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Academic scholars rise above obstacles

Every new school year brings back clubs and organizations. National Honors Society (NHS) is one of 20 plus clubs that Shawano Community High School offers. This year is bringing changes for every organization, including NHS. 

“Last year, the National Honors Society would hold monthly meetings during enhancement period,” informed senior Preston McKinnies. “We would discuss volunteer opportunities, many of which were presented by members of NHS. It was truly a group effort when it came to finding ways to fill our volunteer hours.”

Due to record high COVID numbers in Shawano County, schools had to go completely virtual. All clubs and organizations have recently been given the go ahead to start, but they have to follow safety precautions as well. 

“Honestly, I am not entirely sure how this year will pan out,” senior Isabel Colón confessed. “I think the NHS leaders will try their best in the current situation. They will make it great, but it definitely will not be like last year.”

McKinnies, Colón, and former SCHS student Maddie Easter. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Colón.

The issue with virtual meetings is that members struggle to show up to them. This puts a damper on achieving the goals of gathering, and in the case of NHS, inhibits the number of volunteer opportunities of which  students are made aware.

“Our biggest struggle now is finding volunteer opportunities that are available to us, while still being safe,” Colón explained.

Community activities that in the past have welcomed volunteers with open arms have either been canceled completely or are not able to bring in more people than necessary. This causes a challenge for students in need of the volunteer hours. 

“There are some volunteer opportunities this year; it is just very limited compared to years past,” McKinnies expressed. “Since a safe and healthy environment is the goal, that has to be the biggest priority.”

Finding volunteer work has been an obstacle that NHS scholars have been facing since last spring. Students who had volunteer work lined up were suddenly left with nothing.

“The Stay at Home order really put a damper on me achieving my NHS requirements,” stated McKinnies. “I was not able to fill all my hour requirements last year. I was close, but when COVID hit all of my opportunities were canceled.”

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, students still made the best of their circumstances and enjoyed the time they had.

“I really enjoyed being in NHS,” exclaimed McKinnies. “It is a fantastic way to help out the community and also build relationships with fellow students at the same time.”

The circumstances that have been dealt to the world’s population have been difficult for most. Even as much as people dislike being cooped up at home, they understand the necessity in doing so.

“Overall, I think keeping the school closed is the best way to keep students, teachers and their families safe,” Colón revealed. “However, that does affect the level of learning students are receiving and that teachers are able to give. So it is very much a double edged sword.”