Supervised prank gets mixed reactions

3/30/2013

GCHS principal monitors seniors as they make mess of commons area.

GCHS principal monitors seniors as they make mess of commons area.

By RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

Garden City High School Principal James Mireles says he was trying to be proactive when he let scores of seniors into the high school Sunday night to perform a supervised senior prank. But some students and faculty at the school failed to find the humor when they saw the aftermath Monday morning.

Mireles let about 50 to 100 seniors in the school. The students used streamers, yarn, toilet paper and newspapers to cover the commons area and used sidewalk chalk outside to leave their mark.

"I supervised the activity to make sure nothing was vandalized. And they had to agree to clean up the mess the next morning," Mireles said. "There was no damage, no vandalism. We're just ready to move on."

Mireles said several members of the senior class approached him before spring break to ask him to let them pull a prank at the school. "They showed me an idea of what the area would look like, and I thought about it for a couple of days. I agreed to it, then did visit with them about the parameters on what would be done," he said.

Mireles said he agreed to allow the prank in part to help head off any unsupervised, and more damaging, incidents down the road.

In the past, he said seniors have participated in pranks that were annoyances or left damage.

"Some of the pranks have been funny. And others aren't. In years past, they've done things to the football field or building. In my eyes, I let them do the prank and get it out of their system — without any damage — so it wouldn't get out of hand. Now that it's out of their system, we can just move on," he said.

But not everyone saw the logic in allowing the seniors to make a mess of the school's commons area.

Two freshmen, Justin Moore and Kain Mitts, thought the prank was disrespectful.

Moore said he wouldn't be participating in any prank of that kind when he's a senior.

"It wasn't appropriate. It was irresponsible actions at the school that may have damaged the school that everyone paid tax dollars for. Why would you want to damage a school that we just got? Why would seniors damage a school they just got? They're the highest grade and the oldest students," Moore said.

He said when he got to school Monday he saw toilet paper in the trees. When he started walking closer, he saw the front doors and window were covered in chalk that said "Class of 2013."

When he walked into the cafeteria, he saw glitter, Silly String and a condom on the buffalo. Mitts said there hasn't been too much negative talk or rumors about the incident since Monday.

"There really hasn't been, but right after it happened, people were wondering how they got in. Some said they had broken in, but others said a principal let them in," he said.

Roy Cessna, public information officer for USD 457, said officials had heard no complaints about the prank.

Mireles said he informed USD 457 Superintendent Rick Atha of the seniors' plan prior to the prank. Mireles said some members of the public and teachers thought the prank was disrespectful to the building.

"Some of our teachers were surprised. But I don't think any were complaining," he said.

Gary Harley was one of the seniors involved in the prank. He said the idea started when members of the senior class started discussing what to do on their Facebook page, created to keep seniors in communication. On it, seniors post announcements and coordinate attending games to support their classmates.

Harley said the initial plan included strings, posters and window chalk.

"Those were our original items. But of course, some seniors brought their own and it got a little messy," he said.

He said some put Vaseline on door handles, and others Saran-wrapped the stairs and put glitter all around.

"There's still some glitter tracking through the high school," he said.

Harley said he heard some community members were not happy with the prank.

"It was really a harmless prank. And we, as seniors, wanted to set a precedent, some sort of tradition. The senior class before us pulled lame pranks," he said.

Harley added he wants to clear up any rumors that anything was defaced or broken.

"There was nothing broken. We didn't deface any property. And Mireles let us in. We had full permission to do it," he said.

Mireles said a few students did get out of hand, but nothing major.

"They put Vaseline on the doorknobs. I didn't like that. Other than that, it went well. There was no damage," he said.

Harley said the seniors were excited to walk into the school the next day.

"We had lots of fun. A lot of teachers were staring and not very happy. Some thought it was funny. Some of the principals didn't really like it," he said.

Harley said he only has one regret.

"We agreed to clean it up. Only about 10 of us showed up. I was one of them," he said and laughed.

Mireles said that in retrospect, he was impressed with the way the seniors handled the situation.

"... I feel pretty good that seniors can come to me to ask before they would do something else — something where I would have to punish them or get the law involved," he said.

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