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Articles / Applying to College / Senior Pranks or Cranks?

Senior Pranks or Cranks?

Dave Berry
Written by Dave Berry | June 19, 2012
Senior Pranks or Cranks?

High school is over for many seniors across the land, and ending soon for those who aren't done. One of the more controversial behaviors exhibited by these young men and women who are about to either head to college, the military, or just plain out into "the real world" is the vaunted Senior Prank. Now we all should know that a "prank" is, by definition, a mischievous trick or practical joke. When I think of "mischievous," I envision shaking hands with someone while holding one of those old windup, vibrating hand buzzers that you can buy in novelty stores. Of course, revealing that personal vision says a lot about my level of corny mischievousness.

A practical joke might be putting what looks like a can of nuts on a teacher's desk and then watching him or her open it only to be jolted by the spring-loaded "snake" that leaps forth when the lid is removed. To me, that's a practical joke, for better or worse, from the dark ages of my experience. These days, however, the pranks feature some very odd, edgy, and, unfortunately, destructive mischief and practical joking among some high school seniors.

Just out of personal curiosity, I started a thread on the College Confidential discussion forum that asked high schoolers about seniors pranks at their schools. I entitled my post: Senior Pranks: The Good, Bad, and Ugly and asked, "I've seen some news reports lately about senior pranks. For all you high schoolers out there, especially seniors, were there any pranks at your school this year? If so, what were they and did they cause any problems for the school?"

Here are some of the prank reports from actual high schoolers who responded to my query. You can judge for yourself whether or not these behaviors qualify as "mischievous tricks or practical jokes" or something more ominous.

- This year's was kinda lame. They put up a bunch of signs outside and around the school saying it's going to be sold, and then zigzagged and tied string all over the place in the halls to slow down kids. It was pretty lame.

But the year before that...we had construction in one of our wings, so there was this huge gaping hole in the wall you could just walk in. So one night a group of kids broke in and proceeded to superglue every single lock that they could find within the school. The next morning they had to replace every single lock they hit, which ended up costing the school district some $7,000 or $200 per lock. They were pretty angry, but they never caught who did it...

- They planted a bunch of baby trees on our football field. And by a bunch, I mean there were probably a thousand.

The principal got on the intercom the next morning and said that those who participated wouldn't walk and would be arrested/sued for property defacement.

- This year they put glue and toothpicks in the locks this year. They took glue and put "SENIORS 2012" on the walls.

Last year's was awful. They put condoms everywhere.

- The worst senior prank was the destruction of a porta-potty during a construction project on campus. My favorite were the pinwheels covering the lawn. One year hundreds of forks were stuck in the ground spelling out the year. Last year they painted the windows with words and the seniors were stuck for days cleaning them. And then there was the realtor's for sale sign that showed up in front of the school. Humorous but the thief got into trouble. I think easy to remove "decorations" are really the best idea. And the least likely to get the seniors into trouble.

- This year the seniors camped in the parking lot overnight and didn't let juniors in, in the morning. The principal was a bit annoyed off because teachers where whining that juniors were late so he went and yelled at them. He threatened to give them tickets but none got any. The police actually got called at night because of a noise complaint, but they did not in trouble or even told to leave (even though it is trespassing). Generally our community is pretty open to these things, and I haven't ever heard of them causing major property damage.

- Our senior class did a harry potter themed senior prank. We basically put up posters all over the school to make it look like hogwarts (well...kind of). The best part was that under this huge banner that said "the chamber of secrets has been unlocked", there were a ton (like a whole hallways worth) of promiscuous and embarrassing pics of the underclassmen that a bunch of seniors had gotten off of fb and printed out. As soon as the underclassmen saw them, a bunch of them started crying and tearing them off the walls. On one hand, I felt kind of bad for them but on the other hand, it was a good lesson to watch what you put on fb. [NOTE: Just one more reason to be careful about what you post on Facebook.]

- I was involved in my school's "senior prank" this year. We bought five gorilla suits and one banana suit online. On the third Friday in May during lunch period, we got into one of the 'secret' rooms in our school to change into our costumes without anyone seeing us. I wore the banana suit.

Then we snuck around the back side of school where no one would see us, slowly circling our way towards the front of the school. One wall of our cafeteria is all window looking out to the front of school, so once we would get to the front of the school, the majority of the people in our school would see us.

The gorillas took the lead coming around the corner to the front of the school. They started play fighting with each other and knocking on the window to the lunch room. Kids who were eating inside started getting up, pointing and laughing. One freshman girl who was outside with several of her friends started screaming and running away as fast as she could. (Apparently, she has a gorilla-phobia.)

Then I came around the corner in my banana costume minding my business. The gorillas circled me, and I subsequently karate-kicked them all down. Then I ran inside the school, followed closely behind by the gorillas. As I ran in, right past our principal's office, it just so happened that another freshman girl with gorilla-phobia (or maybe banana-phobia?) started running away from us.

As we ran a loop around the school on the course we had planned, the girl continued to take the exact same turns that we did, until she finally ducked into the girl's bathroom. As we ran down the hallways, teachers started laughing, wondering what in the world was going on. Our principal heard the ruckus and apparently sprinted out of his office, assuming that a fight was breaking out.

Then we ran through the cafeteria, dodging around students and past another one of my teachers, whose laugh could be heard all the way down the hallway. Finally, we made a loop around the middle school (which is connected to our high school) and then returned back to our secret room to change back into normal clothes to eat lunch, in awe wondering who was wearing the costumes.

Many teachers later applauded our 'prank', saying it was the best one the school had experienced because people enjoyed it and it caused no harm. Because of this, I was proud to be a part of it.

- The Washington Post is reporting that one of the local high schools has banned three seniors from participating in graduation ceremonies because they put baby oil on the hall floors- not sure why only 3 when apparently 6 were involved.

I can't swear this next one is true but it was certainly legendary at my older son's high school. Supposedly, a few classes before his had let loose three pigs in the school- but before they let them loose, they had painted on the pigs: 1, 2 and 4. So the legend goes, many hours were spent trying to locate pig number 3, which didn't exist.

- This year's seniors threw water and soap all along the hallway to form a water slide. Administration kept all the students in class so our end-of-year parties were almost cancelled and everyone was pretty upset. All the seniors got to walk but they didn't actually get their diploma. In order to get it they have to do 10 hours of community service which isn't that bad actually.

- This year, our seniors also had a beach party in the courtyard. There was a large pool (16 feet in diameter, I think?) filled with water two or three feet deep. They also got a bunch of sand from various beaches everywhere. Apparrently, they started preparations at 1:00 to 2:00 AM.

The administration seemed to love it compared to last year's comparatively lame prank (post-its on all the windows in the school). The principal even came on the intercom and said that he liked the creativity. They even let the students (mostly seniors) play in it during lunch. I think Security started draining the pool during lunch, but its still almost completely full of water and when I left, there were a bunch of students still playing in it.

So, a very supportive administration here...


So there you have it -- a sampling of senior pranks from around the country (if not the world). You can decide for yourself whether each of these was good, bad, or ugly. In case you know of a senior prank that's worthy of note, feel free to add it to either my College Confidential thread or post details below in the comments box. We would love to hear from you.


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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