Written by Dr. Steve Whitaker,  Head of School

I am sure that you, like me, have watched in fascination over the last few weeks as details about the college admissions cheating scandal have come to light. It is disheartening to see how many people have been implicated in “Operation Varsity Blues,” people who chose dishonesty over character. Proverbs 28:18 says, “The one who lives with integrity will be helped, but one who distorts right and wrong will suddenly fall.”

While we may not see ourselves as one who would cheat on college admissions, it is a good reminder that all of us are capable of finding seemingly small choices lead us in a direction we never thought possible. That’s why as parents we want to make it clear to our children that being honorable and honest in important on the “small stuff” leads to a life of integrity in the “big stuff.”

Consider Accelerated Reader (AR) Testing, for example. Nearly every student enrolled at TFA has an AR target to accomplish every quarter, and the premise is simple: read a book and take a comprehension quiz to demonstrate that you understood the text. It might surprise you to learn that even in this small area we find some student struggle to maintain their integrity. In the past, we have seen students taking quizzes for other students, students watching the movie instead of reading the book, even parents “helping” their children during the test. It is understandable that these behaviors are tempting, especially when the deadline is looming. However, these behaviors fly in the face of one of the fundamental principles of our mission statement, that of “character before career.” It is more valuable to honestly fail (and then learn from that experience) than to dishonestly succeed. That sort of success is temporary and usually carries with it significant challenges down the road.

It may be tempting to cut corners when there are stakes like college admission on the line. But as Christ-followers, we must do what is right. “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth” (1 John 1:6).

I am so thankful to be at a school like The First Academy where we partner with parents to raise young men and women of character. Perhaps the recent college admissions scandal and the truth provided in this article will give you an opportunity to talk about the importance of cultivating strong character with your children this weekend.