National Honor Society chapters, which recognize students who achieve high academic honors, have become a staple at North Fork schools. And now, Mattituck High School students who excel in music have the opportunity to be recognized by an additional honor society.
The school recently introduced Tri-M, a national honor society for musically inclined students in grades nine to 12. Tri-M is a program offered through the National Association for Music Education.
“I have kids who for four years have gotten a 100 [in band] every single quarter,” said band teacher and Tri-M adviser Melanie Melusa. “I’ll look at them, some who have maybe never gotten into honor society, it’s something they didn’t think they could get into. So now they have that opportunity and their hard work is going to pay off.”
Interest in Tri-M began last year with juniors Jaime Gaffga, a trombone player; Samantha Fine, who plays tenor saxophone and sings in chorus; and flutist Rebecca Hammerle.
The friends met with principal Shawn Petretti about adding the honor society to the school and approached Ms. Melusa about being the organization’s adviser. They also canvassed the student body to see how many classmates would be interested.
“[The girls] explained to me what Tri-M was and I thought, ‘Wow, that sounds really cool,’ ” said sophomore Jillian Gaffga, an oboe player. “It’s exclusive because you have to be in some musical group, either jazz band, regular band or chorus.”
Requirements for induction into Tri-M are averages of 85 or higher in academic classes and 93 or higher in music classes. Additionally, students must write about what the Mattituck music program means to them and must complete 10 hours of music-related community service projects.
These can include performing in church choirs, helping elementary students with instruments or performing pieces at the elementary and junior high concerts, among others.
Ms. Melusa explained that the Mattituck chapter set higher entry standards than the NAfME — which requires a 2.0 average in core classes and a 3.0 in music classes — because over 90 students were interested in joining, nearly three times the number that were accepted.
“Tri-M is a pretty cool thing,” said sophomore Chris Merz, who’s in chorus. “People should go out of their way to join this. It’s pretty nice to get to know people.”
Typically, new members are inducted into Tri-M by older members. Since Mattituck was in its first year, Ms. Melusa got a friend who advises a Tri-M chapter in Garden City to bring his students to Mattituck Dec. 8 and perform an induction ceremony.
She added that the two schools are considering creating a joint service project that members of both chapters can work on.
Tri-M is the third honor society to be introduced at Mattituck High School. The school began a chapter of National Honor Society in 1950 and incorporated the National Art Honor Society in 2009.
Although Mattituck’s Tri-M society is less than a month old, it has already become some of the students favorite achool activities, with many looking forward to the monthly meetings and stopping by Ms. Melusa’s office to share service project ideas. It’s also a way for them to meet new people.
“It’s just an overall whole sense of family and community,” said sophomore Wylee Sanders, a percussion player. “We all have this overall love for the music. Usually in the hallway you wouldn’t know if someone was in band or chorus, but when you’re all together you discover more things that bring you closer to one another.”
Photo: Mattituck High School sophmores Jillian Gaffga, left, and Wylee Sanders, pictured with band teacher Melanie Melusa, are members of the new Tri-M Music Honor Society. (Credit: Nicole Smith)