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Midvale Journal

Midvale Middle’s National Junior Honors Society impacts community

Jan 29, 2019 09:31AM ● By Julie Slama

On Dec. 17, members of the 31-student Midvale Middle School National Junior Honors Society gave a little holiday joy to those at the Midvale City Senior Center and in Midvale City offices as they kick off a year of service. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Eighth-grader Samantha Steinke admitted she didn’t do much at Midvale Middle School last school year, but this school year, she has higher aspirations.

“I want to become a better person and by being part of National Junior Honors Society, I am keeping my grades up and making a difference in our school community and in the Midvale City community,” she said. “I’m making new friends and wanting to make a lasting impact.”

Samantha, who serves as the student liaison for the chapter, was joined by 12 other members as they caroled at the Midvale City Senior Center and Midvale City offices.

“It was an easy decision since we all liked caroling and it was close to the school and everyone could join in,” she said about the chapter’s first service project. “I’m not sure they receive a lot of visitors, so it was an opportunity for us to meet them and bring some joy. Some of the seniors were playing pickleball and I haven’t seen it before, so I learned something new from them.”

Eighth-grade students, who had performed three hours of service and held a 3.0 or higher grade point average, were invited in the fall to apply to become members. As part of their application, the students had to answer six essay questions and commit to providing three hours of service per term.

Thirty-one students were initiated into the chapter in early November. Before the winter break, in addition to caroling, they met to have chapter elections and decide upon several service projects for the year. The group also plans to pick up litter in Midvale City Park and cemetery and, after last year’s NJHS and Latinos-in-Action students created a community garden, work to make the garden productive to benefit the community.

Midvale Middle School science teacher Robert Violano, who serves as the chapter’s adviser, said he is proud that the students want to serve the school and community.

“I feel that we, as a people, benefit when we are looking out for each other,” he said. “I think the more connected people feel to something, the better care we will take of it. NJHS is good practice to be more thoughtful human.”

 Violano, who has advised the students the past four years, said he rarely gives students ideas.

“Our kids’ day is so structured, they rarely have freedom to make choice. I want this student-led and student-run so they can create choice for themselves,” he said.

In previous years, the chapter has made blankets for children in a hospital, held a Halloween costume drive and a food drive in addition to cleaning up trash in their community.

Violano said through these activities, the eighth-graders also are learning valuable leadership skills, which is part of the aim of NJHS.

“I feel that the purpose is to give kids leadership opportunities and to be part of something special within their community. Being a leader means making decisions and that is why I leave it so open-ended. I want them to make decisions,” he said. “I hope they can see that every act of kindness makes their lives and the lives of others, better.”

Eighth-grader Toccara Dumas, who is the social network manager for Midvale Middle’s NJHS chapter, said the group also helps during the school’s parent-teacher conferences by serving faculty refreshments and helping students’ younger siblings with homework while parents and their students meet with teachers.

“We have a good idea of what is happening at our school and how we can make a difference, even with just a few people,” she said.

Eighth-grader Aurora Huber said the group voted on several service projects.

“We wanted to clean up the leaves and litter around the cemetery in the spring and be more active in helping out our community,” she said. 

During their visit at City Hall, Midvale City broadcast the combined group – Midvale Middle NJHS students and city employees — caroling together on Facebook Live.

“We want to make an impact and help people,” Aurora said. “Helping people brings smiles to their faces. Besides, we have fun and helping people makes me feel good.”