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OPINION: 'Honesty, hard work and helping others' part of being a South Dakotan

South Dakotans are a giving, generous people.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, South Dakota ranks fourth in the country in volunteerism. Just over 35 percent of South Dakotans volunteered their time in 2015 for community service, while 57.2 percent of residents donated to charity.

Volunteer work is something that is ingrained in South Dakotans since our youth. Foundations and groups, such as the National Honor Society, encourage high school students to volunteer which helps mold them into helpful, community-serving members.

The National Honor Society (NHS) was founded in 1921, and Mitchell High School has inducted students into NHS for just as long.

"NHS is a way to recognize the best students when it comes to not just academics, but also for those who are honorable by means of honesty, hard work and helping others," said Terry Aslesen, Mitchell High School National Honor Society adviser.

To be inducted in NHS, a student must have a 3.5 GPA or higher, display leadership in school or the community, and have a minimum of 15 volunteer hours annually.

"Without this requirement, some would not volunteer their time," Aslesen said. "We are all busy, but what is more important than helping others?"

MHS students volunteer in various ways. Many perform service in affiliation with their church or service organizations. Others volunteer to ring bells for the Salvation Army, work the food drive or donate time to serve food at Love Feast. Most prominently, the biannual MHS blood drive allows for students to donate their time and blood, possibly saving lives through their service.

"Once students start helping others, it becomes a habit," Aslesen continues. "They like the feeling they get from doing it and they like to help others."

This feeling that comes from service and volunteering allows people to forget about their own problems, help others and view life from another perspective. There truly is no better feeling than forgetting yourself for a while and making someone else's load a little easier.

Maren Smith is a senior at Mitchell High School who wrote for the student newspaper, The Kernel, last year. Because there is no student newspaper this year for Mitchell High School, The Daily Republic will run a twice-monthly column from Smith. Her columns will focus on high school events and news, along with thoughts and perspectives of a high school senior.