Welcome to the National Honor Society of Oak Meadow! This is an exclusive group of students who have exhibited the four criteria for election: scholarship, character, leadership, and service.
National Honor Society members must simultaneously maintain good grades and participate in many activities that make our community a better place. Membership in the National Honor Society is a privilege that is earned through academic work as well as good citizenship.
Once a year in the fall, Oak Meadow sophomores, juniors, and seniors are invited to apply. Eligibility is based on a grade point average of 3.5 for any student taking at least three high school courses. Acceptance by our NHS faculty council is based on students’ extracurricular and volunteer activities as well as letters of recommendation.
Please visit each student’s profile below to learn more about these wonderful, caring, intelligent, and active young people!
Membership in the National Honor Society entails a commitment. Bylaws require a public induction, which is a challenge to achieve in a distance learning environment. We created this web page as a way to publicly recognize our amazing National Honor Society members.
Our 2022 Inductees
- Samantha Bean
- Sequoia Friedman
- Elliott Grimm
- Ava Ippoliti
- Neesa Kienitz-Peak
- Leela Levering
- Carolina Machemer
- Carlos Martins
- Liam McBrien
Our 2021 Inductees
My name is Kaiva Coleman, and I am honored to be accepted into Oak Meadow’s National Honor Society. This accomplishment will be very helpful in achieving my future goal of becoming a large animal veterinary surgeon.
Several of my interests have helped me learn critical skills needed to reach that important goal. First, I show responsibility by owning and running my business of breeding guinea fowl. I must care for my birds in any weather and temperature as well as nurse ill birds back to health. I also train and compete with horses in eventing. When riding a horse, a rider must remain confident and lead the horse. There have been many times when my horses have tested my leadership skills. Throughout all of these situations, I must continue to be calm and kind towards my horse, to prevent further escalation of the situation.
Whether caring for my birds or leading my horses, I must remain responsible and confident. These qualities represent why I feel honored to be an Oak Meadow National Honor Society member.
My name is Laura Daukantaite, I am 15 years old, Lithuanian, who spent almost all my life abroad, in Belgium, Azerbaijan, Lithuania and UAE. While living in different countries, I had a variety of educational experiences attending public, international, online and home schools in French, English and Lithuanian. This is my second year of fascinating homeschool experience at Oak Meadow.
I like traveling and I visited more than 25 countries including: China, India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Georgia, Italy and many countries in Europe. This enriched me with diverse cultures, their values and traditions and brought to me cultural intelligence. I am very happy to have my friends coming from many different countries. This tremendously opened my personality.
In all my activities, I seek to be a role model. I demonstrated my leadership skills, through my active involvement in the school such as STUCO, or MUN, as well as throughs sports activities. My high grades were assessed with US Presidential awards diplomas on yearly basis. My personal dedication led to victories and high achievements of all sport teams I have participated in the school. As an individual I won a lot of first place medals for cross country and track and field. I was honored to be admitted to the Lithuania national athletic league.
My leadership skills strengthened my character and taught me to trust myself. I have a lot of different passions in variety of subjects, such as photography, baking, cooking, writing, and dancing. I have a strong character of determination and I enjoy discovering new fields. In particularly, I am very closely attached to subjects of mental wellbeing and esthetics of environment. I see myself pursuing the studies in psychology and interior design in future while bringing my skills and strengths.
I believe that you owe it to life to make as great a difference as you can, and fill your time with activities that move both you and others forward. Through Girl Scouts, I earned my bronze award by building a pollinator garden at the local elderly housing, and I earned my silver award through holding monthly social gatherings for the people there. Bingo night was a huge hit, and this experience allowed my love of the environment as well as my people-helper mentality to shine through. I have also volunteered at a Therapeutic Equestrian Center and at The Drama Studio.
I work tirelessly to keep my grades up despite this myriad of responsibilities. Through Wellesley College, I study Italian. I am currently dual enrolled at Hartt College of Music at the University of Hartford. I am finishing the first year of a BA in Voice during my Junior and Senior years of high school. Based on my performance in other classes, I was exempt from the interview process and invited by one of my professors to join Composition. I have been dancing for seven years. I joined the Boston Tap Company in October of 2018, and performed at the DC Tapfest in April of 2019. I have been acting since 2013. In order to portray a character, you must understand their motive, regardless of how honorable their actions are.
The ultimate goal is to be able to play any part, and thus, understand and empathize with all humankind. I began performing Shakespeare in 2016, started working semi-professionally in 2019, and booked my first professional job in the summer of 2021. I attended my first music class in 2004, when I was three days old, and began training my voice formally in 2014. There is humanity to vocal music that is impossible to recreate in any other medium. In addition, I have been studying piano for four years. Using the above artistic mediums, we can reach humility, understanding, and develop empathy. I intend to dedicate my life to spreading love through the arts.
It was once said that the only thing that is fair about the world is that everyone has twenty-four hours in a day. This has stuck with me, and I strive to make each twenty-four-hour period count.
My name is Gabrielle Guidry, and I am a sophomore here at Oak Meadow. I have homeschooled for three years and have attended Oak Meadow for two. I was both surprised and honored to be chosen as a member of the National Honor Society and will strive to uphold the standards of this organization. I love learning, and I love creating. I recently attended a series of courses at a local sewing school, where I broadened my skills as a seamstress. I love anything and everything about fashion and have recently immersed myself in recreating 18th century women’s gowns. When I am not sewing or doing schoolwork, I am learning Korean, following professional figure skating competitions, learning about cultures in East and Southeast Asia, hiking with my wonderful dog, or volunteering at my local Humane Society chapter. I love working at the Humane Society, because it is such a privilege to meet and work with dozens of sweet, loving, and hilarious dogs.
I have many goals and dreams for the future, and I have a passion for travel. I hope to travel to many destinations someday, including South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Bhutan, Singapore, Paris, Venice, and Montreal, Canada. I believe that it’s important to travel, and I hope to see as many places as possible during my life. I also hope to use my travels as inspirations for projects or business ventures surrounding clothing or food. During my career, I hope to help transform the fashion industry by creating and encouraging the use of sustainable textiles and production practices, and making quality over quantity a mainstream value of the industry. I also hope to help encourage reform of the modeling industry, creating a more diverse, equal, and respectful atmosphere. I am constantly trying to better myself as a human being, and through my love for animals, the environment, and artistic creation, I believe that I can help make the world a better place.
Hi! I’m Elsa Kendall, a sophomore at Oak Meadow. I live in northern Virginia, close to Washington, D.C.—a city that has shaped my affinity for politics and policy alike. I’ve been lobbying at state and federal levels since I was nine years old, and those experiences have shaped my worldview and sense of civic duty. I have a bleeding disorder, which means that my blood doesn’t clot normally. As a person with a preexisting condition, self-advocacy and community advocacy are vitally important, and educating others about my disorder is a crucial part of my life. In the bleeding disorders community, I’ve worked to teach other kids how to speak up for themselves, and I hope to empower them to tell their stories. One of my greatest interests is volunteering at the local library, where I regularly help with storytimes. History—and the way it’s recorded—also fascinates me, and this past summer, I helped run the National Archives’ virtual genealogy camp. The complexity of building interactive activities for the live- online format tested my ability to be flexible and provide comprehensive help for campers, and the experience was gratifying. Education is the primary way that I seek to empower my communities, whether I’m speaking about the unique effects of bleeding disorders on women and girls or teaching campers about record databases and the power of their own personal narratives.
My name is Michael Lautenbach, I live on an island off the coast of Wilmington, NC in Topsail Beach (fondly called Mayberry By the Sea according to locals). I am sixteen years of age and am a seasoned surfer and waterman, guitarist and an aspiring writer (I’ve written several of my own creative short stories and hope to pursue creative writing at University. Our town (population 400) has many full time retirees. As such, I am frequently seen helping neighbors by walking their dogs or doing odd jobs for elderly friends and neighbors. I would describe myself as forward-thinking, creative, and focused.
Lucca Orsi Martins
My name is Lucca Orsi Martins. I am 17 years old, Brazilian, and have spent many years of my life living in two different countries, Brazil and the United States. I couldn’t be happier and more honored to be accepted into Oak Meadow’s National Honor Society. I’m pretty sure this accomplishment will help me achieve my goal of becoming a businessman.
The first element that represents me the most is my family. They are people similar to me, we are always together, and they support me in any decision. All these years by their side I learned two important manners throughout my life. The first one is always offering my hand to help. I learned that we are not perfect and will always need others’ help. And it doesn’t matter to whom my hand is going to be offered, cooperation and guidance can be done to anyone, not only with the people I know. By doing this we can create a better world, where we can be honest and helpful.
The second thing I learned living with them is creating a good relationship between the people. Also, I am the third oldest son in my home; which means that my older brothers who are not at home taught me how to be a good example and leader to my younger brothers. I know that my role at home is important because my siblings learn from my actions and thoughts, it’s really a great responsibility and I’m happy to have this opportunity. It means I can start to make the world a better place in my open house. The good relationship I had with my family members my whole life showed me how to be a better person in general and how to influence my younger brothers to follow their own righteous and honest paths.
The most important part of my life is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and I act everyday according to my beliefs. In my perspective, God is the most important part of my life. Also, there’s a group I am a member of and it is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints seminary. The seminary is the moment in my routine in which I can learn new things and have peace at the same time. During the years going to the seminary, I learned how to be more like Christ was. I know that I am not perfect and that I cannot be, but I put a goal in my life that I will always try to be a better person every day. In my point of view, a better person is honest and righteous, also empathetic and committed to every activity. The seminary showed me my purpose to be here on Earth. I believe that if I am a good person here on Earth, I can have eternal life after death. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, people believe that we can have eternal families depending on our actions here on Earth. This means that the seminary showed me how to be a leader and influence others to be like Christ. In my perspective, I am just an “instrument” in God’s hand. By going to seminary, I learned that trying to be more similar to Christ, makes us better leaders and influences the people around us. It’s important to say we learn by example and if we are surrounded by honest and righteous people, we learn how to be just like them and also inspire others to follow.
The things I like the most are traveling and playing soccer, in my opinion, the most exciting things to do and they’re great for emotional and mental health. I usually spend 10 hours of my week playing soccer and going to Base Academy center. I can say it is where I dedicate myself to physical activities and to improve my health. It’s important to say I love soccer, therefore being a member of this group is a pleasure, an opportunity to exceed myself improving my abilities and knowledge. And, of course, my country, where I was born, and where my culture comes from.
My name is Eesa Ali Mir. I am 16 and I am a junior in high school at Oak Meadow. I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, and I currently live in Lahore, Pakistan. I live with my parents, brother, sister, two birds, and a very lazy bunny on campus at LUMS, the university where my mother teaches – and where I hope to be applying this winter (winter 2021-2022). Since I have grown up in both the global North and South, I feel that I have seen both sides of the wealth spectrums, and just how much inequality exists in this day and age. Because of my privilege, I am aware that I have a responsibility to care for others and work towards making the world a more accepting and equal place. I am passionate about economic and social inequalities such as race, class, and disabilities. I love to volunteer in my community as an attempt to bridge these societal gaps. To quote Muhammad Ali, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
Have you ever wondered how others see the world? I see the world through the lens of a camera; both figuratively and literally. Hi! I’m Jaden a sophomore at Oak Meadow. I began homeschooling at the start of high school. Homeschooling had always been of interest to my parents, but the pandemic was the deciding factor that shoved us into the challenging but freeing experience. Below is a bit about me!
Most people are either left-brained or right-brained, and I consider myself right-brain dominant. Throughout my life I have been creative; maybe because I went to a Waldorf school and did art every day of my life, or maybe that’s just how I was born. I love many types of art, painting, drawing, writing, decorating, but recently I found the form of art I like best; photography…I see every moment as though its a photograph. Through my words and my camera—my pause button for life—I love capturing the pure beauty of people and our amazing planet and sharing it with others. Homeschooling has allowed my family to travel more than ever and given me the chance to see and photograph our Earth! We’ve road-tripped, flown, and in the process learned a lot. I’m so grateful for the opportunities my parents have given me over the last year and a half, and I’m also grateful to Oak Meadow and the freedom homeschooling has allowed for. The shy homebody I used to be has vanished—for the most part—and I have developed a strong character while visiting stunning places, being in nature, and learning through experience and more feely.
Photography is not my whole life; in fact I only dove into the world of photography a year ago. Before the camera came into my life, I was just a shy athlete, content staying at home. My athletic journey began with aerial silks—something my Waldorf school offered through their circus program—and then gymnastics. Both were very exciting sports, but eventually, I had to choose one. I chose to step away from the circus and into the world of flipping and free-flying…gymnastics. I am currently an optional gymnast here in Northern California. Gymnastics has shaped my character, taught me more than I ever thought a sport could, and given me a second family. I have learned valuable lessons of confidence, perseverance, dedication, and I have learned to be a leader and stand up for myself and what I believe in both in the gym and out in the world.
In the spare time I have left, I volunteer with Interact through my local rotary club, coach basic gymnastics, spend time with friends and family, and watch every sunset and sunrise possible!
So, that’s me. A once shy little girl who wished to be safe at home, now taking her passions to a higher level through gymnastics and making life into an adventure film. My dreams have roots in all directions, which is unlike my very organized self, but at least I have options and a whole life ahead of me!
My name is Virginia Scharkowski and I like to fill my life with creativity. I currently reside in Taiwan although I have also lived in both China and the United States. I am a native Mandarin Chinese and English speaker. My father is from America and my mother is from Taiwan. My main interests are songwriting and singing! I have a YouTube channel where I occasionally share covers and original songs as well as do live stream concerts. Outside of school I teach an English class, I’m a Eurythmy piano accompanist, and I participate in church youth activities and service.
Hello! My name is Megan Stuart and I am a senior at Oak Meadow. I live in Minneapolis, MN but you can usually find me at a dance competition or in the studio. I have been Irish dancing since the age of four and I have found it to be “my thing” in life. I spend almost all of my time dancing, training, teaching, and competing in Irish dance and I dream of one day taking the art to global stages through professional media coverage. I love the cultural, physical, emotional, and creative components that Irish dance carries and I think it has the potential to become an art that is recognized and practiced on more of an international scale. I am the proud winner of the 2020 All Ireland Championships, a 2022 YoungArts winner in dance, and a nominated artist for the 2022 Presidential Scholar in the Arts program.
Outside of the studio, I love writing, baking, and traveling. I am also an avid true-crime fan and I love listening to podcasts!
My name is Diana, I am 18 years old and I grew up in Bethel, Connecticut, where I still live. I attended the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School in a neighboring town where I learned to love violin, flute, theater, Spanish, German, and all kinds of art. Writing and performing are two of my passions. I used to learn everyone’s lines in my class plays so I could help if others forgot, and I gave my class’s 8th grade graduation speech. I have enjoyed a number of extracurriculars over the years, including dance, competitive cheerleading, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, Girl Scouts, tennis, chess club, painting, sketching, printmaking, photography, piano, and guitar. I love animals and gardening and have volunteered on two farms in New York and one in Switzerland. I love young children as well; I’ve done service trips to Costa Rica, at a school, and South Dakota on a Lakota reservation. I started working at a daycare just this year, and I love it!
- Devon Labbate
- Julius Joplin
Our 2020 Inductees
My name is Jillian Bauer, and I’m beginning my senior year with Oak Meadow. I’ve lived most of my life in Portland, Oregon. I have always been homeschooled and I’m so grateful for that because it has given me the time and structure I need to embrace and explore different interests as I grow up and build my character with allowance for adaptation. I spent many years in pre-professional ballet training before high school. Some of my major interests now include reading, art, wellness, and current events. I am a passionate supporter of freedom. I like to learn and share what I discover; I am passionate about looking beyond headlines to uncover facts by evaluating actual evidence supporting assertions. I’m concerned about how blanket policies affect vulnerable populations—especially since March 2020.
I’m currently working as an intern for the campaign of a candidate running for Governor of Oregon. I see myself as a leader—I’m an older sibling which I think kickstarted that trait in me; I like working with kids and am leading a bookclub for younger kids, and I was a journalist then promoted to co-editor for a school newspaper. My biggest personal goal for the future is to launch a business after I finish high school.
My name is Jack D’Souza. I’m 16 years old and a junior at Oak Meadow. I enjoy traveling and being outdoors as much as possible. Over the course of my school years I’ve tried a lot of different kinds of schools-public, private, homeschool, a semester school, and, finally, distance learning. Each has added to my love of learning, especially in the sciences. By being exposed to different styles of education it has made me realize that learning can and should happen anywhere and everywhere. If we are open to discovery we can find that scholarship takes many forms. I believe you don’t need to be in a classroom to be taught, you don’t need a map to explore and you don’t need standardized tests to determine your value. You only need that spark of curiosity and determination to guide the way to the most profound learning.
I’ve been fortunate to live in different cities in the US and to travel overseas. In each place I’ve tried to make a positive difference, primarily through environmental service. I was born fascinated with the natural world and feel driven to learn as much as I can about the planet and its creatures in order to help restore it to a healthy condition. The Earth is in trouble and only human action can save it. Even now, during the pandemic, I try to make a difference by picking up litter along the forest trails near my house and by collecting discarded fishing line, lures, and debris around local rivers and lakes so it doesn’t ensnare wildlife. These efforts are on a small scale but they do make a difference. It is rewarding to pick up trash along the beach on the way out and find it clean for everyone on the way back in. We can leave the world better than we found it everyday.
My life has been a beacon for curiosity, energy, and creativity. I cannot remember a time as a child where my parents weren’t encouraging me and my three sisters to be outside, to create, and to just live in the moments that we were given. Whether I was at a beach in California, in the woods of Pennsylvania, or even in the suburbs of Illinois, it always felt like I was able to be whomever I wanted to be. The naturalness of life that I had experienced with the family I loved at such a young age helped me become the person I am today.
I am a musician, I am a sister, I am a daughter, I am a student, and I am a community volunteer. I am young and I have the world ahead of me with the opportunity to keep becoming whomever I want to be. Every time that I pick up my violin I can create music to my heart’s content. I can express every bit of emotion that I hold onto and I can bring out different personalities as I play. Every time that I am with my family, I am a part of something so much bigger than myself. When I volunteer in my community, I am a reflection of the town, and I am a role model for the children with whom I work. While very separate roles, they all make up who I am. Even with just one of these things missing, I do not think I would be completely whole.
Oak Meadow has aided me in this journey of becoming who I am today. They encourage the curiosity, energy, and creativity that I experienced as a child. This school brought me the opportunity to be the unimaginable and to keep being whomever I want to be.
My name is Bryce Hevener and I am a junior at Oak Meadow. I live in a small town in South Carolina with my parents and a younger sister. I work at a local community garden with people from all over the world. I help deliver food from the garden to several local food banks. I love reading about history and visiting historical places. I enjoy hiking and just being out in nature. I love music and play the piano and ukulele. I love serving at my local church, whether that is delivering food donations or helping set up for our outdoor service.
Humans have always lived in community with one another, and community brings plenty of benefits and challenges along the way. This unusual year has put this even more into perspective as our communities struggle with COVID and racial injustices. Whether it is laying down one’s desires for the good of others or truly listening to one another’s concerns, that is what we are called to do. We are all called to sacrificial service, serving for the benefit of others instead of for our own benefit. Everyone from leaders to the “average Joe” is called to this task for the betterment of our communities, our nation, and our world. I seek to embody these principles in my everyday life. As President John F. Kennedy once said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Regardless of our gender, race, religion, or citizenship, let us strive to ask what we can do for others.
My name is Khizer Mir and I am an 11th grader at Oak Meadow. I enjoy photography, writing, watching documentaries, and learning about media, politics and history. I was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and lived in Quincy, Massachusetts until I was ten. Since then, my family has been dividing our time between Lahore, Pakistan and Massachusetts. My favorite sports are horseback riding, football (soccer), and cricket. I also enjoy cooking dinner for my family. My main passion is community work. In Lahore, I volunteer at a local school run by a nonprofit, where I help children learn to speak and understand English through games and conversations. In Quincy, my siblings and I pack lunches for the homeless.
My name is Ben and I live on a farm in Northern Vermont. My primary job is working on our family farm, which is quite time consuming between daily farm chores and various other projects (especially during growing season, which is the spring and summer months). Our farm is a permaculture farm, so we have a large amount of growing areas for dozens of different types of fruits, medicinal and culinary herbs, and vegetables. I frequently help with the farm’s planting and weeding projects.
Working on our family farm has taught me so many things. Taking care of it hasn’t only helped me see the outside world as a place of stunning beauty and usefulness, but also gain a new level of respect for my family’s love of farming and animals. Also, helping our planet by being a part of the local food movement is incredibly important. I have so much respect for our farm’s efforts to create a ripple effect for others in our local community, state, and country by growing food for ourselves. Not only is this something that can easily be done, but if it becomes widespread enough, it will eventually help our country get back to a more local food movement that’ll help preserve our planet.
The primary work I do outside of home centers around our church community. I participate in work that benefits our local homeless shelters. Our church is very involved in the local communities around us, and they partner with ANEW Place in Burlington, which helps both care for the homeless and also works to get them back on their feet. While I help with ongoing work with the shelters through assisting with meals and donations, my family does larger scale work with the homeless in the fall around the holidays that has impacted me greatly. Hearing the stories of the homeless and the challenges they face every day living on the streets and not knowing where they will find their next meal, or a place to sleep at night has made a big impact on me. It is always very moving to see a spark of hope in their eyes as we gave them items that they needed, and helped share information about resources that can help them more. We would always share hope with them. I really enjoy being part of our church youth group and helping it grow and develop. Helping others is really important.
When I’m not busy with farm or animal related projects, I work on my film review website Boards of Cinema, which is a huge passion of mine. I founded and manage a WordPress website named “Boards of Cinema” (the name being coined after the excellent electronic music group Boards of Canada), on which I write and publish my own film reviews as often as I can. My reviews were originally published multiple times in Teen Ink Magazine, both in print and online. I was a favorite at Teen Ink Magazine, and published 78 film and music reviews, as well as seven poems. I received the Diamond badge for the number of contributions and accepted pieces of work. I was awarded 29 Editor’s Choice awards for excellent writing, and my work was featured in the print magazine eight times. Since then, my work on Boards of Cinema has attracted some real attention online and has shown that I can be a true leader when it comes to my passions. I also enjoy biking, drinking kombucha, helping care for the animals on my family’s farm, and hanging out with my four sweet cats.
I always “take charge” of every single thing I do, be it my farm chores/outside work, school projects, personal website, daily routines for the day, community work, talking to other people about homesteading, or even just helping my family members out with anything they need. I strive to be very reliable, honest and diligent in everything I do in life, and always give it 110%. A strong work ethic and integrity are of utmost importance to me, but passion drives who I am in life.
My name is Hannah, and I am a senior at Oak Meadow. I live on an organic permaculture homestead in the beautiful state of Vermont, and raise and breed ADGA registered Nigerian Dwarf goats. I am also passionate about photography, singing, music, cooking, and growing organic food.
Raising goats for ten years has taught me many things, and in my mind the most important value is patience. Whether it’s during kidding season with our does going into labor in the middle of the night, or a new goat that is terrified of people and just needs love, patience is absolutely key. Raising goats is a lot of work and expense: hauling water buckets to the barn and wheelbarrows of hay/manure to the fields, shaving goats in the summertime, hay deliveries, daily milking, setting up gates and pastures, taking care of goat kids from birth up until the time they leave for their new home, registering goats and filling out health records, making/researching herbal and homeopathic remedies, and countless other things. But there is joy in every single moment and it has always been worth it. My life is a rhythm, and I dance to the beat of each precious moment. At the end of a long day, I sit on the old milking stand listening to the sounds of the night rolling in, and my favorite girl, Capella, comes over and puts her head in my lap. Nothing can top these moments.
When I’m not out in the barn with the goats, you can usually find me with my camera. I am very passionate about photography and I have had a camera in my hands for as long as I can remember. When I am photographing something, whether it’s a goat or landscape, it’s like I’m looking at the world through a new set of eyes and capturing such a beautiful moment. There’s absolutely nothing else like it. I particularly enjoy photographing goats (especially for our farm website SweetMeadowsVT.com) because each one has such a different personality, but I also love macro photography and shooting general nature/landscapes as well. My photography has been featured in Stone Soup Magazine multiple times, winning the cover four times, and also a featured editorial about my years of published work. I have also won first place and other awards in state photography contests.
Along with raising goats, growing organic food and propagating all kinds of different fruit trees and bushes is most of the focus of our farm. We have a fruit orchard, and various permaculture garden beds that contain a variety of herbs and vegetables. The process of growing food, caring for it with love for many months, and finally harvesting it (usually towards the end of summer) for a meal is just a beautiful thing. Since we moved to Vermont in 2010, we have dramatically changed and reshaped the landscapes on our farm, and defined various gardens and ecosystem habitat areas. I have learned so much about growing healthy food and medicine, why it is so important (and easy!) to grow your own food, and why going back to local food movements is critical for the future of our planet. I have developed many of my own recipes, and one of my goals is to publish a cookbook with my mom at some point in the future through our publishing company. My mom and I have published three farm books with our joint photography and creative writing so far and I can’t wait to start the next project!
Animal rescue is also something that I would like to pursue once I graduate. In the past I have fostered cats on death row from NYC kill shelters, as well as rehabilitated stray and feral cats. I have also rescued bunnies from terrible living conditions, and after I brought them back to good health and showed them love, I adopted them out to wonderful families across New England. My faith in God is central in my life, and I have worked through our church with a local homeless shelter by making meals. It has been amazing to be also able to bring clothes, food and other gear directly to the homeless people living on the streets of Burlington, or to simply stop and get out the car and help someone in need. I have also worked on various projects with other Christian organizations to benefit youth around the world. I hope to become more involved in community outreach and mission work going forward as the farm demands allow. I also strongly believe in personal freedom and choice. If you don’t have basic rights, then what do you have? 2020 has really opened my eyes about what is important, about how much we take our freedoms for granted and also why it is important to stand firm in your beliefs. Taking a stand for what you believe in is so important.
Being enrolled in Oak Meadow for ten years has been a truly amazing experience, and all of the wonderful teachers that I have had over the years have really helped to shape who I am. I have created such a strong sense of who I am, a strong work ethic, and important organizational skills over the years. I am forever grateful for my Oak Meadow teachers and staff and for the amazing life and support my parents have given me here in the beautiful state of Vermont.
- Lilliana Hojnacki
Our 2019 Inductee
Our 2018 Inductees
I grew up as a military kid, and, consequently, I moved about every three years. When people ask me where I’m from, I never know quite what to say. I usually end up responding with wherever I’m living at the time, but my honest answer would be Earth. Living in so many places around the world taught me that I’m not from one town in one state in one country, I’m from planet Earth. My community is not limited to the number of people living in my “hometown,” it expands to every single person on this planet. I learned that I was a part of a broader community at a young age, and this understanding has led me to many of my interests, passions, and beliefs. I believe that our experiences shape who we are, but I also believe that everyday we have the chance to shape ourselves. Everyday I get up and I have the chance to choose who I’m going to be that day. I actively choose to be compassionate towards others, to have patience with myself and the world around me, to respect and accept people and situations for who and what they are in the moment, and to live authentically.
Some days and some moments get the best of me, but building strong character is a never ending process that we get to participate in every single day. Living all over the world has also taught me the importance of service to your community, whether that be to yourself, your family, your town, or your country. Creating positive living environments comes from looking after, and investing in, your community. My experiences have not only shaped my beliefs, but also my interests and passions. I am extremely passionate about veganism, as well as genuinely looking after the diverse environments of Earth. I am also very interested in the arts, particularly writing and painting, and I am passionate about ballet, and just dance in general. I love being outdoors exploring, and I’ll always be eager to learn something new about this complex planet we live on. Earth is my home and my family, and I’m so thankful to get to live every day here exploring myself, my interests, and the world around me.
Due to my belief that education is something every person must pursue on their own terms, I switched from public high school to Oak Meadow’s distance learning program as a junior, which allows me immense intellectual freedom in every subject of study and encourages me to challenge myself academically, think critically, and process information in the format that works best for me. As a rising senior, I have had plenty of time to reflect on what matters most to me and to find my sense of self. However, despite turbulent waves of change throughout the years, I’ve found those things haven’t changed much—two things that have always been of primary importance in my life are my family (including my pets!) and my creative endeavors, especially music. I write and read fiction, draw and paint anime-style portraits, philosophize, create comedy sketches, and teach myself piano by ear.
While I simply love and thrive on music itself, it has also naturally weaved itself into every aspect of my life, including my passions, community activities, and education. I play violin in two youth orchestras, the Temple University Youth Chamber Orchestra and the Delaware County Youth Orchestra; write and record songs for voice, ukulele, and other instruments; and play music for residents of a local senior center each week with a friend. This past year, I started a band with a few of my friends, for which we write and rehearse in our spare time. I believe music is a magical, otherworldly experience that forms an irrevocable bond between people of any background and any age, which is one of the reasons I share an extremely precious and special bond with my violin teacher of seven years. I also believe that education comes in a variety of valid forms, given that I have learned how to work effectively with others and how to guide people in a group and individually through being concertmaster of several orchestras and through teaching young kids violin, how to maintain focus for hours during a concert or while practicing, and how to endure even the less enjoyable parts of studying music. Being a musician is about much more than playing notes, and I believe that I’ve learned much about life and about myself in the process of becoming one.
Hi! I’m Katie and I’m a senior at Oak Meadow. Some of my favorite Oak Meadow courses have been Biology, Psychology, and Algebra II. I like being an Oak Meadow student because it allows me to be an independent learner with a flexible schedule. Oak Meadow encourages me to be creative in my assignments and my thinking, which has helped me explore new ways of explaining topics and expressing my thoughts. Outside of OM, I volunteer at my local public library, which has helped me develop a sense of industry and increase my self-efficacy. In my free time, I like to read, hike, camp, embroider and cross stitch, play with my cats, sing, and draw.
One of the most important qualities we can have is a love of learning. This love permeates every aspect of life and gives more meaning to the lessons we learn everywhere. With this love, we eagerly pursue academic and non-academic subjects and become scholars in our diverse interests, which rewards us with knowledge of and strengthened passion for them. We may also, as scholars, begin to teach others about our interests so that they can cultivate their passions as well. If we continue to nurture it, our love of learning will serve us well throughout our lives in numerous ways. Serving our communities is equally as important, as it helps the community and helps us learn important life skills and lessons, such as working in a team, completing a multi-step task, and talking with community members. Service strengthens our connection to our communities and provides us with new opportunities to meet people and make friends. I thank the committee for selecting me for this honor, and I look forward to my senior year, to further pursuing my interests, and to further demonstrating the characteristics of service, scholarship, leadership, and character.
Our 2017 Inductees
Hi, my name is Benjamin Almquist, and I am 15 years old. During my life, I was exposed to myriads of enriching and character-building experiences in various locations whether they were for school, athletics, service, or fun. These experiences taught me to be loyal, trustworthy, disciplined, how to win and lose, and many other lessons. Out of everything, I learned how to find joy in any activity, task, or obstacle I encounter.
Over several years, I found this joy in multiple activities including traveling, reading, sailing, spending time with family and friends, etc. Three things I found the most joy in were tennis, traveling, and service. As these things relate to the National Honors Society, service is very important to me. In the past two years I had multiple service opportunities in many different locations. At every service location, what made the most substantial impact was that everyone was cordial, generous, grateful, and outgoing. These experiences increased my awareness of where I can grow and change myself to be the best I can.
Through working at these service opportunities, I developed a stronger sense of humility and my character grew. With each and every service experience I saw how people lived and worked. Through all of these situations, I learned the resilience of the human spirit and how by helping each other everyone can live joyfully. Most of all, I learned how everyone is equal. From my hobbies to service, my character has evolved. I am more aware, more humble, and enjoy the things I do much more or find a way to enjoy what I am doing. Now I wish to continue my service and continue to develop an excellent character within the National Honors Society.
My name is Katherine Almquist, and I am 15 years old. I am in my second year attending Oak Meadow as a distance learner from my small town of Union Pier, Michigan, where I live with my twin brother, mom, dad, and two cats. As I live right on Lake Michigan, I have grown up on the beach with the most beautiful sunsets in the summer and the serene silence of the frozen lake in the winter. This proximity to the lake has shaped who I am. I have a range of interests from sailing, traveling, and playing tennis, to a burning desire to further develop my skills to make a difference in the world. This desire, since my early childhood, was nurtured through travel, volunteerism, nature experiences, and a love for learning. Throughout all of my journeys and experiences, my family’s support and presence is something that I truly cherish most.
When I saw my acceptance into the National Honor Society, I knew this was a continuation of my journey to making a difference in my community. I already started with volunteering at my local food bank as well as attending the Civic Leadership Institute at Northwestern University. This acceptance further reinforces my desire to contribute to the healthy progression of our world. From my life experiences so far, I have found that leadership and character are the two National Honor Society qualities that are the most important characteristics of a well-rounded citizen, participant and human in my community and life.
I chose leadership and character because you can’t have one without the other. Good character means that you have integrity, determination, the willingness to be vulnerable and use your courage to conquer your fears. As I have seen from leaders across the globe, good character is obtained through hard work, learning from your failures and turning them into successes. I have translated these strategies into my own life in many different accounts. I have accomplished this through stepping forward and enjoying my time with the people in need at my local food bank. Leadership and character have also come into play when I am in one of my tennis matches. When faced with challenges of a failed strategy, I find strength and lead myself towards a better plan. Finally, I truly saw character and leadership going hand and hand with my experience in Peru where I pushed myself to help with Spanish translation which ultimately helped us obtain some basic needs and tools for projects. Having good character gave me the strength to be a leader in these situations. I look forward to using character and leadership as well as the other two National Honor Society qualities of service and scholarship to continue my evolution into a successful global citizen.
My name is Hasan Muhammad Al-Quaid. I am an Oak Meadow student studying in the UAE. I am originally from the Pennsylvania/Delaware Valley, but am living abroad with my family. While living in the UAE, I’ve picked up many valuable things like the culture and Arabic language. I live with my seven brothers and sisters, but I am a unique and determined individual.
My hobbies are learning all kinds of information, playing many different sports, and exercising. I enjoy physical activities and spend a lot of time outdoors and with animals. I have a passion for math and science and believe strongly in protecting our environment. I also enjoy creating things in Photoshop and making wooden crafts. I hope to one day attain an excellent physique and use my interests to invent things and shape the future.
Traveling full time has its rewards and challenges for a modern-day teenager. My name is Alex Blackburn, and I’m a 16-year-old junior at Oak Meadow. I was born in Colorado but moved to Texas just after my first birthday. In my seventh grade year, my family made the decision to travel full-time. By the time I entered high school, my dad had retired early, we had sold our house, and we had moved to Florida to buy a sailboat. We bought a 37′ Island Spirit Catamaran, sold our remaining vehicle, and moved aboard her full-time. Since then, we have traveled up and down the East Coast and the Bahamas.
Our family has had many adventures in the last few years and learned amazing things about ourselves, our surroundings, and about other cultures. We learned how to be self-sufficient in making our own energy and water for daily use. We have taken pride in having a near zero environmental footprint, something we quickly realized the importance of when observing our surroundings. We faced challenges that allowed us to grow closer together as a family and saw amazing sights that made us appreciate being with each other. In my travels, I have enjoyed swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, various beach activities, and of course sailing.
However, I also have a variety of other interests that I am passionate about like reading, movies, computers, and video games. I intend to pursue a degree in Computer Science and one day obtain a job programming amazing video games for others to enjoy. I am proud to have been accepted into the National Honor Society and look forward to continuing to be a positive influence on those around me. Two qualities that I think are important are character and leadership. Having good character is important in becoming a responsible and caring person for yourself, those around you, and your environment. Leadership is essential as it has a direct impact on others and their decisions, which can affect everything in life. Those with good character and great leadership can have an increasingly positive outcome for our world.
I am Olivia, age 15, a sophomore at Oak Meadow and honored to be a part of the National Honor Society. I live in a small town in Connecticut with my Mom, Dad, sister, four dogs, and my bunny. I was accepted into the National Junior Honor Society in the seventh grade after exhibiting scholarship, leadership, service, and character. When I was in the eighth grade, I was a part of my school’s mock trial team. Playing a witness in the case, I and my teammates won the State Championship after competing against over 40 other schools. As a result of this accomplishment, my team received a Congressional Citation at the Connecticut State Capitol and a standing ovation on the floor of the House of Representatives. In addition to my academic work, I have studied classical ballet for 12 years and performed in various ballets and original pieces. Recently, I was chosen to play the lead role of Clara in The Nutcracker. I have also been playing the piano since the age of five, and have received multiple Certificates of Musical Achievement from my music school. I also enjoy volunteering for community service activities, spending time with friends, and relaxing at home with my family and pets.
I chose service and leadership as two particular qualities of an NHS member to highlight. I find joy in helping others and giving back to her community. I recognize those who are less fortunate, and am grateful to those who have enriched my life. Volunteering at my alma mater, soup kitchens, charity drives, benefit ballet performances at a retirement home, Yale’s Smilow Cancer Hospital, at a local library, and volunteering with an organization called Homeward Bound CT that helps to find forever homes for abandoned dogs are examples of my activities. I choose these activities because I enjoys being generous and giving back to those who have contributed to my life. I see leadership in many forms. I feel strongly that one does not have to be in an elected office, such as student council, to exhibit leadership, but instead simply be a good role model for others.
Again, I am proud to be recognized as a member of the National Honor Society, and I look forward to continuing to model the four qualities of scholarship, leadership, service, and character throughout my life.
My name is Aidan Murray and I am a 16-year-old sophomore in Oak Meadow. Currently, I live in the costal town of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The people here are friendly, the beaches are beautiful, and the weather is always nice. One of my main interests is art, and I have participated in many local art exhibitions. My mediums include printmaking, graphite, and most recently, gouache. My favorite books include Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple and X, by Sue Grafton. Some of my other hobbies and interests include playing the piano, history, mathematics, playing tennis, hanging out with and making new friends, photography, traveling, volunteering at my local art center, healthy eating, reading murder mystery novels, and watching documentaries.
To me, service is very important. Service is a way to help and give back to our local communities and organizations. It strengthens our connection with those around us, and leaves us wanting to do more good. Leadership is also an important aspect of life. Being a leader means encouraging those around us to do good and helping those who can’t help themselves. Leaders are responsible, caring, respectful, and are able to make important decisions and rise above unpleasant situations. I am so very excited to be a member of the NHS, and I can’t wait to see what it can do for me, and what I can do for it.
My name is Chase Richardet and I am 15 years old. I live in coastal southeastern North Carolina with my parents and two younger siblings, plus 3 dogs, 2 cats, and over 20 chickens. I don’t live on a farm—my family just really loves animals and having fresh organic eggs!
I am starting my second year of enrollment with Oak Meadow and am in the 10th grade, but this is my eighth year homeschooling! For the past six years I have been taking fencing classes, and this past year I began volunteering to help teach a youth fencing class at our local YMCA. Assisting the youth fencing class is not only a great way to give back and share something that I enjoy, it’s a lot of fun too! Some other things that I enjoy doing are: sailing (I am ASA certified), diving (I am PADI certified for SCUBA), drawing and creating art, and traveling with my family. Outside of school and activities, I also take care of a beach property and do other jobs that involve outside maintenence of property grounds. I feel very grateful for all of the opportunities that I’ve been trusted with and worked for because each experience—whether volunteering, traveling or learning a new skill—helps push me outside of my comfort zone and grow as a person.