THE National Honors Society-Saipan Southern High School Chapter held its 20th annual candlelight ceremony at Fiesta Resort on Monday evening.

The SSHS JROTC Color Guard opened the ceremony with a presentation of colors, followed by the singing of the national anthem led by Jemimah Borromeo, Neriah Lumbad, and Alyssa Alegre, and the CNMI anthem led by Abigail Maratita and Joeraf Dalawampu.

SSHS vice principal Arisa Sakai shared welcoming remarks, encouraging the young scholars to continue to make their school, teachers, and parents proud, noting that their induction into the NHS is only the beginning.

SSHS NHS vice president of fundraising Toa I. Pangelinan then shared inspirational remarks, telling an admirable story of how his mother overcame countless barriers and inspired him to do the same.

Pangelinan encouraged his fellow scholars to think of someone who inspires them and the lesson they have learned, and apply it to their own lives.

“Just remember that there will always be struggles, but you can always find ways to overcome [them]. Stay positive,” he said.

Saipan Latte Built owner Derek Cutting shared his keynote address, drawing from his own personal experiences and sharing words of wisdom with the inductees.

Cutting placed great emphasis on five of the most important life lessons he had learned throughout his life journey: live with passion, love yourself first, “fail up,” discipline consistently, and find balance.

“When you live with passion, you go after things with a purpose, a burning desire that must be filled,” he said, noting that it is okay for the inductees to not know what their passion is at such a young age.

Moreover, he shared that he himself did not discover his passion until he reached his mid-20s, traveling to several different countries, immersing himself in the cultures, and gaining valuable lessons from those experiences.

“Start by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone a little more each day,” he said.

Cutting also encouraged the inductees to check in with themselves regularly and be sure that they are still in love with themselves before all else.

“Living with happiness and joy comes from loving and accepting yourself so you can share that love with others genuinely... When you live from love, things begin to fall into place,” he said.

Furthermore, he encouraged the inductees to dust themselves off and get back up when they fail, fueled by faith in their passions and their purpose.

“There’s no such thing as complete failure, except when you fail to act. Own the mistake and move on,” he said.

“Another thing you have to understand is that you are not perfect nor do you have to be. Imperfections are what make us unique. If you get too obsessed over trying to make everything perfect, you’ll only create anxiety for yourself and everyone around you.”

“If you are following your passion, do not let anyone dictate your goals and creating your vision,” he said.

Cutting also shared his inspirational weight loss and bodybuilding story, transforming from being an aspiring bodybuilder to being an actual bodybuilder.

He likewise shared the importance of having a balance between mind, body, spirit, and loved ones, comparing them to four latte stones, all equally important in maintaining the balance of a house.

Sharing his personal experience of balancing his roles as an entrepreneur and family man, placing great emphasis on balance being equivalent to “true freedom.”

“If you don’t balance those four pillars, there will be trouble in paradise,” he said.

Cutting encouraged the inductees to live their best life and to go after everything they want and start doing it now.

“But do not hurt or step on anyone while living your best life. Find passions, freedom, and joy through love,” he said.

“One day, there will be two dates on your headstone. That little dash between those two dates is what really matters.”

Following his keynote address, NHS officers touched on the four pillars of the society: scholarship, leadership, service, and character.

SSHS principal Vince Dela Cruz and BOE Chairman Andrew Orsini both gave closing remarks.

The NHS-SSHS Chapter is led by president Roma Amor Malasarte, co-vice presidents Toa Pangelinan and Rainalyn Reyes, co-secretaries Jerine Wilson and Nikka Canlas Nate, treasurer Mariechrist Castro, parliamentarian Richard Jr. Waldo, and historian Elisha Gaile Posadas.

Janet Guiao Aniciete and Karen Echon Camacho serve as NHS advisors, while Ferleen Esmundo Wollak, Andrew Golden, Vina Duenas, Paul Miura, and Michelle Rasa serve on the NHS faculty council.

Joined by their loved ones, new inductees honored at the ceremony were Alyssa Alegre, Joeraf Dalawampu, Nina David, Codie Escota, Ellala Limoico, Neriah Lumbad, Abigail Maratita, Allen Morilla, Leeza Ngitiyeb, Mary-Ann Perez, Wendelle Posadas, Janelle Saluta, Jenny Villagomez, and Pauline Viray. 

Incumbent members also honored at the ceremony were Marjorie Joy Agana, Merari Aniga, Ghessa Marie Belnas, Jemimah Borromeo, Shaira Joy Carino, Mariechrist Castro, Diana Cao, Yu Kun Cao, Jia Li Chen, Sophia Gauran, Roma Malasarte, Nikka Nate, Anna Pan, Toa Pangelinan, Leora Therese Perez, Elisha Posada, Erica Reyes, Rainalyn Reyes, John Saluta, Irish Viray, Richard Waldo Jr., Jerine Wilson, and Annie Zhang.


K-Andrea is a Gates Millennium Scholar who earned her bachelor of arts degree in political science from St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. Since joining the MV team in Feb. 2020, she has been covering the political, environmental, and community beats.

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