Ethics through Art

Boston Prep's approach to ethical development is grounded in five key virtues: courage, compassion, integrity, perseverance, and respect.  Reminders of these virtues are now emblazoned on the walls of the middle school, a constant reminder to all of the types of lives we strive to live.  

Art teacher Patrick Foran hatched an idea over the summer of enlivening the middle school with the words and images of famous individuals who embody the virtues, as a way to keep an ethos of ethics ever present and accessible for students.  That idea has become a reality over this school year.  Mr. Foran worked diligently to select five individuals aligned with each of the five virtues, people who he felt students would recognize and with whom they would feel some connection.  He selected diverse individuals - an author, an athlete, an entertainer, an artist - to ensure all students felt represented.  He then carefully selected quotes from each person that embody the virtues.  

Courage: "He who is not courageous enough to take risks in life will accomplish nothing." ~ Muhammad Ali

Compassion: "I believe we are all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose.  When you connect with that love and with that compassion, that's when everything unfolds." ~ Ellen DeGeneres

Integrity: "I paint myself because I know myself best." ~ Frida Kahlo

Perseverance: "I had a choice to stand still or move forward.  To let things happen to me or to make things happen.  Every day I wake up, I make a choice not to let the world decide for me.  I decide for me.  I decide to get going." ~ Beyonce

Respect: "If you didn't grow up like I did, they you don't know, and if you don't know, it's better you don't judge." ~ Junot Diaz

One at a time, these quotes and images have been painted on the middle school lockers, first outlined by Mr. Foran and then filled in and colored by students.  A total of six students have been selected by Mr. Foran to participate in the paining project to date, including two juniors (Jailena and Ann Marie) and four eighth grade students (Ruebens, Stephanie, Justin, and Javier), with the final mural still underway.  During art class, the students work independently, using only a paper image provided by Mr. Foran as a guide to create these larger than life murals.  

Response to the murals has been powerful.  Students get excited when a new mural is beginning.  While it is a particular honor to be selected to paint the murals, the broader student body has shown investment and excitement in the murals.  With Frida Kahlo being the least known of the figures, when that mural began, students had lots of questions and a great desire to learn more about her.  

While ethical development requires "walking the walk" in addition to "talking the talk," we are deeply grateful to Mr. Foran for his vision and to the many students who have helped make it a reality.   These words serve as a powerful reminder to all of us each day of how we can continue our own lifelong ethical growth.