updated 3/7/2011 12:31:58 PM ET 2011-03-07T17:31:58

It takes intelligence, countless hours of studying and a passion for success to graduate at the top of your high school class — or you can throw your ethics out the window and illegally change your grades.

Tyler Coyner, 19, has been charged with conspiracy, theft and computer intrusion for hacking into his high school district’s computer system last year and changing his grades and the grades of his friends, PC World reported.

Police say Coyner obtained a password to the online grading system of Pahrump Valley High School in Nevada and bumped up the grades of 12 students in exchange for cash. Those students have also been arrested.

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Coyner gave his own grades a serious boost — enough so to give him a 4.54 grade-point average and make him his school’s salutatorian, an honor awarded to the student with the second-highest grade point average.

For (illegally) earning such outstanding marks, Coyner gave the opening address at his 2010 graduation ceremony. Among the tidbits of wisdom delivered during his speech, Coyner tells his fellow graduates, “As humans we make mistakes for a reason — to learn from them.”

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It seems Coyner didn’t learn much, however. When police showed up at Coyner’s dorm room at the University of Nevada, Reno, to arrest him, they found a flat-screen television he allegedly stole from Wal-Mart as well as equipment for making fake driver’s licenses.


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