By Kallie Hoffman
Byram Hills High School routinely qualifies for national science fairs, fills its auditorium for plays and musicals and attracts numerous spectators to its sporting events; however, often overlooked among the marvelous young biologists, actors, actresses and athletes are the enormous artistic abilities prevalent within its student body. Thus, to recognize the vast creative talents existing at Byram Hills, many of the art teachers at the school are excited to invite qualified sophomores, juniors, and seniors to apply for membership in the newly formed National Art Honors Society (NAHS).
NAHS is affiliated with the National Art Education Association, with over 58,000 students who actively participate across the country. Students are offered the chance to gain peer recognition, an opportunity for leadership growth, college and career preparation, and an unmatched sense of camaraderie among artists. Society president Olivia Johnson is passionate about starting this chapter on account that “it will ensure that the art presence at Byram Hills does not disappear.” In addition, NAHS will enable talented young adults to interact with mentors who share their love of art and can help them reach their creative potential. Students in the senior class will be eligible to apply for the Charles M. Robertson Memorial Scholarship, as well as grants and scholarships from the Columbus College of Art and Design and Maryland Institute College of Art. Juniors are eligible for the Rising Stars Secondary Recognition Program Award, while students of every class year can submit their work for possible inclusion in the annual NAHS/NJAHS Juried Exhibition held at the NAEA Studio & Gallery. Membership in this organization can be extremely rewarding on a personal level for students, but it also presents the opportunity to showcase the collective artistic abilities of Byram Hills and the incredible work being created by its art department.
NAHS aims to provide recognition to high achieving art students, but even the most talented must satisfy a number of threshold scholastic requirements to be inducted. To be eligible a student must have successfully completed at least three semesters of art with an average Grade Point Average of A or higher, must have an overall academic Grade Point Average of B or higher, and must produce a compelling essay explaining why he or she is interested in the organization and why he or she deserves to be selected. NAHS has extremely high standards for membership as selection is a large honor, and a ceremony is held every January for students who are chosen to join the group.
Once becoming a part of NAHS, students are expected to maintain their commitment to artistic achievement. Moreover, the organization expects its members to give back to the community. Every individual must contribute to and actively participate in NAHS- sponsored events throughout the academic year. These programs range in scope and substance and may be as simple as distributing information to eighth graders interested in art or making a demonstration to studio art classes. Other activities are more complex and challenging and may require a student to organize a community service project structured around an artistic application. These events are more a joy than a burden, and at a minimum, they help develop leadership skills in and out of the classroom.
The National Art Honors Society is a brand new program at Byram Hills and with evolution and progress comes great energy and excitement. It is a competitive process to be admitted, and it requires a level of dedication once you are in, but that is the case with any club, group or team that attracts talented and ambitious students. Members will also benefit from trips to some of the finest art galleries in the area, dinners in Manhattan, and the chance to showcase one’s portfolio of work. Society organizer, Mrs. Menasche, could barely contain her enthusiasm about NAHS. She remarked about adding this organization to Byram Hills: “I am excited to get the program off the ground in its first year, and I am looking forward to even greater possibilities in the years to come!” There is every reason to believe that Mrs. Menasche is correct about the prospects of NAHS, and there is little doubt that Byram’s art students will soon earn the accolades previously reserved for its scientists, thespians and athletes.