The National English Honors Society Puts Pen to Paper, Spells Success!


Credit: Meghan Streit

NEHS officers pose with a club banner at the induction ceremony of new students into the club in the fall of 2022.

Rachael Pond, Staff Writer

A collective gasp, intermingled with applause, swelled in the auditorium during the final monthly meeting of Western Albemarle’s National English Honors Society. Ms. Define and Ms. Streit’s announcement cast an awe among the student members. “The dedication and skill of our NEHS members have propelled them to achieve outstanding results,” they praised. “With 6 out of 30 national contest winners hailing from our school.” Those were the results after a full year of submissions to three national writing contests through the society: a six-word story, letter, and memoir. NEHS requires members to submit to at least one contest, so each member has the opportunity to be a contender.  

WAHS made an exceptionally noticeable mark on this year’s winners, making up 20% of the nation’s finalists. Eleanor Buchanan, along with Emma Reische, were the two NEHS members from WAHS named as national Writers of the Year. Buchanan, a junior, likened it to soccer. “I talked to my dad about it because he was really confused. And it’s kind of like, you get MVP at one tournament and then automatically they’re like oh! This player is really good, let’s consider them for the Ballon d’Or, which is like player of the year… So it was like I got MVP at one of the tournaments and then I ended up winning the Ballon d’Or.” Any student that participated in a writing contest through NEHS, therefore, was later considered for the overall award.

Buchanan’s success began with her submission to the letter contest, short prose addressing a real or fictional person. Limited by a 150-word count, she felt inspired by how she was feeling at the time. “I was like, I’m 17 now. I’m a year away from being like legally an adult; I still feel like I’m seven! So I decided to write the letter to seven-year-old me because I had this feeling full of appreciation. When you’re seven, you have no idea that time is flying by until you’re seventeen.” Buchanan’s surprise at being one of the winners of that contest didn’t stop there. When she later received the email naming her as one of the Writers of the Year, she felt deeply honored. “It made my day, my week, my life!” She exclaimed. “Having my work touch other people to the point that they think it would be worthy of something like that, was just like really freaking humbling in the best possible way.” 

The impact of success for NEHS members exceeds any award or recognition. “So much of life is putting yourself out there, even if it means you might not win the contest or you might not, you know, get the recognition that you want,” Buchanan advises. “But just by putting yourself out there, you are giving yourself a level of confidence that is going to enable you to get recognition and to win those awards.” In addition to the students’ hard work, the achievements of all NEHS students speak to the strength of the English department and teachers. At the end of the day, the accomplishments of the students personify a sense of accomplishment for the school and community. “The collective efforts of all NEHS members have contributed to remarkable achievements throughout the year,” Ms. Define and Ms. Streit affirm. “We can all take pride in knowing that Western Albemarle High School is home to some of the finest young writers in the country.”