physics teacher, playing a wooden Renaissance era flute and a harpsichord piano. The virtuosos wore matching full tuxedos with tails for their debut. Both inductees and guests alike expressed their enthusiastic approval for the program.

Columbia Central HS

The handbook from NASSP for the National Honor Society provides only a little information about induction ceremonies, merely that they be impressive and formal. So what is a little chapter with a new adviser to do? Columbia Central HS of Brooklyn, MI, did it up big, securing the talents of Miss Coni Lyn Hull, the reigning (at that time) Miss Michigan. We also renamed and dedicated the chapter to a faculty member who had died the year before. His family was invited, a plaque was presented to them, and the evening was a true success.

So how do you top all of that? My officers and I met back in August, and I put the word out to start looking for someone to speak at inductions. All kinds of ideas surfaced-after all, we had to do better than last year-but all were rejected for one reason or another. As the deadline came upon us, a letter came out of the blue. One of the inductees just happened to be the son of one of the charter members from back in 1960. She wrote me and mentioned that Mike was the last child to be inducted from that original group, most of whom still lived in the community. Suddenly, ad idea! Why not ask these charter members to speak? After all, if it weren't for them, there wouldn't be a chapter today. Well, we asked, but they refused. They were all more than willing to come in, but no one wanted to take the podium.

So once again we were without a speaker. A brainstorming session came up with the idea of inviting Miss Vivian Kellogg, a member of the All American Girls Baseball League during WWII, and now a AABSL Hall of Famer. Miss Kellogg just happens to live in our town, the baseball field is named after her, and all the roads leading into town have welcome signs designating Brooklyn as her hometown. We called her and she was delighted.

So, finally all the pieces were falling into place. But we still had all these charter members to deal with. Yearbooks, newspaper clippings, and all other kinds of memorabilia started to surface; the history of our school's NHS chapter was becoming more and more clear. The current members were starting to speculate as to what the members from the '60s did for projects, parties, etc. A phone call to one of the members painted a picture of America just prior to the Vietnam Conflict. The typical American high school student knew that something was happening, but wasn't sure what. A suggestion was made to have the charter members act as assistants during the ceremony, passing out certificates, cards, and pins. This was met with great enthusiasm from the charter members, as they were finally doing something more than just sitting on the stage.

When the evening for inductions came around, my officers and I were worried about how all this would come together. The charter members started coming is, some alone, some with spouses or children. To them it was an evening of remembering, to us it was a chance to meet someone new. A very special person then arrived-the original adviser for the chapter, now well into her eighties. Hugs, stories, and laughs were shared by all.

The actual induction ceremony went as planned, with its normal share of glitches; as I told my officers (who actually planned and ran the ceremony) no one in the audience really knows what we have to do or say, so if things don't happen, no one will know.

It was especially great for me to be able to introduce the original adviser to the audience, and she gladly took the podium and charged the current members with maintaining the high standards that she and the charter members set up more than 30 years ago. During the candle light part of the service, when the inductees take the pledge, the original members went down into the audience and lit the new member's candles. It was a very impressive sight, the line of inductees, parents, and charter members all holding candles and pledging to commit to their school and community. So do you have to have a big name celebrity for your speaker? We did, and it was great. But this year's induction proved that sometimes just an old friend speaking means just as much. If you are looking for a speaker, or even a theme for your induction ceremony, don't look towards Hollywood-look into your past and see what you can find. We did, and what we learned will be with us for a long time.

Submitted by Tom Oakley NHS adviser at Columbia Central HS in Brooklyn, MI. This article originally appeared in the April 1997 issue of Leadership magazine.

Leadership for Student Activities magazine would like to feature your school's induction ceremony in its next article on inductions. Send a description of your ceremony and include favorite quotations on leadership, service, scholarship, and character or other items that describe your ceremony. Color photos are also welcome. Please do not write on the backs of photographs; write caption information on a separate sheet. Mail your information to Leadership for Student Activities, Lyn Fiscus, editor, 1904 Association Dr., Reston, VA 20191-1537, or e-mail to

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