Saugerties Honor Society gears up for fundraisers

L-R): Ethan Via-Pietrzak (Treasurer), Abigail Bravo (Secretary), Aidan Gruen (Vice-President), Ethan Christiansen (President) (Taken during a ceremony in April).

The fundraising initiatives of the Saugerties chapter of the National Honor Society are not quite underway for the 2019-20 school year, but the officers have been in place for the past few months, chosen for their representation of the four criteria of the national organization: Scholarship, leadership, service and character. 

Ethan Christiansen (President), Aidan Gruen (Vice-President), Abigail Bravo (Secretary) and Ethan Via-Pietrzak (Treasurer) are this year’s officers, selected during a ceremony last spring. The National Honor Society is a nationwide community service organization founded in 1921 by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, with over one million high school students participating in chapters in all 50 states. Chapters are also found in other parts of the world, including Puerto Rico, Canada and India. 

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The Saugerties chapter is gearing up for its first fundraiser of the school year, a Floridian citrus fruits sale in association with the Saugerties High School junior class set to begin in early October, with delivery of the fruit expected before Thanksgiving. 

Christiansen, a 17-year old senior with an affinity for mathematics, is planning to go to college to become a teacher. 

“The money raised from fundraisers is used for various purposes,” Christiansen said. “One of the main examples for this year is that the money will be used to buy families in need winter clothing and presents around Christmas.”

Beyond the officers, an average of between 50-60 students each year are inducted into the National Honor Society at Saugerties High. For juniors and seniors to be eligible for consideration, they must first maintain a grade point average of at least 90 percent. Those students receive a service application on which they list activities in and out of school, which are then submitted with an advisor recommendation. Teachers then review the list of names and rate each student on character and leadership. While academics are graded between two and four points, everything else is ranked on a scale of zero-to-four, with the average of all four categories a minimum of 2.25 points before a student is inducted. 

“The members of the National Honor Society represent the leaders of the school,” said Christiansen. 

SHS calculus and pre-calculus teacher Debra Cacchillo has been the faculty advisor to the school’s National Honor Society for 35 years, and while some of the group’s goals may change from year to year, others have seemingly been a staple of the community organization for years. Last year, Cacchillo said that while the Saugerties chapter focuses on two primary fundraisers each year, they’re open to new ideas generated by its membership. 

The Saugerties chapter of the National Honor Society holds two fundraisers each year to pay for its altruism. In addition to its citrus fruit drive in the autumn, the organization also sells discount cards in the spring. Similar in design to credit cards, the discount cards give the bearer discounts at local shops and restaurants. 

Gruen, a 17-year old senior who plans to study engineering in college, said that membership in the National Honor Society is about selflessness. 

“To be in the National Honor Society you have to be the best person you can be and try your hardest to make an example as to what a good citizen is,” Gruen said. 

In the past, fundraising has helped local women’s shelters and the Saugerties Food Pantry. The Saugerties High chapter also adopts at least one family during the Christmas season, raising funds to buy them winter clothing and something special like a coveted toy for the kids. Families in need are identified and often contacted by the school nurse’s office. 

In addition to its major annual donations, the Saugerties High School chapter of the National Honor Society frequently helps people in the community simply because they’ve been asked, whether through a student, a school nurse or their faculty adviser. 

“I feel honored to be a part of such an important group and to be able to help people,” said Christiansen.

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