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By: Dr. Danielle Moss Lee

At the end of my freshman year in high school, I got word that I’d been selected for the National Honor Society. For me, it was a thrilling acknowledgement of a year’s hard work. Because my Upper West Side private school took a literary approach to almost every subject, I’d been able to capitalize on my love of reading and writing. Our literary/historical/political explorations took us on journeys with everyone from Gore Vidal to James Baldwin to Alice Walker—and I’d loved every minute of it. But, my Spanish teacher had another idea about what my induction meant. Despite my stellar academic record, she said, there hadn’t been immediate faculty consensus about my suitability. I was confused. She went further to tell me that, she herself had thought my inclusion in this prestigious society would send a signal that, “You don’t need to be an angel to be in the National Honor Society.” I didn’t know what to make of her declaration, but I loved seeing the look on my mother’s face in the audience at the awards ceremony.

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