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Honor Week 2019 celebrates school's strong Honor Code tradition

Saint Mary’s observed Honor Week, September 9-13, offering new students an introduction to the school’s time-honored Honor Code and returning students an opportunity to renew their commitment as Saint Mary’s girls to living an honorable life both on and off campus.

During Honor Week each September, students, faculty, and staff dedicate a week to focusing an important facet of campus life – honor. For generations, as an honor code school, Saint Mary’s has devoted time each year to reflect and focus on what honor means to our school community.

"One of the essential parts of Saint Mary’s, that sets us apart from other schools, is our honor code," said Judicial Board representative Bess Bryant '21 in Tuesday's Honor Chapel. "It is deeply engraved in our way of life and can be seen at work every day. Our honor code brings us together and brings a sense of trust to our extremely diverse community. Saint Mary’s emphasis on doing the right thing is the reason we are able to be such a trusting, forgiving, and tight-knit community. "

Honor is represented in the school motto, Scientia, Fides, Amicitia, found on the school crest, in the Latin word, “Fides,” which translates essentially to the values of good faith, fidelity and reliability in the tradition of Fides, the goddess of trust in Roman mythology.

In one form or another, the honor system and honor code have been an integral part of life at Saint Mary’s since the school’s founding in 1842. Under the Honor Code, a girl’s word is her bond, and each girl is bound to honesty in every aspect of her life.

Saint Mary’s School values honor and integrity as central to building character. Because of a shared commitment to the honor code, students and adults live and learn together in a community built on a foundation of trust and respect essential to an ethical and moral life.

A student upholds the highest standard of personal integrity when she is honest, respectful, and responsible, but she also upholds the highest standard when she accepts responsibility for conduct that is dishonest, disrespectful, or irresponsible. Serious violations of the Honor Code include lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other types of academic misrepresentation.

"Overall, the Honor Code and integrity are both something our Saint Mary’s community values, and whether you are a day student, boarder, teacher, staff member, or the head of school, it is what unites us all." said Judicial Board representative Margaret T Corsmeier '21, in Tuesday's Honor Chapel. "This week we hope you will learn more about the honor system at Saint Mary’s and how it will impact you to be your best self through your time here. During Honor Week, we want you to help create a strong environment for everyone where we can trust one another to make honorable decisions that abide by Saint Mary’s honor Code, where we can be our confident, trustworthy, and true selves. We want you all to continue to be mindful in your decisions as you journey through life both inside the Saint Mary’s gates and outside into the real world. We challenge you to always choose honesty when given the opportunity as it states in Second Corinthians Chapter 8 Verse 21, 'For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.'"

From the opening of the school in 1842 until the first part of the 20th-century, Saint Mary’s operated under an unwritten honor system. In 1919, a school council was organized that functioned as an “honor committee and judicial body,” and was heralded as a first step towards student government. In 1938, under the leadership of Saint Mary's President Margaret Cruikshank, the newly-created Saint Mary’s Student Government Association (SGA) established the Honor Council, comprised of the SGA, class presidents, and class representatives.

In the early 1960s, the Honor Board was created, and consisted of student and faculty representatives. In 1978, the Honor Board became the Judicial Board, which was set up to handle the most serious honor violations, while the Minor Offense Board continued to handle violations of general school rules.

The Judicial Board continues to serve the school with grace and courage in the 21st century. Members are elected by their peers. The Judicial Board consists of the chair and vice chair (who are also members of the Executive SGA) and representatives from the 10th, 11th and 12th grades. A faculty advisor and three other faculty members serve on the Judicial Board. Because of its role in upholding honor in the Saint Mary’s community, the Judicial Board promotes the Honor Code and Code of Conduct throughout the year and organizes the annual Honor Week early in the school year.

Honor Week activities included Monday’s Honor Week assembly; Tuesday’s Honor Chapel with remarks by Judicial Board student leaders; honor discussions in groups during advisory lunch on Wednesday; assembly on Thursday; and the signing of the Honor Pledge in chapel on Friday.

All students, faculty, and staff of Saint Mary’s School join the tradition of signing in Honor Chapel the following oath of understanding and promise:

I pledge that I will uphold the highest standard of personal integrity in every phase of life at Saint Mary’s School, and I recognize and accept my responsibility for helping others to live up to that standard.

In addition, the following pledge is included on examinations, test and assignments as a reminder of students’ commitment to academic honesty and integrity:

I pledge that I have neither given nor received help on this test or assignment, nor have I seen anyone else do so.