Horry County Schools officials adjust requirements for National Honor Society chapters

vgrooms@thesunnews.comDecember 25, 2013 

An Horry County Schools committee has set more uniform entrance requirements for National Honor Society high school chapters and cleared the way for the district’s two academies to pursue chapters of their own, according to district officials.

The district has 11 NHS chapters, one at each of the 10 base high schools and one at the Scholars Academy, the district’s accelerated program for gifted learners. Students will be required to have a 3.8 minimum on the UGP Weighted Scale at nine of the high schools, while the Scholars requirement will be 4.25, and the HCS Early College High School requirement will be 4.0, both on the same weighted scale.

NHS membership is based on scholarship, leadership, service and character, and each school will retain its own requirements in areas such as school involvement and community service.

The committee met Nov. 19 and consisted of faculty sponsors, administrators, School Improvement Council parents and three Horry County school board members, said Velna Allen, HCS executive director for high schools.

“Our intent was to have multiple meetings, but we were a lot closer in agreement than we thought,” Allen said.

Chapter requirements that were set in March 2011 ranged from Aynor High School’s requirement of a 4.5 minimum on the UGP Weighted Scale, to the Scholars requirement of 4.25 and Conway High School’s requirement of 3.6, all on the same weighted scale. Some schools, however, had requirements based on a 4.0 scale, and when they were converted to the weighted scale, there wasn’t much difference between most schools, Allen said.

The 4.0 scale – where a 4.0 equals an A – assigns points with no consideration of course level. The weighted scale mainly gives more quality points to honors, Advanced Placement or dual-enrollment/college-level courses, and that is the scale most S.C. colleges look at, Allen said.

The criteria change brought up the requirement at Conway High and Socastee High School, which had required a 3.0 minimum grade-point average, and lowered the requirement for Aynor High and St. James High School, which had required a 3.5 minimum GPA or a 4.0 on the weighted scale. Other high schools won’t see a change, as they already were at or close to the 3.8 weighted requirement.

The Scholars requirement also will remain the same, and Early College High, which was officially established as a high school in 2012, will require a 4.0 on the weighted scale, which was requested by its principal, Allen said.

The Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology and the Academy for Technology and Academics will apply for NHS chapters next year and also will have the 3.8 membership requirement, Allen said. AAST had begun the application process but put it on hold until after the committee’s report.

The committee was formed to examine entrance criteria at each school in response to students who told the school board that inconsistent requirements between chapters at the Scholars Academy and the base high schools were excluding qualified students from membership in the organization. The national organization allows each school to set its own academic requirements, but some board members were concerned at what appeared to be a wide range of requirements in the district.

Faculty sponsors told the board that requirements at each chapter varied based on the communities, geographic locations and community service opportunities available in each high school area, and inland schools have more limited community service options, and academic opportunities – such as the availability of Advanced Placement course offerings – are not totally equal across the district.

Board member Neil James, who was on the committee, said the discussion was lively, but ultimately, a compromise was reached. The committee found that course options had changed significantly for many schools since the last time the requirements were examined, and James said similar reviews will be necessary as the district moves forward.

Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.

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