Geology students retake section of midterm after cheat sheet found, Honor Board Review Board investigates

Jake Saferstein

Geology and Geology Honors students retook a section of their midyear assessments on Jan. 6 and 7 after a cheat sheet was found in the Geology classroom after the last assessment was completed in December. The Honor Board Review Committee is now considering whether to bring any students before the Honor Board.

Geology teacher Wendy Van Norden said she found the cheat sheet at the end of the last exam behind one of the rock trays in the back of the classroom where students were identifying rocks for the test. She does not know who brought it in, when it was brought in, or who looked at the sheet. She believes that at least everyone in the last assessment period could have seen it but cannot be sure because she was in the front of the classroom busy with other trays of rocks during the assessment.

“I’m disappointed … that no one mentioned it during the test,” Van Norden said.

The “Rockathon” consists of three parts: Identifying rocks by their name, determining if a rock is igneous, metamorphic or sedimentary, and giving details about certain rocks. The sheet she found in the classroom was a study guide she handed out before the exam that allowed students to perfectly complete the second section, which was worth 25 percent of the exam.

Students file by the trays during the assessment to answer questions on the test.

Because Van Norden had not left the sheet there herself, she believes that a student or students brought it in so they could cheat. Van Norden discussed with Head of Upper School Audrius Barzdukas possible options, and both decided the best option was to have all students retake that portion of the exam.

Van Norden notified students in class Jan. 5 that they were going to retake the exam to allow students a little time to study again after winter break. Overall, the average was similar to the average before break, which is generally high, so Van Norden was especially surprised that people might have cheated on the assessment.

“I don’t want to bully people to find out who did it, they know who they are,” Van Norden said. “Hopefully [the retake] didn’t hurt any bystanders or help those that cheated.”

The Honor Board Review Committee is currently investigating the case and deciding whether or not there are grounds for a case to be brought before the Honor Board.

“The circumstances under which there would be a case is if there has been a clear violation of the honor code, a clear violator and evidence that it has happened,” Father J. Young, administrative adviser of the Honor Board said. “We always try to have a case as quickly as possible. Frankly to avoid, for whoever the people accused are, just the angst it causes to drag it on and on and on.”