Senior prank brings up question of tradition

The annual senior prank, a tradition that usually occurs around Homecoming, came under fire for the actions of some seniors on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 5.

Principal Kristin Robbins said that signs were taken from neighborhood yards, trees were covered in toilet paper, stickers were placed on the building and light posts, silly string was sprayed on sidewalks signs and cameras, bike racks were used to barricade the front entrance, orange juice and eggs were thrown around the main entrance, and Flex Seal was sprayed on the front entrance.

“We do have a vandalism policy, which would speak to looking at the eggs, the silly string on cameras, the pouring of orange juice,” Robbins said. “Speaking with my custodial staff, the way the bike racks were across the doors, if someone needed to get out, they would not have been able to do so, which they saw as a safety hazard.”

In an email sent out to all the seniors, Robbins gave seniors the chance to come forward the following day to receive an easier punishment, while administrators also reviewed security footage in order to catch those at fault. One anonymous senior said that they received 15 hours of community service, while another said that their coach suspended them from their winter sports scrimmages this season. Robbins declined to comment on punishments given out.

As per tradition, seniors who attended school the Friday afterwards did clean up the next morning, and Robbins said that the school’s janitors also cleaned and power washed the building.

“Probably the last seven or eight years, the practice has been the seniors go out and clean up the toilet paper,” Robbins explained. “The practice has been that seniors [prank the school] the Thursday night before Homecoming, and then we come in the next morning and we clean up, which is what we did this year.”

Robbins explained that the clean up tradition only began due to excessive toilet papering in previous years. However, despite the tradition and subsequent clean up, Robbins noted that the prank spurred controversy amongst community members.

“There were certainly community members that were upset on Friday, and myself and Dr. Good and our maintenance and custodial staff have been in contact with those who were looking for property, so we tried to make sure to our fullest extent to get their belongings back to them, and we weren’t able to in all situations,” Robbins said.

Looking forward, Robbins said that to avoid such a situation in the future, the school aims to be more clear with seniors about what the school expects of them.

“Communication needs to be clear and concise and as much as possible,” Robbins said. “I think it starts with those conversations about school spirit and how the students add to that and pride in your community and the traditions that we hold important.”

Communication appeared to be an issue among the seniors as well, according to one senior, who said a lack of communication led to such a situation in the first place. 

“I think that the students caused the situation to escalate,” the anonymous senior said. “We did not hold each other accountable and we did not communicate well through it.”

Social studies teacher Anna Schottenstein, a fourth generation Bexley High School alum, recalls her aunts, uncles and older cousins discussing their classes’ senior pranks. However, despite her fond memories, she does not believe this year’s prank upheld the tradition.

“It’s not the first year where it has gotten out of hand, but the egging, the taking of the bike racks and blocking the doors, the spraying of Flex Seal on the doors, this to me is taking things from a level of fun, harmless, to a level of destructive and privileged and dangerous,” Schottenstein said.

Robbins said that despite the controversy, the administration has not expressed any intent to ban the tradition. 

“We have families that come back because of the tradition of great schools, the tradition of school spirit, the traditions of a community like this,” Robbins said. “So we reflect on that and make sure we’re upholding that standard.”