Dr. Chuck Parker, professor of History at Appaloosa University, entered his son’s high school classroom and felt a pang of anxiety. It was a combination of the meeting he was about to have with Xander’s ninth grade teacher and his own dreadful high school memories.
“Dr. Parker, it’s good to see you,” said Mrs. Cowl.
“I heard there was a problem,” said Chuck.
“Hmm, yes. Please have a seat,” said Mrs. Cowl. She was as stern and professional as anyone Chuck had ever met in academia.
“A few weeks ago Xander was given an assignment in English to create a poem with a holiday theme.”
“I remember him working on something,” said Dr. Parker.
Mrs. Cowl looked at him over the rim of her glasses. “You do? Did you read what he wrote?”
“Uh, no. He didn’t let me read it.”
“I suspected not. He came up with this.” Mrs. Cowl handed Chuck a sheet of paper.
“Little Sandy Sleighfoot,” Chuck read aloud. He continued reading the poem to himself. Mrs. Cowl interrupted him halfway through.
“Initially I thought it was very good. Ironic. Campy, even. I was about to give him an ‘A’ when I discovered these are the lyrics to a song sung by Jimmy Dean.”
Chuck looked at Mrs. Cowl inquisitively. “The man who sells breakfast sausages?”
“He was a popular singer in the last century. ‘Little Sandy Sleighfoot’ was a track on a Christmas album he made in the 50s, I believe,” said Mrs. Cowl.
“Oh. I’ve never heard of it,” said Chuck.
“Dr. Parker, you of all people should understand the severity of plagiarism. This cannot be tolerated.”
“To satisfy my own curiosity, how did you discover the transgression?”
Mrs. Cowl shifted in her seat. “It just so happened I was visiting my mother in the nursing home and heard another resident singing this very song to herself. It was quite a serendipitous discovery.”
“No doubt. I’m very sorry this occurred. What do you suggest we do?”
“Well, if I could have your word that you speak with Xander, emphasize the damage caused by plagiarism. I’ll allow him to resubmit his assignment, with a grade penalty applied. No other action would need to take place,” said Mrs. Cowl, grimly.
Chuck stood. “That sounds fair. We can never let this to happen again.” He shook her hand and left.
At home, Chuck knocked on Xander’s bedroom door. “I spoke with your teacher,” said Chuck. “It’s about time I taught you how to properly hide your sources.”