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Arment Dietrich

"Plagiarism"

By: Arment Dietrich | May 30, 2008 | 
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Blog written by Courtney Lawrence

Did a Naperville principal go too far when he and the valedictorian plagiarized portions of their commencement speech for the class of 2008?  Two hundred angry letters and concerned parents seem to think so. 

Naperville Central High School Principal, Jim Caudill’s future is in the hands of school district 203’s superintendent.  And the outlook doesn’t seem to be written too clearly.  The night before the commencement speech was to take place, Caudill wasn’t really feeling the intensity he wanted to drive home to the students, so he remembered back to a speech written by another student in 1997.  He copied portions of her speech, and insisted that he intended to contact her prior, but got busy and forgot.

This forgetfulness or plagiarism has now potentially cost Caudill his job, the appropriate measures are still being discussed.  However,  the valedictorian was immediately ordered to return his medal and the title taken away, after portions of his speech were plagiarized as well.  Were these just simple cases of referencing past events, or were their speeches taken completely out of context of someone else’s speech?

Plagiarism is a point drilled into students’ brains from the very first time they compose a paper for class.  With the Internet, this has become such an easy thing for students to do, computer programs are now installed in school’s to catch more than five words together that have been previously written on the Web or in books.

Since this is something that the valedictorian should have and probably did know was wrong, was his punishment fair?  And for Caudill, if he is able to keep his job, would he just be getting a slap on his wrist?  Is what’s fair for one, not fair for another?  Shouldn’t the principal have known better than the student?  But now, the student will have to enter into his college career, possibly on a scholarship due to his impeccable grade point average, tainted and ashamed.  That might be punishment enough.  Whereas, the principal might be able to remain at the school after an apology and a promise to never do this again.

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