Living a life with honor
Students looked up inquisitively — and a bit quizzically — when Frances Fondren-Bales reached for an unexpected rain prop during the 2023 Honor Assembly. As she unfolded the colorful canopy and held it above her head, the upper school director confidently announced, “Living honorably is an umbrella.”
“It is a giant golf umbrella, in fact,” she continued. “... Making choices that are honorable throughout our lives in ways big (making ethical choices, abiding by the law, being accountable for one’s choices) and small (holding the door for someone else, sharing your umbrella with a friend) is living honorably.”
For Harpeth Hall students and alumnae, the “living honorably” phrase in the school’s mission serves as a guide in the choices they make every day. It is the foundation for how they learn and grow. It is a code that all who walk across campus not just abide by but take pride in.
As members of the Harpeth Hall community, we have the privilege of learning in an environment that chooses honor. …It’s a conscious decision to do your best, to be honest with the people who believe in you, and to ask for help when you falter. Honor is not something that only some of us can exemplify. We all hold the power to live honorably.
— Josey Beavers, Honor Council president
Each year at Harpeth Hall’s Honor Assembly, students focus more closely on one specific facet of the living honorably mission — academic honor. (Or, as Ms. Fondren-Bales called it, one bright stripe on her multi-hued umbrella.) As part of the assembly, students recite and sign the honor pledge, promising to demonstrate academic integrity while they foster an honest and respectful learning environment.
The Honor Assembly also serves as the introduction of the middle school Honor Education Committee and the upper school Honor Council, which includes a select group of students who model and support their classmates in Harpeth Hall’s honorable actions: tell the truth, respect their peers, and act in an inclusive manner.
“Harpeth Hall instills honor in its students and faculty with the hopes that we will not only become better learners and educators, but better people,” Harpeth Hall senior and Honor Council President Josey Beavers said. “Honor does not only apply here within these walls or when you’re wearing a plaid skirt. Honor is the roadmap that you will refer to for the rest of your life.”
Olivia Stahl, an 8th grade student and member of the Honor Education Committee, explained the importance of having that roadmap: “By signing the honor code, we are promising that we will hold each other accountable and remind each other to act with respect. … When each student chooses to live by the honor code, it creates an environment that allows us to fully engage in school and all of the opportunities Harpeth Hall has to offer.”
It also provides a protective support on the stormiest of days.
“We want you to graduate from Harpeth Hall with a firm understanding of what academic honesty looks like, for sure,” Ms. Fondren-Bales said. “But that is not all. We want you to graduate with a firm understanding of what living honorably means for you. We want you to have a giant umbrella that you will carry with you so that you can strive forward with confidence, even in a deluge, because you know the definition of your moral or ethical code, and you know how you will contribute to your community through service and leadership. That is living honorably, according to our community, and that is what we hope you practice and master as you walk through our halls.”
“As a student of Harpeth Hall, I hereby pledge my full and hearty support to the Honor System. I pledge to be honest myself, and in order that the spirit and integrity of the Honor System may endure, I pledge that I will give no unauthorized assistance to other students. I will demonstrate my integrity in an honest and fair manner. In doing so, I fully commit to fostering an honest and respectful learning environment for my peers, my teachers, and myself.”