Tyler Coyner’s coin-op grade swap
I was salutatorian of my high school class, tying for number two with Cynthia B, right behind Rosemary D.
But Cynthia B and I didn’t get to do any salutatorying. Nor did Rosemary D get to do any valedicting. There were no student speakers at our high school graduation. Instead, we got to listen to the president of Assumption College, just up the street from my high school, talk about whatever. I probably wasn’t listening all that intently. No doubt I was focusing on the upcoming post-graduation weeklong hangout at the Cape at a lovely motel – no longer in existence – that was owned by the family of one of my classmates. Jayne H invited about twenty of us down, and we had a great time.
I have no recall whatsoever of how we transported ourselves from Point A to Point B, but somehow we made it from Bourne to P-town, where we rented bicycles and pedaled out to Race Point. We also somehow got to Woods Hole to catch the ferry to Nantucket, where we entertained the other passengers by performing a capella. Pretty much all of us were in Glee Club, and we did our signature pieces. (My high school had an excellent Glee Club, by the way.) The one “crazy” thing I remember about this giant slumber party was taking my first puff of a cigarette. (Not a joint, mind you: a cigarette.) Even in those kinder, gentler times, we were complete, utter and absolute nerds.
And we were also nerds who didn’t cheat.
Cynthia B and Maureen R got to rank second in our class, and Rosemary D got to rank first, the old fashioned way. We were smart and, as complete, utter and absolute nerds, we studied. A lot. (And, because we were at an all girls school, we got to run everything, too. There’s absolutely no way I’d have been the president of student council at a co-ed school. Not in a billion, zillion years.)
Anyway, while he may have been “smart” in one sense, Tyler Coyner apparently wasn’t all that interested in studying his way into ranking second.
Instead, he hacked into Pahrump Valley (Nevada) High School's grade system and tidied up his grades a bit. He also attempted to prove that crime can, in fact, pay by altering, for a fee, the grades of thirteen of his now unlucky classmates. Thirteen classmates. Sheeesh. These kids live in Nevada and they don’t know that this is an unlucky number. What are they teaching these kids out at PVHS, anyway?
Coyner must have been a decent enough student – mustn’t he? Surely, if he had adjusted his grades from class goat to runner-up some teacher or another would have put two and two together and smelled a rat. (Coyner? Didn’t I give him a D in pre-calc? How’d he end up with that kind of GPA?)
Coyner, now a student at the University of Nevada in Reno, had a 4.54 grade point average, according to a profile of him in the Pahrump Valley Times, written around the time of his graduation last year.(Source: PC World.)
The profile is entitled PVHS salutatorian dreams of Ivy League, and it includes some doozy quotes:
"I was a weirdo then," said Tyler Coyner, who said he was a shy student focused on academics. That focus earned him a 4.54 grade point average.
Oh, earned, that’s just such a misunderstood word.
One day, Coyner realized that he didn't want to be that shy kid anymore. "Nothing will change for you; you have to make an effort to make a better future," he said.
Yes, indeed, grades, in and of themselves, would not just change for you. Sometimes you have to make an effort to bring about change. And hacking’s an effort. If it were so damned easy, everyone’d be doing it.
The now outgoing Coyner made interacting with others a key part of his high school experience. He was involved in the Renaissance Club and Future Business Leaders of America. FBLA created and participated in a community service project this year, and that project is leading them to a national competition in July.
Gulp! Future Business Leaders of America. As in Jeff Skilling, Angelo Mozilo, and Bernie Madoff, I presume. So many role models, so little time!
Unlike other students, Coyner wouldn't change any part of his high school experience. "Even the mistakes I've done were worth it," said Coyner. He also notes that underclassmen should know that "being responsible is one of the key things to being successful; branch out with sports or clubs. You will be better off in the future."
Perhaps Coyner will end up reconsidering whether all the mistakes he made were all that worth it. And whether the type of branching out he did was all that responsible. (While I’m heaping on, I’ll assume the role of diction cop here, too. “Mistakes I’ve done? Hand me my red pencil, please.)
After he graduates, Coyner will go into the University of Nevada, Reno finance program. After two years he plans to transfer to Chicago. Once he obtains his degree, Coyner plans on going to an Ivy League school. He has his sights set on either Harvard or Stanford, the Ivy League school of the West. He wants to eventually become the manager of a hedge fund.
It was in Coyner’s dorm room at the University of Nevada, Reno – which may or may not be the Harvard or Chicago or Stanford of Nevada - that the police “found a flat-screen television, allegedly stolen from a local Wal-Mart, and equipment for making fake driver's licenses.”
Taking his own advice, Coyner is branching out to robbery and fake driver’s licenses, which is probably a pretty good campus business, given the drinking age is 21. And it’s probably more lucrative than slinging food in the caf, or shelving books in the library.
No comment on his ultimate ambition: managing a hedge fund. (Shocked, I’m shocked, at this one.)
Coyner is extremely excited for graduation and for what lies ahead in his future. "I just want to wish all of my fellow graduates good luck in their future," he said.
And good luck in your not quite so brilliant future, Mr. Coyner.
Don’t know what kind of time you’ll end up doing, but I think you can kiss Chicago, Harvard, and Stanford good-bye. Probably University of Nevada – Reno, as well.
Don’t know if there actually are any standards for hedge fund manager, so you may still have a shot on goal there.
Ave atque vale, as they used to say. Commencement is both a beginning and an ending.
Meanwhile, readers of a certain age may notice an uncanny resemblance between Tyler Coyner and Leave It To Beaver’s Eddie Haskell. In real life, Ken Osmond, the guy you played Eddie Haskell, went on to become an LAPD cop (not a hedge fund manager – a trade that I don’t believe existed when Osmond was deciding what to do with his life.)
Changing your grades so you could graduate number two in your class? Frankly, even Eddie Haskell wouldn’t have stooped so low.