McDonogh's character compass is a symbol of the school's character education effort. It provides a shared sense of direction for endeavors of every child and adult associated with McDonogh. Introduced in September 2009, the compass hangs in every classroom, K-12.
At the compass's center is the principle of service. School founder John McDonogh epitomized service when he set up the mechanism to create a school for orphan boys, regardless of race or religion or background. That spirit sustained the evolution of McDonogh during its military school time and is embodied well in the line from the traditional poem “The McDonogh Uniform”: “We give something more than we take.”
The core virtues of respect, responsibility, honesty, and kindness comprise the four compass points. They are guiding principles for daily actions.
The compass was designed by Joe Vidmar '09 and refined by Susan Detwiler.