P1090417Last night were inductions for the National Honor Society at the high school. I am very proud to say that my oldest son was among those that were inducted – yet another stop on the road of mom tears of pride in the final weeks of his senior year. While others on the stage may have reveled in the honor, for TJ it was particularly sweet moment, one that was a long time coming. That moment on that stage represented a lot of hard work on his behalf, a lot of learning how to advocate for himself and a lot of anxiety and stress.

Webster’s dictionary defines “tenacity” as the quality or state of being tenacious. “Tenacious” is defined as persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired. TJ exhibited those qualities many times over in his pursuit of membership in the NHS. You see, last year, he was invited to apply but declined membership despite the fact that almost all of his close friends and classmates were admitted. On appeal, he was told by the selection committee that he would have to work harder and demonstrate the qualities of character, leadership, scholarship and community service that were required for membership and if his grades were acceptable, he would be invited to apply again the following year. While I personally respectfully disagreed with the committee’s decision to deny his appeal last year, he took their words to heart and did something that I am proud to say, I don’t think I personally would have done. He got down in the trenches and worked along side his friends who were members of the NHS and attended and participated in almost every NHS activity that the chapter held. He got up early on a weekend morning to bake pies for food baskets, moved turkeys for the same food baskets, helped make the food baskets and spend a whole day driving around Rutland County to deliver them. He participated in their other fundraisers as well and did his best to prove that he was worthy to be considered among their ranks. This year, when the selection letters were sent, he received his letter. He applied once again for admission and once again, he was denied admission. He was devastated. He was simply told that he did not have a “majority” of the committee’s vote. Undaunted and once again showing character far better than his mother and beyond his years, he wrote the following letter to the committee respectfully asking them to reconsider his application.

To whom it may concern,

            Being aware that I have not been accepted into the National Honor Society this year, I, Thomas Heffernan, write this letter in hopes of presenting my case. Being denied acceptance the previous year, I have re-applied after a year of working hard to prove myself as deserving of admittance. I have worked fervently with the current NHS members and advisor to attend as many functions as possible, working around my part time job and numerous AP classes, in order to help the organization, as was asked of me when I was not accepted last year. The letter I received after being rejected suggested that I prove myself as deserving of acceptance, through furthering myself in the categories examined by the committee including:  leadership, service, and character. Working around my job and academics I have managed to, in my opinion, strengthen myself in these areas. In the area of service I continued membership in our school’s Key Club organization, as I have since sophomore year,  totalling over 15 hours of community service attributed to this group. In addition to this I attended numerous National Honor Society functions such as apple pie baking, the NHS fundraiser dance, food basket preparations and food basket delivery, and carnation assembly and delivery. I did this in an attempt to demonstrate my leadership, as I prompted other members who were not admitted to help at many functions, I provided my own free time in order to service the NHS, and I also feel that my working so closely with the National Honor Society after being rejected admission speaks highly of my character; specifically taking into account that I have spoken with many of the current senior members who have told me that they would not have the same level of respect towards the organization I hold had they not been admitted. Despite my rejection from the NHS last year I was able to get admissions to amazing schools such as Rochester Institute of Technology, Villanova, Northeastern University, Boston University, University of Vermont, and others; thus at this point my admission to the NHS holds no title for me to put on a college resumé, but would allow me one pleasure I would greatly appreciate which would be to walk with many of my close friends at graduation as a member of the same organization. I have worked extremely hard this year to put anything I may have done to offend the committee, or those who scored me, in my past, as I hope many are able to see, and to further myself as a person and be a paragon of the values of honesty, trustworthiness, character, and integrity I hold dear. Taking the advice I received from both Madame Sullivan and the committee to heart I put my best foot forward and gave myself up to display my worth to the National Honor Society and I truly hope that it allows me to be granted admission during my final year at Mill River High School. I appreciate that you have taken the time to re-review my application and give me a second chance to demonstrate what I have learned over the past year, I eagerly await your response.


Thomas J Heffernan

Tom and I have tried very hard to teach our boys to advocate for themselves and to respectfully push forward for what they believe they have earned and when they perceive they are not being treated fairly. Having a mother who is an attorney they understand that they will not always win, but they always must try. There are two sides to every story and sometimes the story someone is presented with is not an accurate portrayal of the true facts. I am very proud to say that when I read this letter, it brought tears to my eyes and I told my son that no matter the decision of the faceless committee that would decide his fate, to me and his father and to those who do truly know him, we are very proud and feel as if any rejection was the association’s loss. To give you an idea of what was going on at the time, this letter was written while he was in the midst of studying for four Advanced Placement exams. He met with the NHS advisor to review the reasons for being rejected and took that information to heart while writing this letter.

So, you see, while others on the stage last night were proud and happy as well they should be of this accomplishment in their high school career, for our son it was a hard fought battle where he learned more than the attributes of scholarship, leadership, service and character. He learned what it’s like to succeed and demonstrate that you are worthy against adversity. He has learned more than many of his fellow classmates because of this experience. The lessons learned and the experience will follow him throughout the years to come.

Congratulations TJ – we are so very, very proud of this accomplishment because we know how hard you worked for it and how much it truly means to you.