The essence of any school is found in its values, and Ashley Hall’s Honor Pledge is embedded deeply within its community: “I pledge that I will not lie, cheat, or steal nor tolerate those who do.” For the last two weeks, Intermediate Program and Upper School students have been challenged to think deeply about the place of honor within their own lives and the ways in which they uphold this most vital promise to themselves and others. “During times of caution and change, it’s easy to lose sight of the morals and values that bind this great school together, and that is why the Honor Code is so vital,” said Head of the Honor Council Kayla Kirkland ’21. “My goal is to make sure that this school year, though it looks so different than years past, remains true to the same values that Ashley Hall has always embodied.”

Having investigated the meaning behind each of the School’s Hallmarks throughout Lower School, Intermediate Program students are fully prepared to take the next step. “At this age, the responsibility of making a pledge to uphold our school’s Honor Code is truly significant to them and goes along with a deeper understanding of what it means to be an honorable person,” noted Intermediate Program faculty member Olivia Hipp ’10. For the first time, students at this age are asked to sign their name to the pledge, both as a commitment to upholding its tenets and as an acknowledgement of honor’s central role in their life. “I think that the students learn early on the Hallmarks which are built on our foundation of honor,” emphasized Intermediate Program Coordinator Mary Schweers. “We go over the pledge with them and ask them moving forward to write it on their tests so that we are embedding and promoting a culture of honor because it is a cornerstone of our entire community, and it is what sets Ashley Hall apart.”

In the Upper School during each day’s Morning Meeting this week, students have focused on a different element of the Honor Pledge in preparation for their signing of the pledge. As part of their virtual assembly on Wednesday, they listened to Upper School faculty member Andrea Muti, the keynote speaker for Honor Week, who offered a moving and inspirational look at honor’s place within a community and its role in his own development of character and integrity. He emphasized:

“I learned that role models are not individuals that always seek the attention of their peers but leaders who lead their community in silence because their actions speak for themselves. I learned that making mistakes is human, but we can stand up with dignity if we have the courage to take responsibility for our actions. Finally, I learned that the most honorable people are not those who seek honor for their personal glory but those who, while leading honorably and following their conscience, expect the same from the people around them. They are not scared to let you know that you are wrong because they see the potential inside of you and sincerely want you to be the best version of yourself.”

“When we have the fortune, ladies, of finding a community like Ashley Hall, made of individuals who support us and value us for who we are, we have the duty to protect it and place it before our individual needs. So when you sign the Honor Pledge and you promise that you will not cheat, lie, nor tolerate those who do, remember that you not only commit to honorable behavior but also become part of a larger community that loves you, that believes in you, and that trusts that with your actions you will shape and inspire the integrity of your little sisters. After all, this is exactly what a tradition is: committing, generation after generation, to the same shared principles and values, so that when you one day leave Ashley Hall to go to college, your honor and examples will continue to live reflected in the actions of those who will come after you.”

That enduring legacy of honor continues to bind Ashley Hall’s many generations, both those who have gone before and those still to come.