How Do I Use Principal And Principle?

 Principal:

1) the head of a high school or an elementary school (noun)

Ex: The school principal is a pal.

2) chief or foremost in importance (adjective)

Ex: He is the principal actor in the play.

Principle: a basic truth, a rule, a standard, a moral standard

Ex: The principles of economics are difficult to understand.

Kenny Ortega was able to choreograph the movie Dirty Dancing because he had relevant experience from high school. Whenever a new hot record came out, he and his friends would meet and play the record over and over—sometimes 50 times—before the next Friday night’s dance. Those dances were known for their bottled-up sexual tension. Mr. Ortega says, “It was not uncommon for our high-school dances to be shut down because of all the gyrating and rubbing up against each other. The vice principal would routinely come out on the stage and announce, ‘If there is any more dirty dancing in here, the dance will be cancelled.’”

Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul-General in Bordeaux, rescued thousands of Jews from the Holocaust by directly disobeying his country’s orders and giving visas to Jews so that they could escape to freedom. A devout Roman Catholic, Mr. Mendes knew that he was risking his career, his reputation, and his own money by rescuing Jews. However, he said, “I cannot allow these people to die. Our constitution says that the religion or the politics of a foreigner shall not be used to deny refuge in Portugal. I have decided to follow this principle. Even if I am discharged, I can only act as a Christian, as my conscience tells me. If I am disobeying orders, I would rather be with God against men than with men against God.” The Jews used the Portuguese visas to escape to neutral Spain.

Ryan White became HIV-positive as a result of his hemophilia, and he faced prejudice when other people learned that he had AIDS. Other children called him “faggot,” “homo,” and “queer,” although he wasn’t gay, and they sometimes wrote obscenities on his school locker. In addition, someone slashed the tires on his family’s car, and someone shot a bullet through his family’s living room. (Fortunately, no one was hurt.) Because of the prejudice and the danger that they faced, Ryan and his family moved from Kokomo, Indiana, to Cicero, Indiana. In Kokomo, Ryan had been forced to sue in order to be permitted to go to school, but in Cicero, the principal of his school made him feel welcome and educated the other students about AIDS. Being made to feel welcome raised Ryan’s spirits and improved his health, and he soon became a nationally known spokesperson on AIDS issues before dying of AIDS on April 8, 1990. One of the people singing at his funeral was Elton John, who had become a friend during Ryan’s illness.

When Muhammad Ali was still known as Cassius Clay, he almost did not graduate from high school because of his poor grades. However, Atwood Wilson, the principal of his high school, wanted him to graduate, in part because of Mr. Clay’s growing fame as a boxer. Mr. Wilson stated, “One day our greatest claim to fame is going to be that we knew Cassius Clay or taught him. Do you think that I’m going to be the principal of a school that Cassius Clay didn’t finish?”

As a radical who broke new ground in art, Mary Cassatt rejected some things that many artists accept. After she was informed that she had won a $300 Walter Lippincott Prize for work shown in the 1904 exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, she turned down the prize, writing, “Of course it is very gratifying to know that a picture of mine was selected for a special honor. I, however, who belong to the founders of the Independent Exhibition, must stick to my principles, our principles, which were, no jury, no medals, no awards.”

Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul-General in Bordeaux, rescued thousands of Jews from the Holocaust by directly disobeying his country’s orders and giving visas to Jews so that they could escape to freedom. A devout Roman Catholic, Mr. Mendes knew that he was risking his career, his reputation, and his own money by rescuing Jews. However, he said, “I cannot allow these people to die. Our constitution says that the religion or the politics of a foreigner shall not be used to deny refuge in Portugal. I have decided to follow this principle. Even if I am discharged, I can only act as a Christian, as my conscience tells me. If I am disobeying orders, I would rather be with God against men than with men against God.” The Jews used the Portuguese visas to escape to neutral Spain.

© 2015, David Bruce, All Rights Reserved

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