Many DHS students have mastered the ability to text secretly, both to cheat and for more mundane purposes.
Math teacher Sara Mach worries that students use phones to cheat in class by sending each other the answers. Because of this, students must leave their phones with her before leaving the classroom during class, to go to the bathroom or for other reasons.
Students have developed skills which result in them almost never being caught cheating. “Everyone can text without looking at the screen. It’s not that hard,” sophomore Marissa Lafreniere said.
Principal Jacquelyn Moore remembered an incident at her old school when a student was accused of cheating by cell phone.
A student had notes on her phone to study for a biology test, and when the day of the exam came, her phone was on her desk. As she tried to put it away, her screensaver, the picture of her notes, popped up.
With this story, Moore explains that phones are not always used to cheat, and can be rather helpful to students regarding study strategies.
Although cheating is problematic, it is not as common as students texting in class for entertainment.
As the end of second period came to a close Lafreniere discreetly placed her hands inside her backpack and began typing a message.
For Vishal Bhula, a senior at DHS and frequent texter, his cell phone is a huge distraction. “When I feel it in my pocket vibrating, I just have to check,” Bhula said.
Texter’s minds become worried about what his or her next message says, rather than about the instructor’s lecture. Ironically, Bhula says that “texting is only possible with self-control.”
Junior Garrett Larue used to text in class until his mom took his phone away. “It’s pretty easy to pay attention while texting,” Larue said.
Last year, according to counselor Courtenay Tessler, teachers frequently turned in student’s phones that had been taken away. When kids have phones out during class, teachers feel a lack of respect and a lack of interest.
When teachers catch students, most follow school policy. The first time someone is caught, his or her phone gets taken away until the end of the day. Next, a parent must pick it up. The third time, a parent must come and agree that the student won’t have it in class.
Buhla was caught once at Harper Junior High, but it didn’t bother him. The consequences of sending messages do not concern most students (including Bhula); therefore, they still text.
Teaching methods promoting the use of cell phones have been created. According to Moore, class activities using cell phones are an option many schools, including DHS, feel could be successful.
Through a computer program, questions are projected on a big screen and students submit their answers using their phones.
The whole class’s answers appear immediately on the screen, making it possible for classes to see the most common mistakes, and to know what they need to study most. It is also a way for students to learn from one another’s answers.
Phones have become such a tool and distraction that Moore finds the use of them unstoppable.
“Soon, there will be no rules about messaging and the school will not care anymore about students having their phones out because exams will be made so that cheating is impossible,” Moore said.