Nation’s first NAHS chapter upholding proud tradition at Bearden


Bearden had the first National Art Honor Society chapter in the country, and it’s still active and productive almost 40 years later.

Emily Simmons, News Editor

The National Art Honor Society (NAHS) is one of Bearden’s well known and distinguished student organizations, but what many students and people do not about this esteemed group, is that the national society’s origins can be traced straight back to Bearden.

In 1978 one of Bearden’s former art teachers Mrs. Marilyn Hilemen came up with the idea to create an Honor Society that recognizes and showcases the talents of students and gives back to local communities.

“Today we just really try to continue that tradition of recognizing student artists and community service,” said Mrs. Anna Boyd, who is a Bearden art teacher and the NAHS sponsor. “It is just really neat to think that Bearden is chapter one; we were the first chapter of this society that now has thousands of members nationwide.”

Due to the organization being an honor society, students must have completed the Art 1 class, and maintain a B average or higher in any upper level art class in order to be invited to join.

“NAHS is important because kids who are interested in art [sometimes] feel out of place, but NAHS spotlights their talents and connect with other art students,” senior and NAHS executive board member Madison Tenney said. “It’s like one big creative family.”

Added Mrs. Boyd: “We recognize that students may not have strengths in other core academic areas, so that is why the maintaining of a B average or higher is [solely] tied to student’s art classes.”

Additionally, in order for students to be an active member in the society they must participate in at least 75 percent of the service projects and meeting the organization has throughout the school year similar to other Honor Societies.

“The students themselves really run the organization; they select the service projects and work together to make them happen,” Mrs. Boyd said.

Previously, service projects that NAHS has participated in include painting murals throughout the school, working with organizations such as SafePlace, which provides students and children with a safe place to go for up to 48 hours if they do not feel safe at home, assisting residents of retirement homes, as well as holding a Kids Art fest which takes place in the spring at Bearden.

“NAHS really allows students a way to be active in the community and grow their art skills; members of NAHS really have a way to stand out other than academically when it comes to resumés or college applications,” Mrs. Boyd said.

Freshmen and other students wishing to pursue further art classes or to join NAHS are also encouraged to join Bearden’s Art Guild, which is sponsored by art teacher Mrs. Paula Goepfert and is a club that is open to anyone interested in art and often assists and works together with NAHS.

“Art Guild kind of paves the way for freshmen and other students wanting to join NAHS because it is very similar to what it is like to be in NAHS, and students can even eventually be in both,” Mrs. Boyd said.

The society has roughly 40 members this year and meets every Tuesday.