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The National Junior Honor Society is the nation's premier organization established to recognize outstanding middle level students. More than just an honor roll, NJHS serves to honor those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership, character, and citizenship. These characteristics have been associated with membership in the organization since its beginning in 1929.
Today, it is estimated that more than one million students participate in official Honor Society activities. NHS and NJHS chapters are found in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, many U.S. territories, and Canada. Chapter membership not only recognizes students for their accomplishments, but challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) officially established NJHS in 1929, eight years after it founded National Honor Society for high school students. Under the leadership of Dr. Edward Rynearson, principal of the Fifth Avenue High School in Pittsburgh, the organization grew from the original Alpha Chapter at the Fifth Avenue School to more than 1,000 chapters by 1930. Equipped with a constitution, an emblem and motto, and a group of dedicated principals as coordinators, the new NJHS organization quickly developed into one of the country's leading educational groups.
Five main purposes have guided chapters of NJHS from the beginning: to create enthusiasm for scholarship; to stimulate a desire to render service; to promote leadership; to encourage responsible citizenship; and to develop character in the students of secondary schools. These purposes also translate into the criteria used for membership selection in each local chapter.