November 19, 2013: Politics Part II

The year I didn't make NHS
Last night Garrett brought up my post on Grant's student council non-election. He thought I sounded bitter. It was as though Grant's predicament struck a nerve with me.

Upon further reflection, I explained what struck that nerve. It was Grant's ultimate fate hinging on one teacher's non-vote. That was the source of my aggravation. My baggage from past experience.

You see, I felt Grant's pain. It happened to me. But mine wasn't a student council election. My source of aggravation was my non-induction into the National Honor Society. With circumstances similar to Grant's, it's clear that I'm still bitter from my pain of 1983.

I explained my story to Garrett. And then he proceeded to inform me that he was elected to National Honor Society. Not me. Salt was now pouring on my open wounds.

My junior year of 1983 was the year of inductions for my class into this exclusive society. Part of my pain was my assumption that I would be in without a problem. The moral of the story is to never assume.

But in my defense, I was second in the class and had stellar grades. I was involved in almost every sport offered, played in the band, participated in speech competitions, had a part in most plays and musicals, and was a cheerleader. I pushed residents in wheel chairs from the nursing home to our school for masses and I had sat on student council. Blah, blah, blah....

I never dreamed that I didn't fulfill the NHS requirements. When the list was posted, less my name, I was in a state of shock. It must have been a mistake, I deduced. The school secretary had to have made a typing error. A simple oversight.

I asked questions and was eventually directed to the program faculty lead, Sr. Margretta. This stern nun had a non-nonsense approach to life. A straight-shooter, I reasoned that I could plead my case to her.

To my dismay, she told me in a very matter-of-fact manner that it was she who kept me off the society. She had final veto power and decided that she didn't like the kids I "ran with". Sister went on to tell me that the choices I made outside of school impacted the "honor" required of an inductee. I was out and it was her call.

And then she walked away. I stood, stunned, trying to make sense of her blanket comments. They made no sense to me. There were twenty girls total in my grade. We all "ran" together. We had no choice. How was I different than the other girls who were given this honor?

No further explanation was given and I lived the rest of my high school years not attending NHS meetings. I went on to be salutatorian to my class of forty-four. There were no National Honor Society tassels around my neck when I gave my short speech on graduation day. And obviously I am still bitter.

So there you have it. For the record, I vowed to myself that someday I would give Sr. Margretta a piece of my mind. That I would become successful and honorable and come back let her know her lapse in judgment.

The opportunity afforded itself on a sunny day in Remsen ten years later. I was pushing Zach in a stroller and randomly ran into Sister on a walk. The elderly nun was moving slowly and seemed to light up when she saw me. Perhaps she forgot about my purported provocative past.

"Hello, Sandy Wagner! How are you?" were her words to me.

After a pause, I answered in a way that any honorable young lady should, "I am doing well Sr. Margretta. I think of you often and am glad that you are still full of good health."

Yes, Mom, I know. Sugar is always better than vinegar.


  1. Great reminds me of when, for reasons never given, I wasn't invited for a second year on the yearbook committee. You make me wonder if I would be so gracious to Mrs. Durham, my high school nemesis, if I were to see her again. Maybe now I would. It's amazing, isn't it, how old hurts linger?

    1. It is funny how later incidences in life trigger these memories. It is also a great reminder of how impactful teachers are to us throughout our lifetimes (both the good and the bad). Thanks for the note.


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