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updated: 7/14/2013 5:21 PM

"Fake" Stevenson letter offering extra credit for cash was part of history course

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Stevenson High School officials say they have figured out the source and reason for a letter that surfaced on social media last week claiming students could make cash donations for extra credit and other favors.

Dated July 8 and signed by a fake administrator, the letter states the Lincolnshire school was starting a new pilot program for freshmen offering them a chance to get an excused tardy for a $10 donation to the school, a homework pass for $15, five extra credit points for $20 and a test exemption for $35.

As it turns out, Stevenson spokesman Jim Conrey said, the phony letter was crafted by a summer school world history teacher for instructional purposes. Officials said they don't know how the letter got out into the public realm last week.

Conrey confirmed Sunday the instructor created the letter as part of a lesson on how the Catholic Church used indulgences in the 1500s. The letter was supposed to be a modern example of indulgences.

Some students would have received the letter as part of the world history course, Conrey said. He said 700 of 900 incoming freshmen typically attend summer school annually and most take world history.

Although Stevenson officials are still looking into the letter's circulation and how it was "twisted" for distribution via social media, it's being viewed mostly as an irritation, Conrey said.

"We're not going to turn the school upside down to solve this, so to speak," he added.

Stevenson officials initially called the letter a prank and not something that came from an employee, though it appeared to be written on official Stevenson letterhead.

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