This originally appeared as an Editorial/Opinion piece in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.
Last year, I attended a "Sophomore Recognition Ceremony." I'd been invited by a certain national honor society, and the ceremony basically turned out to be an advertisement for that society, complete with refreshments, speeches, and a little video presentation. The speakers went on at length about fellowship, giving back to the community, and "fun." This was all fine and dandy, but I still felt that something was missing. Something action-packed and exciting.
Like many of the people in that room, I'm sure, I grew up feeling like part of my life had already been planned out. I would graduate high school, go to college, join whatever I could that would look good on a résumé, and go get a job. I received pamphlets in the mail inviting me to join the army, the navy, and the marines, but I would always just toss them in the garbage. Sure, I'd love to become part of an unstoppable fighting force -- who wouldn't like to be the ultimate human weapon? -- but that was never part of the plan.
Turning these thoughts around in my head after the ceremony, I realized what I really needed. I want something different in an honor society. I need it to appeal to another side of me. I want to find an honor society that is also an elite cadre of fighters. You want to talk to me about "fun"? Send me into battle against a two-hundred pound, armed sociopath, or set me up against a small clan of ninjas. Now that's excitement. I'll join any society that promises to turn me into a killing machine, provided that I can get in based on my GPA and not on any innate physical prowess, as I have none of the latter. Let's face it: if I'm an honors student now, don't you think I got beat up a lot as a kid? If my honor society taught me to be the a gung-ho super soldier, I could finally fulfill all those pre-adolescent fantasies and kick some ass.
As long as my honor society is helping fulfill pre-adolescent fantasies, I say it should appeal to the comic book reading kid within me and offer me super powers. Promise to unlock my hidden mutant abilities. Tell me the innocents of the world desperately need me to help combat the forces of evil. Convince me I can turn my body into steel, shoot laser beams from my eyes, crush my enemies with the force of my mind alone, all because I got decent grades last semester.
Perhaps, though, not all students would jump at the chance to destroy their foes with impunity. Or perhaps some students simply have a firmer grip on reality than I have. Whatever the case, an honor society can still appeal to both those of an adventurous nature and those who want recognition for their intellect. The society could simply make its members feel and sound like the most hyper intelligent human beings on the face of the planet. All it would need is a convincing slogan: "Who can foil dangerous Criminal Masterminds and their Infernal Plots? ... You can. Join the Golden Key National Honor Society."
I see many possibilities with this approach to honor society recruitment, like in naming such societies. Even if a society said nothing of super powers or mastery of fighting skills, I think I wouldn't hesitate to join a society called "The Avengers," "Justice League of America," or "X-Men." These names bring images of power and grandeur, and best of all, they sound really badass.
Code names for members would be a must, of course. When I shake the hand of the honor society's president, I don't want him to be some undergraduate in a necktie and glasses named "Michael" or "William." I want to be greeted by the world's most powerful psychic, who goes by the name "Mindkill," or by a seven-foot tall commando named "Deathgrip." I'd need a name too, but I'd have to insist on not reusing any of the nicknames inherited in my youth. "Wussy" and "Punching Bag" simply won't inspire fear into the hearts of evildoers.
It would be an added bonus if an honor society offered rides on its supersonic stealth jet, or access to any other such equipment. New members could get unbreakable shields that return to their owners when thrown. The society's logo could be emblazoned on the front. Personally, I've always wanted to show up to class in a giant robot like the ones in "Voltron." I'd lock it to the bike rack.
Now tell me all of that wouldn't look good on a résumé.
I don't know if I'll ever see my ideal honor society, but I'll certainly keep my eyes open. I want to give back to my community as much as the next socially conscious honors student, but I prefer to do it by dishing out two-fisted justice.