Kilgore Middle School students inducted into National Junior Honor Society were recognized and honored at Monday’s Kilgore ISD monthly school board meeting after reporting on their successful first year as a chapter.

Principal Jennifer Gholson described the goals of NJHS to the board.

“One thing that’s important on the middle school campus is developing leaders,” Gholson said, noting the program gave KMS students chances to act in leadership roles among their peers. “It’s important to provide opportunities for our students to have those leadership activities.”

Debra Stanley, KMS NJHS advisor and seventh grade English/language arts and reading teacher, described the process of forming the chapter and embarking on a year of service amidst multiple challenges, including the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and campus shutdowns.

“We did start last year with all the paperwork and deciding who was going to be the advisor and how we were going to run the chapter,” Stanley said.

She noted many KMS staff members also helped with the effort, including seventh grade ELAR teacher Ruth Williams, sixth grade ELAR teacher Rebecca Baker, eighth grade ELAR teacher Shelly Dowell, sixth grade science teacher Chris Petty and eighth grade ELAR teacher Ashley Dunnehoo.

“It is something new that we started and I want to thank (KISD Superintendent) Dr. Baker for starting that,” Stanley said. “I think this is a great program. It is a program that requires a lot of leadership from our students, not only in the school but also in the community. I think, as a parent and as a teacher, that is very important, that we grow leadership skills in our students in the classroom but also teaching them how to serve in their school and in their community.”

She reported the chapter held its first induction in Fall 2020, welcoming 43 students in total.

“I think that’s a great number for our first year. That is based off the number for our school year where we were shut down. We still had that many students inducted. This year, I think we will add to that number. We inducted seventh-graders and eighth-graders,” she said. New inductees will be brought into the chapter this fall, as a new class of sixth-graders graduates to seventh grade.

“We’ve had a lot of challenges this year to get this off the ground and going. Since it does require a lot of service hours, that has been a challenge. We’ve had to get a little creative.”

Stanley noted NJHS members had accrued service hours in a variety of ways, including participating at holiday events at their churches for Thanksgiving, Christmas and “Trunk or Treat” festivities. Several had also logged service hours by delivering groceries to neighbors during the pandemic shutdown or doing yard work for neighbors.

KMS staff also provided opportunities for NJHS members to serve during school hours, including helping escort students dropped off at Kilgore Primary School into the campus.

“Our hope next year if we get back to normal, is that we’ll be able to function and really serve the school and the community. The students in the program this year are really doing that,” Stanley said.

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