Friend or Foe: ChatGPT writes its way into WHS

As artificial intelligence technology continues to grow in popularity, it raises many questions and concerns about the future of education. ChatGPT, an AI chatbot released by OpenAI on Nov. 30, 2022, has been the recent face of the AI movement, and students have begun to make use of the tool as a shortcut to completing essays, worksheets and even math problems. To use the technology, users type in questions and ChatGPT uses its plethora of digested data to formulate unique, detailed responses. While some students may be grateful for the new technology, ChatGPT is concerning to WHS staff due to the software’s vast database and ability to remain undetected by most plagiarism software.
Combating the negative uses of ChatGPT has been a key discussion point in recent WHS staff meetings and departments have devised strategies to limit its use. English Teacher Aimee Burgoyne-Black said, “We’ve talked about ways to prevent plagiarism that ChatGPT would be bundled into, like using plagiarism detection software, but I don’t think anyone has come up with a concrete solution to the problem. I know our department has requested that the website just be blocked, and that has not happened yet.”
Administration hopes that staff will learn more about the software to further understand its uses and adjust their coursework accordingly. Assistant Principal Warren Hynes said, “We are really encouraging our staff to learn more about ChatGPT, as well as AI software in general, so that we can address how best to connect with our students with the understanding that AI software is here for the long term.”
Due to ChatGPT’s extensive database of internet data and sources, it is able to provide detailed information about a variety of topics, including subjects that are frequently assigned by WHS teachers. Thus, students are able to rely on ChatGPT for completing their school work.
An anonymous WHS student said, “If something is really difficult, I use [ChatGPT] and it gives me ideas. I don’t necessarily use it word-for-word, but it definitely helps me get ideas out and think of things in different ways.”
Furthermore, students have found ChatGPT to be helpful for its ability to print unique answers in seconds. Another anonymous WHS student said, “I use ChatGPT for time’s sake. You can get stuff done very quickly, like writing an essay in 10 minutes when it would have taken me 45 minutes to an hour if I did it on my own.”
However, the school administration is concerned that the use of AI technology will negatively impact students’ development in writing and comprehension skills, which they will need long after high school. Principal Mary Asfendis said, “There’s going to be times in your life when you’re going to have to write on your own, so you need to make sure you have those skills.”
Despite its drawbacks, ChatGPT can also be a valuable tool when teaching students about sentence structure, brainstorming and other important writing skills. According to, teachers in other districts have assigned students to use ChatGPT for outlining essays before writing long-form assignments. They try to create healthy links between students’ use of the chatbot and their schoolwork, while acknowledging the benefits it provides.
Similarly, at WHS, K-12 Social Studies Supervisor Andrea Brennan hopes to use ChatGPT for educational development in the classroom. She said, “We are having discussions in department meetings about identifying best practices and the appropriate use of ChatGPT in the social studies classroom so that teachers and students can leverage AI technology to improve writing, thinking and in-depth analysis of historical and current event topics.”
Asfendis believes that AI will further modernize and shape the future of education, and it is the responsibility of students and faculty to use this resource appropriately. She said, “Education is going to continue to change and it’s going to change at a much quicker pace, so we as educators and as students have to be ready to recognize those changes and use them as tools for good rather than evil.”