By Sophia Aigner
Kairos – a time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action: the opportune and decisive moment.
This past week’s local news has been one heck of head turner – and not for a good reason, as you all may know.
Last Monday, 22 students at East Greenwich High School were accused of cheating on one of their tests. One student had found a copy of the exam online ahead of time and sold the answers via text message to the rest of his classmates. The students implicated will face consequences of varying degrees.
What seems to appall most people is the mere fact students have breached the high school’s honor code. While I agree wholeheartedly, this is not the only thing that’s troubling. As a student, I have witnessed things that others have not. I have heard the conversations at lunch and the whispers floating through the hallway. In my opinion, our attention need not focus entirely on the offense itself, but also the reactions surrounding it:
“I don’t deserve to be held accountable; we weren’t cheating.”
“The answers were online. Anyone is allowed to access them; we weren’t cheating.”
“We weren’t cheating.”
“We weren’t cheating.”
Throughout my tenure in the East Greenwich public school system, I have come to know some of the most intelligent, witty, creative, and compassionate people. So, when I hear this kind of talk around the school, I think to myself, I know we are better than this.
Although the natural reaction to “being caught red handed” is deflection and denial, deep down, we all know that the better alternative is to take personal responsibility for our actions. It seems nowadays the line between right and wrong is often blurred. Since when has it been okay to find the answers to a test to gain an unfair advantage? We all know when we’ve done something wrong because it just doesn’t feel right.
It’s no secret that high school students are under an immense amount of academic pressure. Whether it be self-driven or encouraged by a parent, the competition to get into top colleges and universities is an omnipresent factor in a student’s life. The competition is fierce enough to numb a student’s moral compass, if only for a brief, unfortunate moment. Even in my own life, I’ve felt myself succumbing to the pressures of maintaining a high GPA, an impressive course load filled with AP classes, and extracurricular activities. But, what these kids – and all EG students, including myself – must realize is life isn’t defined by a grade point average or one test grade; these numbers are an arbitrary speck in the grand scheme of things. Our integrity, however, is everlasting. In life, the content of our characters and the way in which we lead our lives are above all else.
Now, let me explain myself: I’m not claiming to be “holier than thou,” and nor am I trying to reflect a perfect image of my own self – like any teen, I have made mistakes in school, in relationships, and with family. But, these experiences have taught me that mistakes do not dictate our end – they introduce us to a new beginning.
No one is saying the students implicated are bad people; in fact, they are the opposite – they are good people who made a bad decision. Personal accountability is not admitting your weakness, but exhibiting your strength. So, let’s not let this cheating scandal mar our community and the school’s reputation, but instead let’s take advantage of this present kairos and be our best.
Sophia Aigner, who writes for EG News, is a senior at East Greenwich High School.