At the beginning of the year, the students at Grand River Academy sign our Honor Code. These are the thoughts Faculty member Zac Inman shared with the students at our Honor Code Assembly to help prepare them for what they were about to do.
As you all prepare to sign the Honor Code, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you. The first is this: the Honor Code is not something to be taken lightly - when you sign your name, you are giving your pledge that you are going to strive to carry it out. This does not mean you will be perfect, but does mean you will always work for and seek after the ideal. Signing your name to the Honor Code should carry a certain weight; there should be an air of gravity surrounding your action of pledging to act with honor, respect, and integrity. As young men, most of you desire to be known as strong. But the greatest strength is found in the honor and the character you possess. In Ancient Rome, and found especially among thinkers such as Cicero, this was known as the magnanimous man, or the one who possessed "greatness of soul." Not in your stature, but in your character lies your greatness. Such a person acts justly at all times, rendering what is due to others and seeking always to perform his duty. Such a person recognizes that he exists to serve the common good, not himself: his actions are based in principles that are "steady and unshifting" and are not based on whether an action is pleasant or painful. If it is right, then that is what is to be done. Listen to this brief description by Dr. Kalpakgain of the Roman soldier Regulus:
"In a famous episode in Roman history, Regulus, a Roman prisoner captured by the Carthaginians in the First Punic War, received a temporary release to negotiate a prisoner exchange between the two armies.He not only argued against the prisoner exchange that would free him from bondage –an unfair bargain to the disadvantage of his country—but also returned to the enemy to suffer the death sentence: "when friends and relatives sought to detain him, he preferred to return to face execution rather than to break his word which he had pledged to the enemy."
Such a man would even keep a promise made to an enemy, and valued honor and personal integrity above any earthly gain. Hopefully you will never have to be in such an extreme position. However, you do have your friends, teachers, and fellow students you live around, and there will arise situations that you are tempted to lie or cheat. Will you be courageous and rise to the occasion to act with honor? Will you treat others and yourself with respect and justice? This is the great challenge before you and this is the ideal you promise to strive for when you sign the Honor Code.
Our students are taught to live out this code in their everyday activities. Respect, honor, and integrity are carried out in the dorms, in the classroom, and on the athletic field every day at Grand River Academy.