The Honor System — Building a Community of Trust
You’ll see and feel our Honor System everywhere at Norfolk Academy. It is at once our most cherished tradition and the taproot of our learning community. We live it daily in a multitude of ways. It informs every relationship here — among both students and adults. You’ll witness it in hallways, where “lockers” are open, with no locks at all — a tangible symbol of the school’s community of trust.
Younger students recite the Honor Code: “We do our own work. We tell the truth. We do not take things that belong to others.” Older students sign the pledge for graded assignments and assessments: “I pledge that I have acted honorably in completing this assignment.” The Honor System’s goal is to instill a deep sense of honor in each student and in the Norfolk Academy community as a whole. Honesty, empathy, respect, and integrity make this a uniquely supportive environment that feels more like a family than a school.
Norfolk Academy sustains an environment where honor and dignity stand shoulder to shoulder with earning top grades and where doing the right thing is as expected as turning in homework. This has shaped who I am since first grade and will continue to impact me for the rest of my life.
The Honor System begins in the first moments of first grade, as each student shakes the headmaster's hand and enters the community of trust. Through each student's Lower School journey, a sense of honor grows through conversations about ethical conduct, signing the honor pledge, and building open, honest relationships with peers and teachers.
As students enter the Middle School, they recognize that greater freedom is matched, measure for measure, by greater responsibility in terms of honorable conduct. A student-led, faculty-guided Honor Council in the Middle School helps reinforce core values and build a strong community.
Our student-led Honor Council in Upper School plays a formative role in reinforcing the Honor System for the entire school. A speech given by the Chair of the Honor Council sets the agenda for the year, as faculty and students work together to sustain the strength of the Honor System, the taproot of the school community.