Excitement written on their faces and surrounded by relatives who came to share in their golden moment, eight students were inducted.
Tuesday night into the Shelter Island Chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS). Eight others, already in the honor society, participated in a re-induction ceremony.
Undaunted by a steady rain that greeted their arrival at the Ram’s Head Inn, the students gathered for pictures in the bar area as relatives jockeyed for position with their cellphones to capture the moment.
The eight new members are: Bianca Evangelista, Emily Strauss, Francesca Frasco, Isabella Sherman, Lindsey Gallagher, Luke Gilpin, Madison Hallman and Sarah Lewis.
Members dedicate themselves to four main pillars of achievement — scholarship, leadership, service and character.
To qualify, they must have:
• Maintained an academic average of 90 or better with course work of academic rigor, indicated by working to achieve the highest level of Regents Diploma accreditation offered by the state
• Maintained fewer than 10 percent absences
• Demonstrated high character through their academic careers
• Demonstrated potential leadership abilities
Nominees must complete an activity information packet that includes a list of school and community service leadership activities; two short essays; and a letter of recommendation.
Eligibility starts in the junior year in high school, but there’s no requirement that students who meet the criteria must join. And those not qualifying in the first quarter of their junior year can reapply.
Talking with students who were inducted in the past, they refer to the opportunity to serve as leaders at school and to do community service that has enhanced their lives.
“It’s great,” said Olivia Yeaman describing how the service aspects of the program have given her a great love of the community beyond the campus.
Members speak to students in lower grades to encourage them to strive to meet the criteria so they can become members when they hit their junior year.
“I hope it’s an inspiration to younger students,” Sophia Strauss said.
Elizabeth Larsen called it an opportunity to be involved in activities she otherwise wouldn’t get to do.
They credit NHS advisor Janine Mahoney with opening up community service projects for them. Annually, they have participated in the Relay for Life, helping to raise money for the American Cancer Society; operated their Cardboard Campout in early November to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity; and in recent years, spent time helping to build Habitat for Humanity housing.
Other group projects have included assisting with yard work for Island neighbors; stuffing goodie bags and doing other volunteer work for the Shelter Island 5k and 10K/5K; and raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Society.
Members become Christmas elves helping to fill boxes at Island Post Offices for those in need. Individually, they engage in their own projects, such as Sophia Strauss’ decision to collect items for the people of Haiti in a program launched by Stony Brook nursing student Joey Ryan who brought the items to Haiti earlier this month.
He returned to tell the Shelter Island Board of Education that Ms. Strauss’ efforts went beyond his expectations.
How hard is it to maintain membership while engaging in various other activities and keeping their grades solid?
“I sleep a lot less,” Will Garrison said. But while it’s “a struggle,” he said he’s glad he joined.
Balancing time and setting priorities is one benefit from membership, Ms. Yeaman said.
Ms. Mahoney reaches out to students who are eligible and talks with their parents about the advantages she believes NHS membership offers.
BACKGROUNDS OF INDUCTEES
Bianca Evangelista has demonstrated leadership abilities as 10th grade class secretary. In the 11th grade, she has served as captain of the boys varsity golf team and treasurer of the yearbook staff. She has also led the busing crew at Gardiner’s Bay Country Club.
Her community service activities have included participation in the Cardboard Campout, singing the National Anthem at Bucks games and other sporting events; participating in the Community Choir; helping with the Empty Bowls program; and singing with the Select Choir at Veterans Day ceremonies.
Emily Strauss has been a member of the East End Leadership Forum; was treasurer of her ninth grade class; and is a member of the Southold Youth Forum for Students Against Drunk Driving.
She has participated in the Empty Bowls fundraiser; the Cardboard Campout; Relay for Life; and packed goodie bags and served as a staffer for the Shelter Island 5k and Shelter Island 10k/5k.
Francesca Frasco has been president of both her 10th and 11th grade classes; a Youth Group Leader; a member of the Cross Country Team and Winter Track captain; a member of the East End Leadership Forum; and she won a Rotary Youth Leadership Award when she was in the 10th grade.
Her community service has included participation in the Relay for Life; Cardboard Campout; a mission trip with a youth group; waitressing at St. Mary’s Church St. Nick Café; and participating in the Empty Bowl fundraiser.
Isabella Sherman has been a member of the National Youth Leadership Forum; active in Girl Scouting; and is Youth Group leader. She has participated in the St. Mary’s Church St. Nick Fair; helped with Presbyterian Church celebrity chef and Shelter Island Lions Club dinners; and helped fill goodie bags for participants in the Shelter Island 10k/5K.
Lindsey Gallagher is editor of The Inlet; team captain of the Cross Country Team; attended a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program; is a Shelter Island All-Faith Youth Group leader; and participated in the Southold Town Youth Forum.
She participated in a youth group mission trip; the Cardboard Campout; Relay for Life; Shelter Island Presbyterian Church celebrity chef dinners; and has been a volunteer for the Shelter Island 10k/5k.
Luke Gilpin has been a member of the Student Council; was a member of the 2015 Class Council; captain of the varsity basketball team; a facilitator at the Rotary Youth Leadership program; and won a Rotary Youth Leadership Award.
He has participated in the Cardboard Campout,; raised funds for the poor in South America; and assisted at celebrity chef dinners.
Madison Hallman is a teacher at MainStage Dance Academy; secretary of the yearbook staff; treasurer of the Student Council; was captain of the junior varsity basketball team when she was in the ninth grade; and a Class of 2018 representative to the Student Council when she was in both the ninth and 10th grades.
She has helped place flags along the Joey Theinert mile for the Shelter Island 10k/5k; assisted in filling goodie bags and helped with shower and baggage claims for race participants; assisted with a Round Table Discussion in Fort Myers, Florida; and served a dance internship.
Sarah Lewis was president of her ninth grade class and vice president of her 10th grade class; is a junior class representative to the Student Council; a softball pitcher and a volleyball setter, both leadership roles for each team; and she holds a food manager certificate for her work at the Tuck Shop.
She has participated in stuffing goodie bags for participants at the Shelter Island 5k and 10k/5k events; helped place flags along the Joey Theinert mile on the 10k/5k course; and participated in the Cardboard Campout and Relay for Life.