Calico Crazy 8 via Facebook

The GEM Debate:
A Senior Prank: Did THIS Punishment Fit The Crime? (POLL)

It’s that lovely time of year when grass starts turning green and lush, little buds are in bloom on the trees, and high school seniors are afflicted with the little-studied but widely-suffered condition known as senioritis. Senioritis is characterized by a general lack of motivation and a laissez-faire attitude where school is concerned. The only known cure is graduation, which happens in due time, but never quickly enough for the sufferer.

Those with senioritis have been known to take action to relieve their symptoms. One action is to pull of an elaborate prank on the high school that has spent the last four years of their lives creating the perfect conditions for senioritis. Sometimes the prank is all in good fun and sometimes the prank is meant to stick it to the Man.

In Calico Rock, Arkansas, a group of students that calls themselves the Calico Crazy 8, has been suspended, banned from the prom, and face other disciplinary actions after a senior prank. On the night of April 17, the eight students entered the building with a key provided to them by an employee and moved desks and chairs into the hallway. According to them, nothing was removed from the building, defaced, or broken.

The longer story can be found on the group’s Facebook page, but the short version is that they never intended to do harm. They carried the desks so they wouldn’t scratch the floor and they neatly stacked the books from the desks in the appropriate classroom. They locked the door on their way out.

Fully expecting punishment, the Crazy 8 arrived at school early to clean up. They admitted to being the pranksters. The principal threatened to press felony charges against them and presented them with a document to sign admitting to vandalism. The students didn’t think they were guilty of vandalism, but were afraid of the consequences of not signing the form. Most students were 18 and above; one was not.

No parents were contacted and none were present when the students were questioned or presented with the form. The punishment was a three-day out-of-school suspension, no participation in extracurricular activities including prom, no graduation speeches (which affected two students), no competition (which affected one student who qualified for a national competition), no driving to school, and no senior trip.

Related: The GEM Debate: Cute Prank Or A Crime? Should Students Be Arrested For This?

It sounds like the senior prank is an annual, and possibly sanctioned, tradition. If the administration is aware that it’s likely going to happen and they don’t say a word about consequences, then students are going to carry on with the tradition. They would probably do it even if they were given a warning, but my point is that I see no reason to reactively crack down on the practice without taking proactive steps to prevent it.

I’m all for punishing pranksters, especially when they cause physical and financial harm. As far as pranks go, this one was pretty harmless. The students took tremendous care not to damage anything, admitted to the prank, and came prepared to clean up as part of their punishment. But then they were punished with unequal force, which seems arbitrary since all the punishments don’t affect every student.

But my biggest issue of all has nothing to do with the teenagers. They didn’t break into the school, although they might be guilty of trespassing. My problem has everything to do with the questionable security. An employee of the school district gave the students a key! This prank wouldn’t have happened if an adult had not facilitated it. I would be more concerned that a key was given so freely to students. That points to a much larger issue of security and staff training and needs to be addressed with equal vigor as the students’ punishment.

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What do you think? Was the punishment too harsh considering that it wasn’t applied fairly and no harm was done? Take the poll and share your thoughts below.

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