On August 27, Middle School students gathered in Eliot Chapel to reflect on the meaning and significance of their Honor Code. Head of School Jay Rainey and Middle School History Teacher Will Shockley addressed the student body.
Mr. Rainey read a quote from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to his 15-year-old nephew, in which he cautioned him “Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly.” He connected Jefferson’s quote to what today’s students face: the challenge to act with integrity even under the false promise of anonymity, such as when texting or writing on social media. He told them, “Our Honor Code exists to help pour and cement the foundation of your character. It exists not to threaten you but to encourage and empower you to take actions consistent with your developing sense of integrity, even – or perhaps especially – when no one is looking.”
Mr. Shockley shared two examples of people who acted with integrity. One was when, as a young man, his father taught him a valuable lesson after Mr. Shockley was treated rudely by a store employee. His father said, “This was not about how she treated you, it is about who YOU are.” The other story was about a student in his American Government class several years ago who had the opportunity to cheat on a test but refused.
8th Grade Student Council representatives Devon Catsavis ’24 and Camden Miller ’24 also shared their thoughts on the key values at the core of the honor code. Devon said, “The honor code reminds everyone in the Middle School of how to treat yourself and others. Respect is treating other people and things in the school how you would treat yourself or your things. Make sure to always respect your friends’ differences and feelings throughout your day. If we all thought about each others’ feelings more often in our day, many conflicts could be avoided.”
Camden talked about how trust and responsibility are the foundations of the Middle School Honor Code. He said, “As MICDS students we’ve been gifted with the opportunity to receive a great education. With this gift comes the responsibility to work hard, to do what is right and to treat each other well. Keep in mind, the root of the word ‘responsibility’ is to make a pledge. Not only that, but it means to re-pledge. As MICDS students, that means each day we re-pledge, or recommit to do the right thing, just because it’s the right thing to do.”
The assembly was held in preparation for the formal signing of an honor code for each grade level, five through eight, which took place on August 28.
Head of Middle School Jen Schuckman concluded the assembly with this thought, “We own this Honor Code together – every adult and every student. No one person has a bigger or lesser share in our community promise. So hold each other to task and expect nothing less than what you give to others. We sign our name tomorrow and own that responsibility together.”