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From the lighting of candles to the speeches that follow, there is much time-honored tradition that accompanies Mooseheart’s inductions of new members into the National Honor Society, and those traditions were followed this year as seniors Abi Alade, Catherine Bruce and Sarat Yusuf-Omane joined the organization on April 21.
By becoming members of the National Honor Society, Alade, Bruce and Yusuf-Omane become part of an elite group of Mooseheart graduates.
“It’s really special,” Mooseheart Superintendent of Education Jeff Szymczak said. “We’ve had 12,000 students go through Mooseheart, and there have been less than 450 who have made it to this point. That’s pretty special in 95 years of the National Honor Society here.”
Mooseheart’s chapter of the National Honor Society was the first in Illinois and the fifth nationwide when it was formed in 1921. This year’s class takes the number of inductees to 447.
“This is a good group,” Szymczak said. “(Bruce) mentioned the support of Mrs. (Corinthian) Stewart, a teacher who gave someone who lacked some self-confidence the push that was needed to go through this.”
Bruce, Alade and Yusuf-Omane graduate in June. After they went through the ceremony that made them members of the National Honor Society, guest speaker Basheeba Mays, a 2009 Mooseheart grad and National Honor Society member spoke about the most interesting conversations a Mooseheart grad usually center around: the question of the school from which they graduated.
“Most people have never heard of an organization like Mooseheart,” Mays said. “They will ask ‘what school did you go to?’ And I think to myself, how can I say my school’s name without sounding weird or crazy.”
Mays said once she tells someone she went to Mooseheart, she is often met with more questions, as it isn’t a common name for a high school.
“You have to describe Mooseheart, and here’s where it gets fun,” Mays said. “I say ‘your school never took you to Wisconsin Dells or Six Flags. Did you learn how to play an instrument – for free?”
At this point, Mays said, the people with which she is speaking respond with a look of awe, so, she said she “milks” the moment.
“Classes are small, so you get the attention you need,” Mays said. “You live with your peers so you get so close so they’re like your brothers or sisters. And the best part are the Moose members. They are like loving parents and grandparents who are always looking out for you and spoiling you, and they want nothing but the best for you.”
Mays said that feeling of a tight-knit community continues years after her graduation, and she said this benefits all students, including the National Honor Society inductees.
“If you look, you will not find an educational organization whose staff and teachers are so committed, supportive and present,” Mays said.