The National Honor Society (NHS)
Established in 1921
The National Junior Honor Society (NJHS)
Established in 1929
The National Honor Society (NHS) and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) are the nation’s premier organizations established to recognize outstanding high school and middle level students. More than just an honor roll, NHS and NJHS serve to honor those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Character (and Citizenship for NJHS). These characteristics have been associated with membership in the organization since their beginnings in 1921 and 1929.
Today, it is estimated that more than one million students participate in activities of the NHS and NJHS. NHS and NJHS chapters are found in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, many U.S. Territories, and Canada. Chapter membership not only recognizes students for their accomplishments, but challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service.
History of the Organization
In 1921, NASSP officially established the National Honor Society. Though many local and regional honor societies existed prior to 1921, no nationwide organization had been founded. Under the leadership of Dr. Edward Rynearson, principal of the Fifth Avenue High School, Pittsburgh, Pa., the organization grew from the original Alpha Chapter at the Fifth Avenue School to more than 1,000 chapters by 1930. Equipped with a constitution, an emblem and motto, and a group of dedicated principals as coordinators, the new NHS organization quickly developed into one of the country’s leading educational groups.
Four main purposes have guided chapters of NHS from the beginning: “To create enthusiasm for scholarship, to stimulate a desire to render service, to promote leadership, and to develop character in the students of secondary schools.” (from the NHS Constitution) These purposes also translate into the criteria used for membership selection in each local chapter.
In 1929, the NASSP turned its attention to middle level schools and expanded the scope of its concern for recognizing outstanding students by establishing the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS). With its own constitution and handbook, NJHS has established criteria that parallel the emphases found in the NHS with an added purpose to encourage citizenship. (Additional information on establishing a chapter of the NJHS is available upon request from the NASSP Department of Student Activities.)
Both the NHS and NJHS are sponsored and supervised by NASSP which appoints a National Council – the controlling body of NHS. In addition, National Council members also serve as the selection committee for the prestigious NHS Scholarship which has been administered annually in schools with NHS chapters since 1946.
The day-to-day administration of NHS national concerns is handled by the NASSP Department of Student Activities, headquartered in Reston, VA.
General Information Brochures
NHS – English
NHS – Spanish
NJHS – English
NJHS – Spanish
Advisers can also order sets of these brochures from the NHS/NJHS Sales Office.
Each year, chapter advisers for NHS and NJHS submit an Annual Report Form to the national office. In addition, the opportunity exists to complete an online survey (“E-Survey”) which requests more in-depth information. Summaries of these reports are provided for review.
This reporting is part of the mandate for all chapters as expressed in Article VI, Section 2 of the National Constitution: “The chapter adviser shall send the annual report to the national office.” (Click the title above to link to this year’s report summary.)
Famous NHS & NJHS Members:
Through the years, NHS and NJHS chapters have submitted names of chapter members that have gone on to fame and fortune. We have collected those submissions and created a document containing the information provided to us. You will find individuals from all walks of life who have achieved membership in the Honor Society.
Chapters that have additional names can submit them to the National Office. The list will be updated annually.