National Junior Honors Society
Degrees and Certifications:
Hello Seminole Middle School families and students. It is true that the end of this school year has been filled with disappointments. Many of our traditional end-of-the-year events have been canceled, and we are challenged by finding new ways to celebrate the enormous effort made by our students to complete another year of their education. Despite this, there are also inspiring stories of resilience and support in our community.
One cancelation that hit close to my heart is our National Junior Honor Society Induction ceremony, which was scheduled for the week after we returned from spring break. During this ceremony, families and staff members come together to celebrate our young scholars for their citizenship, character, and leadership.
***More information will be coming out this summer about how 8th grade NJHS members will receive their NJHS certificates and pins. Our 7th grade NJHS students will be receiving pins and certificates upon returning to school for their 8th grade year. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to me through e-mail.***
I want to now share four short stories or thoughts from student members who were nominated by Seminole Middle Faculty to share their words of wisdom at our induction ceremony this past spring.
Good evening, parents, students, and staff members. My name is Maria Sofia Ortega Valbuena, and I’m here today to share my experience of when I learned how to speak English. I moved to this country as an outcome of the situation that Venezuela is going through. My first day of school was difficult because I had to face the unknown: new school, new friends, and I now had to learn how to work in class without the company of my twin sister. When I walked through the doors at Seminole Middle School for the first time, I was excited because I had never attended a school like this. However, I couldn’t speak the same language as the students and teachers in class. That was a huge barrier for me because I’ve always worked so hard to get good grades, but the only thing that kept me from doing that at this school was not being able to speak English. I cried a lot, to be honest, but after crying I realized that I had the support I needed. I had support from my parents, my siblings, and my amazing teachers. That’s why I would like to take this opportunity to thank my parents Vincente and Pilar, my siblings Tomas and Camila, My uncle Harry, and my aunt Doris for their support but especially Ms. Flores because she always believed in me. I also want to thank Mrs. Higgins for nominating me to be able to share my story here today and Ms. Thompson because she let me do this. Now I can proudly say that I have learned how to speak English in five months. This experience taught me that effort is always rewarded. This is why I want to tell all my classmates to never give up and if sometimes you feel defeated, work harder to achieve your goals. And as my brother once told me “limits exist only in your thoughts” Thank you so much.
-Maria Sofia Ortega Valbuena
Being in a leadership position at Seminole Middle School allowed me to better myself in many aspects, from my grades to my character and mental attitude. Not only did joining NJHS allow me to have a sense of community with my peers, but it also encouraged me to try my hardest in everything I try to accomplish. Although this school year has been cut short for all of us, I think none of it was in vain. I do not regret any of the time I spent improving myself, nor the time I was with others who were willing to guide and assist me. As a co-captain of the SMS Colorguard team, I was aware of the responsibilities and qualities needed for my team and myself to succeed. My classes required integrity and diligence in order for me to have a meaningful learning experience. With NJHS and the help of classmates, I taught myself to these values and have been able to drive not only myself, but also my friends and my teammates toward their own personal goals. To the class of 2024, I say that we are all in this together and we should continue to lift ourselves up to achieve our dreams.
Throughout my middle school years, I was very active in the music departments. This year especially, I had an amazing time at the Solo and Ensemble Festival for voice at PCCA high school. Solo and Ensemble is all about getting rated on your performance and receiving one on one work with the judges and getting constructive criticism to improve. This year, I received a Superior for my performance of Ava Maria and was chosen by my judge to be in the judge’s choice concert, where all the judges pick their favorite performance to sing at the ending concert. But, at the concert, I slipped up my words and completely lost where I was. Everything was silent once the pianist stopped and everyone’s eyes were focused on me. I was so embarrassed and almost in tears when the pianist started again from the beginning. Confused, I shook it off, followed him and finished the piece start to finish. Once it was done the crowd erupted into an applause, I did not think I deserved, but I then realized that no one was judging or criticizing me. In fact, they were rooting me on. I was astounded by the support of others around me, even when they all knew my performance could have gone much better. Since then, I have learned to really appreciate the others around me and learn from my mistakes. It was the support of the other student and teachers that helped me succeed when I was unsure of myself. Leadership is about perseverance and supporting and encouraging each other through the good times and the challenging ones. We all make mistakes and this experience has helped me to believe in myself and know the power of supporting and encouraging each other and the importance of being a leader in my school and community. I feel this story portrays well some of the traits recognized and celebrated in the members of NJHS. I have been so privileged to be able to participate in this amazing organization this year and I’m hoping I am able to continue my journey through the different honors societies in high school as well.
We spend our teenage years being told that we are too young.
We are too young to have an opinion.
We are too young to have a passion.
We are too young to understand.
We are too young to lead.
We are too young to change our world.
But we are something else...
We are strong.
We are ambitious.
We are dedicated.
And we have a voice, all of us.
We have the ability to do more than those before us could ever dream of.
We are the future. We will be the ones running this government. We will be your doctors and lawyers, saving lives and delivering justice. We will be scientists and athletes, finding ground-breaking discoveries and setting new records. We will be our own activists and change-makers, taking our fate into our own hands. We willl one day be the professionals and leaders, because when everyone said we can’t, we DID.
We are the future, and we WILL have a say in it. We will change our own world for the better, because we will never be too young.
As the great civil rights activist and humanitarian, Mary Mcleon Bethune one said,
“We have a powerful potential in our young, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.”
I wanted to have the opportunity to thank all Honor Society students who equally inspire in their teachers and peers a love of learning and discovery. I wanted to also thank parents and guardians who have done an exceptional job supporting and enriching the characters of our National Junior Honor Society students. When I reflect on working with these exceptional students, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from the author Oscar Wilde. “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” All of our National Junior Honor Society members deserve to be honored and recognized because they are looking at the stars.
Congratulations to our National Junior Honor Society scholars and to the class of 2024.