Trevor Ott

an excerpt from a talk to students

This has been a really special year for me so far. It is the first year in Delphian's history that all of our students have participated in the logo seminar. The logo seminar is a lively discussion with a different group of students each week. We talk about the points of the Delphian logo: Knowledge, Ethics, Leadership and Integrity. We define those terms, discuss how they work together, and explore if and how you can have one without the others.


There is one aspect of the Delphian culture, however, that isn’t on the logo.


That is: Responsibility.


In our Student & Parent Handbook, there is a section called “Responsibility as a Viewpoint.” It’s a few short paragraphs and discusses two philosophical paths an individual can take: one believing he is the effect or victim of circumstances in his life, and another where he truly, fully believes he causes all effects in his life. Here’s an excerpt:


“It is popular today to excuse one’s troubles or conflicts by taking the viewpoint that they “are done to you.” This can be described as the “victim” approach to life. At Delphian, expect us to encourage you to take personal responsibility for the situations you find yourself in, and to work purposefully toward their resolution rather than acting as the “victim” of the situations. This includes having the willingness to give and receive communication responsibly about disagreements, problems, etc.


“...This viewpoint may not always be easy and may take some practice, but it is the road to success, whether in school or in other situations and relationships.”

I was curious what our students think about the idea of “responsibility as a viewpoint,” so I interviewed this term’s Dean’s List recipients, asking each of them to rate how important it has been to their success at Delphian and in life.


Four Dean’s List recipients gave “responsibility as a viewpoint” a nine out of ten in terms of its contribution to their success…but one of them wrote me an e-mail after we talked letting me know she had changed her mind.


She then gave it a ten.


And so, after a recount, five of this year’s Dean’s list recipients gave “responsibility as a viewpoint” a ten.


Four more ignored the scale altogether and gave “responsibility as a viewpoint” an eleven on a scale of one to ten.


One Dean’s list recipient saw fit to give it a 15. That individual was your student council president, James Gentile.


In the end, the average ranking of importance placed on responsibility as a viewpoint by this year’s Dean’s list recipients is an 11.2 on a scale of one to ten.


That’s a pretty strong endorsement.


Separately, I asked each of them to briefly tell me why they felt that way.  I found their answers fascinating.


Keeping in mind that there is no one course or seminar here that shaped their points of view, just that short mention of it in your Student Handbook, I thought it was remarkable how similar their answers were.


To me, there is no better proof than their words that “responsibility as a viewpoint” is a common denominator to success in life.


There is a lot I could say on the subject from my point of view, but instead, I’ll share with you what a few of them had to say:


“I think it is everything. We have a really practical-intensive program that places students in positions of responsibility.  Without this as a viewpoint, success is really difficult. When I consider myself the victim of any set of circumstances, I always have excuses available. On the other hand, maintaining responsibility as a viewpoint tends to lead me to action. That’s Delphian. Responsibility as a viewpoint has also helped me become a leader because part of being responsible includes seeing and understanding a situation from all points of view.  Responsibility isn’t blame. It’s responsibility…total ownership for both sides and for all components of any given situation.” — F.D.


“I think it is more important even than a ten.  Adopting this viewpoint was a turning point of who I am and of how I approach life.  If I were to make the decision today that I am a victim, it would mark a huge step backwards for me as a person.  Now, if I find myself feeling like a victim, I trace my steps backwards and figure out how I actually was responsible.  It works every time.” — S.Q.


“Anything that happens in my life is my responsibility and anything that happens is no one else’s fault…it’s simply my responsibility. Me increasingly taking on this viewpoint has led me to caring more and to being more cause over my life, environment and groups. It has also allowed me to set and pursue some high goals for myself – like changing the world.” — J.G.


“Sometimes people say there is only so much in life that they can control, but I think you should leave nothing to outside forces.  You are in full control, and the moment you decide you can’t control something, you won’t.” — K.C. & E.D.

So, even though it’s not on the logo, this word responsibility is very much a part of Delphian culture. I encourage you to look for it, to think about it and to aspire to higher and higher levels of it as you move through your programs here at Delphian.


That’s about it for tonight.

  Watch the video below to see the full school assembly.