Feb 20, 2023 5:41 PM

A Tradition of Helping

Posted Feb 20, 2023 5:41 PM

Samuel Morehead, president of Burlington High School’s National Honor Society, stands next to fellow senior and club member Melanie Reid. The National Honor Society is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, which will include a reception on March 8 at the high school. Photo by William Smith

By William Smith

The National Honor Society at Burlington High School may just be the most helpful volunteer organization that hardly anyone outside of the school has heard of.

The current club membership — about 25 sophomores, juniors, and seniors — is starting to change that, finally gaining their due recognition. 

Last week, the club celebrated its 100th anniversary by hosting the school’s first-ever teddy bear toss at a BHS basketball game. Spectators were encouraged to bring new stuffed animals to the game so they could throw them out on the court during halftime. 

It was a resounding success, according to National Honor Society president Samuel Morehead. 

“A much better success than I honestly expected. We ended up getting 208 I believe,” he said.

Those stuffed animals will be donated to a children’s hospital.  It’s a first-time event for the club and by far its most visible.

It certainly won’t be the last teddy bear toss.

“I think it will just get bigger,” Morehead said.

Most of the time, club members work on the periphery of other worthwhile causes or events. They rake leaves for elderly residents in the fall. They help unload paper for recycling during in the spring during Clean Out Your Files Days and buzz around the annual Oktoberfest (hosted by the Burlington Noon Lions Club) like volunteer bees. In December, they help set up Memorial Auditorium for Toys for Tots.

The Burlington High School is the oldest National Honor Society charter in the state, consisting of generations of hard-working students with strong GPAs (grade point averages) looking to help those around them.

“It’s not just about your grade point average,” said fellow senior club member Melanie Reid. “They look for character.”

Students who apply for the National Honor Society undergo a peer review by an anonymous group of teachers. Aside from the base requirements of having a 3.4 GPA or higher, students are judged by their contributions and volunteer hours, as well as their leadership qualities. Freshmen have to wait for a year if they want a chance to join.

It’s a very proactive, self-sufficient group. Morehead said club members make sure to focus on a new service project every month. There’s still plenty of school year left.

“We will be doing some different things at the hospice house, and we will help out with (BHS) graduation,” Morehead said. “We’re also doing things with the elementary schools, where we will partner with them and help them with their field days. We’ve got a lot of good activities coming up.”

The National Honor Society will celebrate its 100th anniversary in a more formal way during a reception scheduled for 6 p.m. on March 8 at Burlington High School. 

“We’re also inviting different people from the community, such as the mayor,” Morehead said. “It won’t be a super-long affair.”

Since they’re both seniors, Reid and Morehead will be passing the club torch to their classmates underneath them.

Both have big plans for college. Morehead wants to study biomedical science and has his colleges narrowed down to a few choices. 

Reid will be heading straight to Southeastern Community College to go through the three-year nursing degree offered in partnership with Great River Health.

Both of them are involved in enough extra-curricular activities and clubs to keep their feet in constant motion. Graduation is just around the corner, though, and they will be exchanging one busy life for another.

Until then, Reid and Morehead will be garnering as much publicity about the National Honor Society as they can.

“People think that it’s just a smart kids club, but it’s a very fun group of people,” Reid said. “It’s a lot more than great students.”