Gunston welcomes 34 students into NHS

National Honor Society Secretary Erin McDonald ’21 leads the lighting of the candles to highlight the core qualities of the NHS, scholarship, leadership, service and character. McDonald is headed to American University this fall. Also shown are Lily Berntsen ’21 and Olivia Hershey ’21.

CENTREVILLE — On Tuesday, April 20, The Gunston School inducted 34 students into the National Honor Society as parents, faculty, and fellow NHS members watched. The outdoor ceremony was held near Gunston’s waterfront between two cherry trees in full bloom. Founded in 1921, NHS is a prestigious organization for high school students in upper grades who have met the rigorous national and school standards in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character.

Head of School John Lewis addressed the inductees first, recalling the story of Bernie Madoff. The “greatest financial fraudster in history, ... he embodied three of the four NHS values. He was a scholar, by all accounts an excellent student, he was (on the surface) dedicated to service, giving major grants to universities, charities, and cancer research, and he was a leader, politically involved, a trustee, and the head of important financial association boards. The value he lacked, of course, was character, and I speak about this tonight because induction into NHS is often seen as primarily an academic achievement, with the other values perhaps being seen as “helpful” .... To me, it’s actually character that is the most important NHS value, since the other values are rendered meaningless without it. As my mother used to say to me, ‘It’s more important to me that you’re a good person than a good student, but it doesn’t hurt to be both.’”

Lewis then introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, the Honorable Harris P. Murphy, P’24 and judge of the Circuit Court of Kent County, Md. Murphy recalled various academic and personal struggles throughout his young life and well into college.

He offered a much repeated adage, “Good judgement is the result of experience, and experience is the result of bad judgement.”

As he recounted his experience learning how to waterski, he admitted, “It is hard. And you fail a lot. One of my instructors said something that I’ve always kept in mind—and while we are here tonight to celebrate your accomplishments, and they deserve to be celebrated—I hope you always keep in mind the benefits of stretching yourself and not being afraid to fall or to fail. My instructor said to me, ‘If you’re not trying hard enough to fall, you’re not really learning anything or getting better.’ So keep succeeding, keep achieving, but also, keep falling.”

To highlight the core qualities of the NHS, four candles were lit by current members as NHS President Reagan Gessford ’21 spoke about the meaning of each value. NHS Secretary Erin McDonald ’21 read each inductees’ accomplishments as they came up one by one to receive a certificate, pin, and rose, and to sign their names into the registry. Current NHS members pinned the inductees with a pin bearing the NHS logo, and together, they recited the NHS pledge, becoming official members.

NHS advisor Mike Kaylor congratulated the newest members on their hard work and dedication, despite a challenging world-wide pandemic, also thanking their parents for instilling these values in their children.

This year’s NHS Chapter Officers and Inductees include:

Officers: President Reagan Gessford ’21, Vice President Lydia Periconi ’21, Secretary Erin McDonald ’21, and Community Service Coordinator Olivia Hershey ’21.

Inductees: Sofia Angarita ’22, Lucy Bamford ’22, Hannah Beckman ’21, Maxmillian (Max) Brady ’21, Gracie Callahan ’22, Yongah (Jonathan) Choi ’21, Charlotte Cook ’22, Benjamin (Ben) Cunningham ’22, Isabella (Bella) De Leon ’22, Ashley Escobar ’22, James (Jimmy) Fraser ’22, Nina Friedman ’22, Georgia Gillespie ’22, Evelyn (Evie) Hagan ’22, Paige Holmes ’22, Colin Lang ’22, Neva Lawrence ’22, Samantha LeCrone ’22, Hyunseok (Luke) Lee ’21, Rui (Spencer) Liu ’22, Abigail (Abbey) Miller ’22, Magdalena (Maggie) Miller ’22, Alexandrea (Lexi) Norman ’22, Ethan Nuessle ’21, Jack Pigman ’21, Marion Riddle ’21, Sean Riley ’21, Emily Ryon ’21, Summer Salos ’22, Leonardo (Leo) Santoboni ’22, Matthew Sharpless ’22, Danielle Simmons ’22, Jude Smith ’22, and Lillian (Lilli) Ward ’21. The ceremony is available to watch on the school’s YouTube channel.

Current Members: (Seniors) Isabella (Bella) Adams, Avy Aubin , Lily Berntsen, Helen Boone, Lydia Davis, Kayla Flood, Glynis Gardner, Emma McClary, Orion (Rion) McCluskey, Sydney Nittle, Adison (Adie) Parish, Campbell Parkhurst, Connor Reichardt, Owen Santora, Severin Schut, Charles (Charlie) Shifrin, Henry Shifrin, Christian Walker, Colin Ward, and Hannah Worth.

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