Congratulations to the newest members of the Morgan Park Academy chapter of the National Junior Honor Society!

Stella Anderson
Madison Beachum
Delia Bergin
Garyelle Bonney
Allison Cleveland
Gabrielle Cooper
Kristen Crawford
Zoya D’Antignac
Ariah Downie
Cecelia Drown
Alana Haaruun
Heaven Jenkins
Maya Johnson
Rhian Jones
Zuri Joplin
Dante Kolak
Madalyn Marmolejo
Charlize Powell
London Rome
Nayia Spinos
Simone Whitt
Tiara Williams
Nigel Worsham

Zuri Cosey Gay
Sarah Fitch
Kristal Green
Amara Henderson
Diego Hermosilla
Alexis Kemp
Jordyn McCoy
Brazil McGruder
Varun Paluri
Lilith Vandyke
Savanah Weathers




Good afternoon. Thank you for coming today.

We have 23 new National Junior Honor Society members being inducted today. This is one of the largest groups MPA has had.

I know it is a special day for them and their families. They have worked hard and it was evident from their impressive applications and essays. I feel very honored to have been a teacher to many of these talented and bright students. The 23 inductees have outstanding scholastic accomplishments, and as important as scholastic achievements are, their accomplishments outside of the classroom are equally admirable. These well-rounded students have not let a pandemic impede their ability to embrace and explore the five pillars of NJHS.

We have many athletes among the group. They play on MPA teams: volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball, and cross country. Many have been team captains and Warrior Award recipients. They also play sports outside of school in AAU programs, figure skating classes, karate, and even ballroom and West African dance.

They also understand the benefits of participating in these activities. As one student shared in their essay, “I did all of these things because I thought it would be fun, and help me develop and strengthen more friendships.”

Among the ways students have helped to support their communities are CPD gift wrapping, reading to children, dog walking, cleaning up city parks, and babysitting. They actively participated in MPA service days by making cards for nursing home residents, singing Christmas carols, making care packages for the homeless, and participating in food drives. Some even traveled to New Orleans as fifth- and sixth-graders, where they helped the community by decorating rain barrels and installing energy-efficient lightbulbs for low-income residents. They also helped our school community by making cards for teachers, Mrs. Arnold and Mrs. Cardona.

Many members here today are Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. A few members wrote about the bronze award that they received as a Girl Scouts, which is the highest honor a junior Girl Scout can receive.

These young people are also exploring what it means to be a global citizen. One member spoke eloquently at a Black Lives Matter event. Others participated in global dialogues online with their peers from around the world. In addition to the world languages offered at school, one member is learning to speak and write the Greek language.

These students are truly leaders. Some were worried that their leaderships skills would not be evident enough in their applications due to limited opportunities. However the NJHS community was impressed by the leadership opportunities they were a part of.

As one applicant shared in their essay, “I learned that being a leader means you have to take the job seriously and that I have to be willing to put in the time and effort to accomplish the overall goal. Being a leader isn’t easy.”

We have Student Council members, House leaders, and peer counselors, and a summer camp leader at Echo Hill Ranch Gold Star Camp in Texas.

The list of talents for this group is endless. We have literacy awards for writing, art awards, chess club members, geography Bee winners, and participants in entrepreneurship organizations. One student sold scrunchies and donated the proceeds to St. Jude, and another attended NASA’s space camp.

We also have students who are performers on stage. Many participate in band, play multiple instruments, and even take lessons outside of school. They sing and dance in musicals like our productions of “The Wizard of Oz” and “Mary Poppins Jr.” We even have a member of the Chicago Children’s Choir here today. I hope you have been able to witness some of these talents through our school talent show.

Lastly, I would like to recognize the people in the lives of the students who have supported, encouraged, and guided these students on their journey. These include parents, grandparents, extended family, volunteers, coaches, teachers, and family friends.

Thank you, and congratulations to our NJHS members!