5 Steps to Getting Started With a National Art Honor Society at Your School

heart houses

Have you ever considered sponsoring a National Art Honor Society at your school? If you don’t have a chapter at your school yet, I highly recommend considering sponsoring one this school year! I absolutely love ours and have enjoyed watching it grow over the years.

Here are 5 quick steps to help you get started!

Step 1: Register your school.

The first step is to contact the National Art Education Association and register your school. NAEA is a wonderful resource and will be happy to help get you started. Once you’re registered, you’ll receive your official NAHS chapter number. For more information, click here.

Step 2: Get your students and community excited.

Once you’ve established a chapter, it’s time to start building excitement. You’ll need a plan to fill your group with fabulous, creative students. The best way to do this is to advertise and market the program!

At our school, we have an NAHS table set up on orientation night. We display art and hand out flyers and information. We invite all interested artists to join the fun. If you already run an art club, consider merging the two!

Step 3: Find your student leaders.

For your NAHS to be successful, you need to find some top-notch student leaders. We hold an election each year to select our President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Web Master, and Historian. We also choose event coordinators for the community events in which we participate.

When you’re first starting out, you’ll need to hold these elections early in the year. However, after your first year, you can move the elections toward the end of the year. This way, the current officers can help mentor and prep the incoming officers.

students wearing NAHS shirts

Step 4: Organize events and get your students participating!

Organize community and school events to get your students active! You might even think about coming up with a theme or motto to focuses on this idea. At our school, our motto is “Art with Purpose.” Our students love looking for opportunities where they can help others through their creative talents and skills.

The goal is to find and provide a variety of activities for the students to participate in. We end up doing about 15 events per year so students can earn their NAHS hours.

Here are 10 ideas to consider:

  1. Partner with the sports teams. 
    At our school, each football game has a theme. Our NAHS designs a logo for each game and sets up a face painting booth where we collect donations for local charities.
    face painting
  2. Help out your local elementary schools. 
    Check to see if your local elementary schools are having any school-wide events. Your students can help out with anything from decorating to face painting to providing creative activities for younger students.
  3. Hold an official NAHS induction ceremony. 
    Each fall, we hold a special candlelight ceremony where we all come together to take the NAHS oath and pledge. This has become a huge event in our school community. Students invite their parents and friends to come to the reception to celebrate.
  4. Run an Empty Bowl event. 
    First, have your students create ceramic bowls. Then, host a simple dinner event and collect money or non-perishables to donate to a local food bank. You can find more info about this amazing national event here.
  5. Create HeART Homes.
    This project is based on Ann Ayers Haiti Houses. In our school, we create small house magnets out of recycled materials and donate the money to our local homeless shelter.
    heart homes
  6. Participate in Pinwheels for Peace. 
    In this national event, students create pinwheels and display them in the front of the school to promote peace. The event takes place on September 21st. You can learn more here.
  7. Create a parade float. 
    If your city hosts parades for holidays or other events, consider getting involved! Our students create a float for the Fall Festival in our city each year and it’s always a huge hit!
  8. Participate in local arts contests. 
    Our state hosts an Art Throwdown each year, which is kind of like Art Olympics. The students work hard to prepare for each of the events. See if your city or state might have something similar!
  9. Partner with a local or national charity. 
    Each year, our students help raise money for Relay for Life. The students create work and we hold a silent auction which raises thousands of dollars. See how you can connect with a charity your students feel passionate about!
    relay for life auction
  10. Help celebrate Youth Art Month. 
    Our students love to celebrate Youth Art Month. One year, my students had the idea to invite the mayor and our local legislators to come to our school and make art with us. It’s become a wonderful advocacy event that gets bigger every year!

These are just a few of the events that we have participated in, but the more you plan, the busier you will be. Our NAHS leaders are always researching new activities to keep them visual and active in the community.

Step 5: Design objectives that work for you and your students. 

At our school, students must earn 100 or more community service hours in order to walk at graduation with their NAHS cord. Students are responsible for keeping their service log and getting them signed after each event. We find this is a good goal and many of our students go above and beyond, especially if they join as freshmen.

As a sponsor, think about your students and craft a program you think will work well!

Our students absolutely love belonging to this national society of artists. The best part is our state art education association hosts an annual state NAHS conference which has become a highlight of our year. Our students get to network and meet other NAHS chapters throughout Georgia and the friendships born are magical!

Finally, don’t forget, middle school students can also be members. Creating a National Junior Art Honor Society is a great way to get students involved even earlier!

Do you have an art club or after school program at your school?

Are you currently an NAHS sponsor? I would love to hear all about your activities!

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Debi West

Debi West is one of AOEU’s adjunct instructors and a former AOEU Writer and NBCT art educator. She loves sharing with others and enthusiastically stands behind her motto, “Together we ART better!”

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