The National English Honor Society was founded March 25, 2004, by Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society. NEHS was conceived as an outreach to secondary school students, with whom Sigma Tau Delta seeks to share the same goals that make it an important organization for college-level English majors. NEHS is endorsed as well by Sigma Kappa Delta, the English Honor Society for Two-year Colleges. While NEHS shares Sigma Tau Delta's 501(c)3 non-profit tax status and central offices, it has its own National Advisory Council and staff.
NEHS has the following primary goals:
- to recognize on the Society level those who, on the basis of academic grades and performance, merit special note for past and current accomplishments;
- to nurture members to further develop their abilities in the various fields of English; and
- to encourage members to use their talents in the service of others.
The Sigma Tau Delta Board of Directors believes that such goals are appropriate for students of English at all levels, and that with the development of NEHS (preceded in 1994 by the founding of Sigma Kappa Delta), students of various backgrounds and grade levels can share with one another their mutual appreciation of, and excitement with, literature, fine writing, language and media studies.
The basic unit of NEHS is the chapter. Every chapter is comprised of
- students from one or more high schools,
- one or more English teachers who serve as the chapter's Advisor(s), and
- a Faculty Advisory Council that consists of no fewer than three English teachers, including the Chapter Advisor(s).
Chapters are organized by region according to the states in which they are based. Each region has faculty representatives who serve on the National Advisory Council, which oversees the development and direction of NEHS. The seven NEHS regions are as follows:
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington DC, West Virginia
Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington
Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia
Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
Chapters also may be chartered upon approval.
Chapters are led by student officers working with the Chapter Advisor; together they identify and induct into membership others who meet the membership criteria, plan chapter meetings and programs, and organize projects to engage members in meaningful service activities. All chapters register members with the Central Office and all agree to abide by the national NEHS Constitution.
NEHS is open to high school students and select faculty who have demonstrated exceptional ability in such areas as literary analysis, media studies, composition, linguistic study, and creative writing, and who meet the requirements of membership as set forth in the NEHS Constitution, Article X, and as summarized here in Section 3.
Students become NEHS members through induction at the high school in which they are enrolled. Each student pays a one-time induction fee of $15.00, which covers national registration and a membership certificate, and which makes the member eligible for full Society benefits. Through involvement with their chapters, these students receive opportunities to advance the study of language and literature, to develop skills in creative and analytical writing, and to meet others in the discipline of English.
Additionally, just as Sigma Tau Delta and Sigma Kappa Delta have found that involvement with chapters provides a means of renewal and enthusiasm for Chapter Advisors, it is recognized that NEHS faculty involvement can do the same for countless high school teachers who may wish to share, outside the classroom, their own excitement for the discipline.
The emblem of the Society is a royal blue globe surrounded by a four-sided, curved corner, gold figuration. The four sides of the shield symbolize the four major areas of the English language arts—literature, writing, language, and media studies; the sides do not meet sharply at right angles, but instead flow smoothly by means of the curved lines, one into another, suggesting the creative blending of multiple forms of literacy.
The circle—symbol of perfection—represents the full community of readers and writers who embrace the field of English. Within the circle are an open book and a pen, traditional emblems for the language arts experience, and reminders of the potential power of words well-expressed.
The royal blue background represents creativity and inspiration, while the surrounding gold symbolizes both excellence and nobility of spirit.
Overall, the four-sided figure encasing the symbolic circle is supported on the base of a torch, representing the light of truth as it shines through literature, language, writing, and media.
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 languague—it affirms and celebrates an obligation to use one's gifts in service to others. Service to peers, school, and community are part and parcel of the NEHS mission—and, indeed, in the grammatical structure of the Old English phrase, "duty" actually precedes "honor."
Pronunciation: yuh-lahst' shal mid ahr-uh
The official colors of the society are royal blue and gold. The deep richness of royal blue represents creativity and inspiration, while the bright fullness of gold reflects excellence and nobility of spirit.
White carnations, marks of distinction and symbolic of pure truth, are the authorized flowers of NEHS.
One-time Charter Fee
Every chapter pays this prior to activation.
Annual Affiliation Fee
Every chapter pays this beginning on their second membership year (July 1 - June 30).
One-time Member Induction Fee
Every member pays this prior to induction. Chapters may levy additional chapter-specific dues.
NEHS Membership Pin
Replacement Membership Certificate
For further information, explore the NEHS website or contact the Central Office:
Chris Lockwood, NEHS Director
Department of English
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115-2863