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Code of Conduct Signing Affirms Community Commitment to Honor, Respect, and Integrity

As a school, ESD expects community members to exhibit the qualities of honor, respect, and integrity, both in and out of the classroom. The Code of Conduct is signed by all students, faculty, and staff each year as a demonstration of their commitment to hold each other accountable to living by these principles. This year's signings were held on October 2 and October 9.

“This is a tangible way that we all commit to living to a higher standard,” said Henry Heil, Head of Upper School. “While signing this does not guarantee that we have a perfect community, we have set a high bar that challenges us every day to think about the importance of honor, respect, and integrity. Our promise to not lie, cheat, or steal is a worthwhile covenant that protects our hard work, keeps us safe, and engenders trust.”

Academic pledges and honor codes have roots back to the 1700s at the collegiate level. ESD’s annual tradition of signing an honor code dates back to 1989. The idea came from the student-led Upper School Honor Council. They proposed all students would publicly sign the Honor Code upon entry into high school. 

“The first year everyone signed,” said Jeffrey Laba, who was the Honor Council advisor at the time and is the current Assistant Head of Upper School. “After that, only freshmen and new students signed in a chapel ceremony. When the Code of Conduct was developed, the signing became every year for all students and employees. Special programming, like the week of chapel talks, was also added.”

COVID-19 presented the challenge of an entire division being unable to unite in one location. To adhere to social distancing requirements, signing moved into classrooms and students signed within their advisory cohort. Before signing, Honor Council student leaders led all students in the public recitation of the ESD Mission and the principles of honor, respect, and integrity of which they are bound. 

Principles of Honor, Respect, and Integrity

  1. Trust is the key to mutual respect, honor, and integrity.
  2. Each of us is accountable for our actions and interactions.
  3. We respect one another’s ideas, perspectives, property, and boundaries.
  4. We strive to be kind, fair, and compassionate.
  5. We abide by our Academic Pledge: “I will not lie, cheat, or steal.”
  6. We have a calling to do our best for ourselves and others, every day.

Leading up to the middle and upper school signing of the Code of Conduct, the Honor Council and its advisor, Mary Jo Lyons, worked with MS and US Chaplain Tim Kennedy to shape the tone and focus of Honor Code Week during Daily Worship. They recommended faculty speakers and volunteered Honor Council students to speak on this tradition’s importance in middle and upper school chapel.

  • Assistant Head of Middle School Meg Fahrenbrook ’01 set the stage and talked about Honor’s importance from her time serving on the Honor Council as a student through the present. 
  • Student Council President and Honor Council member Ava Thompson ’21 talked about the importance of Respect, discussing how respect at ESD may take the form of being seen as an individual.
  • Upper school English teacher Phil Bryan recounted the story of King David having integrity for following God’s instructions to build an altar on the site of what would eventually become Solomon’s temple. 
  • Honor Council senior Liesl Small ’21 discussed the importance of teamwork, having each other’s backs, and protecting one another’s blind-sides. 

Lower school students learned about the Code during daily worship last Friday with a chapel talk led by Head of Lower School Tracey Shirey. Teachers followed with a class meeting about honor, respect, and integrity to help formulate developmentally appropriate ideas of how those concepts are lived out in daily lives. All lower school students, beginner through fourth grade, then signed the Code of Conduct in their classrooms. 

“The Code of Conduct is an important community act, a public commitment to hold ourselves to the standards of ESD,” said Laba. “With the signing happening in advisory this year, there was a chance for a more personal discussion and signing within the cohorts.”