The National English Honor Society (NEHS), founded and sponsored by Sigma Tau Delta, is the only international organization exclusively for high school students and faculty who, in the field of English, merit special note for past and current accomplishments. Individual high schools are invited to petition for a local chapter, through which individuals may be inducted into Society membership. Immediate benefits of affiliation include international recognition, scholarship eligibility, and opportunities for international networking with others who share enthusiasm for, and accomplishment in, the language arts. Eventually NEHS will hold conferences and provide ways to link NEHS with other honor societies and with organizations related to the field of English.
America's first honor society was founded in 1776, but high school students didn't have access to such organizations for another 150 years. Since then, high school honor societies have been developed in leadership, drama, journalism, French, Spanish, mathematics, the sciences, and in various other fields, but not in English.
Until now! As Joyce Carol Oates writes, "This is the time for which we have been waiting." Or perhaps it was Shakespeare: "Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer . . ."
"Gelast Sceal Mid Are"
The NEHS motto, "gelast sceal mid are," is Old English for: "duty goes with honor." The motto represents one of the earliest forms of our language—it affirms and celebrates an obligation to use one's gifts in service to others. Service to peers, school, and community is part and parcel of the NEHS mission—and, indeed, in the grammatical structure of the Old English phrase, "duty" actually precedes "honor."