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Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

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NHS looks to give back to the community

National Honor Society is committed to serving the school and the surrounding community through volunteerism.

From park districts to food pantries to hospitals, communities depend on volunteers to help combat poverty and food insecurity, and to enrich the community.

NHS President Mia Valliquette and fellow senior Rory Rudden bag produce at a volunteer event at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in November 2022. (Photo by Leslie Fireman)

For many high school students, volunteer work seems interesting, but getting involved in the community for the first time can be difficult. For those determined to make an impact, National Honor Society offers many opportunities. National Honor Society is a worldwide organization dedicated to recognizing students who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, scholarship, service, and character. Applications open once a year to junior and senior students with a cumulative grade point average of 4.5 and above. 

Through NHS, students develop skills as leaders and community members. Last year, 50 members won national community service awards, and the club contributed a total of 2937 hours in volunteer work within the local community.

“As of last year, I volunteered a total of 103 hours. How we treat those around us can really make or break someone, so just a smile and a thank you can really make or break someone’s day,” senior Brooke Schliephake, Senior Service Officer, said.

Many members volunteer at food pantries, churches, and other organizations. Feed My Starving Children and the Northern Illinois Food Pantry are popular choices for individual volunteering and team efforts. 

While all members are required to complete 20 volunteer hours per school year, NHS also carries out group service projects. This winter, members helped the homeless with a club-wide initiative. Members offered to bake treats, then volunteered at the table during their lunch hours. At the next full club meeting, members worked together to make 17 handmade blankets that were then donated to Project Linus, a charity dedicated to providing the homeless with blankets during the winter months. 

Two students, a male and a female, stand behind a fleece blanket, half-constructed. Other students work on similar tie-blanket projects in the background.
Seniors Chase Pechman and Emily Krause demonstrate their craft skills as they work on a blanket during the winter of 2023. (Photo by Lauren Sikma)

Even though the school year just started, many NHS students have already started working on their service hours, and some have already earned awards. This summer, NHS students served as peer mentors for the Bridge program at West Chicago Community High School.

Bridge 8.5 is a program that invites incoming freshmen to participate in a 12-day program over the summer. The program’s goal is to help students have an easier transition into high school by familiarizing themselves with the building, getting to meet new peers and staff members, as well as practicing different student skills before the start of the year,” school counselor Ari Coss said.

NHS members and current seniors Melanie Duran, Judith Benitez, Rosie Escalante and Aaliyah Williams-Perez help out at the Chicago Bears Mini Monsters camp hosted by West Chicago’s football team over the summer. (Photo courtesy of Melanie Duran)

Students helped incoming freshman to find classes and get comfortable with the school, as well as helping them find ways to get involved in the school. 

“Transitioning into high school can be a difficult and scary change for many students, which is why one of Bridge’s main goals is to help make this transition easier,” Coss said.

National Honor Society is looking forward to what the 2023-24 school year brings.

“I’m very excited to put NHS back into the community. I’m very excited to see how our chapter is very excited about the change we are implementing,” senior Mia Valliquette, President of NHS, said.

Alongside Valliquette, senior Melanie Duran serves as vice president of the club. NHS’ leadership team consists of seven executive members. Valliquette and Duran work directly with faculty and club members to organize the logistics of fundraisers and events, and to keep the club running smoothly. Secretary Clara Hasselgren, also a senior, takes notes at meetings and helps organize information for members and leaders. Treasurer Neela Myers, a senior, organizes and approves spending for club events and fundraisers. Publicity Officer Lauren Sikma promotes the club and club events online and within the school. Senior Service Officers Schliephake and Mackenzie Leszczewicz find and promote causes within the community.

This year, the leadership team aims to get the club more involved in the community and increase their service impact, and are planning new charity events, such as a charity run, and are continuing annual favorites, such as the Breakfast with Santa event. 

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