COLUMBUS — Rakes and shovels were a pretty good fit this year for National Honor Society members spreading woodchips to soften playground landings at local parks.

Members spread mulch under children’s play equipment at Gerrard Park, Pawnee Park East, Glur Park and Pawnee Park West, part of the student organization’s shift this year to larger service activities.

The work was profiled during a video presentation Monday following a National Honor Society induction ceremony at Nantkes Performing Arts Center that welcomed 51 new members into the fold of the student community service organization.

The new members of the Discoverers Chapter individually trooped across the auditorium stage during a candle-lighting ceremony to mark the pillars of NHS — fire for knowledge, enthusiasm for scholarship, rendering service, promoting leadership and developing character.

NHS President Alyssa Hartman and Vice President Joseph Massman presided over the induction ceremony. The chapter officers were each recognized with the organization’s Excellence in Leadership Award.

Nick Balerud, Jenna Mares and Mitchell Kuhlman were named the recipients of the group’s Commitment to Excellence Award.

The decision to alter the overall direction of the local chapter this year was met with a positive student response, said Joel Bramhall, who became sole adviser of the group after serving as a co-adviser for a number of years.

NHS members also worked with Columbus City Clerk Janelle Kline’s office to preserve historical records by converting them to digital files.

The members also nominated and voted on a Teacher of the Month recipient deemed to meet the organization’s pillars.

The teachers honored so far this year include Liliana Velasco (August), Julie Kreikemeier (September), Maggie Brokaw (October) and Wendy Shotkoski (November).

In late October and again in the spring before graduation, members spruced up school grounds. The group also judges the Columbus Middle School science fair and operates a concession stand.

“By providing members with additional leadership opportunities, the students have increased their responsibilities and produced some remarkable results,” Bramhall said.

“They are now more accountable for the overall success of the organization,” he said.

The New World Singers opened the evening with the national anthem and performed throughout the night.

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