Administration moves forward in plans for Honor Council


Dean of Students Thomas Vierheller sits at his desk and sifts through various disciplinary material. As Dean of Discipline, Vierheller has been very active in the formation of the Honor Council.

Grace Kim, Online Chief

Within about three years, there will be a fully functional Honor Council in place, according to Dean of Students Thomas Vierheller.

The purpose of the proposed honor council is to have students review fellow students’ cases of academic integrity.  To read past coverage concerning the Honor Council, click here.

Meetings have taken place during the months of December and January, and all Honor Council efforts have been orchestrated through Vierheller and Guidance Counselor Larry Hensley.  These meetings have been held together with Vierheller, Hensley, and a select group of seniors who volunteered last year to aid in the makings of the Honor Council.

“[Former music teacher Dan] Briggs and I had done a lot of the leg work and we had been through some training.  When he decided to leave, the first thing we needed to do was have someone take his place,” Vierheller said.  “My part with Honor Council is limited. The Honor Council will be more self-sufficient outside of what I do.  We needed somebody to be the moderator and facilitator of the Honor Council and Mr. Hensley stepped up at the beginning of the year.”

According to Vierheller, Principal Madelyn Ball had both Vierheller and Hensley schedule a few solid meeting dates for current seniors who volunteered to be a part of the Honor Council during their junior year.

“We have such a strong core of good seniors who were at the meeting last year and have an interest in starting it.  We didn’t want to lose [those seniors],” Vierheller said.

One of those seniors participating in the Honor Council is senior Taylor Battaglia.  “I like being able to provide a student voice to the council.  I joined because I thought it would be a good experience,” Battaglia said.

Likewise, senior Nick Henninger feels strongly about being a part of the Honor Council.  “I’m very excited to see all that this Honor Council can do for John Carroll. In the fast-paced world that we live in, social trends change on a daily basis. The idea behind a student-led Honor Council is that teens can understand and judge the problems facing their peers much better than an adult could,” Henninger said.

Another participant, senior Alex Burdeshaw, feels slightly different about the Council.  “I’m kind of neutral about being on it, I think the theory behind it is good, but I joined by accident because Briggs had the meeting during our advisory,” Burdeshaw said.

A conversation about the Honor Council began many years ago between former Principal Paul Barker, Vice Principal Gary Scholl, and Vierheller, but did not escalate until President Richard O’Hara came on board, hailing from a school that had an Honor Council.  Briggs heard about the Council and decided that “he’d like to be a part of it [and] got things going last year,” according to Vierheller.

“With Mr. Hensley in place, and [the seniors] in place, we are basically looking at our next step in designing the application and interview process,” Vierheller said.

According to Vierheller, training is the next step, which will tentatively take place during February and Easter break.  The moderators of the Council plan to run scenarios with the seniors helping to start the Honor Council.

“We’re looking at [the seniors] being facilitators and trainers and setting the tone for training sophomores and juniors,” Vierheller said.

Vierheller hopes that the seniors currently in the prototype Honor Council will be ready to hear cases around fourth quarter of this school year.

“There’s ownership – I think that’s what will sell [the Council] to our student body.  This is your Honor Council.  You guys have helped to select members, train members, so it’s coming from you.  The idea is coming from the administration, but the implementation and design is student driven, and over time it will be modified,” Vierheller said.

Henninger is optimistic in the future endeavors of the Honor Council.  “I believe that having an effective Honor Council could lessen the effect of some of the major issues plaguing John Carroll students; it’s just a lot more humbling and life-changing for someone to have to stand before their peers and tell what they did than for them to do the same to a parent or teacher . . . While we can expect some initial setbacks, I think that this Council will soon begin to make a positive difference in our school community,” Henninger said.

No further actions besides meetings with the group of senior volunteers involved in Honor Council have taken place.

The Patriot will continue to report on the makings of the Honor Council.

Grace Kim is the Online Chief for The Patriot and