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Living honorably at Harpeth Hall

Living honorably at Harpeth Hall
Living honorably at Harpeth Hall

"Harpeth Hall has taught me to recognize my role as an individual in a group. I may be only a small part of this Harpeth Hall, but individual actions create the honorable culture, excellent academic environment, and nurturing community of Harpeth Hall."

— Harpeth Hall Alumna

When Frances Fondren-Bales, Harpeth Hall’s new director of the upper school, met with the teachers for the first time, she asked each one what makes Harpeth Hall so special and what should never change.

“So many teachers talked about the found trust that exists as a cornerstone of this community,” Ms. Fondren-Bales reflected. “Teaching girls to live honorably is a part of our mission. It is a part of what makes an education at Harpeth Hall more than just grades and test scores. The people in this place truly care.”

Living honorably is more than a phrase in Harpeth Hall’s mission statement, it is the foundation for how our students learn and grow. The girls hold honor top of mind with each essay they write, test they take, and interaction they have with a friend or teacher. For them, it means being honest, kind, and dependable.

This week, at Harpeth Hall's annual Honor Assembly, students from every grade gathered together in the Frances Bond Davis Theatre and pledged to be responsible and honorable members of our school.

As senior Annie Linley, president of the Honor Council, looked out at the more than 720 classmates, friends, and new students that filled the seats, she reflected on the knowledge that signing the Honor Pledge is a part of the rhythm of the school year for most all of them. It is an expectation and commitment they know and embrace. For the school’s youngest students, however, this was something new. So, Annie turned her attention to the 5th grade girls, speaking to them about what it means to sign the honor pledge for the first time.

“You have chosen to come to a very special place. …We have an Honor Code here, and it is kind of a big deal,” Annie said with a smile. “In a minute, you are going to go outside and sign it yourself to pledge to do your very best to follow it. Signing that code, becoming a part of the Harpeth Hall culture of honor and trust means something. It is a big responsibility, but we entrust it to you, the 5th grade, with the same gravity that we entrust it to the 12th grade. You are ready. You’re Harpeth Hall girls now.”

After Annie spoke, Ms. Fondren-Bales introduced this year’s Honor Council, which includes a select group of upper school students who model and support their classmates in Harpeth Hall’s honorable actions: tell the truth, respect our peers, and act in an inclusive manner. Together, the members of the council along with the entire Harpeth Hall community made the pledge to “commit to fostering an honest and respectful learning environment for my peers, my teachers, and myself.”

Students at Harpeth Hall do not take these words lightly. Each and every student lives by the code in order to create an open and respectful campus.

“The honor code serves as a framework for our work together and reflects the high value placed on personal responsibility and good citizenship,” Director of the Middle School Judi O’Brien said. “Upholding the honor code requires that we treat each other with respect and we strive to be curious and inclusive rather than judgmental.”

Cora Meyer, an 8th grade student and member of the Honor Education Committee, reinforced the power of the commitment to honor in her speech to her peers. 

“The honor code at Harpeth Hall ensures that everyone is honorable,” she said, “because it takes every individual in our community to guarantee that our school continues to have an honorable environment for everyone.” “If we continue to follow the honor code, we can work together to maintain Harpeth Hall’s strong community.”

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.