Twenty-seven Onteora Middle School students were inducted into Onteora’s chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) during a candlelit ceremony on March 23.
The new inductees are: Jade Belfiore, Paul Consorte, Rowan Driscoll, Carli DuMond, Oren Erlichman, Henry Fox, Saige Gierloff, Jack Goodman, Alena Grant, Nyah Grusell, Vivienne Lamb, Philanthe LaMonda, Ayden Lemmy, Leroi Louis, Harper Mack, Erastus Mayunga, Vaughan McDonagh, Cooper Nagele, Jesna Vernet, Jesper Peacock, Leo Sorbellini, Lily Spada, Amelia Swasey, Clara Swasey, Annika Terner, Cimarron Waldo and Oliver Wyman.
The new members were congratulated by Principal James DiDonna, who praised the students’ perseverance. Quoting former United States Secretary of State General Colin Powell, he told them, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
“I encourage you to dream big,” DiDonna said.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Stephanie Laffin also spoke to the inductees. “I would ask that each of you take some time to reflect on what you have achieved and truly enjoy this moment,” she said. “Your hard work is seen and is being recognized. “Don’t be afraid to set truly ambitious goals, either. You may not always achieve the goal that you set, but you will always learn and grow from the process of striving to improve yourself.”
In addition, Class of 2023 Valedictorian Takemi Sono-Knowles shared some words of wisdom with the honorees, saying, “Remember to be kind to those you love. Be kind to those you hate. Above all else, be kind to yourself,” he said.
Faculty advisor Geordarna Constant said that “it was a pleasure” to work with the inductees. She had much praise for their community service projects this year, particularly their efforts to reduce food waste at the middle school. With the help of the Onteora Food Services Department, NJHS members created the “Onteora Eats” snack cart, a place where students can donate their unopened food containers or uneaten fruit or snacks for other classmates to enjoy. “I am happy to say since the creation of this cart, not one single juice or snack item was thrown away,” said Constant. “With our new members, we hope to expand this program next year.”
After several current members spoke about the honor society’s essential values of scholarship, leadership, service, character and citizenship, each inductee was presented with their NJHS medal. The night ended with members — both new and old — reciting the NJHS pledge.