Nerds with Words

Chika Winston and Alexa Empleo

According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million American adults can’t read or are illiterate. That’s 14 percent of the total U.S. population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th-grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read. From this data, we can conclude that illiteracy is a rampant problem that has been present in not only developing countries but as well as first world ones.
On March 25, 2004, Sigma Delta Tau, an international English program for universities and colleges, launched a new program for high school students that allowed them to share the same goals as college-level English majors: National English Honors Society. National English Honors Society is the only organization exclusively for high school students that note English for special merit and past accomplishments. And just a few weeks ago, it was brought onto the West Ranch campus.
The club is run by four officers: President Olivia Go, Vice President Mia Salin, Secretary Ashley Pagsibian and Treasurer Nicole Augusta. This club’s main goal is to spread English throughout West Ranch campus and other campuses.
Throughout the year, the club has projects so that students can get even more involved in the club. The projects involve helping schools and English programs that don’t have the funds to keep their program going. One of the projects ongoing right now is donating school supplies to low budget schools, and doing so will fulfill the member’s three out of the four project requirements.
Olivia Go and Nicole Augusta sat down with the Paw Print to talk a little about NEHS and what the club is really about.

Olivia Go

Q: Who founded the club?
A: “Some professor in Boston, but I founded it here in West Ranch. I really wanted to start this club like a really long time, but I just appointed officers last year, and I’m really happy with my choices.”

Q: Why did you start this club?
A: “I started this club because I just thought West Ranch could use more English, I just thought that there’s so much you could do with an English club and people would want to join because it’s like nationally recognized, and so I thought there was a lot of good things I could do with like service and just promoting writing and just the subject and stuff.”

Q: What does literacy mean to you?
A: “Just having people lead more and enjoying English because I know a lot of people who just hate writing and hate reading and like hate English in general.”

Q: So what are your goals for this club?
A: “My goals are to hopefully have this club to be here after I graduate and I want it to continue on and we have an officer who’s my grade below so hopefully it’ll continue on and I just want people to just like have a good time and feel good about themselves.”

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with the projects that you do?
A: “Hopefully just make the world a better place and I just want to help my community and inspire people to do the right thing.”

Nicole Augusta

Q: What is the purpose of NEHS?
A: “It is really just to spread literacy throughout the West Ranch campus and to help spread literacy throughout other campuses.”

Q: What is your vision for NEHS?
A: “My vision for NEHS is to get a lot of West Ranch students involved in it because it’s a really beneficial club for everyone as well. The more people that we get involved through West Ranch, the more we can help other schools and increase literacy.”

Q: What activities do you guys have planned so far?
A: “So our first service event is coming up and it is a school supplies drive for less fortunate schools and we’ll be putting out more information about that later. And later in the year, we are having a sock drive next semester we will be having a book drive for a school in Uganda.”

Q: How will you execute these activities?
A: “We will mainly be executing them through student participation, there’s a lot of student donation drives and then we, along with any members that are interested will be personally delivering these items, or in the case of Uganda, we will personally be shipping them and see to it they get there.”

Q: Why do you think spreading literacy is so important?
A: “Spreading literacy is so important because everyone uses it in his or her daily lives and it really enriches the lives of everybody and especially now when the media is becoming more prevalent. It is really important for everyone to have that background in English and everything.”

Q: Do you think a lot of people take literacy for granted?
A: “I think they really do because when people think of you know, National English Honors Society they’re like: “Oh are we writing essays or are we gonna be reading books?” we don’t write essays by the way, but English, it’s that but it’s also your everyday life. You talk to your friends every day, you watch movies, you read posts online – it’s all of that.”

Even though the National English Honors Society is no longer accepting applicants, students must promote their ideologies and help advocate for literacy as most of us these days take such a privilege for granted.

The 4 officers, (left to right) Secretary Ashley Pagsibian, President Olivia Go, Vice President Mia Salin, and Treasurer Nicole Augusta (image via @wrnehs on instagram)