By Riona Duncan, Staff Writer
Payton’s chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) has been busy giving back to the community despite COVID-19 and online schooling.
More than 60 people participated in the NHS blood drive, which took place in October. School was remote, so people were given information about donating at Vitalent Blood Donation Centers, where they remained masked and the donations were tested for COVID-19 antibodies. Olivia Sotos, the tutoring coordinator on the NHS executive board, said that although the blood drive wasn’t as convenient as usual, “NHS members have been really willing to go the extra mile.” NHS is now looking for volunteers to donate blood for its spring blood drive.
NHS Vice-President Matthew Tanios ‘21 is proudest of the neighborhood clean-up they did before the school year even started. “We got a lot of people to show up in the peak of quarantine. It was nice to see people come together — we got people [inside] and [outside] of NHS,” he said.
NHS President Zachary Dortzbach ‘21 agrees that it was rewarding. “There were a lot of Black-owned businesses that were affected, so it was nice to be able to help with that,” he said. Participants in the clean-up split up into teams and cleaned up the streets of Kenwood after the protests this summer.
More recently, they ran a drive for menstrual products to donate to Juno4Us, a Chicago organization that supplies free birth control to people that need it. Because they couldn’t collect these products in school, they organized a system of contactless drop off in which there was a box for donations outside the houses of NHS members. This was supplemented by NHS members who could drive also picking up products as organized by Google Form.
The executive board of Me to We to Them reached out to NHS due to the success of the menstrual products drive. The two clubs formed a partnership in which Me To We To Them’s blanket drive used the same system NHS had used for the menstrual products drive. However, partnering with clubs for product drives is not the only way that NHS finds new things to undertake. They have an open Google Form that people can use to submit project ideas related to issues they’re passionate about or organizations they are involved in. “We’ve done nearly everything that’s been brought up that we can do safely,” Dortzbach said.
Due to the pandemic, there have been challenges. “We usually fill the auditorium with chairs and it’s easy to get participation,” Olivia Sotos ‘21 said. Also, the system for collecting products was much more complex than usual this year. For each project that has been undertaken, there has been a lot of thought about safety.
Still, the leaders of NHS said they are excited about the future. There are plans to help fix the disparity in access to selective enrollment tutoring. Test Prep Chicago, for example, charges $455 for a class designed to help students pass the test. “The disparity increases the acceptance rate of rich white people,” Dortzbach said. “We’re starting to assemble our own resources and bring the NHS tutoring system that we have at Payton to a middle school.” Every NHS member is mandated to participate in tutoring, so this program could potentially bring almost 70 tutors to a school.