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MIDnet: How to Start an LJHA Chapter



A simple conversation can go a long way. I was talking to my friend and neighbor about how she had been accepted into the National Junior Honor Society at her school. Junior NHS was something I hadn’t really heard of before, and I started wondering, “Why doesn’t my school have that?” I talked to my parents about this, and we found the Lutheran Junior Honor Association (LJHA). That’s when the light bulb came on, and I realized LJHA could be a reality for Bethany. I knew it would be a perfect fit for my school and couldn’t wait to get started!

I am an eighth grader at Bethany Lutheran School in Parma, Ohio. At that time, I was a seventh grader, and the end of the year was approaching quickly. I wanted to have LJHA for my 8th grade year, so I was curious if there was a deadline to apply. I emailed Mrs. Denise Rice, director of educational resources for LEA, and explained what I wanted to do. She said that you can start anytime. On the last days of school, I went around explaining to a couple teachers what it was and asking if they would be willing to support it.

The next step was presenting the idea to my new principal, Mr. Mike Schiemann. I printed out the steps to starting a chapter and emailed him to find a time when we could talk about this. So before I knew it, I found myself walking up to the principal’s office for the first of many LJHA meetings. I talked about why I wanted this and how it would make the school better. We decided to get a few other students to help me start an LJHA chapter. We also established that we would need examples of chapter rules, or by-laws, before we could make our own.

I emailed Mrs. Rice again, asking for examples of other schools’ by-laws. She responded by giving me a few examples that I forwarded to Mr. Schiemann. The next time I met with him he told me that he had students from fifth, sixth, and seventh grades who were willing to help me. The following meeting would be with that group of students, and I would be leading the meeting.

This was the first time I had ever had to lead a meeting. At this meeting with the other students on this newly formed team, I gave them examples of by-laws. I told them to look through the by-laws and to take notes on what they liked, because the next time we met, we would be making our own LJHA chapter by-laws.

I thought it was really cool knowing I wasn’t doing this alone and that other students were excited and ready to start too.We met again on a Wednesday after chapel to establish the rules and by-laws for Bethany. This meeting took almost an hour to complete because there were many important topics to cover. We came up with possible service projects and community outreach programs that we could implement at Bethany. Mr. Schiemann had the idea of calling us the Student Executive Team. We all thought that was a great idea, and we were really excited. The main point of our chapter at Bethany would be to train up servant leaders, to follow in the footsteps of the greatest servant and leader, Jesus Himself. This meeting with the Student Executive Team was memorable because each member of the team shared their thoughts and ideas. I found it interesting to hear their opinions and what they had to say. I thought it was really cool knowing I wasn’t doing this alone and that other students were excited and ready to start too. A couple days later, Mr. Schiemann showed us the certificate of membership. We were all in awe of how shiny and professional it looked. I remember thinking, “This is really happening!”

width=350Now that we had finalized the chapter by-laws, we needed a faculty panel. The faculty panel is made up of advisors who oversee what we do and is a really important part of LJHA. Each student on the Student Executive Team was going to ask a teacher to attend a meeting the following week. At this meeting, we would present the by-laws and ask for feedback before sending them in to LEA. I heard some great tips from the teachers, things that would greatly improve Bethany’s chapter by-laws. I learned about Robert’s Rules of Order, and when Mr. Schiemann made the motion to have the by-laws sent in to LEA and another one of my teachers seconded the motion, it was a very proud moment.

I have learned an immense amount about leadership in this short time, and I am grateful for this experience.Then we needed the most important part of LJHA—members. The Student Executive Team and Mr. Schiemann met again to discuss leading that meeting; it was going to take some preparation. We divided the meeting between the four of us, each of us getting specific topics to share. We decided to hold the meeting in the sanctuary. This was going to be the biggest meeting yet. The Student Executive Team thought it was really neat to share something like this with the rest of the junior high students. We explained what Lutheran Junior Honors Association is, what we as a school will be doing, and how to apply for membership. This meeting and introduction to LJHA was a definite milestone in this journey, and I will never forget it! Applications opened up after the meeting, and soon the selection of members would begin. Our goal was to get LJHA up and running before Veterans Day; we had a service project in mind.

We held our first meeting during lunch, and I was happy to see how many students had joined. I explained the plan for Veterans Day and had the members sign up for the different groups that would prepare for this Veterans Day. Students could volunteer to serve on committees for decoration, chapel leaders, marketing, and hosting.


  • How can LJHA provide service opportunities for students in your school?
  • Who are the students or teachers who could help initiate an LJHA program?
  • What service projects do you already have in your school that you could incorporate into an LJHA program?

The process of starting an LJHA chapter has come so far in the last couple of months, and I am very proud to see everything that the Student Executive Team and I have accomplished. I have learned an immense amount about leadership in this short time, and I am grateful for this experience. The Lutheran Junior Honors Association has and will continue to teach me how to be a servant and leader, and with God’s help, I can. I’m excited to share God’s Word with students, whether that may be in the classroom, during a meeting, or in a service project. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” I have found so much strength in Him. Through Jesus I have the courage to continue and make an impact on my school.

Caroline Creutz is an eighth grader at Bethany Lutheran School in Parma, Ohio, where she enjoys playing volleyball, basketball, percussion in band, and singing in choir. She is also a dedicated dancer and is now in her eleventh year of ballet.