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the LION’S


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Newton South High School’s Student Newspaper · Newton, MA · Established 1984 · July 23, 2014

Roar questions originality of Superintendent Fleishman’s commencement speech Jordan Cohen-Kaplan & Kylie Walters Business and Production Manager, Editor-in-Chief of Volume 30


s we sat listening to Superintendent David Fleishman’s speech among the hundreds of other Newton South graduates on June 9, we were experiencing very different things. I, Kylie, was doing my best to ignore the fact that in a few minutes I would be the one on the stage giving a speech, not Superintendent Fleishman. And I, Jordan, was realizing that this was not exactly Superintendent Fleishman’s own speech. On May 18 Governor Deval Patrick delivered Boston University’s commencement address, for which Jordan was present. The Governor also delivered a similar address at the Colby College commencement on May 25. Five distinct phrases in Superintendent Fleishman’s speech echo Governor Patrick’s very closely. How very profound that on the day we received our diplomas from a school system we have learned to be proud of we were forced to question its leadership. Again and again we have been taught that in an era of increased connectivity and information accessibility we must take extra care to respect intellectual property. Newton Public Schools students are required to submit major essays and papers through turnitin.com, an online plagiarismprevention site that scans for unoriginality. After sharing the pieces of the Superintendent’s speech with friends and family and suggesting that we publicize them, we were often asked what we wanted to happen as a result. But, for us, at least right now, this is not a question of

what we believe should happen. We feel this is a test. Albeit sooner than we expected, this is the first test of our diplomas. If after 13 years in the Newton Public Schools we do not have the integrity to speak up about what we believe to be wrong, we will have failed. Because everything we have been taught tells us that Superintendent Fleishman’s speech was marred with unoriginality. It is disappointing and disillusioning to imagine we cannot expect the best from the highest ranking Newton Public Schools official, especially on a widely-attended day designed to celebrate student achievement and serve as an educational capstone. Hopeful that there might be some respectable explanation for the similarities in the speeches, Jordan reached out to the Superintendent, who in an email response denied listening to the Governor’s speech on YouTube but acknowledged hearing clips of it on WBUR and “building” on specific themes in the speech. According to English department head Brian Baron, if school policy on cheating and plagiarism were applied to the scenario, the Superintendent would have received a zero for his work. This information was then shared with the Superintendent, who called Baron to personally apologize. And so we present the quotations to the public because we believe, regardless of how grateful we are to the Newton Public Schools, that it is the right thing to do. Editor’s Note: Due the nature of this incident, this article is not written in standard news format, but in first-person. All information, however, is truthful.

Patrick: “Real human connection, the nuance of empathy and understanding, is often more gradual and elongated than Twitter.” Fleishman: “Lastly, personal connection, the nuance of empathy and understanding, is often more incremental and complex than Twitter.”

Complete list of quotations on page 2

page 2|july 23, 2014

The Clips


A chronological presentation of the questioned components of each speech.

Patrick: “However, given the level of personal engagement that good citizenship demands, I have been wondering whether this kind of citizenship is in jeopardy.” Fleishman: “However, I worry that this level of face-to-face conversation, which is necessary for good citizenship, is in jeopardy.” Patrick: “Modern society is awash in information and grappling with how to make the most of social media. It is a force in casual communication, in business marketing, in celebrity. It transformed politics…” Fleishman: “Modern society is overflowing with information and this will only magnify as social media evolves. It is significant in casual communication, entertainment, business, and politics.” Patrick: “Social media, as we have seen, can start a revolution. But can it bring peace?” Fleishman: “We saw social media lead to revolutions in the Middle East, but did it bring peace?” Patrick: “Real human connection, the nuance of empathy and understanding, is often more gradual and elongated than Twitter.” Fleishman: “Lastly, personal connection, the nuance of empathy and understanding, is often more incremental and complex than Twitter.” Patrick: “Sometime today, put your tablet or smartphone aside, look your Mom and Dad in the eye and tell them you love them.” Fleishman: “One way to begin tonight is to briefly put down your phone and personally thank the many people who have supported you along the way.”

The specific times and video links:

Boston University Commencement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_qrm7bwNKU Newton South Commencement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QNfE-GdVQo

(Patrick, Fleishman) (3:45, 1:40:12) (5:32, 1:40:56) (7:20, 1:41:16) (6:57, 1:41:55) (10:27, 1:42:22)

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