Every year, middle and upper school students sign O’Neal’s Honor Code. Classmates elect their peers to fill vacant seats on the Upper School’s Honor Council. Using an honor code is a unique characteristic of private schools.
A Valued Tradition
Signing the Honor Code is considered one of the most important acts taken at The O’Neal School. As time has progressed, its emphasis has become stronger. In recent years, students dress up for the Honor Code Signing Ceremony. The act itself has varied, nevertheless, every student and faculty member sign an official paper for each of the middle and upper school divisions. There has been a book, individual slips of paper signed and placed into a basket, and often, the pledge is recited. Presently, faculty and students sign a large paper and it is then framed and posted in the division for all to see. The act of individually coming before one’s peers to sign or submit a signature shows adherence to the Honor Code and stresses the importance of the commitment.
In accordance with the Honor Code, students do not lock their lockers. Teachers trust students to do their own work. Some teachers, ask that the phrase – “no help given, none received” be written on the test or assignment before submission.
We remember the late Spanish, drama teacher and Honor Council Advisor Michael Norman. He explained it best in a 2015 speech during the Upper School Honor Code Signing Ceremony — “The O’Neal experience is based on mutual respect and personal integrity. All members of the community are expected to honor the rights of others, to conduct themselves in a moral and decent manner, and to see this responsibility as an integral part of their lives as citizens of the community and of the world. The foundation of this belief is the Honor Code that sets the ethical standard underlying every dimension of school life.”
The Honor Council
Along with an advisor, students administer the Honor Council. The upper school organization seeks to uphold the School’s mission statement and philosophies by promoting these characteristics. It also addresses those activities that are contrary to the School’s Honor Code.
In Mr. Norman’s 2015 speech, he lends a bit of advice to the student body – “Always take time to listen to that still, quiet voice within each of us. The voice that knows what is honorable and what is not. The voice that guides us on a daily basis and helps us to discern with clarity each action that we take.”
Mr. Norman concluded the ceremony by asking for everyone to reflect on the words from Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
“This above all: to thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Falcons Fly to 50
O’Neal is excited to share its history with readers as it quickly nears its 50th year in educating and cultivating youth in becoming successful, effective contributors to communities large and small. The official celebration starts school year 2021/2022. This weekly blog will focus on different aspects of the School as it grew through the years. With every entry, there is just as much more information to gather than what is already written. Readers who have been a part of the O’Neal community are encouraged to reach out and share their O’Neal memories. It is with great hope that the efforts of many in contributing information and photography can be published into a book for reflection and reference as the School continues to prosper for the next 50 years.
Please send your memoirs and photos to:
The O’Neal School
c/o Kathy Taylor, Director of Communications
P.O. Box 290
Southern Pines, NC 28388