At Manual, Cheating Isn’t A New Problem

When the Courier Journal dropped their story today about Manual students cheating on science fair projects, I wasn’t surprised. Cheating has always been an issue at Manual. I am a proud Crimson until the end, and I know that many of my former classmates will go on to do amazing things in their prospective fields. Still, when the pressure to succeed at Kentucky’s best high school became too much, many turned to cheating.

Manual's true problem isn't cheating.

A couple of years ago, some will remember the controversy involving two Manual students hacking into the school servers and changing grades for money. This brought about a serious look by members of the student body and faculty alike into how to fix the cheating problem at Manual.

What came out of this internal investigation, was an honor code that was to be signed by all students. As a member of the student press I took a lot of time looking at the development of the code and what it meant. While I publicly supported the honor code, I knew it would only stop the bleeding and serve as a bone to throw the media to ease public concern. (The CJ followed the Honor Code through every step.)

After seeing today’s story it’s obvious that Manual still has a cheating problem, and that it has surfaced especially in the annual science fair. Now, Manual is considering adding another honor code strictly for the science fair. Why would creating an honor code work the second time around if it clearly hasn’t worked a first time. Manual students still feel the need to keep up with their extremely talented peers. They believe falling behind could cost them that precious full ride to college.

I spent some time this afternoon speaking with some former classmates, and a few were very quick to say that they did in fact cheat on their science fair projects and knew of many others who had. One source who wished to stay anonymous due to his position at a Kentucky college said “if you work hard on the cover up, it’s easier to get a good grade than actually doing it.” This is commonplace not just at Manual but high schools everywhere. Manual is simply under such a microscope because of its vast history of success.

Let’s get one thing straight, Manual has a large pool of tremendous scholars. There are members of my graduating class that are at Yale, Harvard, and MIT, just to name a few. These young people worked their tails off to get where they are, and they should be commended for their work. Don’t let the CJ’s article create distrust in many of the merits of Manual’s finest products.

Yes, there is a cheating problem at Manual, but it doesn’t lie with the brightest of stars. It lies with the ones that envy them, and feel the pressure of success cornering them. The great thing about Manual is its unique ability to have so many young and talented minds all in one place. This pattern of cheating and academic dishonesty is a byproduct of its great success.

Manual’s true problem isn’t how to stop cheating.

The real dilemma is how to create an environment where success is still possible, but not so necessary that students have to resort to dishonesty to achieve it.