“However we choose to have it, our integrity shows the world the truth. How will you choose to walk with integrity?”
Put one foot in front of the other. Follow the swarm of students trudging to their next class. If you keep your eyes down low, no one will see you. Don’t trip! Maybe you should look up – it would be way more embarrassing if you fell in the middle of the hallway (plus, that green
carpet is terrible to look at). Looking around, I see people I have never seen before – do they even go to this school? Over the top of the endless sea of anonymous heads, I see blond, curly hair. He has his letterman’s jacket on. That reminds me, I should wear mine more often. With a smile he asks “How are you doing? How’s your family?” They’re good, thank you for asking! Amidst the struggles of high school he always manages to remind me life isn’t that bad.
We expect superheroes to save us and we expect our parents to be patient; but from our own peers, we expect them to pass by us without a glance. They’re just another face. We expect them to be plugged into their phone, staring into the abyss of social media where the amount of red hearts determines their worth. While we expect integrity from our role models, it is rarer to see it in peers. Even so, the integrity of one specific student has broken out of these stereotypes – impressing adults and peers alike. This student knows everyone in the school, not just his friends. When you see him walking down the hallways, he’s always checking up on others. When his fellow football players walk by he messes around with them, laughing with whoever it is. When a special ed student walks by, he gives them high fives, wishing them a happy day. Casey Noack is a peer that has consistently showed the amount of integrity he has. He is a peer who has demonstrated rectitude, dependability, and benevolence. Because of this, his integrity shines in a way I have never seen in someone our age, and it has inspired me to be mindful of my own integrity.
One thing you have to know about Casey is that he loves hockey. In his room he has posters of the Chiefs teams from the past 10 years plastering the walls. He has been on skates ever since he was 3, and now he literally skates circles around any of our friends. As we looked to the left we would see him flying past us…backwards, while we were struggling to hold on to the edge. Throughout the night, I caught Casey aiding anyone who fell over. He could skate so fast that when someone fell on the ice, he was there, immediately helping them up. The younger kids followed him, trying to mimic everything he was doing. The girls ogled over the perfect gentlemen all night. The parents all gratefully shook his hand after he helped them off the cold ice. He didn’t have to think about the consequences of helping the people around him, integrity shone through him that night. It makes me proud to be friends with him.
Throughout high school, teenagers experience massive amounts of growth. People endure situations where they question their morals. Casey, however, is still himself through everything. He’s stronger, he’s smarter, he’s braver; but inside, it’s still Casey. This, I think, is the real definition of integrity. Staying true to your beliefs, even as you are challenged by the realities of the world. Having integrity isn’t just a characteristic, but a way of living life that ensures you are proud of who you are. As graduation approaches, our senior class is preparing for the reality of life, and our integrity is going to shape our actions and growth in the real world. Growing from high school into adulthood, we have to solidify our beliefs. Every difficulty, success, and experience a person has shapes them into who they are. Integrity looks different for all of us–the superhero, the mom and dad, the high school student. However we choose to have it, our integrity shows the world the truth. How will you choose to walk with integrity?
Taryn Baxter is a senior at East Valley High School, where she has been recognized as a PACE student for Kindness. She works within her community by assisting Days For Girls charity and participating in her church. She has been accepted Mercyhurst University in Eerie, Pennsylvania, where she hopes to continue using her writing skills to help work towards a career in scientific writing.