Rho Kappa honors social studies learning


Artwork by Marie Kessel

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The Rho Kappa National Honor Society joins our collection of scholastic recognitions this year.

Similar to the Mu Alpha Theta and the Science National Honor Society, which acknowledge students gifted in math and science, Rho Kappa honors students talented in the field of social studies. The National Council for Social Studies created this award in 2011 after noticing the absence of an honor society for history.

Assistant Principal of Humanities Rafal Olechowski said, “The social studies teachers and I felt there was a need to showcase outstanding students [with] high averages in social studies and [who] take social studies electives.” Social studies teacher John O’Malley supported the decision, stating that the creation of a humanities society was “long overdue.”

Mr.     Olechowski further explained that the perks of Rho Kappa include an induction ceremony and a diploma. The society can also be an honorable mention on a college application as it denotes well-roundedness.

Requirements “will always be science-based if you are becoming a doctor,” explained Mr. Olechowski. “But the current trend, and I think the right trend, is that medical schools and science programs are now looking for applicants that have not only taken science classes, but have also taken humanities classes.”

Senior Simran Kaur agreed, saying, “Recognizing students who succeed in a multitude of areas encourages them to be further successful and acknowledges the hard work they put into areas they enjoy.”

Like any honor society, students must meet certain requirements. According to Mr. Olechowski, he and the teachers find candidates for Rho Kappa by screening students at the end of each year for their averages and amount of electives. A student must provide a letter of recommendation, have a minimum weighted average of 95% for all social studies classes, and complete a certain number of credits by a certain deadline. By the end of any given school year, sophomores need to have completed six credits, juniors ten credits, and seniors twelve credits.  Students must also “be in a good moral standing” without multiple demerits and suspensions.

“There is also a community

service requirement,” Mr. Hackney added, “but for [a] Townsend Harris student, if you are keeping up with your community service, you should be fine.”

Sophomore Annamarie Cavaleri believes that Rho Kappa will be a source of encouragement for students. She stated, “I think having a social studies honor society is a great way to motivate students to work harder in the subject.”

Mr. Hackney and Mr. Olechowski are also contemplating more additions. “Down the road, we would like to provide even more social studies electives and create more social studies programs,” said Mr. Hackney. “[Rho Kappa’s addition] would act in concert with doing that.”

Mr. Olechowski says the addition will most likely be

followed by an English honor society because “students who excel in social studies and English ought to be recognized in a humanities school.”

The faculty had scheduled the ceremony to take place on October 14 but have moved it to November.