Middle Schoolers Renew Their Honor Code

Middle Schoolers gathered virtually this week to discuss their cherished Honor Code, hearing from Jen Schuckman, Head of the Middle School, Jay Rainey, Head of School, and two eighth grade students.

Middle School Honor Code
I will live by the principles of:
and honor
as a student at MICDS.

Schuckman welcomed everyone to the virtual assembly, explaining that the Honor Code is at the heart of everything we do in the Middle School at MICDS. She turned over the program to Mr. Rainey, who remarked that he was happy to join the Middle Schoolers and wished they could all meet in Eliot Chapel, an inspirational setting. He encouraged students to close their eyes and imagine themselves together there.

Rainey then explained that before he was a head of school, he taught math and English. This English teacher background made him reflect on the word “honor.” “We tend to think of honor as a noun, as something you have,” he said. “It’s helpful to think of it as a verb, something you do. You honor other people, you honor your family, you honor your school. It can be an active thing.”

He then recalled remarks he made last year, where he explained to students that he believes that every person he encounters is more important than he is. “If I believe that other person is more important than I am, that their needs and interests and dignity are important, then I will be honoring them in my interactions with them.” He explained how living like this fits really well with our MICDS honor system. Cheating, for example, dishonors others as it puts the cheater at an unfair advantage to other students. Plagiarism dishonors the work of others. Stealing elevates one’s own needs above the rights of others to their property. He also said that believing others are more important than you provides strength in situations of conflict.

Rainey called on all students to remember the Honor Code always, and especially this year around the election. “Opinions vary about who should be president of the United States the next four years,” he said. “You will have conversations with your peers. Don’t cheapen those conversations with insults, interruptions, anger, or assumptions about the other person. Honor the person you’re speaking with by listening to them carefully, hearing their point of view, and dignifying them. Disagree respectfully, not rudely.” He admitted that, “This is heavy lifting sometimes when we are in an environment where it’s not always easy to communicate clearly and conflict is everywhere. It’s important to center yourself in honor.”

He then flipped the conversation from student honor to how the teachers and staff at MICDS use honor in their work. “We are committed to honoring you,” he said. “We elevate your importance and needs above our own. We are prioritizing your health and wellbeing to make sure we are starting school as safely as we can. As we continue into the school year, we will be honoring your need to be together.”

He ended his remarks by reminding students that honor is not just a noun. It’s what you do, not just what you have.

Tim Storey, 8th Grade Dean and Middle School Drama Teacher, played a video featuring two 8th grade students, Nina Schuerer ’25 and Jai Patel ’25, winners of the Jacobi Award last year.

Nina Schuerer ’25

Schuerer spoke about how trust is a fragile thing, and it takes awhile to build up. “You can break it by saying one wrong thing,” she said. “Give your care and attention to it. Be trustworthy and trustful.”

“A trustworthy person is an honest person, who will tell the truth no matter what circumstance they are in,” said Patel. “Respect is a basic human concept, and it’s important to also respect yourself. Respect is something humans should live by and keep always in their minds.”

Responsibility means coming to class prepared, continued Patel. “It’s not just about school, though. It’s in all aspects of your life, whether you have a baseball game or tennis match, you’re ready to go. It means taking care of others, taking ownership, and helping out your community.”

Schuerer said that responsibility means owning up to your mistakes and not blaming others. “You have to take the responsibility of the consequences of your actions,” she explained.

Jai Patel ’25

If you’re an honorable person,” Patel said, “you’re always doing the right thing, own up to everything, be respectful, don’t brag about anything, and accept your mistakes.” He said the Middle School Honor Code provides everything you need to be a good person.

Schuerer said, “Being an honorable person is being able to take all of those things and not let it get to your head. Do the right thing, not because a teacher is watching but just because it’s the right thing to do. Keeping promises, doing your homework…it’s being honorable. It’s difficult, but it’s worth it.”

Schuckman closed the assembly by sharing that she asked her son, who is now a sophomore at MICDS, if he remembered the Middle School Honor Code. Of course he did! “You just have to be a good person,” he said. “Be a good human and do the right thing.” Schuckman continued, “When you do those things, the right things, you get that warm and fuzzy feeling. When you trip up and make a mistake, you get that voice in your head or that pit in your stomach. It’s all about how you come forward from there, right the wrong, and what you do next. That’s what Middle School is all about. We learn together!”