I had a bit of a chuckle upon reading your anonymous quote about GNHS. I also have a pretty good idea who said it, by the way, and thus am not offended. For people who do not understand the reference—and people would not unless they take German—the quote would seem derisive. Therefore, let me defend the honor of our school’s chapter of the German National Honor Society.
There is absolutely nothing in the GNHS handbook about community service. Membership is based solely academic merit. While individual chapters “may [my emphasis] set additional eligibility requirements,” no one is forced to do so. I hasten to add that during the years when SNHS was involved with the Franklin Center, I did offer help from the GNHS and was told every time that the offer was appreciated and that SNHS would act upon it if necessary. As it happens, our help was never necessary. Moreover, my GNHS members are already asked to participate in volunteer undertakings for the IB Program, for NHS and for other in-school and out-of-school projects. Our little organization is not numerous enough to make a big impact, but if asked to do anything in league with another, we would certainly make every effort.
It should also be noted that my colleague, Madame Losey, was quite right in her observation (p. 2 of your most recent issue) that some people come just to put something on their résumé. She went on to say that she doubted the seriousness of their commitment, “and part of it is because they’re involved in way too many things.”
So before you accuse any faculty sponsors of failing “to do their job,” it would be wise to examine why the students feel the need to pad their résumés in the first place. I have no objection to doing my part to help develop well-rounded students, but there first have to be students willing to commit to service and then also a school environment that truly supports genuine service projects. I do not doubt the seriousness and sincerity of some students in their willingness to serve, and some of them are serving in worthwhile projects. But please remember as well that GNHS is not first and foremost a service organization; membership is based solely on academic merit, and I do believe that there is still a place in our society for that.