Atlanta Classical Academy was founded to develop students in both mind and character. The school’s virtues are the guiding principles used to cultivate and nurture character: courage, courtesy, honesty, perseverance, self-government, and service. Students are expected to conduct themselves honorably in word and deed, to strive to live by the virtues, and to encourage others to do so as well.
Course, Courtesy, Honesty, Humility, Perseverance, Self-Government, Service
Courage – Be Brave
Courage is the state of mind that enables one to face danger or fear with confidence. Aristotle tells us that a courageous person will fear things, but will endure them for the sake of the noble. In the face of danger or challenge, courage is a firm conviction—with appropriate levels of fear and confidence—that compels one to accomplish and pursue that which is noble and worthy.
Courtesy – Be Kind and Respectful
Courtesy is both demonstrating good manners and displaying a willingness or generosity to show kindness and respect toward others. Courtesy contributes to a culture of civility on campus. George Washington famously kept a copy of 110 “Rules of Civility in Conversations Amongst Men.” Many of the rules served as practical guidelines for courteous living. Washington emphasized that our actions ought to portray a sign of respect for others around us, regardless of their standing, rank, or position.
Honesty – Always Tell the Truth
Honesty is derived from the Latin formulation integritas. Integritas literally means “intact”—or the state of being whole and undivided—in other words, the truth and nothing but the whole truth. Aristotle wrote that an ethical person should not only be honest but should be a lover of truth. Such a person would be truthful in situations in which being honest would make no immediate difference. In other words, as C.S. Lewis once said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching.”
Humility – Be Humble
Humility is the virtue that allows one to have the right view of themselves within a community. To be humble means to honor the inherent dignity of every person, regardless of all factors which might distinguish one person from another. A humble person understands that reliance on others is necessary to live a good life and also seeks reciprocally to serve others. To practice humility, therefore, is to cultivate a disposition of attention and service toward others. This requires one to prioritize others and to think about concerns other than one’s own, or as C.S. Lewis says, to be humble is “not to think less of oneself”, but rather “to think of oneself less”.
Perseverance – Never Give Up
Perseverance means to steadfastly pursue a course of action or a purpose, often in the face of obstacles or discouragement. As the well-known poem reminds us, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…if you will persevere, you will conquer, never fear…try, try again! In 1771, Samuel Adams exhorted his fellow patriots: “Instead of sitting down satisfied with the efforts we have already made…the necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude, and perseverance.”
Self-Government – Practice Self Control
Self-government is the ability to “rule over oneself.” As Socrates states in the Platonic dialogues, a man should be temperate and a master of himself, and ruler of his own pleasures and passions. Aristotle described a self-restrained person as someone who, on account of reason, does not follow their base desires. It takes education and practice to develop the characteristics of self-government—self-control, moderation, prudence, and restraint. Effective self-governance promotes a civil and orderly culture and leads to an increase in liberty for both individuals and societies alike.
Service – Help Others
Service is an active disposition toward assisting in the needs of, or promoting the welfare of, others. It is a willingness to stand with others in their need and to provide help to the point of self-sacrifice. One of the most enduring examples of service is that of the good Samaritan, who not only rendered first aid to a wounded stranger, but also paid for his restorative care. The good Samaritan represents a model of selfless and sacrificial generosity to a person in need.
Atlanta Classical Academy students are expected to act honorably. This means they will not lie, cheat, or steal—and will discourage others from doing so. Honesty is the foundation of one’s character. To lie, cheat, or steal is to seriously breach one’s integrity. While it is only human to make mistakes or to show lapses in judgment, students are expected to own up to their actions. Lying, cheating, or stealing to cover things up is far worse than making the original mistake, and undermines trust in both peer-to-peer and student-to-teacher relationships.
In academics and scholarship, students must always do their own work, represent themselves truthfully, and only claim what is their own. Plagiarism is a serious violation of the honor code—and is defined as the use of someone else’s words or ideas without proper acknowledgment. Plagiarism is deceptive and is cheating in that it is an attempt to gain an unfair advantage by appropriating someone else’s work or ideas.
Guided by faculty, staff, and parents, students should seek to exhibit the school’s virtues and live by the school pledge: I will learn the true, I will do the good, I will love the beautiful