What the Honor Code Means to Me

By Gia Kalro

        When I toured Pingry in 8th grade I was amazed – “how could kids leave their backpacks unattended all around the hallway? Was that a laptop left right out in the open, a cell phone – no way! Don’t these kids use lockers?” I knew Pingry had an Honor Code but to see it from this aspect impressed me. Needless to say, the Honor Code greatly influenced my decision to attend Pingry. I loved the thought of being part of a community where I could completely trust those around me, be carefree about my possessions, and not have to slouch to cover my test paper worrying that my neighbor would copy my answers. 

         Fast forward to Fall preseason at Pingry:  “Out!” called my teammate. “Wait, what?” I thought.  “That ball was clearly within the line,” I retorted. “No it wasn’t, it was out. Deuce!” she yelled across the court. I rolled my eyes. This girl had been incorrectly calling my shots to her advantage the entire match. I lost the match – not fair. If I went to the Coach to complain I would come across as a disgruntled player, and there was no way to prove anything. I had to think of something else. The next time I played the girl I asked a friend to watch; my suspicions were confirmed. Now what? We were far enough into the season that the ladder was being determined. I had to play the girl again. This time, I asked the Coach to watch and to my amazement the girl still called down-the-line shots out and my serves long. “Ok, she just doesn’t know the game,” I consoled myself. But Coach observed and rectified the issue. I hated being in this situation; I didn’t expect to be in this position at Pingry– don’t we have an Honor Code?

        While some may feel that the main function of the Honor Code is to prevent academic dishonesty, the Honor Code does much more than that. It applies to all aspects of our lives – athletics, social media, and personal relationships. There are many situations in our daily lives where adherence to the Honor Code would change or make us reflect on our actions. If you’re tempted to call a ball out in tennis when you secretly thought it might be in so that you can win an important match, the Honor Code should make you think about whether you’re doing the right thing. When someone sends you a group text that makes fun of another person, your internal moral compass, guided by the Honor Code, should not only make you refuse to respond, but should make you question whether you have a duty to tell the person who sent it that they are being unkind. If you know a classmate cheated on a test and got a better grade than you while you studied diligently and skipped the party on Saturday night, what should you do? The main point of an Honor Code in my view is that you internalize it and it begins to govern all your actions in your own life. 

        Every year we have a Convocation Ceremony and the school entrusts us with the responsibility to do the right thing. We don’t want to become a community of students that have to police each other. As a senior and a self-confirmed perfectionist, I can assure you that during your time at Pingry it really is okay to get a C on a test because you couldn’t manage all your assignments, or to lose a match and be ranked lower than you hoped. We all experience highs and lows, and Pingry provides us with an environment to learn from our mistakes with understanding teachers who truly want the best for us. Our Honor Code allows students and teachers to trust each other and students are given ample freedom and decision making opportunities. We do not need to be constantly monitored because we are expected to act honorably.

        Being truthful, respectful, and honest to our teachers and peers are the values inculcated in us at Pingry. If acts of dishonesty become acceptable and commonplace, Pingry would not be Pingry. The most important part of the Honor Code is that it makes you face, on a daily basis, some of your own moral uncertainties. With remote learning it has become easier to cheat and it is important now more than ever for us to be vigilant about our honor and integrity. I am proud of an Honor Code that improves my school environment and learning experience. I hope we will continue to take the time to understand and remain committed to upholding the Honor Code and take pride in the high standards of our school and in ourselves. It really does set us apart.