SOURCE: National Association of Secondary School Principals (National Honor Society)

National Association of Secondary School Principals (National Honor Society)

April 28, 2016 09:00 ET

National Honor Societies Launch First State Summit; Announce First Outstanding Achievement Award College Savings Account Winners

500 Student Winners of $500, 529 Accounts Announced at Opening of Leadership Training Summit in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, NM--(Marketwired - April 28, 2016) -  The National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) today awarded $500 college savings accounts to 500 outstanding students from 40 states, Puerto Rico and six international schools in its first annual NJHS Outstanding Achievement Award program.

The awards, to be deposited in New Mexico's state-sponsored 529 college savings plan, The Education Plan, were announced during the opening of the National Honor Societies inaugural State Summit, a day of free leadership development workshops for students from across New Mexico who are members of NJHS or the National Honor Society (NHS).

New Mexico Higher Education Department Secretary Dr. Barbara Damron announced the winners and commended NHS and NJHS for the two new initiatives.

"The greatest gift we can give our children is the tools to succeed in school and the workforce," Damron said. "With these new college savings account awards and State Summits, the National Honor Societies are providing students with both financial incentives and hands-on training to advance their education and develop the collaborative and strategic problem-solving skills that colleges and employers are looking for."

Dr. Beverly Hutton, deputy executive director for programs and services for the National Association of Secretary School Principals (NASSP), which administers the National Honor Societies programs and organized the summit, kicked off the meeting.

"These State Summits were designed to offer members of the National Honor Societies the opportunity to dive in and discover -- in a hands-on fashion -- how to become leaders," Hutton said. "They were developed as a direct result of recent research in which NHS and NJHS advisers, principals, parents and students asked for leadership training opportunities close to home."

The free day-long State Summit held at the University of New Mexico was the first in a series the groups plan to hold across the country each year.

During the summit, students heard from water conservation and wellness experts, then broke off into groups to develop action plans to address related issues in their schools and communities.

NJS also used the summit to announce its first annual Outstanding Achievement Award winners, whose $500 savings accounts were funded by NASSP. The Education Plan, sponsored by the New Mexico Trust Fund, and OppenheimerFunds, was selected by NASSP to manage the accounts because of its commitment to education and experience helping families save for education.

Dr. Jonathan Mathis, director of the National Honor Societies, said the group chose to use college savings accounts to honor exceptional students because of the positive impact savings can have on students' and their families' outlook about college.

"Research has shown that the children of families with even small amounts of dedicated savings for college are three times more likely to attend college, and four times as likely to graduate from college than those without such savings," said Mathis. "Using New Mexico's 529 plan to save early and often gives families a tax-advantage savings account that can maximize earnings and greatly reduce student loan debt."

The winners were selected from a national pool of middle school students who were nominated by their advisers or principals for demonstrated excellence in scholarship, service, leadership, character and citizenship.

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