Posted on May 21, 2021
RANDOLPH, N.Y. — May 20, 2021 — Randolph Academy celebrated the induction of its very first students into the National Honor Society (NHS) this week, in a ceremony that included the district’s board of education and invited guests.
Five students comprised this inaugural class, representing the district’s Randolph and Hamburg campuses. They included Bradley Flagg, a senior from South Dayton, N.Y.; Ryan Hackford, a junior from Angola, N.Y.; Nathaniel Kaizer, a junior from Hamburg, N.Y.; Torei Paw Wah, a senior from Falconer, N.Y.; and Stefania Pujols, a junior from The Bronx, N.Y.
“The idea started from a student who was interested in starting a club in order to build his résumé,” said Shannon Wolf, the district’s NHS advisor and a Spanish/English as a New Language (ENL) and Special Education teacher at the Hamburg campus. “In the course of our research, we discovered that NHS allows any public school to create a chapter.”
After meeting with Superintendent Lori DeCarlo, who enthusiastically gave the idea a green light, Mrs. Wolf investigated which juniors and seniors across both campuses might meet the scholarship criteria of a grade point average of 93 or higher. Those who did were given application packets to review. After learning about the organization and realizing what an honor it would be to become an inductee, they were eager to participate.
NHS elevates a school’s commitment to the values of scholarship, service, leadership and character. These four pillars have been associated with membership in the organization since its inception in 1921, and they resonated with Randolph Academy’s students as well, as they shared during a celebratory lunch, created by Randolph Academy’s culinary students, where they were joined by invited staff.
“I go to school excited to learn and hopefully someday use the knowledge to teach others,” Mr. Hackford explained in speaking to the importance of scholarship, while Mr. Kaizer spoke to his “goal-oriented and hard-working” approach to learning.
“I have come a long way as a person,” Ms. Paw Wah added, regarding character. “I have become more understanding and patient to my peers and the people around me.”
In discussing leadership, Ms. Pujols said, “I cannot say that I am perfect, but what I do know is that people tend to gravitate to me and follow me.”
And speaking to community, Mr. Flagg, who is also a volunteer junior firefighter, added, “I like to help my community, and knowing that, as a firefighter, I can help to save someone or stop something from becoming worse means a lot.”
Adding an NHS chapter at Randolph Academy has been a source of pride to the teachers, staff and administrators across the district as well.
“I cannot overstate what a remarkable accomplishment this is for these students, or how proud I am of them and Mrs. Wolf for taking on this initiative,” Superintendent DeCarlo added. “Our students come to us during some very challenging times, as they deal with emotional and mental health issues. An honor such as this is likely unimaginable during their transition from their home districts to ours — but that just shows you how powerful a restorative justice system can be in reaching students who are struggling. It genuinely helps so many of them to get back on a path to success, and this is just the latest — but perhaps most resounding — example.”
Today, as NHS celebrates its 100th anniversary, it has more than one million students among its ranks. Its chapters are found in all 50 states, U.S. Territories, Canada, and around the world. Membership not only recognizes students for their accomplishments, but challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service.
In other words, NHS students not only focus on academic achievement, but they also embrace community engagement. They volunteer in their communities at high rates and make connecting with and serving the community a priority.
Randolph Academy’s students and staff have already begun conceiving new service projects for the school to help current and future students to meet their service criteria. They are also engaging current sophomores so that they can begin considering and working toward the distinction of NHS induction.
About Randolph Academy
The Randolph Academy Union Free School District supports, empowers and educates children in grades K-12 who have a variety of emotional and mental health disabilities stemming from various causes and conditions. The nearly 200-student district is comprised of a residential campus, whose origins trace back to the 1860s in Randolph, N.Y. and serves students from throughout the state, and a day school in Hamburg, N.Y., which serves students from dozens of districts across Western New York.
With a flexible structure and non-traditional classrooms, it focuses on the power of relationships to help students achieve academic progress, with the goal of graduating high school and preparing for life as productive adults. Its staff are experts in Normative Culture, a sociological method using positive peer pressure to influence behavior rather than a system of rules, and Restorative Justice, an alternative to suspensions and other punitive approaches. To learn more, visit www.randolphacademy.org.