DR. WALLACE: My best friend and I are in the same English class. Even though we're friends, were highly competitive and want to get the best grade possible. On our last written assignment, we both got an A. The problem is I wrote my paper by myself, but my friend's aunt, a columnist for our local newspaper, wrote her paper. Yikes! Now I'm torn. Do I say anything to our teacher?
I found this out by accident when I was over my friend's house. Her aunt was there and made the comment, "You owe me one for writing that English paper for you." My friend was embarrassed, but there was nothing she could do about it, as the proverbial cat was out of the bag!
My sister thinks I should tell the teacher, but I kind of don't want to, because I'd risk losing the friendship. Should I tell her I'm disappointed and think she should never do it again? I do realize that, in the long run, my friend is the loser when she cheats, but somehow, I also feel cheated. I'd be very upset if I wound up with a B in English and she got an A. — Torn and Forlorn, via email
TORN AND FORLORN: Say nothing about your friend's major mistake, but do let her know that you are disappointed in both her and her aunt. Her aunt should be the one to take the most blame, but your friend is also culpable, as she turned in work to your teacher that was not hers. Shame on both your friend and her aunt; they are both responsible here.
In reality, there are many parents (and, yes, aunts and uncles) who "help" students with their homework. You merely became privy to this particular instance. My advice? Tell your friend that you won't make a scene over this one time, but that you will never cover for her again at school under any circumstances. Let her know that integrity is a big part of learning and ask her to seek to have something positive come out of this situation. Perhaps, she might apologize to you in front of her aunt. This would be a good way to move ahead, as your friend may learn a valuable lesson and grow as a person at the same time.
WORRIED ABOUT 'CONTINUATION' SCHOOL
DR. WALLACE: I'm in the 12th grade and a good student. I had planned to attend a college or university after graduating from high school, but my plans have changed dramatically. Last month, I found out that I'm pregnant. This came as a huge shock to my boyfriend and me! It's true that we have been having sex regularly, but we never had sex without protection (always with a condom), so I don't know how I became pregnant. I'm confused about that but nevertheless take full responsibility for my actions.
My parents are very understanding and have encouraged my boyfriend and me to get married. We have made all the necessary arrangements and will be married during the holiday break. I talked with my counselor, and he said it's mandatory that I transfer to a special "continuation" high school as soon my pregnancy starts to be obvious. My counselor explained in detail the reason for my upcoming transfer. I'm not happy about it, but I do understand why I will have to leave my present school.
My concern is that the colleges I want to attend might be turned off because I spent time at a continuation high school. I'm sure you are aware that continuation schools don't always have the best reputations. My baby is due in May. Your comments are welcome. — Anonymous, Anaheim, California
ANONYMOUS: Because you're in the 12th grade, there may be an alternative. When I was a high school principal in a school district that neighbors yours (Garden Grove, California), we had much the same procedure regarding pregnancy. You would have remained in class at your high school either until you were married or your pregnancy became obvious.
But instead of having to attend a continuation school, you would have been allowed to finish your high school education at home. Teachers from your own school would come by to drop off lessons and go over them with you to teach three key classes (such as English, history and math). Each class would be 45 minutes long; instruction would start at 3 p.m. and end at 5:15 p.m. If you passed these key classes, you would earn the same high school diploma that the other graduates receive. There would be no mention on your transcript that you finished high school through in-home instruction.
Contact the your local school district officials to see if a similar program can be arranged for you. It's worth a try to ask politely and earnestly.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.