EVART — More than a  dozen students at Evart Middle School now share something in common with more than 1 million of their peers across the country.

During a special induction ceremony Thursday evening attended by family members and friends, 14 EMS students became the inaugural members of the school's new chapter of the National Junior Honor Society.

They are Jacob Booher, Ayla Schmidt, Carly Dellar, Brianna Cass, McKenzy McKay, Lexie Keathley, Logan Staats, Olivia Conk, Hope Green, Cole Hopkins, Addysen Gray, Kaden DeBreuil, Koreyona Ringle and Eli Vincent.

To open the ceremony, EMS Principal and chapter advisor Jason O'Dell said NJHS is an organization established to recognize outstanding middle level students.

"Membership not only recognizes accomplishments, but challenges students to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service," he said.

O'Dell added it's exciting as the students represent the inaugural inductees of the school's chapter.

"We're beginning a journey together," he said. "I told the students they are the first, and you can only be first once. No matter how many more follow, they will always be the first."

There were several factors considered for eligibility, O'Dell explained, including the students having maintained a 3.5 GPA through the first semester of their sixth-grade year. On top of completing an application which included writing an essay, students also had to receive an endorsement from two EMS staff members and a reference from a non-related adult, such as a pastor, youth leader or coach.

O'Dell also praised the inductees' parents for supporting their students.

"Parents, you're the main reason why these students are here," he said. "You're the main cheerleaders for these students."

A candle lighting ceremony emphasized the importance of the five NJHS pillars — scholarship, service, leadership, character and citizenship — with fellow chapter advisor Jennifer Joyce lighting each one.

O'Dell said the students are aware of what will be required of them as they move forward.

"We will be meeting monthly in the coming school year," he said. "We will be discussing community service projects. Each of them will have individual service projects based solely on what their talents and interests are.

"However, these projects won't only be done to benefit the school, but also our community."