I Know That You Didn’t Ask Me, But…

A Reflection on the Senior Prank
By Mr. Murphy

It is time to end the senior prank and replace it with a better alternative. A senior prank by definition is an act of mischief and that mischief is likely to cause someone else extra work or discomfort. I find it embarrassing that a senior class be remembered for an act that has the potential for causing distress to others. I hope that no one intends to upset another, but that is sometimes the consequences.

Many years ago the seniors thought it would be fun and clever to kidnap teachers on Halloween. As one of the victims of this prank, I thought it was fun, although I told my wife that she didn’t have to go so far as to invite them in for refreshments afterwards. But one year the seniors surrounded another house of another teacher with a wife and young children who didn’t know that this was just a “prank”. They were very frightened and didn’t think it was “fun”. A student teacher was tracked down for kidnapping and when the first senior came through the door, he was punched hard – the senior didn’t think it was “fun”. The student teacher later explained that where he came from he had to punch when someone came onto his turf; those were the unwritten rules of his neighborhood.
Recent pranks have been clever and I don’t think that they were malicious, but there was a potential for unintended consequences. It isn’t really fun to crawl under a toilet stall to unlock the door, particularly if there is an emergency. Wiring lockers closed is intended to disrupt another’s life, even if the cutters may be found elsewhere. Moving a desk is cute, but somebody had to put it back, and it would be unfortunate if something broke in the process.
I’d like the seniors to have some fun and be remembered for their creativity, spirit, and community building. I suggest that instead of a prank, seniors come up with something that no one else has ever done; hopefully it would be socially rewarding, but it could even be neutral – just fun. I think that it is better to remember a class for breaking the world’s record for leap frogging than blocking the back parking lot. I’ve suggested they set up a stationary bike or rowing machine to see how far the class could get in a week; maybe they could even challenge Lebanon and/or Hartford and get pledges for distance. Maybe the class could see how many pennies they could stack around the flag pole. Maybe they could build a house for Habitat for Humanity. Maybe they could be more creative than my offerings and leave the school with the reputation as the class that CARED ABOUT OTHERS and WORKED TOGETHER to achieve something that was UNIQUELY THEIRS.

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