More Than Just Honesty

Middle School students pledge their integrity at annual Honor Code Assembly


Rissy Dalton

Seventh grader Ugnius Numavicius signs the honor code book, pledging to act honorably throughout the year.

The Benjamin School is known to be one of the most respected schools in our area. Why? It’s because of the importance the School places on character, honor, and integrity. I will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate anyone who does. This is the pledge each student at TBS makes, and the gravity of that promise is symbolized in the Middle School via its annual Honor Code Assembly. Organized by Susan Poncy, Director of Student Services, the program emphasizes the integrity of each and every student at Benjamin. Every student is required to sign his or her name in the honor code book during this traditional and meaningful ceremony.

During the signing, several students traditionally play the piano at the request of Mrs. Poncy, which adds a calming elegance to the program. “I was honored to have the opportunity to play piano again at the assembly,” said eighth grader Mitch Faloona. “This is my last year in the Middle School, and I really enjoyed being able to participate.”

After introductions by Head of Middle School Mr. Charles Hagy and Head of School Mr. Robert Goldberg, two long-time Benjamin faculty members – English teacher Mrs. Denise Ponchock and Athletic Director and language arts teacher Mr. Toby Harbeck – shared personal stories about honor.

Mrs. Ponchock relays her story to the students during the Honor Code Assembly in the BPAC on Thursday, September 10, 2015.
Mr. Crisafi
Mrs. Ponchock relays her story to the students during the Honor Code Assembly in the BPAC on Thursday, September 10, 2015.

Mrs. Ponchock spoke about her choice to not attend a party with her friends in high school. Unfortunately, four of her friends perished in a car accident on their way home from the party because the driver had been consuming alcohol. “I  hope that I successfully communicated the idea that we are all responsible for the decisions we make,” Ponchock said. “If we make bad choices in life, we, and those who love us, have to live with the consequences. Blaming others will not change the outcome. Resentfulness, anger, and rebelliousness are wasted emotions,” she added.

Mr. Harbeck talked about the time he cheated on a quiz in sixth grade and how it caused him so much anguish that he finally admitted what he did to his parents and his teacher. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” said Harbeck, referring to coming clean about his cheating. “Each of you [students] have the opportunity to not make the same mistake I made.”

The stories were sincere and sobering and made an impression on the students.

“I think the Honor Code is very important not just to the School but to everyone anywhere, and people will make bad decisions but they need to learn by following the Honor Code,” said seventh grader Alex Michelon. “The reason that we have the Honor Code assembly is so we can drive home the point that honor is not just honesty, it is the courage to use that honesty in difficult situations,” concluded Mr. Hagy.