February 12, 2008
By Samantha Sardinia, North Miami Beach, FL

Cheating has become a usual thing at Miami Country Day School. Unfortunately, so have meetings of the Honor Council. According to our online poll, two out of every three students who responded have cheated before. 75% of high school students worldwide have said that they have cheated at one point in their lives. Researchers say that students are caring less about their education and more about that “A” they will “earn” on their exam or homework, which is what drives them to cheat. Mr. Oronoz said that there are “generally 20-25 cheating incidents a year.” Those, of course, are only regarding the students who get caught.
Our school has six major rules: respect for yourself and others, respect for property, honesty, no drugs or alcohol, no weapons or dangerous objects, and meeting school obligations. When any of these rules is broken, the students will most likely receive a hearing with the Honor Council. These rules were created to embody the core values of Country Day: honor, respect, compassion, and wisdom. “My philosophy is very simple,” says Mr. Oronoz. “High School students know what is wrong or right. If a student decides to break a rule, then it is the administrations job to give consequences. And life is about choices. …Honesty is important for life. If you lie today, no one will trust you tomorrow and it is very hard to earn back that trust. I am a firm believer that honesty always prevails.” When asked his opinion on the honor council and cheating in general, Upper School Director Mr. Farraday said, “Academic integrity is the most important thing here [at Country Day]; academic work becomes meaningless without real work.”

The question some students ask is why do different students appear to get different consequences for breaking the same rules? The answer to that, according to Mr. Farraday, is: “Every case is slightly different. [It] is usually full of gray areas when they go to Honor Council,” thus, changing the consequence for that student. The typical consequence for a student who has broken the dishonesty code in the handbook that they signed at the beginning of the year is “probation for a year, suspension, and no credit for that work.” Cheating is a serious violation of the school code and no student will be excused without some sort of consequence. “The honor code is on the wall of every classroom and as a community [we] need to honor the code,” Mr. Farraday believes. “Every teacher tries to be as vigilant as possible and we have a system (Honor Council) that responds to [rule breaking].”

Colleges definitely do not jump for joy when they see cheating on the student’s application and most colleges representatives speak to the school when a student who is applying has ever broken a major rule, such as cheating. According to Mr. Farraday: “I believe in the Honor Council process, which is a very important education process for the people who are going in front of the Honor Council and the people in the Honor Council… It is challenging, messy, and stressful, but it is very important. I have great respect for what the Honor Council does. And I wish that we didn’t need to have the Honor Council.” Perhaps if Country Day students will take a long look at the core values and recognize that what the student handbook is actually requiring of them is simply to conduct themselves in an honorable manner, there will be fewer meetings of the Honor Council in the future.

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