Twenty-nine juniors and seniors were inducted Monday evening into the Maryville High School chapter of the National Honor Society.
During their high school careers, each of those recognized during the traditional candlelight ceremony has compiled a cumulative 3.5 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale.
To become a member of the society, eligible students must submit an application stating how during their student careers they have worked to achieve distinction in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership and character.
The applications are then reviewed by a faculty council, which offers membership to those they feel have met the national organization's standards.
As the ceremony got underway, NHS officers Sara Knowles, president; Naima Msechu, vice president; Shannon Johnson, secretary; and Emily Meyers, treasurer each lit a candle symbolizing the organization's four guiding principles.
Marching across a darkened MHS gymnasium, the inductees then each lit a candle of their own and signed a roll while their names were called before a large crowd of family members, teachers, classmates and friends.
After being inducted, the new NHS class listened to a keynote address by high school mathematics teacher Jason Kurz, a Northwest Missouri State University alumnus who reminded them of their obligations as both students and members of the larger Maryville community.
"High school can be a tough place," Kurz said. "It can be easy to get on the wrong path, and there are people who will want to exert a negative influence over you and hold you back."
He urged the inductees to think of their high school years as a time to "step up and embrace challenge" while paying heed to teachers, coaches, family members and other positive role models.
"All of us are pulling for you," said Kurz, who nevertheless added that, in the end, "the formation of character is in your hands."
He concluded his talk by thanking the students for their leadership, service to the school and determination to succeed academically.
"It is you who truly make my job the greatest job in the world," Kurz said.
MHS Principal Jason Eggers concluded the ceremony with brief congratulatory remarks in which he urged the inductees to transcend negative forces within society.
"I ask you to continue to be leaders throughout the rest of your student careers, your college careers and wherever life takes you," Eggers said.
Founded in 1921, the National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society, a sister organization for middle school students, currently has more than a million student members throughout the United States and several other countries.