My son graduated from Stuyvesant in the late 90's. While he had an overall good experience there, the competitive culture was overwhelming, perhaps a bit toxic, and not just among the students. A few examples:
At the first parent orientation, one of the science classrooms was SRO and I was only able to stand in the doorway to hear what was being said. A parent literally lowered her head and pushed into my stomach (hard) to force her way past me (and others) to get entrance into the room!
While there, my son knew of some kids who lived in New Jersey but had "addresses" in New York. In at least one case, a parent's work address was used. So that student's cheating began from Day One, and that child took the place of a New Yorker who was the next one on the list.
There were also kids that got classified with a learning disability in order to get extra time on tests and so on. Apparently, this information is not listed on transcripts when one applies to college, so one could easily gain an advantage, with no down side.
When my son was sick, students would hesitate to tell him what he missed in class--"Why should I raise your GPA? That only lowers mine!" That is an actual quote.
While he made great friends there and has the status of calling himself a Stuy Grad for life, I can happily report he didn't buy into the aggressive culture much (I think he had a B or B- average). He got great SAT's, went to a good college, and is a high school teacher himself today in a very progressive school district.
I am a retired art teacher and currently teach college classes in art and art education. I can say that the current generation has a different ethical outlook for the most part than mine does. The students think nothing of downloading music and other content without paying, xeroxing copyrighted material and "borrowing" from Wikipedia without giving credit (or fact-checking).
It's easy to cheat if teachers give take home exams or multiple choice tests. Essay tests take a long time to grade and portfolio assessment is even more work.
When the point of taking a class is to "get through it," cheating is an efficient, if unethical option. If one is actually interested in mastery of a subject, however, it unnecessary. I tell my students that a quiz or test is a tool to find out where their gaps in knowledge and thinking are and what we need to work on. It's the process of learning that is, and should be, joyous.