14 February, 2014

National Junior Honor Society: A Message to Students

I was recently invited to speak at the National Junior Honor Society Induction Ceremony for scholars at Rocky Mount Preparatory located in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.  Having met with parents, guests, and scholars throughout the evening, I was encouraged to post my remarks.

NJHS Induction Ceremony:

Good Evening,

I am both honored and flattered to have been invited to speak for this remarkable occasion.

As I look upon our scholars and guests this evening I recognize that many of you may not yet have had an opportunity to meet me.

My name is Dr. Todd Forgette and as of July of 2013 I joined the Rocky Mount Prep. team as the Chief Academic Officer. Prior to joining Rocky Mount Prep. I have had the opportunity to consult in both the U.S. and U.K. educational systems. I have taught and consulted at every grade level from Pre-Kindergarten and Head Start through 12th grade. I have worked with adults focused on continued learning and adults working toward GED completion. I have served as a professor at Longwood University’s College of Education in Virginia.

While I have had many experiences with scholars and life long learners, an aspect of the learning process that I wish to share with you tonight revolves around choice. In education, in many instances there is a heavy emphasis on curriculum instruction and assessment. What tends to be overlooked at times is individual scholar choice and how the choices that scholars make truly impact their education and their lives. It is this point that I wish to expand upon this evening.

This evening we celebrate the choices and sometimes sacrifices that you have made. This is important because what you should be proud of is not the honor of being inducted into the National Junior Honor Society itself, but the distinct decisions that you have made to earn this honor. Your academic prowess, your compassion to serve others, your aspiration to lead, and the righteousness with which you choose to conduct yourself are the areas in which you have made the choices for which we honor you tonight. You, your parents, and your guests should be most proud of the result of these choices.

Brodi Ashton, the Author of the Everneath series wrote, “Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.” Your choices and the paths you have chosen indicate that each of you embodies the virtue of a hero.

The Heroic Imagination Project defines heroes as “people who transform compassion into heroic action. In doing so, they put their best selves forward in service to humanity. A hero is an individual or a network of people that take action on behalf of others in need, or in defense of integrity or a moral cause.”  The core of this definition revolves around the priority of taking action. My point in sharing this is to encourage you all to remember that while induction into the National Junior Honor Society solidifies the choices that you have made up to this point - it brings with it a greater responsibility and challenge for you now to continue to take action to exemplify what it means to be a member of the National Junior Honor Society.

As part of the ceremony tonight you will make a pledge that includes the phrases, to maintain..., to endeavor..., to be..., to give..., and to hold... These phrases are commitments to actions. Actions that when engaged in voluntarily, that are conducted in service to others, that involve risk to comfort or social status, and that are initiated without the expectation of recognition - result in heroism. While it would be easier to slide through life without purpose, without challenge, without commitment - it would be neither fulfilling nor heroic. Let tonight be empowering... let yourself be empowered by the opportunity to commit to action, to be a hero.

Induction into to the National Junior Honor Society is an indication that you have achieved exemplary performance in scholarship, service, leadership, and character. In doing so, you have begun to pave a path which when carefully navigated will prepare you for your future. I congratulate you all as you join this prestigious group. You are an inspiration and remember, a hero doesn’t need to be undefeated, but they must remain undaunted in their pursuits (A. Bernstein).

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