2012 Student Ethics Award Scholarship Recipients
Essay by Alexa Oord
Thomas Jefferson Charter School - Nampa, ID
A poster on the wall in my high school science classroom reads, "integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching." Posters like these hang in schools, churches, and offices everywhere. The quote is meant to inspire people to act honorably, even when reward and punishment are not at stake. However, I think it is just as important to do the right thing when everyone is watching.
Everyone has essential beliefs and values. integrity is upholding those values in our actions. This can be easy when peers hold the same values. But the real struggle comes when our peers do not hold the same values as we do. When our values are challenged, we must choose how we will respond. Integrity, then, also involves doing the right thing when others with different values are watching.
In high school, students are often faced with the dilemma of choosing what is right or doing what is popular. For example, some students in my high school tease students who are gawky, nerdy, or eccentric. I am often faced with the decision to ignore the taunting, denounce the hecklers, or join in the teasing. l believe that school should be a safe environment and that all students should feel accepted regardless of differences. Because of this, I choose to do the right thing and defend the bullied. Standing up for my beliefs can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, especially when my friends are the bullies. But I choose to show integrity anyway by doing the right thing even when my peers are watching.
We see the same situation in society at large. But in some cases, one value isn't obviously better than another. For example, many Americans believe that English should become our national language. They believe all immigrants should be required to learn English upon entering our country. Other Americans, however, believe that what makes a person American is not the language he or she speaks. Both values have merit, and neither is clearly superior. Those who stand up for either side in a crowd of those who think differently must show integrity by holding fast to their values.
Integrity then, involves doing what is right both when no one is watching and when we feel like everyone is watching. This ethical policy is challenging to uphold at all times. However, each of us should strive to choose integrity in every situation no matter the audience.
Essay by Kyler Beck
Parma High School, Parma, ID
The words ethics and integrity possess a close relationship with one another. Possessing good ethics and acting with integrity are the keys to developing relationships and becoming a successful leader.
Ethics are a person’s individual beliefs and morals. Now, these individual beliefs are in a sense the roots from which the vines of integrity shoot. In order to act with true integrity one must first develop good morals, just as a plant must have strong roots to grow. Acting with integrity means being honest not only in what one says and does, but also in one’s portrayal of herself or himself as an individual.
Furthermore, integrity is not only being honest with others, but also treating them With respect. It is in a sense the Golden Rule compacted into one single word. My personal ethics, which are based on a strong integrity, are of great importance in my life. My personal ethics shape and are shaped by my personal experiences in life, along with my religious views. These factors make up who I am as an individual, 'and really control how I respond to certain situations and predicaments.
Throughout my life I have always thought it very important to be “myself,” regardless of who I am around. In this Way I am treating others with integrity by being honest about Who I am.
As I have grown up, I have found that living by the Golden Rule makes it so easy to befriend anyone I meet. New students and new acquaintances really respond and open up -when treated with respect and integrity. This has really helped me understand the true meaning of being a leader. It has taught me that being a leader is not simply considering oneself better than others and ordering them around, but instead putting others first and treating them with integrity. I have also learned that leadership does not come through words, but through actions. For instance, flashing a sincere smile, genuinely meant to draw out another person, can lead to opportunities to open up a conversation. Through that smile, the student, who might not have earlier approached me, gains the confidence to voice his thoughts and wishes. In this was our school has been enhanced by the views and opinions of students who would have been otherwise overlooked. In acting with integrity I have truly been able to achieve my dreams. I do believe that anyone can accomplish what they most desire. All it takes is a little determination, lots of hard work, and steadfast integrity.
So as I go through another school year and yet another chapter in my life I will hold strong to my ethics and vow to treat everyone I meet with true integrity, for as long as I live. For I have learned that the secret to true happiness comes treating others as I myself would Want to be treated. True happiness comes from treating others with integrity.