Foundation encourages honesty

Patty Vaughan

More than 150 students participated through three schools in the Open My Eyes Foundation’s “I Cannot Tell a Lie” contest.

Fourth- and fifth-graders from Tuscaloosa’s Holt Elementary and two Mississippi schools were told about the contest one week before President’s Day to help them understand why George Washington told the truth.

According to a fact sheet that was sent out but the foundation, a national survey of 10,000 high school students said that seven out of 10 said they had cheated on a test in the last 12 months, and six out of 10 said they would lie to get a job.

Abigail Hardin, president of the Open My Eyes Foundation and a sophomore majoring in business entrepreneurship and apparel design, said that the foundation was trying to produce change.

“With national surveys indicating the widespread cheating and lying among high school children, the foundation is attempting to address what is an epidemic in this generation,” Hardin said. “Wall Street, athletics, entertainment and government are all drastically affected by lack of character. To change society we need to shape character of our youngest citizens.”

For one week. students were asked to notice when they were tempted to lie to parents, teachers or friends. When they were tempted to lie, the students were told to tell the truth. At the end of the week, the students were asked to write a one-page essay discussing what they had learned about telling the truth.

A panel of judges selected a winner and three runners-up. The winners then read their essays to the class, and the classroom teacher discussed why it is important to tell the truth rather than lie.

Jen Deci, an officer with Open My Eyes Foundation and a sophomore majoring in psychology, felt that the overall contest was a tremendous success.

“Teachers said what made the contest a success was the awareness it brought to the importance of telling the truth,” Deci said. “Students got to discuss the downside of lying. How people don’t trust you, you have to keep lying about other things to keep it covered up, and it can lead to more negative consequences if found out.”

There were five winners from Holt Elementary, and each received $10.

“In the future, the foundation will seek a local sponsor who can award the winner with a savings bond,” Hardin said. “The goal of the foundation is to see this contest spread nationally to encourage honesty.”

After this success of the foundation’s first year, it plans to continue this in the future and hopes that more students will join in to make it work.

“This year was a pilot project to see if discussion and assignment were doable and beneficial,” Hardin said. “Teachers responded that both were effective and should be repeated on a yearly basis.”