This year, on Sept 16, National Honor Society (NHS), Honor Council, the One Question Committee, SGA, and Active Minds came together to create Jefferson’s first Ethics Forum. The goal of the Ethics Forum was to teach and remind students about the importance of integrity and using ethical conduct in an engaging manner by inviting guest speakers from a variety of STEM fields to talk about and discuss important issues at Jefferson.
“Every year, we have to talk about the new honor code, and we have to talk about integrity and the Honor Council, and sometimes we worry that it’s a little bit boring, and that students don’t really appreciate the message as much because there’s people lecturing at them and it’s just not very exciting.”senior Cheryl Mensah, Co-President of Active Minds, said. “So this year we thought we’d have the Ethics Forum to really engage students, and get them involved and excited.”
On the day of the Ethics Forum, students listened to speeches from Principal Evan Glazer and Keynote speaker Dr. Erika W. Davies in the auditorium. Then, other guest speakers from studies such as law, bioethics, and robotics went to different homerooms to talk about the impact ethics and integrity has in their jobs, what they do if people do not uphold specific moral standards, and about the overall importance of being ethical and responsible in anything they do. In the end, all of this was organized so that different clubs at Jefferson could enforce the idea that ethics and integrity are important in a way that was unique from that of previous years.
“Many other clubs at our school are trying to promote the core message of integrity and the idea that we need to focus on ethics and bring our school together to create an academically sound community,” senior Sahana Ramani, Vice-President of NHS and Honor Council liaison, said. “We thought it would be a really good idea to have a joint effort between the three associations so they could all reach their one goal, which is of course promoting integrity in our school today.”
Furthermore, after the guest speakers talked with the students, each homeroom conducted an economic-based activity for this year’s One Question. Students were divided into “companies,” and were required to obtain a certain number of materials in less than 10 minutes, while also trying to have the most amount of valuable materials out of the entire class. This required students to collaborate with one another in a competitive environment to not only achieve personal success, but to make possible the success of others as well, which was the main idea behind the One Question.
“It is important to know how to manage what you can give because you don’t want to give too much away and not have anything left for yourself, but at the same time, you want to try and share a little bit of your wealth with your peers to help them out,” sophomore Janani Chander said.
Through the Ethics Forum, students were able to learn about integrity and the importance of morals and collaboration, and were given a unique perspective into these ideas in the real world by hearing about stories of people who face issues around these topics frequently. Overall, the Ethics Forum provided an early emphasis during the school year on how, regardless of challenges and competitions one may face, it is important to stay true to ethical standards and personal integrity in and out of school.
“Without academic integrity and without the high ethical value that we have at our school, our academic successes don’t mean as much,” Ramani said. “Only with integrity and with morals do we really succeed as people in this world, and that’s more important than anything else.”