Academic Integrity

by Erin
Written for March 29, 2006

Cheating wasn’t included in my original plans as a five-year-old. The temptation just overwhelmed me. I couldn’t help it.

“Don’t look at your neighbor’s paper,” Mrs. Birch, my kindergarten teacher, had even said. I wasn’t a rebel. I wasn’t a troublemaker. I just…

Well, it started with a simple worksheet. There were eight problems, I believe. However, there was one that really got me stuck. Three plus four. At first I wrote “6,” but I knew that couldn’t be the answer. Three plus three is six! While in my state of befuddlement, another student finished before me. All of his answers were correct, and he received a really cool sticker. It was silver and sparkly and said, “1000 stars”! I needed a cool sticker.

So I cheated. I knew I could get away with it; Mrs. Birch was too busy giving out stickers to some other kids. Stealthily, I took a quick peek at the paper of the girl sitting across from me. Her name was Samantha. I’m sure it was. She might have been wearing a pink shirt. It is at that detail my memory fails me. However, I do remember her answer. It was seven. After successfully completing my act of guile, I scribbled down a “7” and joined the line of other kindergartners.

Finally, I reached the front of the line. All of my answers were right, and Mrs. Birch reached for the sticker pad. I was so happy as she peeled off the sticker to give to me, but then I saw that it was neither silver, nor sparkly, nor even remotely pretty. It was green and purple, and it said “nifty.” I was crestfallen! I had gotten probably the worst sticker she owned.

I’m sure I gained something positive out of that ordeal. It must have been then that I resolved to never cheat again. With my five-year-old mind, I probably thought that cheating would not get me exactly what I want, rather than the fact that it is dishonest and immoral. I realized that Mrs. Birch was right. I should not look at my neighbor’s paper.

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