Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Serving The Community One Forgery At A Time

Be of service to others, St. Ignatius Loyola advised his followers, and to this day the Jesuits instruct pupils in this very philosophy. Work and don't look for rewards or ask what's in it for you.

What's a parent to do if they can't afford a Jesuit education for their little darlings?

Public schools are bringing in "character counts" elements to the school curriculum, to instill a little of that Jesuit teaching into a secular program. Students at Oak Lawn High School, therefore, were expected to perform a few hours of community service every year, to teach them some of the things that the Jesuits were busy teaching over at St. Ignatius College Prep  in Chicago.

There is a problem when you teach only part of the lesson. The concept gets lost and, ultimately, the lesson isn't taught. So it's up to the school administration to teach a different lesson to reinforce the importance of the original lesson.

Hence, 47 seniors will not be allowed to attend their graduation ceremony.

The students who are being taught that thou shalt not cheat on requirements thought they were being clever when they found a way to forge their community service paperwork. One extremely artistic student was able to do a very passable copy of an adult signature, and suddenly, dozens of Oak Lawn's future leaders had an easy way to claim they had done their community service without having to actually do a lick of work.


However, one can go to the same well too often and before you know it your well has run dry. Too many students turned to their colleague with the pen, and far too many students turned in paperwork that showed they had all done their service hours at one place in the town. Far more students than would have been needed for the amount of volunteer hours available at the venue.

A check with the adult whose signature was forged brought down the scheme. He had never seen the kids who claimed they had been of service to others under his guidance, and once caught, the seniors confessed to the crime.

Not very Ignatian of them, but if you aren't teaching character from the start, it isn't something you can instill in a few years when the students are busy with raging hormones and college prep and sports.

As you'd expect, some of the parents were upset and demanded that their poor, suffering child be allowed to graduate with the others who had put in the time to get their service hours completed by actually putting in the time and being of service to others.

The school administration is holding fast.

A rule is a rule.

Be of service to others, toil without counting the cost, and you get to wear the cap and gown, smile as you are handed your diploma, and generally enjoy the grand occasion. Cheat, and you lose.

Lesson learned. Now, how to teach the parents who thought their child was being unfairly punished for cheating.....

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