One-hundred Licking County high school students participated in the Granville Rotary Club-sponsored High School Ethics and Leadership Conference on Nov. 3 at the Newark DoubleTree Hotel.
Participating high schools for the annual event were Utica, Newark, Newark Catholic, Licking Heights, Watkins Memorial, Granville, Johnstown-Monroe, Heath and CTEC.
The emphasis for the annual event is to educate students, many of whom will be future leaders, about what ethics are, what to consider when making decisions, and how ethics play a part in every aspect of their lives, said Amy Huddleston, the Granville Rotarian who annually leads the event.
The conference features a number of area community leaders discussing ethics issues, including Stephanie Jackson, Denison University Title IX Coordinator, on "Ethics & College Life"; Columbus Academy Ethics Teacher Tim Leet weighing "Temptation or Dilemma?"; Dr. John Weigand, M.D, "Ethics in Medicine and End of Life Issues," and Heath Schools Superintendent Trevor Thomas, discussing "Ethics in Education."
"Each presenter provides ethical dilemmas and lets the students talk through their decisions and reasons why they’re making the decision," Huddleston said. "We schedule presenters to cover ethical dilemmas they may face in college, how the medical profession deals with ethics daily and what the students can do to make better decisions on social media to help offset the depression and loneliness experienced by many on social media."
An example of a medical issue Huddleston cited was, "What if you’re the doctor and you have a patient come to you with a terminal illness that wants a medicine prescribed to allow him to simply fall asleep and not wake up — what do you do?"
A local school superintendent discussed the ethical decisions a school leadership team must face daily with regards to students, their parents, and the faculty, Huddleston added.
"We review scenarios from professional sports, such as the Houston Astros stealing base signals, and discuss if the punishment fits the crime," she said. "The main purpose is to help these students understand how their decisions can impact more than just themselves and how a strong moral compass helps make tough decisions easier."
Rotarians traditionally promote an ethical guide they call The Four-Way Test to practice ethics in daily life and make a difference with tolerance, fairness, respect, compassion and hope. The Four-Way Test is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships. It reads:
“Of the things we think, say or do…
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
Students went through several exercises and were presented several ethical choice scenarios, including the ability to potentially leverage academic test results through some notes accidentally left in view at a hypothetical test site.
Columbus Academy’s Leet posed the question to students, "Would you do the thing you’re thinking of doing if it would appear on the front page of the newspaper?"
Leet continued, "It’s important to recognize the difference between the thing you would do, and the thing you ought to do."
The goal, Leet said, is to make distance between actual and ideal behavior, "smaller and smaller."
Huddleston expressed gratitude to the schools whose students participated in the event.
"This is my favorite Rotary-sponsored event of the year," she said. "High ethical standards are a core value to every Rotarian, therefore it’s Rotary’s responsibility to educate our future leaders about the importance of a strong moral compass. We survey the students at the end of the event to learn how we can continually improve the conference each year."
This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Rotary-sponsored event gets high-schoolers thinking about ethics