CENTERBURG — High school students are more accomplished than ever before, and those accomplishments in academia and leadership were highlighted Wednesday evening at Centerburg High School’s induction ceremony for new members of the Ohio Scholars Association.
Twenty-one new members were inducted at Wednesday’s ceremony — Sam Bassett, Kaylee Blackstone, Isabel Brooks, Lula Burke, Will Carlisle, Natalie Coffing, John Daniels, Nick Daniels, Trey Figgins, Lydia Grandstaff, Olivia Gregory, Grant Hayden, Breanna McCombs, Grace Mulpas, Elizabeth Pack, Lauren Pfeifer, Hayden Sutton, Kamryn Thorpe, Andrew Waddell, Aeryn Walters and Zoe Webb.
OSA was founded at Centerburg High School in 2015, advisor and language arts teacher Karen Allen explained.
“Our journey began a few years ago when the National Honor Society, to which we then belonged, raised its annual membership fees by more than 500 percent,” Allen said. “As a small school we frankly could not afford that, so my students decided to create a new organization, which would have more affordable fees, more rigorous standards and more student involvement.”
“It recognizes students who have met high goals and achieved high standards in various areas,” Allen told the News. “Academics, service to others, leadership — and to do so in a way that allows small schools to afford a membership and gives students more of an opportunity to be involved at all levels of the organization.”
The new inductees were recognized for their academic prowess, along with their commitment to athletics, student government, band and music successes, 4-H groups, academic organizations, community organizations and countless hours of volunteer work.
The new members signed the member log before being joined by their parents, to present them with a carnation, as their parents presented them with a special patch for this accomplishment in their high school careers. The new members were also led in a recitation of the OSA pledge by the two-year members.
Current OSA President, senior Chloe Merriman, explained that belonging to this organization has expanded her leadership skills, as it is a truly student-centered and student focused organization.
“What I think is really interesting about OSA is that it’s genuinely student led,” Merriman said. “I’ve been in a lot of student groups where they say it’s about student leadership, when it’s really more like chaperoning students toward the goal that the administrator wants. With OSA, the meetings are each led by a student, generally the President, which means that I’ve gotten a lot public speaking experience from this. You can genuinely say you get a lot of leadership experience from it.”
This new scholastic organization includes a state board of directors, which are comprised of members from the five affiliate schools of the organization — Gilead Christian High School, Plymouth High School, Highland High School, Carey High School and Centerburg.
“The students were involved in every phase of the organization,” Allen said. “The advisors were working with them too, but they chose the colors, designed the logo, so they were involved in the formation of it, so we wanted to continue that involvement, so they would have input at the state level. We have two representatives from each school, we have a board of 10. In the future as we grow, we will probably have representatives of particular regions.”
As members of the state board, students provide input to the advisors and organize a joint activity between the five member schools. The joint activity alternates every other year, Allen said, with either a leadership workshop or a joint service project. This year, OSA members will participate in a joint service project, which will take place at Gilead Christian High School, with projects including cards for military members and first responders with Operation Guardian, cards for Operation Christmas Child, fleece blankets for patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and making mats for homeless people.
Second-year members, 19 in total, were also celebrated at the ceremony: Emma Bentz, Madeline Elfrink, Taylor Ferrell, Savannah Gammell, Emmi Harmon, Chloe Jarrett, Chloe Merriman, Mary-Claire Morgan, Cynthia Morris, Heath Myers, Stephen Schmitt, Mackenzie Smith, Alayna Thomas, Morgan Tiller, Blissann Treffert, Elise Tucker, Kristy Vargo, Cate Wheeler and Isabelle Wolford.